Just as they were about to blow out the 35 candles top models At the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, Steffy and Finn’s interpreters took the time to confide Weekly TV.
Thirty-five years after the beginning of top models, the ratings are still high. How can such a success be explained?
Tanner Novlan: Audiences never know what to expect in terms of plot. People are always trying to figure out where the characters are going, but the story is pretty unpredictable. You expect something to happen, but something completely different happens. In fact, I feel like the further we go, the more difficult the stories are to predict. I think this soap is as fun for the viewers as it is for the actors!
As an actor it must be quite a challenge because you don’t have much time to read the scripts between episodes…
Tanner: Indeed! If people are surprised in front of their TV, so are we when we discover the lyrics! (laughs) Everything goes so fast! We have to play our characters without really knowing where they are going. Sometimes it’s a little crazy.
Jacqueline as Steffy Dr. John met Finnegan’s gaze (played by Tanner), it was love at first sight. Do you believe in this type of dating in real life?
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood: Of course! That’s how it was with my husband (Elan Ruspoli). From our first date I told her I wanted to marry her! I am convinced that there is a form of energy that can bring two people together instantly.
Did the fact that you’re both from Canada help you bond on set?
Tanner: Maybe. Also, we both have kids the same age. (Tanner, who just welcomed a boy with actress Kayla Ewell, is also the father of a three-year-old girl. Jacqueline has three boys, ages four, three, and one.) It sometimes leads to us seeing each other off set to spend time with family. Jacqueline’s kids love to play with my daughter. It brings us closer!
Jacqueline, you have three children. Is it difficult to find the right balance between family and work?
Jacqueline: The benefit top models, is that we shoot very quickly, so we are not away from home for long days. On the other hand, I find it really difficult to learn my lyrics with my three children revolving around me!
Tanner: I feel the same way! So I lock myself in my car in front of the house to rehearse my lines. My neighbors must think I’m going through a major crisis in my life! (laughs)
Jacqueline, how long did it take you to really feel like Steffy?
Jacqueline: I would say three or four years. The scripts contain so many descriptions of the feelings we need to express on screen that we end up feeling like the character doesn’t really belong to us. One day Susan Flannery (who played Stephanie Forrester, Steffy’s grandmother) advised me: “Forget what’s in the script and play it how you feel!” It gave me a lot more freedom.
Steffy was having a hard time with her opioid addiction problems. Does it matter that a soap opera like top models deals with such serious matters?
Jacqueline: Certainly! Bradley Bell (the producer of top models) really wanted to talk about this problem which has gotten worse during the Covid-19 pandemic. I also think it’s important to address social issues, even if we don’t want to burden the public mood with dark topics, especially at this time.
Tanner, you made your debut as Finn in the middle of a pandemic. Your first steps on set must have been a bit strange…
Tanner: My first day on set was the day the entire crew got back to work after lockdown. So it was really something special. We had to keep our masks on between takes and keep a distance of 2.40 meters. It was difficult to establish intimacy between us in this context. Despite that, Jacqueline and I managed to have a great bond!