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In your current “B&B” storyline, Taylor is involved in her first younger man/older woman romance with Rick Forrester. How do you feel about the subject? And how did you feel about tackling this type of relationship on-screen?
You could be 30 and dating 20-year-olds, as long as you are over 18, that’s what is important. When I got my divorce, my husband, Michael Tylo, was 15 years older than me. I had been married to my husband for 18 years and when we got divorced I knew I would be dating again. I had always dated older men when I was younger, and with my ex-husband, he was into the fifties music and we just blended our musical preferences. I had my thing with music in the 70’s, and here I am listening to Jim Hendrix, and he was listening to Buddy Holly. So, it was always like a ‘Clash of the Titans’. I did try to date men around his age range. I think women take good care of themselves these days. I noticed that the kind of things I like to do are still pretty energetic things. At that age, most guys are ready to chill-out, and it’s the guy in his cave who just sits and watches football and just chills. I am still pretty energetic. By chance, I met a young man who was four years older than my son, and he was running lines for me. (Sometimes I hire actors to do that.) This young man was very cute, and it’s nice to see a young man quite taken by you. You go, “Oh wow! I’ve still got something… OK!”
So you obviously enjoyed that.
It was a feeling of, “Oh, even this young man can be interested in me.” I had not looked at a young man, and it was a new thing. It was becoming very flirtatious, and one night he said, “I wanted to show you some clubs.” It did not start out as a date, but it turned into one, and I had fun. I knew that I wasn’t going to get serious with this young man, but we enjoyed each other’s company, and it was romantic and flirty. In the last year, I would say I met another young man, but his age difference was about 8 years, and I think about 8 to 10 years is comfortable. This young man I have been going out with, has the right mix of going to have fun, but was settled enough. And that’s the other thing… you have to look at it as to where you are in your life cycle. All the women his age wanted to have kids, and I am like… done! So, it depends on other factors of your life. I have no problem dating younger men.
Who are you dating now?
I am dating different people. When I had the loss of my son this year, I realized I need to take my time with everything, and women should, anyway. We don’t have moms and dads married for 30 or 40 years anymore. Unfortunately, our culture is about: if its not working for you get out, otherwise you are going to fall apart. I don’t think people give relationships enough of a chance, on the other hand, they don’t date long enough to know. I have been trying to get rid of two mindsets that have been put out there by society. I have full intention to get to know someone for two years and find out what they are really like, day in and day out, before moving forward with any more definitive plans.
Because you are Hunter Tylo, and one of the most famous and beautiful women in daytime and are a celebrity, I would think some men would be intimated to come up to you or to go out with you. Do you find that to be true?
There is an additional problem and that is that they surf the web. They know who I am, and may have read stuff, and there is a lot of inaccurate information out there. There are the “Haters” and the “Pro-Taylors”, and there are people who overrate me to death. So yeah, someone would be scared. Then, there’s the “Haters” who could be sitting there, going, “I wonder if that’s true?” I have the double-edged sword. When I was in my twenties, and before I married Michael, I dated men who were horrified of a woman who is self-confident, who knows how to carry herself, and looks attractive. It does not mean beautiful, it mean attractive. There are beautiful women who send out a different message that guys will go to. If you are a woman who is classy and has manners, it can be intimidating to men! (I am from Texas so I was drilled with this stuff from my upbringing.) So, when I started dating again, I had the double-edged sword. A guy might say to me, “I recognized you when I first met you, but I didn’t want to say anything.” I am like, “Oh great!” Sometimes, the conversation goes to everything about the show or the business. They are just trying to find out who I really am. You can’t really find out that kind of information unless you have gone out with someone for a long time. The whole first few months of dating is all about making you believe you are 100% not mental and all of that. (She laughs) It’s an interesting thing, this dating deal.
So, you are enjoying being single and putting yourself out there again?
Yes, I am enjoying it. This is another thing that is kind of funny, seeing the difference between when I was 24 and 25 years old and dating, as opposed to now. We are two different generations. Now on top of it, older women are dating younger men. I have no trouble dating younger men. I dated a 38-year-old black guy. (She laughs) I am dating different people, but we are very close. I am not going to get serious right now, but I have known him for a long time. It’s just cool when you really let yourself take time and get to know somebody. It’s really much better than doing that whole storybook romance, and getting married after three months. I know people do it, but generally it doesn’t work!
Many of the actors on “B&B” have commented in past TV SOAP interviews, how detailed you are to your rehearsal process and you take a lot of notes. How do you work?
I try to look at it from: “Ok, I am not really this character, but what would I do if I were in this position?” Especially, if I need to get the specific direction that the writers wrote for Taylor. So, sometimes I have to push it, when we only have one or two takes to figure it out. We don’t have the time to feel it out and feel what’s right. I already have to know the intention of what my character is saying, as if it was a feeling I would have, and it naturally makes a scene work.
How is working with Kyle Lowder (Rick)?
Kyle is adorable! I drew on those same feelings that unexpectedly happen when I was running lines with my acting friend, and it was very cool, because I do see that in Kyle, too. Kyle can be kind of shy. It’s great when you can get a guy to the point where he is admiring you and looking up to you. Kyle is already that way. He is a sweet person, so it’s nice when all of that attention gets directed at you.
All the recent emotional courtroom material and scenes were so hard to watch, as Taylor was suffering from losing her child. It did seem to be playing out just as you were grieving from your own personal tragedy, with the untimely death of your son Mickey. How did you do the scenes? Personally, I was very worried about you.
I did get a lot of emails from people worrying. They would go from worrying about me to saying, “Was I okay with those scenes and after them?” They would say, “You know it’s so weird, that the storyline is mirroring Hunter Tylo’s life!” Other people would go, “How dare Brad Bell (exec prod and head writer, “B&B”) write that, when we all know what she is going through!” But the reality is, and I don’t know if any other actress ever said it, but there was a thing I found on a blog over the weekend and it was frustrating, because someone said, “Hunter Tylo is letting her professional business life as Taylor spill over into her personal life,” when in fact; it’s just the other way around. Brad and any other producer, always make a point to get to know their cast. They get to know who you are, and they mold the character to your personality, and what’s going on in your personal life. It actually gives them an idea. I mean, why do you think Marcus is dating Stephanie right now? (She laughs) Hello! Because I know when I brought this person to a couple of show related events, Brad was like, “Huh?” At first, they thought he was my bodyguard, they did. (She laughs) It’s great to look at real life. I know Bill Bell Sr, (creator, “B&B” and “Y&R”) once amazed me when he had these cookouts for our birthdays. He would find out about us, and one of the things he revealed was that he listened to talk radio all night long. It would give him amazing ideas of how people acted around each other, depending on what the stimulus was and why they had the problem they had. I thought that was great. Believe me, real human behavior is more interesting than art. (She laughs)
But, when you left the set after a hard emotional day, and dealing with the loss of your son, weren’t you just drained?
Well, because of the acting technique I use when I did those scenes, I had to go back and allow my self to feel what I feel all the time. It’s the feeling that will never go away which is, “It’s not fair,” and that line I added. Once I added it and we did the rehearsal, I thought, “I am going to say this, because that is how I feel!” After that, it just kept coming out. I had those days. I don’t know if I would have collapsed on the floor with a small spotlight on me. That’s the artistic stuff, and the feeling is what the audience should be left with, and it’s cathartic. Taylor and Ridge got divorced after Hunter Tylo did, and so did Ronn Moss (Ridge). So, we have already felt those things just recently and that’s a smart thing to do, and we are going to access those feelings even faster. It’s hard sometimes, but you have to be willing to go there as an actor, anyway.
You are one of the most courageous people I know and you have endured so much. All of your fans want to know how you are doing. So, how are you now?
I am doing better. I had to get through April, which was really hard because that would have been my son’s 20th birthday, and it’s a milestone for your child. I am a mom. I plan birthdays around the year, and it was hard not to be able to plan his. It would sneak up on me. At the beginning of April, I was planning on going to a birthday party that had been planned for a long time, and it was like no big deal till the day I started getting ready for it, and that thought kept coming back: “It’s not fair, Mickey should have had one.” It comes back, and that was the hardest time. I am in this place now where I have some footing, and if I can get through that I can get through the rest. I feel peaceful, and I am at a place I can talk about it. I am at a place where I would want to write another book about these things.
Your first book, “Making a Miracle,” provided an interesting moment during your grieving process over the death of your son. Is that true?
One day I was crying, and I go to the closet and get my Bible, and just pray. I was there a lot. I had words with the man upstairs… real serious words, and a copy of my book had fallen on the floor or off the shelf, or something. I pick up the book and say to God, “Are you going to give me a message now?” I am all ‘attitude city’ and God knows we are like that. I turned to the last chapter and read what I had said: “Through everything that happens to Katya, I have learned to face the ultimate question, what if I lose her?” This question in turn leads me to another: “To whom do our lives belong? Is Katya’s life mine or her own? Is my life my own?” I do this passage out of Psalm139, which I also had forgotten, that I had used part of the same passage in my son’s funeral bulletin. Then I go on to say, “What if I had lost Katya or lost my oldest son Chris, who is just now leaving the nest, or Mickey, Isabella or my husband, Michael, or my own life for that matter?” The irony of choosing to bear my own child and then praying for my youngest child’s life reminds me, I didn’t give life to myself, God did. Life is not in our control and it’s not meant to be, it’s in God’s hands. So in your face, this is God words. I am not perfect. My own words out of my own mouth got used on me. That’s what was beautiful, and I had learned this a long time ago. Here I had been pitching this fit and getting mad at God. I was stuck in that place spiritually, and I said, “Thank you for having me answer myself.”
How is your faith after this recent tragedy?
Interestingly enough, this whole last year I have learned so many things, such as: because somebody is a certain color, they are a human being, too. They are beautiful in every single way, and have the right to be who they are in every single way. Just like people who are in different kinds of relationships: man/man…. woman/woman… whatever! People are people and we are not perfect. That is what I believe Christianity is about. Sometimes, I get posts from the “haters” going, “Who does she think she is? She is a hypocrite!” Well… we all are!
You have become very active and involved in The American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation, because your son died in part from a seizure. Tell us about your involvement?
You can support and bring awareness to different dangers that are very under publicized for children and adults of epilepsy. You can go to www.epilepsyoutreach.org, and see all the information and PSA’s (Public Service Announcements). I did. We are doing a 5K run in Chicago. We are going to get Oprah Winfrey out there with us, running in the streets, hopefully, and I am going to hand her a pair of shoes and tell her to get her butt out there. (She laughs) I will get back to everyone out there with the confirmed dates.
Michael “Mickey” Tylo passed away on October 18th, 2007 at the age of 19. Mickey suffered from Partial Complex Seizures. His first seizure happened at age 15. Mickey was at the Tylo’s family home in Henderson, Nevada when he walked outside near the pool to possibly receive better reception on his cell phone, when he experienced a seizure and fell into the pool. Tragically, Mickey did not survive.
Hunter Tylo has now joined forces with the American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation to raise public awareness regarding the truth about epilepsy. For more on the organization and how you can become involved log on to www.epilepsyoutreach.org
Digital Drama Daytime Emmy Preview: Patrika Darbo Talks On Her Nominated Performance in ‘Studio City’
In Sunday night’s Digital Drama Daytime Emmys (9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST) former Days of our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful star, Patrika Darbo (Ex-Nancy, Ex-Shirley, respectively) is one of the notable nominees of the night for her powerhouse performance as Violet in Studio City.
Darbo is always working on projects in Hollywood, and her resume is long … whether it is in sitcoms like Seinfeld, series like Desperate Housewives, daytime dramas, the hottest digital drama, commercials, and more.
Having a complicated history with the Emmys; Patrika has won a Primetime Emmy for her work in Acting Dead, had her previous Daytime Emmy for The Bay rescinded, and now has a shot at another one when the winner is revealed in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series category in which she is nominated.
Studio City was nominated for 8 Daytime Emmys this year including for Darbo, and series creator and star, Sean Kanan (Ex-GH, B&B, Y&R). The show tells the tale of the cast of a fictional daytime drama as they navigate through the chaotic world of soap operas and their own very messy personal lives. In it, Darbo delivers a tour de force monologue which just might have sealed the deal for Emmy voters. She has already won, along with Studio City castmate, Carolyn Hennesy (Diane, GH), an Indie Series Award for her work, when the two actresses tied in their category. They are both nominated together again for the Daytime Emmy.
Michael Fairman TV caught up with Patrika to talk playing those heavy emotional moments in Studio City, longevity in Hollywood, and Emmy night. To watch the first season of Studio City via Amazon Prime Video click here, and to watch the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys click here. Now here’s what Patrika shared with us.
We all knew that your memorable scene in Studio City was so strong. Your performance is really such a standout that I just thought, “Of course she is going to get nominated for this,” and you did! How did you feel about this nomination?
PATRIKA: I have been through the many ways that Sean Kanan has put this show together. I mean, he has worked on it for a long time. I read for it with him, as his mom, being a comedy, and now we’ve gone all the way to the dramatic. I think Sean did some pretty good rewrites and gave me some great, meaty material. I so appreciate the fact that he recognized the fact that I am not just a comedic actress, that there is a dramatic part of me.
The big moment in Studio City for your character was just so heartbreaking. Did you deliver that performance in one take?
PATRIKA: Yes, and then of course I had to do it a couple of times because we had to see it from Sean’s side for his reaction shots to what I was doing. I come from the school that even though the camera is on my back, it is now on my partner’s front. So, I tried to give Sean as much to react to when the camera was on him as when it was on me, and I got the same from him, so it was a very nice collaboration.
I watched Sean in that scene. He was so good in it. So, whatever you were doing, it triggered such honest reactions from him.
PATRIKA: I think just as far as actors go; it is not that we always have to remember that it is not about us as an individual. It is about the end product, and the end product is about who you are working with. I got from Sean things to work with that made Violet’s emotion’s there, and then I wanted me to be able to take my emotions and give them back to him.
Was it hard to go there for you, to that deep emotional place; that Violent had been traumatized in her not so humble beginnings in Hollywood?
PATRIKA: You know, I have great admiration for all of these women who have come forward in the whole #MeToo movement. I have always been a short, round, fat, little character woman, who was never approached in those ways. So, there were things I couldn’t relate to. I had to go to my own personal darkness, which is mine to use when I need it, but to try to be sure that I made sure that women who had faced what I was talking about could appreciate that I was showing tribute to them, because that is a horrible thing, and any kind of situation when you are bullied into something that you don’t want to do or taken advantage of, those kind of situations.
For Violet, all of this stemmed from her desire to be in show business; that at an early age she found herself in a horrible situation with a scuzzy show biz type.
PATRIKA: Yes, she got into town and it was like a dream come true. She got invited to parties, and everything was wonderful, and “Oh, he’s going to put me in the movies,” you know. I think that’s what happens: Hollywood is so glorious, and kids come in and get off the bus to be a star, and the first thing you have to do is wait tables … and the second thing is sometimes when you are very pretty, and thin, and attractive, and bad things happen, and I’m not just saying it happens just to women. It happens to young men as well, and it can happen to some older people. It’s just a thing that we have now identified, and I think people are being made aware of it.
It almost seems like you get nominated for all sorts of things in you career: primetime, daytime, stage etc. Have you ever figured out in your own mind, why you think you get the recognition?
PATRIKA: I think because people know me, and I try to give out what I want back. You know, I treat people the way I want to be treated, which means that if there are a thousand things you’ve got to watch, and you go, “Oh, there’s Patrika, let’s see what she is doing now! She’s always so nice to me,” they take a look at my work. Do you know what I am saying? It’s a numbers game. We think about how many are in primetime at this moment, and even though there are only four soaps left on the major daytime calendar, there are still the new digital shows that are coming up. I think I am very fortunate that people know my name, they know me, and they want to take a look and see what I am up to again, and the young actors and actresses that I mentor, and kids who I’ve work with, the most important thing, I always say, is to be nice. No one should have to tell you that, but sometimes you have to reinforce it and say, “You know what? The casting assistant today is the casting director tomorrow, the assistant director today is the director tomorrow. The kid over here is the writer today, and tomorrow he is the show runner.” I don’t think you should approach your life like “What’s in it for me?”
What did you think of the whole of Studio City? I think it’s a little gem. I loved its look and feel, as well.
PATRIKA: As we go along in this digital world, it is becoming more film-like, more real life looking. We’ve kind of gotten away from the flat, three-camera take. It’s bringing more things to life, and people are just enthralled with it. This is the new genre of the hour-long soap. I think with the attention span of people these days; digital drama they may wind up enjoying more and because it looks more real, they will enjoy it more.
You were in a middle of a firestorm, in 2018, when your Daytime Emmy win for your wok in The Bay was revoked. Did you at all think about that when you found out you got nominated For Studio City?
PATRIKA: At first, you kind of go, “Are they giving me this nomination for this reason?” but then you kind of go, “You know what? It really has nothing to do with NATAS. It has to do with my peers appreciating my work. So, I know even though I had some problems in the past, NATAS was so apologetic and they’ve made a lot of changes to try to make sure that things like that don’t happen to anyone else, which I am so appreciative of, but this nomination came from my peers. So I feel I earned it, and I don’t think it has anything to do with what happened in the past except for the fact that there are changes that are for the good.
Now, you are nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series category along with your Studio City co-star, GH’s Carolyn Hennesy. You both tied in this category at the recent 11th annual Indie Series Awards as well.
PATRIKA: Carolyn is wonderful in anything that she does. I wish Sarah Brown had been nominated for her work in Studio City, too. She is a wonderful actress. You kind of go, “Oh, they didn’t acknowledge her this time,” but it’s like she is still in the show, the show is going to keep going, so she will have another opportunity for people to recognize her work. Listen, Carolyn and I could cancel each other out this time, because people know us and like us and appreciate our work.
As a working actress in Hollywood, how to you feel about production starting back now for several shows, and concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the show business community with the loss of so many jobs over the last several months?
PATRIKA: I think there are still going to be concerns. Listen, my husband has a heart problem. He’s had a couple of stints, so he is going to be a high-risk. So, if I am asked to go to work, I want it to be very safe where I am going, so when I come home, I don’t bring something to him, or I don’t get anything. I think we are all going to be a lot more careful, but I think what people have to realize in general is that it is not just the actors who did not have work. There are the camera people, there’s the director, there’s props, there are the electricians, there are a lot of people involved to make a show, whether it’s a daytime show or it’s a film. So, things will be a little different. There are going to be a lot of changes, but I’m hoping that we will at least get back, and are safe, and that we take care of each other.
On virtual Emmy night this Sunday, will you be participating and watching from home?
PATRIKA: I’ll be at home, absolutely. I’ll be trying to figure out how to push the Zoom button or the what button, and trying to figure out the computers. I’m a dinosaur in a digital world, but I’ll be doing my best!
So, will you be rooting for Patrika in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series category on tomorrow night’s Digital Drama Emmys? Did you see Studio City and if so, what did you think of it? Do you hope Patrika comes back to daytime soon? Comment below.
Digital Drama Daytime Emmys Preview: Graham Sibley Talks On His Nominated Performance In ‘Dark/Web’
In one of the hotly contested contests on Sunday night’s Digital Drama Daytime Emmys, Graham Sibley is going for gold for his riveting and tense performance in the 7-time nominated series, Dark/Web. Sibley’s work had been recognized in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Digital Drama Series category.
In Dark/Web, Sibley plays Leland, a ride share driver who’s just trying to make it through the night when the app on his phone takes on a frightening intelligence and tells him he has to make the world a better place, even if it means he has to kill to do it.
Michael Fairman TV caught up with Mr. Sibley to get his thoughts on: playing a ride share driver, being given this tour de force role in such a unique series which landed him an Emmy nod, and much more.
Now here’s what Graham had to share with us below.
In Dark/Web, you were in the first installment of the season, correct?
GRAHAM: Yep, so it’s an anthology show, and there is a narrative through in that goes through it as well. I’m in the first episode. It’s called, “Rideshare,” and it sort of explores this ride share driver named Leland Adler.
What can you share about your interpretation of what happens in your Emmy-nominated performance?
GRAHAM: First, I have to say, Boman Modine, Matthew Modine’s son, is a real talent. He’s just a really adept storyteller, and he wrote a fantastic script for “Rideshare”. In Dark/Web, each one of these anthology episodes are written and directed by different people. There is an overarching narrative that goes through that, and there are these individual episodes which are directed by other artists, guest writers, and directors. So, Boman wrote and directed our episode. He wrote a really complex character who is a new husband and father, who loses his job and is forced to get into the ride share business, and he is kind of desperate, and he needs to provide for his family, and there is sort of dark web that starts to infiltrate this app. Leland starts hearing a voice through his earbuds, and you don’t know if he is going crazy … or if he is really hearing these things. You’re assuming he is really hearing these things. This character is sort of victimized by this presence. Over the episode, he starts to give into this because the messages he is getting through his earbuds, through this voice, through the dark web, is information about who these people are who are his passengers, and the terrible things that they have done. He starts to get messages that he should maybe start to get rid of some of these people, and so he takes the leap and does, and that causes this reaction in him.
Dark/Web in its totality is about a genius programmer whose disappearance leads to these strange stories that are interconnected. When you speak of the ride share theme and episode, it harkens me back to the character of Travis Bickle played by Robert DeNiro in the classic, Scorsese film,Taxi Driver.
GRAHAM: Oh yeah, of course. I think as you go through the journey of “Rideshare,” at the beginning of it, you don’t think Leland is troubled. He is okay, and then by the end of it, you’re like, “This guy is okay, but something is happening, and now he is on this mission, and now he has done these things that he can’t ever go back on.” It’s interesting, and it’s interesting that you’re making a parallel with Taxi Driver because Travis was convinced what he was doing was right. I don’t know if my character at first is.
You have not been a ride share driver in real life at some point … or have you?
GRAHAM: You know… I haven’t. But, I did sign up when I booked this job. I went through the process of it just so I would know what it was going to be like.
When you submitted your reel for the Daytime Emmys, did you submit a few scenes, or how did you put your submission together for the competition?
GRAHAM: I had so much material to choose from. I was so fortunate to be the lead in this episode, and the episode I think is 25 minutes. It was really hard to pare it down, but I got it down to about 9 or 10 minutes that I felt told the arc of his story.
It’s always important to tell an arc because it does feel like, for the most part, the winning reels are the ones where somebody who doesn’t know the show or your character, could literally follow from point A to point B, if they’re a judge. You have some solid competition in your category as well!
GRAHAM: There are some really amazing performances and some really great actors in the guest performer category, so I’m just honored to be in with their names. Rene Hagler had a couple of different episodes in Dark/Web, so we did not share any scenes together, but he is great. Lin Shaye and I did a movie together a couple of years ago called Grow House, and then I’ve seen Scott Turner Schofield’s work in Studio City, who is amazing, and Mary Beth Pell, … she’s a legend!
Of course, you end up nominated the year that it’s the virtual Emmys. So, what will you wear to the virtual Digital Drama Emmys?
GRAHAM: I don’t know! I’ll send you a picture! (Laughs) If you look on my Instagram, my wife. Marilyn and I staged a picture, because we were like, “Well, we are never going to be able to go to the Emmys,” so we staged a picture with our boys in our backyard with a kiddie pool and us lounging with drinks, and I was in a tuxedo, and she was in this beautiful yellow dress.
What are the names of your boys?
GRAHAM: They are twins, Lyon and KP, and they just had their first birthday on July 2nd.
Now, let me ask you this. If they say, “The Emmy goes to Graham Sibley,” what would it mean to you if you were awarded a Daytime Emmy?
GRAHAM: I think what it would mean to me is that it would sort of be a pat on the back to say, “You did something that made someone else feel something.” I hope that’s what we are all aspiring to is to either, be in our own lives trying to make someone feel something, or in cinema or in television or the web. I’d just be like, “I was honored for being truthful, and that’s cool!”
So, intrigued to see Graham’s performance in Dark/Web? Who do you think will take home the gold in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Digital Drama Series on Sunday night? Comment below.
But first check out this promo for the Dark/Web series featuring Graham which has been nominated in multiple Digital Drama categories for the Daytime Emmys.
#sponsored by @DarkWebShow | One of the first independently produced seasons of television in history is now nominated for 7 Emmys including Outstanding Digital Series. Watch twisted anthology thriller ‘DARK/WEB’ season 1, now streaming on @PrimeVideo https://t.co/jFB1NSiuhT pic.twitter.com/L2Y060NChm
— Variety (@Variety) June 22, 2020
Y&R’s Greg Rikaart Talks The Complex Life of Kevin Fisher, His Co-Stars, and COVID-19
This week, fans of The Young and the Restless are getting to go back in time and see some of the memorable moments from the dysfunctional, complicated, yet loveable Baldwin-Fisher clan in encore episodes.
Daytime Emmy-winner, Greg Rikaart has brought his A-game for years as the misunderstood, often misguided, but beautifully redeemable flawed character, Kevin Fisher. From his troubled past to his relationships with his brother, Michael (Christian LeBlanc) and his mother, Gloria (Judith Chapman), Kevin has been one of Y&R’s more intriguing characters always bouncing from the heavy drama to the comedic, all in the more than capable hands of Rikaart.
Michael Fairman TV chatted with Greg to get his thoughts on: looking back at some of these key episodes in Kevin’s past, what it was like working with former on-screen love interest Emily O’Brien (Jana), his current on-screen love Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe), and first meeting his on-screen family.
As many are aware, back in March, Greg came down with the coronavirus and it took quite a toll on him. With what is happening now in our country with the spike in the pandemic, he also shares his perspective on what he went through, and reminds us all that COVID-19 is no joke; it’s real and taking people down with it. One of the best guys we know … and one of the finest actors we know … here’s what Greg shared.
It is Baldwin-Fisher week on Y&R. What do you remember when you first came to the show? And what was your recollection of first meeting Christian LeBlanc?
GREG: When I first came on, it wasn’t to be Michael’s brother. So, I had been there already, and the first story that I was involved with was the internet predator storyline with Christel Khalil (Lily). So, I had been there a while, and then I think Christian and I had, of course, crossed paths in the hallways, and we had a mutual friend, so we had even gotten together for lunch, and he kind of gave me the lay of the land a little bit. It wasn’t until we had a fan event, and Jack Smith’s (Ex-writer and producer, Y&R) daughter, Asia, who had worked on the show for a little while, saw Christian and me sitting next to one another. She said, “I never noticed that the two of them look like brothers,” and I think that’s where the impulse came from to make us related as brothers, Then after we found out that was happening, that’s when Christian and I got to know each other better and said, “Hey, let’s invest a lot of time and effort into making this relationship real.” There was so much bad blood and history and a lot of stuff to play. We really spent a lot of time really working on those early scenes when we were trying to figure out what the dynamic was. I have really fond memories of all of that. I think I have a great time working with Christian and developing the relationship, and also, it was so nice becoming a part of a family. I think having a family on the show made me feel like a more integral part of Y&R. It was a really great time.
What do you recall when Judith Chapman first came on to the show as your mother, Gloria?
GREG: Briefly, we had Joan Van Ark playing Gloria, and then, when they had cast Judith, I didn’t read with her. I think Christian was the one, who had auditioned with Judith, but then I happened to be up in the office one day, and I saw her, and I kind of put two and two together, and I said, “Hey, wait, I think we are going to be working together!” I also remember the way she jumped right in and filled some pretty big shoes epically … and really made the character her own, and again, added a fantastic layer to what the family dynamic was. It was really wonderful.
I’ll never forget the scene when Kevin says goodbye to Gloria, which was your exit from Y&R. It was a five-hankie moment.
GREG: Oh, yeah. It was so easy to play because I was leaving, and the hardest scenes were the ones where I had to say goodbye to Christian and to Judith because like I mentioned, we had invested so much into the relationships and into the characters, and so there is a lot of love, and I think the boundaries get blurred. There is love between me, and Christian, and Judith, and love between Kevin, and Michael, and Gloria. It was hard of all of those different reasons. So, it was easy to channel it into Kevin having to say goodbye to Gloria.
On today’s encore episode of Y&R, we are going to see the ashram wedding between Jana (Emily O’Brien) and Kevin. I loved you and Emily together!
GREG: Me too!
What can you say about working with Emily and the whole Kevin and Jana story because it was crazy! Jana was so quirky and off-kilter and so, at times, is Kevin.
GREG: I think Emily came on when Lynn Latham was head writing the show, and Lynn, who I think is wonderful, is a bit off-kilter herself, and I mean that in the best possible way. Lynn always had streaks of wild colors in her hair. I think in some ways, Jana may have been a manifestation of some part of Lynn. Every week or two, Jana would say something, and we found out some other absurd thing in her past where she had been a paraglider at one point, for example, and all of these strange things, and you can sort of throw everything into the kitchen sink with that character, and it all sort of worked. That was sort of happening when Kevin was very early on in his road of rehabilitation; I think it made sense for him to be with someone like that, although I think Jana’s off- kilter was certainly a little more straight and narrow than his. Jana was a good influence on him. I loved their dynamic; I loved their relationship.
What do you remember about filming the ashram wedding?
GREG: I remember how beautiful the set was. It took up half of the stage. Emily looked so great, and I remember not wanting to see her before Kevin would have seen her. I remember the vows being really nice. I believe it’s the episode where they first meet, Michael’s dad, who is the minister played by Michael Gross. It was fun that we had a great centerpiece of a story, but it also propelled story for the rest of the family.
Coming up on Friday’s encore episode of Y&R: Kevin defends his relationship with Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) to Gloria when is mother makes a “festive” return. What was your initial reaction to being paired with Liz, who you were already good friends with?
GREG: I was excited. I think Liz is great. We had wanted to be working together. For a long time, we had lobbied for it. I didn’t know what capacity it was going to happen in, but I think linking us romantically was really fun. I think the world of her, so I love working with her.
When you look back at winning your Daytime Emmy, and all of the early storylines, do you wish Kevin were more like how he was then with his dark side, or do you like how the character has evolved? It would be hard to sustain a character being destructive and so dark for years and years on a soap without being shipped off the canvas at some point for crimes.
GREG: It’s kind of a mixed bag. I think, certainly some of the stuff earlier on was more challenging, but I also appreciate and really love some of the more lighthearted stuff that Kevin gets to do. I think when any combination of the Fisher/Baldwins are called in to be a bit more of the comic relief, I think that provides a fun element too and works nicely on the show. I am absolutely grateful for the longevity. It might be hard to sustain a character like Kevin the way he was early on, but it sure is fun to do stuff like blowing up restaurants or burning them down.
Have you watched any of the episodes so far this week on Y&R … and watched yourself in your earlier years? If so, what did you think?
GREG: I watched Monday’s episode. On one hand, it’s really fun to take a trip down memory lane, and there are moments that I remember, and then there are moments that I don’t. So, it’s fun to rediscover things that way. Also, I think I had maybe a false sense of my ability early on and what I was capable of. Watching some of those earlier shows reminds me of how much I’ve grown, not just with Christian and Judith, but everyone there who I have continued to work with. I think I feel a lot more confident about my acting ability today than when I look back.
You got the opportunity to come back to Y&R after being let go, how does it feel now?
GREG: I was thrilled to come back. I think Josh Griffith (head writer, and co-executive producer, Y&R) really took some big swings to right the ship by bringing back Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), and Mishael Morgan (Amanda), and me, and Liz. I was grateful to be included in all of that and just thrilled to come home. I’m glad that the last chapter wasn’t the last chapter for me.
You came down with the coronavirus and publicly let people know what happened to you and how you were feeling along the way. As someone who has gone through getting very sick; how frustrated are you right now with what you see going on in California and Los Angeles, and the rest of the country as this pandemic has spiked, and there are new daily all-time highs in deaths and cases?
GREG: I’m pretty frustrated. It’s not over. I’m negative now for the virus. I am well on my road to recovery, but this is not a two-week recovery, and then you’re in the free-and-clear. I’ve had some substantial post-viral issues that I was dealing with for a while. It is insanely frustrating to see people not taking this seriously, and I continue to take it as seriously as I did in the beginning because there is no guarantee that antibodies really protect you from anything. I feel just as vulnerable as the next person to get sick. It’s mind-bogging to me that something as simple as wearing a mask over your face became politicized. I think we should all look to New York to follow their model for how to get back on track because they did it right. California is different in the sense that New York had one epicenter for the entire state. It was New York City where the battle was happening, whereas in California, we are a larger state geographically and population wise, and there are different heavily populated areas like Orange County versus Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and every place in between. It is hard to shepherd 50+ million people through it as opposed to maybe a more tightly packed group of 10 million New Yorkers, but I still think Governor Cuomo of New York deserves all of the credit he is getting for handling this. He is really the only one, the only politician who is kind of getting his people through it… at least in America.
As a father, how do you feel about what you see happening with opening schools vs. not opening schools, and this debate? Safety should come first, but you see how this is being politicized as well. Parents need to get back to work, and want their children safely in schools, but how can that be when the pandemic is raging?
GREG: There is no decision that anyone can make in today’s world where there is not some level of risk that you take on; whether it is going to the grocery store, going back to work, or sending your kid to school. I understand that there are parents who need to work and don’t have the luxury of childcare, and they need their kids to be in school. I know there is a lot of evidence suggesting that kids are not specific transmitters of coronavirus, and even if they are, even if they do come down with it, they tend to fare quite well. So, of course, no judgement on any parent who makes different decisions if they are well thought out, educated decisions and you’re using science to arrive at your conclusion. But for us and my family, I think we have a very intimate understanding of how serious this is. You know, Monte is only in preschool, but his preschool went back last week, and we are just going to keep him home until we feel like we are ready to send him back. At his age, I’m not concerned about there being things that he’s not learning. I’m concerned about him socially, and developmentally with what he is missing out on, but we are finding ways to do things socially-distanced with friends and to socialize him that way, and we are fortunate in that we have childcare. So, we have two extra hands on deck, 40 hours a week, which is super helpful, as there are no easy choices these days.
Y&R is going back into production this week. Knowing what you went through with COVID-19, any trepidation on your part?
GREG: I think going back to work would for sure do me some good emotionally, but like I was saying earlier, there is no decision that you can make these days where you are not taking on some level of risk. So, I am excited. I am also a little anxious. We will see how it goes.
I was so concerned for you, as so many of your colleagues and friends were too, when we saw how you were kicked by this virus.
GREG: It was awful, truly awful, and I hate to complain about it when I have a lot of gratitude for how much better I fared than so many other people. I am out of the woods for sure, but if I exert myself a little too hard for a few days in a row, I have a day where it can be hard to get out of bed. I have some friends who are dealing with even more substantial post-viral fatigue. One friend of mine, he hasn’t gotten his taste or smell back for over three months, and doctors are skeptical that he ever will now. So, fortunately, I’m not dealing with any of that, but you know, it’s hard to not wish that it just never happened, and that I was physically who I was a few months ago.
Closing out our conversation on Kevin Fisher, if you had to explain to another human being who doesn’t watch Y&R, who Kevin is, what would you say?
GREG: I would say that he is the lovable ne’er do well. Someone who messes up often, but I think he has earned a place in people’s hearts where they are forgiving of him when he does mess up, or they’re rooting for him to make better choices. When he does make good choices, they are into his choices. I think that’s a good handle on who he is.
So, what is your favorite moment or story in the history of Kevin Fisher? Are you enjoying this week’s encore episodes on The Young and the Restless? What do you think about the views shared by Greg, as someone who has gone through battling the coronavirus? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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