Maitland Ward, who portrayed Jessica Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful (B&B) in the 1990s, has revealed that her rapport with former co-star Dylan Neal wasn’t strictly professional.
The former daytime drama actress told Page Six that she has come to view her relationship with Neal, who played Dylan Shaw, as deeply problematic.
“Looking back now, it was kind of a grooming situation,” she revealed. “And not necessarily for him to ever, like actually have sex with me or anything – but to do things to lead me on and become very attached to him and only him.”
Neal was 24 at the time, while Ward was 16. The actress points to this age difference as a reason she didn’t recognize the toxic dynamic at the time.
“I thought it was like, ‘Oh, he really likes me, he thinks I’m so great’,” Ward elaborated.
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Ward described the two as being very close during their B&B years. Even her Christian parents were grateful to have Neal around to protect their daughter from Hollywood’s influence.
“My parents were comfortable with him. He was always respectful and dropped me off on time – though they never demanded a strict curfew if I was with him,” Ward reflected.
Away from her parents’ gaze, however, the Boy Meets World alum alleges that Neal wasn’t the best influence.
“He was very much a pull-and-push kind of person. He would lure me in and we’d do fun things together and then he would push me away and be like, ‘What are you doing? Why are you like this?’”
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“He’d be very reprimanding, I guess, of anything I did,” Ward continued. “I wasn’t emotionally ready at all for that.”
Since Ward shared romantic scenes on B&B with Neal, it led to a sense of confusion at the time. But Ward now alleges that he was doling out reward and punishment to keep her in line, which made taping scenes difficult.
“It was definitely not a platonic situation there,” Ward insisted. “But he would then push me away and he would be very moody with me. So I was very reliant at work on his moods.”
Neal has yet to respond to her accusations, although Ward is expecting him to reach out. After all, the actress – who now works in adult entertainment – discusses her relationship with him at length in her memoir Rated X.
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