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Thad Luckinbill Chats On Coming Home To Y&R, And J.T. Reconnecting With Victoria, Reed, and Victor!

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Thad’s back, and that is welcome news for everyone who loves The Young and the Restless.  Back in 1999 through to 2010, the character of J.T. Hellstrom became a fan favorite, and soap audiences got their weekly dose of the multi-talented, Thad Luckinbill.

Through the years, viewers first came to know J.T. in the teen scene, and then on to his various grown up love stories with Victoria Newman, Colleen Carlton, and Mackenzie Browning, and his work as a private investigator which put J.T. at the epicenter of all the Genoa City drama.

Now as 2017 comes to a close, J.T. returns to investigate some financial skullduggery and more at Newman Enterprises, which puts him directly into his ex-wife, Victoria’s (Amelia Heinle) orbit, while attempting to reconnect with their son, Reed (Tristan Lake Leabu).

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Thad to get the 411 on: what brought him back to the top-rated soap, how he is balancing his career as a successful Hollywood movie producer and actor, while returning to his old stomping grounds at Y&R, and more.  Here’s what Thad shared.

Here you are back at Y&R!  Did you love the CBS Daytime Promos heralding your return? 

Courtesy/CBS

THAD:  To be honest with you, I did not expect all of that.  It has been fun on my end to see, because I did not know that would be a part of my return.

How did it come about that Y&R was able to bring you back to the fold and onto the canvas?

THAD:  Well, there have been discussions to return all along.  I left Y&R back in 2010, and I went straight into being on the series, Nikita, which was filmed in Toronto. I did that for about a year, then after that is when I started my production company.  We then started filming a lot of movie over the past seven years.  Every time Y&R would call, the timing wasn’t right; either I was filming a movie for my production company, or I was shooting a role on a show.  This is really the first time my schedule had matched up with theirs.  Mal Young (executive producer and head writer, Y&R) came up with a really cool storyline, so it was made even more intriguing to come back.  I knew the gist of the storyline I was coming back for, and so it was exciting to come for a story that had some meat to it, rather than just “checking in” for a bit. 

I remember when you left back in 2010, how upset the fans were … how upset I was!   We all were heartbroken to see you go.  I have to tell you, I have obviously covered the soap beat for years, and I recall watching your final scenes, and it was one of the all-time, “Please, don’t go!” moments.   Coming back several years later, is there at all a concern of can I live up to that, because of how the audience fell in love with J.T. in the first place? 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  It’s interesting. For me, this character is one of the only characters on daytime that has not been played by anybody else.  It was a character, fortunately created with the head writers at the time, and me.  Originally, I was only supposed to be here for a handful of episodes.  It sort of just grew into something.  It took off purely, because of the fans. They just liked the guy, and the character.  They were into the Colleen storyline; which everybody enjoyed including me, and so then we created something really cool.  In terms of coming back, fortunately the only person I had to live up to is my own shoes.   The environment has changed some; in that it’s shot and moves at a faster pace.  That has taken me a little bit of time to get used to.  I am not sure I will ever be used to that, but I am trying to.

When J.T. returned last week the audience learned he is now a forensic accountant!

THAD:  Yes.  He wears many hats!  He also owns a food truck, I think.  We are going to find that out. (Laughs)  It makes sense for J.T. to be a forensic accountant, because he was a PI with Paul (Doug Davidson) for awhile.  He was also head of Newman Enterprises security at one point.  I can see it being in J.T.’s wheelhouse, so it is understandable that he would be doing that now for a career choice.

Courtesy/CBS

J.T. is back investigating Newman Enterprises, and the first scene viewers saw was one with you, Eric Braeden (Victor), and Amelia Heinle.  How was it working again with Mr. Braeden?

THAD:  In getting to work with Eric again for the first time, he was as excited as I was and it was great.  I love that guy.  He is always going to give you a funny exchange to get things rolling.

I cannot help but think of Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) while talking with you.  Katherine and J. T. we’re very close and she adored him.  There were so many times when I spoke with Jeanne that I recall her telling me how fond she was of you.  Your relationship on-screen, and off, was very special to both of you.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  She was great.  Jeanne was an awesome person. It was heartbreaking to hear of Jeanne’s passing, and I was away from the show at the time.  Everybody loved her. Jeanne was a great role model for younger actors and people in this industry as far as how to carry yourself with dignity, and to even when things were difficult, to love your job and have pride in it, and still find ways to make it enjoyable.  She was just so amazing.  Katherine liked J.T. and she was so sweet to me.  Jeanne was one of the first people on the show to sort of embrace me when I first came on, and show me the ropes. That meant a lot.  It’s funny.  The other day I was on the set with Tristan Lake Leabu (Reed), and some of the other younger actors – and I can’t believe I am saying that!  I used to be one of them!  (Laughs)  So, we are in the Chancellor living room, and I remember how Jeanne used to give us acting tips here and there, and she would pass them along.  As I was sitting there, I remembered one as I am looking up and there is her portrait in the scene. So, I told the kids what she had told me, and I thought: “Now this is cool.”

Now in story, Victoria is surprised to see her ex-husband J.T. in Genoa City, and there is a dad problem between J.T, and Reed.  So, where is J.T at with that issue?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  As you can imagine, J.T. has been gone.  He has been absent for the last handful of years.  He has been in Poland with Mac, and their two kids.  In Reed’s life, J.T. was absent, and you will come to learn why there was a problem, and then sort of how they deal with it.  I like getting to play layers as an actor in the character and the story.  At the end of my run in 2010, there was a Reed, but until now I haven’t had a young adult version of him that I can play off of.  That has been fun. 

With Billy acting like a pseudo-dad to Reed, that I can imagine does not sit well with J.T., which puts you on-screen in direct conflict with Jason Thompson. How is working with Jason and the Billy dynamic?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  He’s great.  I love when they write it, because there have been different Billy’s over the years.  I love when they write Billy the way they are doing now, and the way Jason is doing it.  It’s really fun to watch, and act with him.  So, I love the relationship they have created between the two characters, because it feels like the way it was initially written way back when both characters started on the show when they were teenagers.  Sometimes over the years they would let that dissipate, but now they brought it up again, and it’s so much fun to play. 

How does J.T. feel about Victoria?  He is investigating Newman Enterprises, and she is in the middle of it.  My bet is that I feel she will play him, and he will play her.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  Victoria is caught in the middle. That’s her family, and a lot of people remember that he has bumped heads with Victor over the years.  J.T. is in a very interesting position of holding the power, as well as being caught in a situation where he has a job to do, and obligated to do the right thing, which becomes very difficult in certain situations.

Are there old romantic feelings simmering underneath between Victoria and J.T.?

THAD:  Yes, there are still old feelings between them. It’s pretty evident from the beginning.  We will come to find out more later.  I think when I left the show, J.T. was with Mac, and Colleen had drowned. J.T. went off the canvas and went to be with Mac.  He is still with Mac in Poland.  Back then; the issue was J.T. got custody of Reed, and Victoria was like, “I will never forgive you.”  Therein lies the conflict.

You play the guitar and sing, and so too does your on-screen son, Tristan Lake Leabu.   Is there a duet coming?  I feel that could be a nice father/son bonding moment. Music heals people, right?  They even had that old clip of you singing on Y&R on CBS.com recently to remind viewers of J.T. and your many talents.  So, that could certainly be a tease. Thoughts?  (Laughs) 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  I don’t know. Hmmm.  We will see about that.  Back then, there was a whole storyline revolving around the music..

Can the Y&R faithful expect to see the good ole’ J.T. they know and love, or is there a swerve coming?

THAD:  He is still the good ole’ J.T.  He is not here to be a jerk.  He is back and he wants to mend his relationship with his son, or fix it. I think that is all the agenda J.T. has at this point in the story.

You have scenes that have started to air, and moving forward where you reconnect with the key faces in Genoa City.  What has that experience been like?

THAD:  I have worked with almost everybody, I think; except for Peter Bergman (Jack) and Eileen Davidson (Ashley).  I think everyone else J.T. will have sort of bumped into.  That is what is so great about this show – the people that are still here and those relationships – it’s like a high school reunion.  Only in high school, you didn’t like the people you were with, but here you do! (Laughs)

Let’s talk about your production company, Black Label Media, which has produced several great films that people would know.  Do you enjoy that aspect of show business?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  Interestingly enough, when I moved out here to Los Angeles, my first job was interning for a producer; then after a year I became part of his team. Then the acting thing was sort of a hobby and I pursued it, because I enjoyed it, but I never thought I would do it full-time.  But then, I started to do it full-time, and the producing took a back seat.  I knew there would come a time where I would need to do other things, as well.  So that fortunately came about at the perfect time.  As a producer it’s also nice, because sometimes you can find roles that work for you.  I’ve been able to do a lot of stuff.  I did a pilot for ABC last year, and would love to continue to do things outside of acting, but still act, which I love.

For those who aren’t aware, do you want to name off the top of your head, some of the most-known of your company’s film projects?

Courtesy: Lionsgate

THAD:  As far as films people would know and saw there is La La Land.  I remember the first time I read the script. I thought it was so innovative, and then we needed to figure out how to make it work, and bring it to the screen.  I loved how it turned out.  There is also Sicario, and we just filmed the sequel to that which comes out next year.  There is movie coming out January 19th that is a war movie with Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon called 12 Strong.   I am in that one, as well.  I play one of the 12 soldiers that goes to Afghanistan after 9/11.

With all that you have going on, what can we say to the fans as far as to how long you intend on being here at Y&R?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

THAD:  I am definitely here for awhile.  I will tell the fans that.  You can expect that now that he is back in Genoa City, that there will be some unexpected people that J.T. interacts with.

Are there any scenes that you have taped since you have been back at Y&R that stand out as your favorites thus far; whether they have aired yet, or not?

THAD:  I have had a couple of scenes that have been my favorites, so far.  One of them was with Melody Scott Thomas (Nikki) and Amelia.  I just want to say; it was also great seeing Mel again.  We had a couple of scenes where we get to yell at each other, which was fun! (Laughs) 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

The final question: Does J.T. really, truly, deeply want to bring down the mighty Victor Newman?

THAD:  He kind of ebbs and flows with that. Christine (Lauralee Bell) and Paul are thirsty to nail Victor on charges, and so who better for Paul to call than J.T. And speaking of Paul, I love Doug Davidson.  He is exactly the same as he always was.  That is what is so great about this experience.  I love seeing all these people. They are all such great actors and good people.  I am happy to be home at Y&R.

Watch a preview for the upcoming motion picture 12 Strong featuring Thad below.  Then let us know, what you think of J.T.’s return to Genoa City thus far? Do you hope J.T. becomes romantically involved while in town with Victoria, or someone else? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Jimh
Jimh

I tune in once in awhile…just not the same without Katherine…Jill should had been the next Katherine type to fill that void!!!

Ron
Ron

An opportunity missed by many writers! Y and R could have brought back one of the original storylines from its first year: young Jill messing around with Philip Chancellor who’s in a loveless marriage with Katherine. Kill him off and then continue the cat fight for the better of 30 years!

Jimh
Jimh

That would had been good…

Jen
Jen

Great interview but I was hoping there would be a question about him and Amelia in real life. Did they get divorced? She posted a pic on twitter of them with their kids in the water looking like they were still together so I’m guessing they never got divorced after all. I would imagine that could be awkward if JT and Victoria do get involved again.

Andrew Hass
Andrew Hass

Thad and Amelia are divorced but they may still get along for their kids sakes.Plus maybe they are better off as co-parents and friends than as a married couple

Kaitlin
Kaitlin

I imagine that’s probably something neither one wants to address or they would. I hope for whatever’s best for their family! But it’s not bleeding on screen because Amelia and Thad are doing a remarkable job with their characters and their chemistry has been great!

Selena
Selena

Fantastic interview. I loved what he said about Jeanne Cooper!! Katherine’s presence is missed every day. 🙁

But why didn’t you ask Thad about his divorce from Amelia and whether it’s awkward working with his Ex-wife?? The end of their 10 year marriage was heart-breaking for many soap fans and we are wondering how Thad and Amelia and their kids are handling all that.

Also we want to know if there’s any truths to the rumors that Mal Young is planning to write JT as an abusive wife beater. I hope that’s not true and wish somebody would set the record straight!!!

Mo
Mo

I think if it were going to be hard to work with Amelia, he wouldn’t have returned to the show, especially since his character will probably have a lot of scenes with Victoria.

They are both doing a great job!

K/kay
K/kay

Michael: as it should be their privarpte life I scan see what’s happening just a few days no thanks if that is why you brought him back to tell a abuse story! Nope MY does nit get this shower either

K/kay
K/kay

So I will say adieu when you do not have a horse in the race time to sight off!

K/kay
K/kay

Sign oops

K/kay
K/kay

Thank you Michael so very much for this interview!!! His romance with the original Colleen/Lindsey Fonseca was indeed one of the best teen storylines ever yes he started out as a bad boy and then became a hero I am still taping it I hope they give us a scene with Traci and him. I may not watch it every day and I am not fond of the pacing but it’s nice he is back for a while and his success is so well deserved. Now about that pesky divorce off screen work it out love is always better the second time around!!

Jane
Jane

Yeah, it seems odd that it was not asked or addressed as to whether he withdrew his petition against Amelia and if not is it awkward working with your soon to be ex-wife?

I understand they may want to keep their private life private so those questions were off-limits, but it’s such an odd interview without the question at least being raised. There’s a REALLY big elephant in the room.

Kevin C
Kevin C

I love Thad Luckinbill and loved JT and Colleen’s love story…The movie looks good…

Joyce Lynch
Joyce Lynch

I want to show everyday which are you you’re doing a good job

Christine
Christine

Excited to see where JT and Victoria’s romance goes this time. Hope he stays or can come back soon!

Wendy
Wendy

Always feel most of the cast keep their private lives private, which is where they can be themselves and I do respect them for that always. The characters they play are not themselves. As actors, irregardless of any personal lives with other cast members, when they are working together, it’s just about the script and plots. So, feel this interview in keeping this in mind, Michael did what was important to talk exclusively about the work life and YR return of Thad. It’s great to see him back, but am not a fan of the facial hair growth, but maybe it’s to make him look older and ?wiser as JT. impressive his work as a producer over these past 10 years.

Mo
Mo

Glad to have JT back. Kinda confused as to why Reed doesn’t want to see his dad. It was explained a little, but now is Reed’s chance to have JT to himself.

On a sidenote, Reed needs a haircut!

Soaphound
Soaphound

Amen, Mo. I’ve got floor mops in better shape!

Mo
Mo

Thanks for the smile. I needed it. 🙂

Timmm
Timmm

Never a fan but I like why he is here. He can shake up the Newman crew and hopefully take Reed back to Poland! Well, at least get the dude a haircut!

Sherry
Sherry

I hope JT stays for a long long time on Y&R. he is AWESOME

Mark Y
Mark Y

So who do you all think is Victoria’s one true love? J.T. or Billy?

Soaphound
Soaphound

Sorry, Mark, but I’d say it’s Victor. In a non-perverse way, of course.

Mo
Mo

How about herself? 😉

Harry
Harry

What a great interview. I think he’s a gem of an actor and it’s good to have him back. I also appreciate the fact that Victoria can have some romantic interactions which don’t involve Billy.
On another note, how annoying was Abby flipping out when JT merely asked her if she’d like to visit some clubs with him? They’re old friends, practically family, she she makes a scene in the bar while that slimy idiot Scott looks on. Get over yourself, Abby! What a shallow, ego maniacal narcissist she is. She’s so bad she makes me miss Summer.

Ann
Ann

I want a scene with Traci as well. I want Mac to show up, maybe her cousin Devon can have a fued with JT.

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