Having played Eric Forrester since the day The Bold and the Beautiful (B&B) premiered in March 1987, John McCook has survived too many love triangles, paternity twists and Forrester Creations takeovers to count.
When his character started coughing up blood, however, he was worried — and so were viewers around the world! After all, when McCook’s original B&B leading lady Susan Flannery retired in 2012, the show crafted a beautiful story that laid to rest her powerhouse character, Stephanie Forrester.
As Eric’s health continued to deteriorate, The Bold and the Beautiful fans were worried McCook might be preparing to wind down in a similar fashion. Thankfully, they had nothing to worry about. It was just good soap.
Here, McCook opens up to Woman’s World about what it was like to play Eric’s recent brush with his mortality and one thing is clear — this 79-years-young Daytime Emmy-winner is not interested in slowing down, let alone retiring!
B&B star John McCook admits Eric Forrester’s illness scared him
At around this time last year, John McCook imagined he’d played just about every type of storyline on The Bold and The Beautiful. Fashion designer Eric spent his early years on the show bouncing between Stephanie and Brooke, locked in love triangles with his sons Ridge and Thorne, battling for control of Forrester Creations, and doing his best not to fall for the machinations of psychos like Sheila Carter.
As the show’s core families have grown and paternity reveals have dropped, The Bold and The Beautiful canvas has expanded and shifted — but not even becoming a great grandfather could put a crimp in Eric’s style. The ladies’ man has only found more romance, more schemers, and more fashion show face-offs. He’s even enjoyed a few crossover adventures onto sister show The Young and the Restless (where McCook also played Lance Prentiss from 1976 to 1980).
Having lived through so many soapy turns over the decades, McCook struggles when asked to pick favorites.
“I love all the storylines,” he insists. “The conflict with Stephanie, and loving ‘Logan’ (a.k.a. Brooke), and then getting married to Donna all those years ago, and crashing in an airplane with Lauren Fenmore… Any storyline that Eric’s had has been a great blessing to me.”
Speaking of blessings, it was Eric’s experience with erectile dysfunction — of all things! — that helped McCook win his first Daytime Emmy in 2022. After that, McCook was sure he’d seen it all as Eric… until he got a script that stopped him in his tracks.
“I had a real Saturday Night Live moment, months and months ago, when I opened the script and it said, ‘Eric coughs blood into his handkerchief,” McCook recalls. “I immediately called [our executive producer] Brad Bell, asking ‘What’s the word on the street? What’s going on here?’”
John McCook ‘loved’ playing Eric’s not-so-final days on B&B
Once McCook knew Eric would survive his “terminal” illness, the actor leaned into the meaty storyline that saw his character wrestle with his mortality and his legacy.
“All of it has been fantastic to play,” McCook grins. “I loved playing the illness and at the same time, trying to power through and insisting that it be a positive thing. Eric was almost manic in saying, ‘We’re gonna have a party! Come on, we gotta love each other! We have to live till we die!’ He thought that nobody knew he was sick, and of course, everybody at his party knew. Everybody was trying not to cry.”
“That was good soap opera stuff — and better than that, it was good relationship stuff,” he adds. “I’ve just loved this story.”
With soap opera drama cyclical, the daytime vet was also just thrilled to have another front-burner storyline to play. “It’s certainly better than NOT doing it!” cracks McCook.
John McCook admits his B&B costars made him cry
For all Eric went through in 2023, the hardest part for McCook was shooting The Bold and the Beautiful’s emotional holiday episodes in which he had to do nothing. After Thorne and Bridget rushed to their father’s side, the extended Forrester family came around Eric to say their last words and pray for a miracle…and McCook could not to react to any of it.
“When you finally get in the hospital bed, everybody pulls up a chair and works on their Emmy reel,” he says with a laugh. “’Goodbye Grandpa!’ ‘I love you, Eric!’ And as they should! But they get to do all the acting and I’m going, ‘Okay, when’s lunch?'”
“No, I’m kidding,” McCook continues. “It’s not boring at all, because I’m very engaged with my co-workers – the people I love to work with every day. I was listening to them work and trying not to cry, because someone in a coma can’t cry. At one point, I did cry… but it was the upstage eye, so nobody saw it.”
As The Bold and the Beautiful viewers know, in a soap-worthy twist, Finn’s dangerous surgery led to a Christmas miracle. As Eric begins to regain his health onscreen, McCook concedes there was one thing missing from his near-death experience.
“It would have been funny if Eric had gone and seen Stephanie in heaven and she was smoking a cigar, playing cards and said, ‘Get out of here,’” the actor chuckles. “I’d love to see Stephanie come back as a ghost or something.”
McCook would also love to see his character show a bit more of his sense of humor…but after almost four decades of romance, family, fashion and drama, The Bold and the Beautiful patriarch knows better.
“This is not a funny show,” McCook says with a wink. “And that’s okay. I’ve had a good run! I’ve had a great run – and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
The Bold and the Beautiful airs weekdays on CBS, 1:30-2:00 PM, ET / 12:30-1:00 PM, PT, and streams on Paramount+ live and next day.
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