Article on ReadingEagle by Ian Spelling
Ashley Jones stars on the world’s most popular soap opera, “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and will join the cast of HBO’s red-hot vampire saga “True Blood” for its second season, but what she really wanted to play was the violin.
“That’s true, and it led to me acting,” the actress said. “It’s just one of those things. The first thing I remember wanting to do in life was to play the violin. And I very much got to pursue that. When you’re very young and you’re blessed with parents who allow you to try what interests you, that opens a door where you think, ‘Oh, wow, there’s more out there than I thought.’
“Most 3-year-olds want to be doctors or teachers or a fireman or a nurse. Not many 3-year-olds say ‘I want to be a violinist.’ So from a very young age my mind was opened up to different possibilities than the norm, especially growing up in Tennessee and Texas.
“One thing led to another, and I started doing commercials and theater, and I never really entertained any idea other than being in this business. I’m now doing other things, too. I love producing. I’m doing entrepreneurial work, like launching a beauty product. But it’s all connected to the entertainment business.”
Now 32, Jones first gained fame playing Megan Dennison Viscardi on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless,” on which she appeared from 1998 to 2000. In 2004, she ventured over to “The Bold and the Beautiful,” assuming the role of Dr. Bridget Forrester, who previously had been portrayed by Agnes Bruckner, Jennifer Finnigan and Emily Harrison.
Speaking by telephone from her Los Angeles home, Jones laughs as she recounts how initially she intended to devote no more than two years to “The Bold and the Beautiful.” It’s now nearly six years, more than 600 episodes, and counting.
“I felt so comfortable and loved the family so much that, when they asked me to stay, I said that I’d love to, as long as I could do other things,” Jones said. “I didn’t see any reason to leave, and I didn’t want anyone else to play Bridget.
“I’ve done a couple of Lifetime movies, ‘A Teacher’s Crime’ (2008) and ‘Dead at 17’ (2008), and I produced ‘Dead at 17.’ I’ve done several guest-star roles” – including appearances on “CSI: NY” (2007) and “Trust Me” (2009) – “and did a whole season of ‘True Blood,’ so it’s worked out.”
Like any good soap character, Bridget has experienced her share of ups and downs, calamities and moments of bliss. More often than not she can be found in the company of her mother, Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), or her on-again/off-again husband, Nick (Jack Wagner).
“The arcs have been pretty extreme,” Jones admitted. “I’d say there were two that were the most extreme. One was when her mother was having an affair with Nick. Bridget had to deal with that, and she allowed him to go figure out what he needed to figure out, with her mother. And the other was one we did recently where my aunt Katie (Heather Tom) was dying, and I wanted my husband to spend extra time with Katie, which was her dying wish. They ended up having an affair and I, again, let go of that marriage.
“And then, it didn’t take very long before the writers put Bridget and Nick back together. So it was a real roller coaster, with Bridget letting Nick go and Bridget exploring other avenues of her life. She took a sabbatical from being a doctor and became a designer and tried to date other men, and now she’s back with Nick.”
In fact, they could be back together for good: Bridget and Nick will become engaged in the June 15 episode, and will tie the knot again – for the third time, we think – during episodes that will air on June 24 and 25.
“I think they’re meant to be together,” Jones said. “As an actor, you have to figure out what makes sense and ground what you’re playing in reality, as fantastical as some of what you’re playing can be. You have to believe it to play it, and you have to believe it for the audience to believe it, too.
“And it’s a really beautiful love story between Bridget and Nick, just in a very roundabout, weird way. These characters can’t stay away from each other. Jack is playing Nick quite beautifully, showing his vulnerability, how Nick never had a father figure and was lost for so long. He’s really missed Bridget. He wants her back. He wants her trust back. And she’s never really stopped loving him.
“They’re each other’s rock, and I think Jack and I work together better than we work with anyone else on the show. I guess the audience picks up on that, because there are a lot of people who want Bridget and Nick together. I don’t want to say too much about the wedding, because I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s one of the first ceremonies we’ve ever had on the show that takes place in a chapel. We laughed a lot about that.”
Romance will also be in the air – and in the swamps of Louisiana – on “True Blood.” HBO will kick off the show’s second season on June 14 with the episode “Nothing But the Blood,” which will herald the arrival of Jones as Daphne, who lands a job as a waitress at Merlotte’s, working alongside the telepathic waitress Sookie (Anna Paquin) and their boss, Sam (Sam Trammell).
“Daphne is a very interesting character,” Jones said. “She’s introduced as a really lovely country girl. I see her living probably in someone’s garage apartment or in the back of a trailer. She’s kind of a gypsy and needs a job, so she wants to waitress at Merlotte’s.
“She’s not the best waitress. She’s a very flawed character, and within those flaws she’s charming and she definitely charms the pants off of Sam.”
So far as other developments go, Jones cites nondisclosure agreements and chooses her words carefully, but acknowledges that blood will flow.
Then there’s the matter of nudity. Everyone on “True Blood,” male and female alike, seems to end up in the buff.
“I’m sorry,” Jones said. “You cut out for a second there. Did you say ‘nudity?'”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought you said,” Jones said, laughing. “It’s a show that pushes the envelope in so many ways. HBO pushes the envelope. I definitely had to cross that bridge several different times, but I was blessed because I had an option in my contract where I wasn’t bound to do anything.
“It was really my choice, and I had a body double standing by at given points in time.
“But when all is said and done, the main characters, outside of Jason (Ryan Kwanten), really don’t show that much. They leave more to the imagination.
“I ended up doing more here than I have ever done, but when it really came down to it, it’s not that different from what I do on ‘Bold and the Beautiful,’ it’s just shot differently.
“Lighting and music can allude to a lot more than what you’re actually doing. But there are some beautiful shots that are definitely suggestive. And she’s a wild, crazy girl. She’s the kind of girl that strips down and goes skinny dipping at night.”
Jones is on a roll, professionally speaking, but all is not perfect in her universe. She and her husband, actor Noah Nelson, recently divorced after six years of marriage. They had met in 1992, when she shared the screen with his father, “Coach” star Craig T. Nelson, in the television movie “The Fire Next Time” (1993).
“Unfortunately we have parted ways and the divorce is final,” Jones said. “I haven’t chosen to talk about it very much. If you know any together, single young men, please e-mail me and set that up.
“It’s funny, because someone was just saying recently that it’s so unusual that someone who has such a huge role in daytime also has a huge role on something as critically acclaimed and edgy and popular as ‘True Blood.’ They were paying me a compliment, and I was like, ‘Uh-huh, yeah, no, it’s great.’
“You can’t have it all all the time. It’s a lesson that I’m slowly learning. But I definitely think marriage and children will be in the future.”