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The Darius McCrary Interview- The Young and the Restless

Darius Main1

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Next week on December 29th on The Young and the Restless, all eyes of long-time fans will be watching the debut of the new Malcolm Winters, played by Darius McCrary. It’s the role made famous by Criminal Minds star and former soap heartthrob, Shemar Moore. Moore won a Daytime Emmy and was uber-popular in the role of the wayward Winters brother. When Moore decided not to return to Y&R (this time) the show put out an extensive casting call for Neil’s younger brother, who is also the biological father of the cancer-stricken Lily. Yes, a short refresher course: One night when the late Drucilla had taken a double dose of her cold medication, (which left her somewhat groggy), Malcolm stopped by to check on her, and well, the duo ended up in bed together! And after their “romp,” Malcolm realized he had made a terrible mistake, and that mistake would change and alter the Winters family for years to come. Recently, Malcolm’s whereabouts have been unknown, and in this On-Air On-Soaps first look interview with Darius, he tells us all will eventually be revealed.

While this is McCrary’s first soap, he has quite an extensive resume. Darius is best known for his role as Eddie Winslow on the hit television series Family Matters. It was there that he met and worked with another member of the current Winters clan, Bryton James (Devon). He has also starred in many motion pictures and television specials.

Journalists, message boards and discussion threads have not been most kind to Darius’s arrival because they are saying; “He looks nothing like Shemar Moore!” But, who does? Recently, Y&R execs told On-Air On-Soaps that the show really wants to delve back into the origins of the original concept for the character – edgy, and street savvy. Can Darius McCrary change people’s minds? Will Y&R viewers give a new actor in a prestigious role an opportunity to make it his own? McCrary says he is definitely up for the task!

Listen to the audio:

The Darius McCrary Interview – The Young and the Restless

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MICHAEL:

The time has arrived and shortly we will first see you as Malcolm Winters. I remember coming up to the offices here one day and seeing a slew of young actors vying for the role. How did this come about for you? You auditioned like everyone else, right?

DARIUS:

I did. I was not in here with a whole lot of people, but the day that I was brought in, it was not really crowded and there was a short list after the audition. I was just happy to be there.

Malcolm Arrives

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MICHAEL:

You knew this was a choice primo role that Shemar Moore had played and won a Daytime Emmy for his portrayal. So where were you when you found out you got the gig?

DARIUS:

I was traveling and going to visit family and take care of some business, and my manager called and gave me the news and I was ecstatic. I keep telling everybody that signing on this show to me is just as big as me signing on to a film with Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt. I say that because this is a coveted role, number one, and also it’s a great show. I had no idea Y&R was as popular as it is!

MICHAEL:

Did you know that it was thee top soap on daytime?

DARIUS:

I had no idea. I have always wanted to do daytime television, but past handlers and agents had steered me away from it because they would say to me, “Darius, you have already passed that mark in your career. You have done prime time and feature films and continue to go upward,” and I go, “Are you kidding me? Do you know who Erica Kane is? Do you know who Luke and Laura are?” (Laughs) Growing up, my mom was an All My Children and One Life to Live fan. Then I got into General Hospital as a kid because of Luke and Laura. I never really watched Y&R, but my Aunt Cathy does. So my Aunt was ecstatic when she found out! And one of the things that is beautiful to me as an actor and entertainer is that relationship you develop with a fan, when they follow your career, and they follow you to where they feel like they know you, and television enhances that when you have a long-term gig or a long-term role. I learned that on Family Matters and they call me, “Eddie”. Last night I ran into some fans and it was funny. They go, “Oh, my man! Hey, my dude! Wassup, Eddie Winslow?” And I am like, “Hey, wassup guys?” I say, “ Hey, guys, I don’t care what you call me, but can you spread the word that I am now Malcolm Winters? Malcolm is my name.” And they go, “That’s cool dude. But Eddie is my man!” (Laughs) Soon I will be Eddie Winters! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You have the task of overcoming the mark that Shemar Moore left in this role. There are skeptics that say you look nothing like him. And, “How can Y&R recast this role?” Do you feel you are up for the task? And, does that pressure play with your mind?

Shemar Moore2

©JPI Studios

DARIUS:

No. I have been doing this long enough to know a few things. Look, Shemar is a great guy and a great actor, and a beautiful human being, but he is Shemar and I am Darius. I have been doing this since I was nine years old. So whatever the role is, I am going to do the best I can do. The only thing I am concerned with is stepping on the stage in front of that camera and giving the best performance I know I can give, day in and day out as an actor. The way I look at it is, it’s just like if I was playing football, and if there was a running back before me who put up some numbers and he gets traded and I come in and I get to run that backfield. Believe me, I am going to step on some heads to get the numbers and the yards that I have to. Also, it makes it easy to do when you are working with a group of consummate professionals who are extremely gifted. This is an unselfish group of actors here at Y&R, who are completely thorough.

MICHAEL:

Did Kristoff St. John (Neil) and Christel Khalil (Lily) give you any Malcolm pointers, or bring up Shemar to you on set?

DARIUS:

Nobody brought up Shemar and it’s cool. It has not been a thing of “Oh, Shemar did this.” Everybody is giving me the love and respect to allow me to do what I do as an actor, and that was one of the beautiful things about this from the beginning. When I went in I did not know what to expect. I have never read for a soap before. I am all about breaking barriers and challenging myself, that is why everything I have done on my resume is different. I have never played a cop again, and I have never played a boxer again since I played Muhammad Ali. That was a challenge, being darker than him, and the film won Best Television Movie and I was a part of that. I was in Mississippi Burning, which won an Oscar.

MICHAEL:

You were in the original Mississippi Burning?

Neil and Malcolm

©JPI Studios

DARIUS:

Yeah! I was nine years old, but I look at the journey. Everybody trips off the destination, but you have to enjoy the journey. This is a part of the journey I am enjoying. And as I was saying, when I went into the audition Maria Arena Bell (co exec prod and head writer, Y&R) and Paul Rauch (co-exec prod, Y&R) were wonderful. They knew what they wanted, but they allowed me to do what I am capable of as an actor, and that is the best gift a producer or writer can give an actor when you are reading for something. “This is what we want. We know what we want. Do what you do.” And when you meet in the middle, it’s magic. Every time I read the lines for this role, I feel it. I feel like I know this guy.

MICHAEL:

What can we expect from Malcolm’s return to Genoa City?

DARIUS:

All I am going to tell you is, there is a whole lot of tension, and let’s just say there is a ‘family matter’. (Laughs) There are family issues going on. He comes back to make things right with the family.

MICHAEL:

Is his brother, Neil glad to see him? Or, will he punch him?

Malcolm and Cane

©JPI Studios

DARIUS:

Let me tell you something… Neil is a piece of work, man! Kristoff is great. It’s so cool that I get a chance to work with him. I have known his work for a long time. He is so solid as an actor.

MICHAEL:

Are we going to like this version of Malcolm? Is he a good guy who, shall we say, will be extremely flawed?

DARIUS

We are all flawed in life, but some characters in soaps are more flawed. I have been doing my homework going, “What’s wrong with these people?” (Laughs) I think we will feel and care for Malcolm.

MICHAEL:

It’s great that Y&R is bringing in another black character to once again expand the Winters family. How do you feel about what it represents to have you here in this role?

DARIUS:

I think it’s a wonderful thing to have African-American characters. Look at life. It’s not a white world or a black world; there are all kind of people in it. It’s showing growth, and in today’s world there are so many outlets. I don’t believe there are any more blockbusters films. Back in the day with music, people would wait up all night for the music store to open to get their favorite CD, and if it were sold out they would come back again. The thing I love about soaps, and from what I know about this is its run in a very old school way, which I like, since I have been doing this entertainment thing for a long time. But I see that there are some new barriers that they can break. I feel that by being part of Y&R, I am hoping that new viewers who haven’t watched soaps before will tune-in.

Christel Khalil hug

©JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Will there be a lady-love for Malcolm?

DARIUS:

Malcolm loves the ladies!

MICHAEL:

A few words about working with Christel Khalil?

DARIUS:

She is bright and extremely great to work with. It was sad to come back and see that Lily had cancer, and it was tough emotionally as an actor, to give what you need in a scene and thinking of the dire situation she is in and absorbing that. It’s a trip!

MICHAEL:

You know the baby mama, Drucilla, took some cold syrup and Malcolm sort of took advantage of her, and that is how Lily came into this world?

DARIUS:

Man, I was like; “This Malcolm is something else!” It’s crazy, because I like this character because he has got some baggage, and it gives you somewhere else to go as an actor and stretch.

Darius and Bryton

©JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Who else have you enjoyed working with thus far?

DARIUS:

I got to work with Daniel Goddard (Cane). I am very impressed how he retains his lines and that is a trip, and Bryton James (Devon) of course. I used to hold Bryton in my arms. He was my ‘baby boy,’ and I look at him now all grown up and handsome and stuff. It’s so funny; I have to tell this story. I was so out of it. So, in the story Devon has his hearing aid on…

MICHAEL:

…The cochlear implant…

DARIUS:

….Right, the cochlear implant, and so I said to him, “Hey Bryton, I was watching you the other day. What kind of Bluetooth was that, man?” (Laughs) Bryton has been showing me the ropes, which is a trip. You never know the difference you can make in the life of child. I worked with him when he was little Richie on Family Matters, and we picked up right where we left off.

MICHAEL:

Have you met Genoa City and Y&R’s living legend, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine)? You are truly not a member of the cast unless she welcomes you into the fold!

Darius leatherjacket

©JPI Studios

DARIUS:

She is actually wonderful, and she is a joy and funny, and she did welcome me. Jeanne told me, “To get my lines right, because she is ready to get the hell home.” Doug Davidson (Paul) on my first day gave me some great advice. I am not too technical in my acting, and I feel when I get too technical it becomes unbelievable. My thing in this day and age, with reality television and so much other stuff that is going on, is people want to feel the reality. They want to relate. Back in the days with James Cagney movies, they were acting and really ‘givin’ it to ya’, and that was cool, because people wanted to escape. People still want to escape, but today’s escape is different. People now want to know that there are people out there who have more problems and are a train-wreck! This is why I think it’s difficult for sitcoms these days, because people are not going to believe, joke, beat, beat, joke, because there ain’t nothing to laugh about. We are in a recession! Folks are dying overseas! It ain’t funny right now. That is another reason this transition for me into soaps makes sense for me, because I would get to work at my craft every day. I would be able to play this very real character. Doug said, “Even though we are working so fast, don’t rush your lines. Take your time with your moments,” and that stuck with me. Because, what I have been finding is Malcolm has been having a lot of moments with Lily, Cane, and Neil. It’s important stuff and with my character coming back, there is a lot of information that needs to be disclosed. Peter Bergman (Jack), I call, “My man, Jack.” It’s really funny. I always said I would never call people by their character names, but I am finding myself doing it. Eric is “Victor”, and I call Michelle, “Phyllis.” Yup, I am doing it. I have been watching the show and now I am being sucked in, and I believe these people. I am sucked into Genoa City!

MICHAEL:

Will we know what’s happened to him in short order, during the time Malcolm was away?

DARIUS:

No. You are going to have to continue to watch, ‘cause Malcolm will blow your mind!

For more with Darius make sure to listen starting Friday to The Scott and Melissa Reeves Show on syndicated radio, when he appears as the special weekly soap guest.

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davd adam nole
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davd adam nole

He ain’t Malcolm and I will never accept him. That is that! Y&R is messed up for this casting messed up!

e-trim
Guest
e-trim

your right about one thing,Y&R is messed up, that is for not letting my gurl Vicki Rowell back on the show and for doin the most stupide dicision of firering my other gurl Davetta Sherwood as Lily for that Valley “sista” Chrystel khalil who’s interpretation of lily is sooooooooo terible. man it’s been almost 4 years she’s been gone and I am still scraching my sculp tryin to figuer out wat spell the was under wen they made that decision.

Doe
Guest
Doe

I enjoyed this insight into Darius’s mind and how he appoaches acting. He seems very intelligent and soft spoken. He has a very good background that should carry him far.I believe fans should stop thinking of Shemar Moore and this man will probably knock it out of the park. I look forward to his debut as Malcom. We need some excitement on the show and hopefully he will bring it!

waldo doe
Guest
waldo doe

wow! i can’t wait to sere this!

bessie
Guest
bessie

I think he will be a great replacement for Malcom…He is a great actor..before you know it every body will forget that Shelmar ever played Malcom…I am looking forward to seeing him…

Adrienne
Guest
Adrienne

HA! Nothing personal against Darius, but he ain’t Y&R material, and he certainly ain’t an appropriate replacement for Shemar. I suspect they’ll get enough emails at CBS to at least rethink this choice for sure!

Lacey
Guest
Lacey

I can’t wait to see Darius as Malcolm….I think he’s going to be great as Malcolm. I’m just wondering who his love interest will be….I think Y&R did a great job casting the new Malcolm. Way to go guys!

renae
Guest
renae

I think they got him dirt cheap sorry we all know these day’s it’s about the bottom line i see a recast just like tucker or they will try to make us care but in the end like Eva he will go away

demita hemphill
Guest
demita hemphill

yesssssssssss!!! can not wait.i called all my home girls.the ones do not watch soaps will be watch when darius arrive!!!!!!!!!

CJK
Guest
CJK

I AM GLUED TO THE TV RT NOW!!!!! Me & all my girlfriends (about 10 of them) are all taping and watching!!! We haven’t watched soaps in ages!!! But now, it’s on! WE LOVE YOU, DARIUS! I hope he does some kind of Y&R event where we can meet him!!!! <3

Tamekia
Guest
Tamekia

I love Darius I know you will make a great Malcolm because I have watch your acting skills in family matter and you were great. I wish you much success in your new role.

Richelle
Guest
Richelle

Not a good replacement. He doesn’t look old enough to be Lily’s father.

samamma
Guest
samamma

oh my gosh! im way too excited for darius as the new malcolm! i think hes got the talent in hand and he sounds genuinely excited to be part of Y&R. ive been watching Y&R for about 15 years now, and they change actors all the time. I think with darius on board we’re gonna get to see more of malclom for lengthier periods of time, which is great because I really missed the character. now, to get dru back!

akmeiners
Guest
akmeiners

POOR, POOR CHOICE FOR MALCOLM!!

juanita
Guest
juanita

I think we all should give Mr. McCrary a chance jus like the Y&R.
It’s tough to step into someone else role when that person ( Mr. Moore)
is still being seen around and about. Mr. McCrary is a professional. Let him do his best to entertain you. Remember, this is a soap opera.

Scotty
Guest
Scotty

This was a bad replacement. He looks nothing like Shemar Moore. Furthermore he is too young. I think they should have gotten Charles Divins( Passions) or Terrrence Howard ( Hustle &Flow).

Marissa
Guest
Marissa

I think Darius is a good replacement – he is a good actor and good-looking…I look forward to him being on the show, but people need to understand that it’s just a TV show — if Shemar Moore doesn’t want to come back, then he’s not going to – get over it. There have been many recasts that have been great: Billy Miller, Amelia Heinle, etc…

Linda
Guest
Linda

I think this is a bad replacement. Shemar Moore made an indelible mark on the role of Malcolm Winters. I loved seeing him. Darius was great on Family Ties but doesn’t fit in the role that Shemar vacated. Sorry, but he doesn’t. I think I see a recast as well. Please, oh please, bring back Victoria Rowell. Dru is sorely missed. Please don’t recast her role. I will quit watching Y&R for sure then.

Erma Berry
Guest
Erma Berry

Kudos to Darius for accepting this role. Bah, Bah to Y & R’s directors for offering the role. Too bad Darius wasn’t hired for a new character. He is a consummate, charismatic actor. Shemar was not a good actor when he got the part. He was mediocre at best. He was visually striking, pleasing to the eye, to say the least. That’s all. But that’s what made the role acceptable and exceptional. Hopefully Darius can get another more suitable acting job in movies. Or maybe a full role, not replacement, on another Soap.

Jen
Guest
Jen

nothing against Darius, But not casting Shemar Moore is the worst mistake CBS could ever make!!!

Pat Smith
Guest
Pat Smith

Glad to see Young and the Restless finally get a handsome dark skinned brother. Never really cared for Shemar Moore. Darius is a great actor and has a beautiful singing voice.

tt
Guest
tt

They did a horrible job of casting Malcolm. Darius can not act. And he is not sexy.

Casey
Guest
Casey

Y&R I cant believe how you murdered Malcolms role 🙁 Darius is a poor actor.

Joyce
Guest
Joyce

I think that Darius McCrary is a wonderful addition to The Young & The Restless cast. Thank you Darius for taking over this role and putting your own spin to it. You are an exceptionally talented actor, and very handsome & sexy as well. I think you are doing a wonderful job in this role. Make it your own, as you are already doing and I love it!!

Connie
Guest
Connie

he is not a good actor Y&R needs to recast this man bad sure does not fit the part

Joni
Guest
Joni

LET THE MAN DO HIS JOB….GIVE HIM A CHANCE.

Andre
Guest
Andre

I think from the comments stated, that some of the people do not simply want to accept Darius Mcrary due to the fact he is not light skinned, which I believe is the biggest issue. I mean really who says when you recast an actor that they have to look just like the one who vacated the job. I think Darius has and will continue to add more dimensions to the character. The fact that he is also a great singer is something they could not do with Shemar. I think Darius will hold his own for many years.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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