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Ryan Phillippe On His Groundbreaking Role As OLTL’s Billy Douglas 25 Years Later: "I’m Proud That That’s Something I Can Say Was A Part Of My Career."

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

One of the most memorable social issue storylines in the history of One Life to Live and daytime television occurred in 1992-1993 when the show brought in the teen-aged character of Billy Douglas, who turned out to be gay.  The actor who portrayed Billy was none other than motion picture star Ryan Phillippe in his then first professional acting role.

The tapestry of the gay storyline on OLTL also featured Billy’s relationship with a priest which was put into question, and that dove-tailed into the AIDS quilt appearing on the series, when it became part of a heart-wrenching storyline.

Promoting his new film, “Wish Upon”, Ryan chatted with TooFab,  where he discussed his role in Llanview some 25 years ago: “I remember the fan mail that we would get, my mother and I would get, from gay teenagers or from parents of gay teenagers who found a way in to relate to or talk to their child through the show.”

Ryan spoke to the power of the TV medium and how can impact people’s lives: “It can make people think differently or see a different side of something and I do remember and appreciating that — even back then when I was only a teenager myself.”

The talented star admits that at the time he did not have a full understanding of what playing Billy Douglas meant at the time, but he does so now: “In terms of like the larger view, I didn’t have a full understanding of how important it could have been. But I’m proud to have done it, I’m proud that that’s something I can say was a part of my career.”

Watch Ryan talk OLTL and the Billy Douglas storyline after the jump. Then let us know if it was one of the best social issues stories ever told on soaps in the comment section below!

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Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

I have very fond memories of the Billy Douglas story. The story was told very sensitively and courageously. Ryan and the entire cast did a terrific job. As always, our beloved One Life to Live informed and generated thought while keeping us entertained. I miss One Life to Live every day.

Iakovos
Iakovos

OH, I miss OLTL too, especially when the series delved into social issue stories. Agnes Nixon created such wonderful programs that served as platforms for entertainment and discussion. They say this is a golden age of television but it seems daytime drama is being left out. Only four soaps left on the air. Shouldn’t the genre be enjoying a revival with all this opportunity for original programming on broadcast, cavle, and streaming services?

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

So happy that this snippet of the interview has been posted here!

My admiration for Ryan Phillippe has been further cemented… The gay teen storyline was a major groundbreaking, influential effort; it was an incredible experience. Over the years, OLTL broke ground on occasion and, needless to say, had some terrific storylines and characters. This was one of the show’s finest hours. I am so thrilled I was exposed to, and affected by, it…

Steve
Steve

As a gay man in his 20s at the time, I was proud that OLTL had the storyline.

I seem to recall the original idea was for Joey Bucanhan to be gay. The writers got Agnes’ blessing, but the network wasn’t ready for a legacy character to be gay. The compromise was the introduction of Billy.

Other than the dull theme song, the Linda Gottleib years on OLTL were darn good.

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

You are so right. That theme song was a tremendous let down after the wonderful Tour of Llanview.
“Here’s what to do when you don’t find the rainbow’s end, this time……”

Chad Graeber
Chad Graeber

The Linda Gottlieb/Michael Malone/Josh Griffith years of OLTL (1991-1995?) were truly some of THE best years of soap storytelling. I was just remarking on Daytime Confidential site how engrossing, engaging, and energizing was the writing during that era, from the Billy Douglas coming out to priest Andrew Carpenter story to Viki’s growing attraction to Andrew’s father General Carpenter and the break-up of her marriage to Clint (who became a bigot at the time in response to Billy) to the introduction of Marty Saybrooke and her eventual gangrape at the hands of Todd Manning, who only later was revealed to be Viki’s half-brother and child of Victor to the ensuing trial with Nora Gannon, who was terrorized by Todd later. Wow! Even up to 1995, when Viki split again, this time into Niki, Jean, and Tommy, all of whom terrorized Dorian down in that basement of the Lord mansion! Such entertaining years, rather like that golden age of storytelling on AMC in the late 80s with the Palmer/Natalie/Ross/Ellen/Mark/Elizabeth/Julie/Nico saga that was storyline gold for about a year and a half. … I too found the OLTL opening during that time to LOOK generic, but never SOUNDED generic! The music that Gottlieb and her music directors used during those years was elegant and riveting and beautiful and really enhanced the drama unfolding onscreen (i.e., the beautiful Pavane for a Princess that played during Megan’s hospital death scenes — how appropriate! That chilling music that would spill out when Alex Olenov would slink down her penthouse steps or appear sinisterly in any scene; the Debussy piano pieces that played in the background as Max and Blair fell in love, Blair first played by an Asian actress before Kassie DePaiva; the theme music for Todd Manning when he was evil) — I still remember it all! Why can’t soaps write and produce like that anymore? I know they don’t have the budgets they used to, but has creativity and engaging storytelling been hijacked as well? #missingmyoldoltl!

Alan
Alan

Not really a fan of the storyline but then I wasn’t a fan of either of Michael Malone’s stints as headwriter.

I preferred the coming out stories of AMC’s Bianca, DOOL’s Will, ATWT’s Luke, and OLTL’s Oliver.

The best social issue storylines in my opinion are: GL’s Roger/Holly marital rape trial; GH’s Stone dies from AIDS; ATWT’s Margo pulls the plug on Casey; GH’s Monica’s breast cancer; AMC’s Cindy contracts AIDS; OLTL’s Shane is bullied; AMC’s Mark’s drug intervention; AMC’s Michael Delaney reveals he is gay to his students and nearly loses his job; GL’s Holly learns her baby has Down Syndrome; AMC’s Donna is a teenage hooker; Y&R’s Phillip’s teenage alcoholism; AMC’s Daisy deals with the death of Bonkers; KNOTS LANDINGS’ Olivia’s drug addiction.

dmr
dmr

Alan, all of those storylines you mentioned were executed with heart and soul. They were told with such love and sensitivity. They were not rushed, and they were topics that so many of us could relate to, even if they did not hit our homes, per say. They were real, adult topics that we could relate to because perhaps our friends, family, neighbors, dealt with these issues, and because they were the focus on news programs and in society. I miss the days when daytime television focused on real, human element storylines. Both AMC and GH did an astounding portrayal of the AIDS epidemic. I remember crying and crying during those scenes with both Cindy and Stone. WOW.

Kevin C
Kevin C

Alan and dmr, oh how I so agree with both of you and I so miss those days…That is what great soaps/daytime & night time drama’s are all about.

Patricio
Patricio

What a great memory you have Al! I do remember many of those stories and yes they were groudbreaking!

GemmaG
GemmaG

Nice! Ryan Phillippe went on to have a great career and it is great that he remembers his start. He is sooooo good looking! OLTL had many new young actors as well as provocative and educational storylines. GH is no where near as good, although they have double the cast. If I remember correctly, when Billy Douglas came out his father was terrible to him (RP did an amazing job in this role too). Marty Saybrooke then started a rumor about Andrew, the priest, because she had a crush on him, and that almost got Andrew thrown in jail. Queer as Folk kinda copied the BD storyline, although it was different and also very well done. I hope ABC brings back OLTL now that it has been proven by PP that the show could be streamlined without losing substance or interest.

Breaking News

Vinessa Antoine Reveals She And General Hospital Have Parted Ways; After Landing Primetime Series Lead

After the fantastic bit of casting news for actress Vinessa Antoine  (Jordan Ashford) over the weekend, today, via her social media accounts, Vinessa has addressed her future with General Hospital.

As viewers know, Vinessa has been cast as the drama series lead in the new CBC production of Diggstown, and it is groundbreaking making her the first black actress to star in a series on the legendary Canadian broadcasting network,   Originally it was presumed that Antoine would go recurring on GH, while she was away filming, but that is not the case as she revealed in her heartfelt message today.  She and GH have mutually parted ways.

Vinessa’s statement: “There are so many people that God put into place who are directly and indirectly responsible for my time at General Hospital.  You know who you are. I thank you. I came into this world as an artist. My job is to create and inspire. I hope that I did that a little in playing #JordanAshford.

I believe that I have taken her as far as I can.  To clarify, as negotiations for #Diggstown were underway, although I am open to stay and play in Port Charles, I was told by my reps that GeneralHospital felt that my character would be off the canvas for too long for me to continue playing her.

With that, we decided to mutually part ways.  It’s time to make room for more women of color in prominent roles on television. I’m grateful to assist in that by starting this new chapter in my journey. I hope you’ll all come along. I feel blessed. Be well. xo”

An ABC rep told Soap Opera Digest that the role of Jordan is being recast.

So what do you think of Vinessa leaving GH for good? Share your thoughts via the comment section below and let’s wish her much success!

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Lauralee Bell On Her 35th Anniversary With Y&R: “My Hope For Cricket Is To Smile The Way She Used To & Chill Whenever Possible.”

Congratulations are in order this Sunday to Lauralee Bell who is celebrating her 35th anniversary with The Young and the Restless.  Hard to believe, it’s been 35 years since the perils of a young Cricket became front and center and those young love stories with Danny (Michael Damian), Phillip (Thom Bierdz) and eventually, Paul ( Doug Davidson).

As Cricket matured, so to was the decision to now call the character by her birth name, Christine.  After all, she became quite the legal eagle! For over three and a half decades with time-off in between, Lauralee has shared memorable storylines with the amazing Tricia Cast, and the late Jeanne Cooper as Nina and Katherine, and let’s not forget Michael Baldwin, played by Christian LeBlanc, to name just a few/

In a few tweets on Sunday, Lauralee acknowledged the day stating: “We all couldn’t do what we love to do without the viewers so thanks to them!”  She followed that up with a tweet filled with photos of herself and her co-stars throughout the years ,and some self-effacing humor stating: “Wasn’t going to post for YR anniversary, because I’m not one to put attention on me but no denying these people have made my life better. Thanks to crew & fans and my hope for Cricket is to smile the way she used to & chill whenever possible”

As viewers know, Lauralee is the daughter of Y&R creators, the late, great Bill Bell and his wife, Lee Phillip Bell.  We are sure Bill is smiling today for Lauralee and proud of this accomplishment.

Share your congrats for Lauralee on this milestone via the comment section below.  Then let us know your most memorable or favorite Cricket/Christine moment on the CBS Daytime drama series.

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Breaking News

GH’s Vinessa Antoine Lands Primetime Series Will Make Canadian TV History!

Fantastic news for General Hospital favorite, Vinessa Antoine (Jordan)! The talented actress had landed the leading role in the primetime Canadian series, Diggstown!

The legal drama is scheduled to air this fall.  In Diggstown, Antoine will play Marcie Diggs, a top corporate lawyer who decides to dedicate herself to a legal aid office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

This casting news will make Vinessa a part of Canadian TV history as the first Black Canadian actress to star in a prime-time drama on legacy network television, CBC.

Antoine spoke to the Toronto Star about her starring role, “When I first read the script I was really attracted to the notion that she was a corporate lawyer and she believed in the system. And when that crashed for her, life nudged her to do something extraordinary. And because I’m a woman of color, so many things connected. She’s complex, not stereotypical, and that’s refreshing.”

However as suspected, and according to the Toronto Star: “General Hospital fans will not be happy to learn that Antoine, who has been with the show since 2014, will no longer be a series regular when she starts shooting Diggstown in August.”

So, excited to hear Vinessa has been cast in a leading primetime series?  Comment below!

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This week, a shocking move leaves Victor stunned! What will happen when the mystery around J.T. is revealed, and the fallout from it begins? Check out this explosive promo from Y&R. Leave A Comment

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Recent Comments

  • Jeremy: “A true class act. I knew from day 1 when Vinessa Antoine debuted on GH, I felt she'd go…
  • Rodd: “Sad to see her go. Hope she does well in other projects. All the best, Vinessa!
  • Soaphound: “I know I'm gonna catch it for this, as I am not nor have ever been a Christine fan. I…
  • Rodd: “He is a class act and I DO HOPE that they don't recast and that he can come back some…
  • Michael: “I wish her well in this new endeavor, but I wasn't a fan of the Jordan character.
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