He's not just "America's Favorite," he's also a soap star! Big Brother 16 contestant Donny Thompson wasn't named champ on last night's season finale of the CBS reality hit — he was evicted from the house weeks ago — but at the end of the show, the North Carolina groundskeeper did bag $25,000 in a viewer popularity poll.
Now he's off to the CBS daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful, where he'll appear in scenes on Oct. 30-31 with Emmy winner Scott Clifton (Liam) and Aussie beauty Ashleigh Brewer (Ivy) that'll riff on the paranoia Donny caused on Big Brother — he was so humble and down-home nice that the other houseguests suspected he was really a genius doctor from Harvard or an undercover super soldier.
"We're going to have fun with all the speculations about Donny's 'real' career and it'll involve a lot of costume changes," hints the soap's supervising producer Casey Kasprzyk, a longtime Big Brother fan who has also hired twelve other Big Brother houseguests for roles on the soap's Halloween episode. That roster includes BB16 players Amber, Zach, Cody, Caleb, Nicole, Hayden and Devin, plus past Big Brother favorites Brendon, Rachel, Elissa, Jeff and Jordan. "We were only limited by time and budget," Kasprzyk says. "Otherwise, we would have invited even more houseguests. This was a season of terrific personalities."
But Donny topped them all. TV Guide Magazine had an exclusive chat with the fan fave about his upcoming suds debut.
TV Guide Magazine: It seems not winning BB16 isn't so bad . You made out like a bandit.
Thompson: It was a real honor to have the fans pick me as "America's Favorite." They say I got 5 million votes, which I can't even get my mind around. I got a stipend for doing the show which is $15,000, plus $15,000 for being part of Team America and $25,000 for America's Favorite. That's more money than if I'd won second place, so this turned out pretty good all the way around.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you still worried that your job might not be waiting for you back home?
Thompson: I'm still uncertain about it. I understand that my supervisor tried to hold my job but human resources posted it, but as of right now the job is still available. I'll probably have to reapply. In my exit interview, Julie Chen said right there on camera, "Donny, I don't think you'll have a problem getting your job back." [Laughs] I think I may have her get on the phone and talk to the superintendant!
TV Guide Magazine: And, if that fails, we should have each one of those five million "America's Choice" voters send you just one dollar.
Thompson: I could retire for life!
TV Guide Magazine: Other than your one conversation with Devin, who thought you were a top-secret member of the military, were you aware of all the other crazy Donny theories that were floating around the house?
Thompson: Devin was the only one who confronted me — and that came in the middle of the night when I was sound asleep. I just couldn't comprehend it. When I was evicted, Julie listed off all the things people thought I did for a living, including ninja. I was, like, "Holy moly, they really thought that?" I also hear some people in the house suspected I was a professor, because I had brought a Harvard shirt from home — one I bought for eight dollars. My Southern accent is so strong, I don't see how they could have thought I was some sort of smart teacher because I sound kinda dumb. And a ninja? I'm 42 years old with three knee surgeries.
TV Guide Magazine: Clearly, honesty and sincerity doesn't pay on Big Brother!
Thompson: No, it does not! I told everybody the truth and they kicked me out, but the winner, Derrick, lied all season and kept his occupation a secret — he's really a cop — and now he has half a million dollars. [Laughs] That's irony for ya.
TV Guide Magazine: But you're going on The Bold and the Beautiful and he's not! Have you ever given acting a fleeting thought?
Thompson: Never. Back home, I had a couple of buddies who were in a school play of Li'l Abner and that's the closest I've ever come. I have a fear of speaking in front of people, so I'm a little nervous to be going on a glamorous soap opera. They sent me a script and I have quite a lot of lines to learn. On the BB16 finale, they gave me just one question to ask [the finalists] and I practiced it all day long and, when the time came, I still had to read it off my piece of paper. But being on The Bold and the Beautiful will be lots of fun. They've got me wearing all sorts of outfits — surgeon, soldier, you name it. [Laughs] Wait till they see this back home! I'm going to be in scenes with Scott Clifton, who they tell me has three Emmys and that he loves Big Brother and is a big fan of mine. Huh? I'm just a little groundskeeper from nowhere and I have a fan who's a big-deal actor in Hollywood? I'd be happy just to mow his grass.