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The Michelle Stafford Interview – The Young and the Restless & The Stafford Project

Photo Credti: Ray Kachatorian

Photo Credit: Duffimages.com

This past Friday, fans and viewers of The Young and the Restless were dealt a real blow when two-time Daytime Emmy winner, and one of the series leading characters, exited the series!  We are speaking of the one and only Michelle Stafford … and … the one and only Phyllis Summers Newman!  After almost 16 years with the CBS soap, Stafford’s Phyllis was put in a coma, and needed to be transferred to a facility in Georgia, which keeps her close to her son, Daniel (Michael Graziadei, who returned to the series to help facilitate Stafford’s exit).  While many are unhappy of the way Phyllis has been written off, it leaves the door open … if Michelle Stafford was to ever decide to return, or if the powers-that-be at Y&R decide to recast.  But as one chapter closes, another chapter begins in life, and that next chapter has started for one of the most extraordinary actresses in this medium, or any other!

Today, Michelle launched her new web series, The Stafford Project,which in many ways mirrors moments in Stafford’s own life, but with a twist, in this reality/comedy hybrid which was born out of Michelle’s real life struggles to have a child, which she ultimately did via surrogacy … and thus gave us one of The Stafford Project’s most precious co-stars, Michelle’s daughter, Natalia!  Plus, The Stafford Project, whose lead character is an actress named “Michelle” who appears on a soap opera, will also look at juggling aspects of life and the dating scene by “doing it as single chick”, as is Michelle Stafford’s mantra in her new website www.michellestafford.com, which features blogs about: parenting, men, dating, style, fitness and more! (You can also access The Stafford Project there too!)

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Michelle, just as fans were seeing her final airdate on Y&R, to get her reaction on her decision to depart the series, and the way Phyllis was written-out, and how The Stafford Project became its own reality.  Next, we take a look back at some of the key on-screen relationships for Genoa City’s fiery Phyllis, including: Sharon, Jack, Summer, Ronan, and Nick!  And in true soap opera fashion, there are several cliffhangers for Michelle Stafford and her fans: Will we see her on another soap? Will she land her own primetime sitcom?  Will The Stafford Project become one of the most viewed and personally minted web series of them all?  While we wait for those answers to unfold, enjoy our conversation with Michelle, or shall we say, the coolest chick we know!

MICHAEL:

Last Friday was your final airdate on The Young and the Restless!  How do you feel about that when it actually came to pass?  Did you watch the episode?  Was it at all emotional for you?

MICHELLE:

Courtesy/CBS

I saw a bit of it, and she is very calm and comatose.  Phyllis is very asleep. (Laughs)  I don’t have an emotional tie to the character, I just don’t.  I have an emotional tie to the fans though, but not to the character, because I am an actress, and I want to play a bunch of different things.  And, that is what we do as actors … we create a bunch of different characters.  I am connected to what the fans care about.  It is very important to me how they feel.  That is why I did “Phyllis Friday” on Twitter and answered some questions.  I am on Twitter a lot promoting The Stafford Project, and it on the web, so you want to touch people already on the web.  I care about what they think, and a lot of them are upset about me leaving.  And, I am sure there are some that are not upset. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Your fans have been so upset about your departing Y&R, but support you on your new ventures, and the new opportunities that will arise for you.  At On-Air On-Soaps on the posts concerning your exit, many have written such touching words, and many telling you how sad they are that you have left the show.  How does it feel to have such a strong and passionate fan base?

MICHELLE:

It is so nice.  It was sad when I saw part of Friday’s episode.  And if you were really a fan of that character, it would be really upsetting.  I have watched soaps growing up, and I remember I watched Ryan’s Hope, and I loved Delia (originally played by Ilene Kristen) so much, and when she left the show that was it for me.  Actually, that wasn’t it.  They recast the role with another actress, and so I said, “Nope!”  And I was done.  I was really was way too young to be watching soaps at the time, but I just loved the character so much, and so it was upsetting for me.  Also on Y&R, Phyllis is in a hospital, and she is in a coma, and you want to hear from her.  You want to hear Phyllis yell at people, and fight back, and she is not doing that.  I think that would be upsetting for fans of the character.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Duffimages.com

So after Sharon and Phyllis’s war of words, Phyllis falls down the stairs.  And since that point, literally scene after scene, you were just lying in a hospital bed … just lying there!  Was that ridiculous to you?  Or, did you say to yourself, “I am doing my job…etc”?

MICHELLE:

I am doing the job … and the job is for me to lay here, right? (Laughs)  I do understand that viewpoint and people have told me that on Twitter that they were very mad that I was lying there, but you know, Y&R wanted to put the character in a coma, and it was actually a pretty nice gesture on their part.  They just wanted to make it so the role is still there, if I ever was to change my mind and come back.  I don’t feel like they should be blamed.  Of course, they could have had the character leave town too, or lose her mind and leave town…

MICHAEL:

But having Phyllis exit this way provided a secret for the other characters, and kept story going, so you can see why Y&R chose to do something like that.

MICHELLE:
Yeah.  It provides more story for the people remaining on the show, and that’s true.  Also, it also provided no one knowing about what really happened …. no one knows except Phyllis.  Sharon was looking through the window and Phyllis freaked out and then that was it … and then I had my massive seizure! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How was you last day at The Young and the Restless?

MICHELLE:

I was nervous.  It was not an overnight decision, and there were a lot of personal reasons, that of course I am going to keep to myself.  Even if I told everyone all the reasons, they would still speculate. (Laughs)   I felt like this is it.   I went to work and I was on instagram doing a whole countdown on it, and I felt nervous like, “Am I going to lose it?”  And, I didn’t.  It was very sweet, and people were lovely.  They all wished me well, and Y&R writers Brent Boyd and Josh Griffith came to the party, and CBS Daytime’s Margo Wain came to the party.  Everybody was really cool.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credti: Ray Kachatorian

Did you feel when you walked out of the studio (after nearly 16 years of playing this one-of-a-kind character) that you had done everything you could have done with Phyllis?

MICHELLE:

For me, I feel that way.  I am sure if they choose to bring the character back and have somebody else play her, there is a whole new thing they could do, just because there is another actor.  They bring something different to the role.  It’s a tough character, and usually villains who turn nice it’s a tougher character to write for, because you are always sort of walking the line between good and bad.  I felt like that was it for me with that character.  I think that sometimes you want to do something in your life, and life presents itself, and you go, “This is the time for me to do something,” and that is how it kind of all worked out.  This is not to be taken at all that I did not want to work on the show because of the new EP, Jill Farren Phelps, and head writer, Josh Griffith.  I am a big fan of Josh’s and he was on the show before, and it was great.  I think that my sister getting sick, and the contract coming up a few months after made me realize that there is a time in an actor’s career that sometimes you think, “If I don’t jump off the cliff right now, I may never do it.”  I don’t look at the job at Y&R as being stuck, I don’t, but there were so many things that I desire to do as an actor, and so many goals that I had, that I just thought maybe now is the time to jump.  And that is mainly it.  It all sort of came together at one time, and I was like, “You know what?  Let’s just jump off, now!”   And so, I did!

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Ray Kachatorian

In your lifetime, you have been thrown so many things to deal with, and to overcome, and so many obstacles, and the fights you have had to fight.  So, when I saw your new web series, The Stafford Project, it made me smile, because knowing you as I do, there was a realism to the ridiculousness of the real life situations that happened to you.  I thought it was well done!  You were playing a version of yourself within these real-life moments that happened to you!

MICHELLE:

The whole situation was so intense and so insane trying to have a kid, and the doctor’s appointments and the surgeries, which I had documented and filmed in my real life.  It was so crazy, and every time I turned around it was so oppressive. Then when Natalia was born new things occurred, and I thought this was also nuts, being a single working mom to this kid, and going out and dating.  Then I talked to my friend Paige, who is one of the producers on the Stafford Project, and I said to her, “Let me pitch this to you!”  I said, “I really want to write a comedy web series in the vain of The Larry Sanders Show, where he is trying to keep it all together with the crazies around him.  I want it to be that she is just trying to keep it together, and every time she jumps off, she meets a crazy.”  Paige thought it was awesome, and wanted to get her writing partner in on it, Paige Long.  We just jumped in, and Paige and Paige’s comedy is just awesome!  I did the scenarios and I have very specific lines I wanted to use.  So I said, “These lines have to be in it, and it has to go like this…”  That is why all three of us are writers on the series. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

And then … who knew?  Your daughter, Natalia was a scene-stealer!

MICHELLE:

Well, I did of course! (Laughs)  She was so professional.  She did not whine, or bitch, or do anything.  In the second episode of The Stafford Project, Natalia is totally improving with me.  I am like, “Geez, look at this kid!”  I have an actress on my hands.  If she wants to go down that path, I am going to have her originate it; I am not going to push it.  But if she says to me, “Hey, I want to do this acting thing,” I just feel if your child excels, or is gifted in an area, you should cultivate that.   I do see an actress in my kid … and it is tormenting to say! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/TheStaffordProject

In the first episode of The Stafford Project, I loved when the reality show producer popped up in the backseat of the car with the “mulatto” line,  while “Michelle” is trying to explain about her surrogate, who was actually mixed-race or bi-racial!

MICHELLE:

Did you not almost die? (Laughs) You know all those comments that he made are comments that were truly said to me like, “Well, your kid is going to be mulatto!” I said, “Well no, it’s my egg.”  And they would go, “Oh no, well he or she will still be black!”… and other various racial comments.  And as the show continues on, the third episode is a flashback episode of what I went through, and it’s pretty cool.  As we go along, we enter more into her job and the shenanigans at the show she works at.  It’s Michelle Stafford, and she is on a soap, but we never mention the name of the show. It’s not Y&R. And, the character she plays is named “Francis”.  I make it very clear we not goofing on soap operas; we are goofing on actors, which is completely fine! (Laughs).  So we are goofing on actors, and the human condition.  There is a surprise guest in episode four, and the person is awesome and amazing, and people are totally going to dig it.  We have shot four episodes thus far, and we are going to keep doing them until people say, “Please stop doing it!” (Laughs)  I think we are going to release them every three weeks, and you are talking to the main producer here! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you think it’s hard in Hollywood for a soap actress to be considered for primetime or motion pictures roles?  Is there still the stigma?

MICHELLE:

I think it’s very hard for a soap opera actress to be many times viewed as a serious actor. There is just an idea out there … there just is!  It’s wrong, but you have to break through it like with anything, and be funny, and that is one thing I know I am.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Would you love to have a sitcom?  Remember, when Judith Light went from doing Karen Wolek and her stunning courtroom confession on One Life to Live to becoming Angela Bowers on Who’s The Boss?

MICHELLE:

Well, yeah you could make a lot of money! (Laughs)  I loved Judith on One Life to Live.

MICHAEL:

Your new website is also very clever, and has great branding to it, especially the tag line, “Doing it as a single chick”!

MICHELLE:

I came up with that hash tag on instagram and people started using it like crazy.   People would say, “I’m doing it as a single chick too,” and others would say, “I am married and I am doing it as a single chick!” (Laughs)  Listen, I found there is such a large group of women who are on the web who are working their asses off.  They are either single mothers, or married and handling the entire household and working, and the ones who are still single are out there still dating.  It’s a lot to juggle, man.  Back in the day, just taking care of the kids in the house was your only job, and that was a huge job in itself.  That is a lot of hats to wear, but my take on it is: I am doing the same thing, but I am just making it funny.  And, the blogs will be funny on the website, and it will be a portal into my life at how I am being a hot bitch in my forties getting my groove on, and taking care of my kid, and being a mom at the same time.

MICHAEL:

The blog piece you wrote on men on your website, that actually men get a bad rap, I thought was terrific. We all hate on guys a lot, and they don’t deserve it … well, not all the time!

MICHELLE:

I wanted it to be very gay friendly, too.  That can apply to my boys too, and it can apply to a lesbian too… it is all of us out there.  The guys do get shit on.  Sometimes I read these blogs, and they are so linear, and it is just for a mom who is married with a husband and has everything taken care of for her.  And I think, “Wow, you are not even writing for a chick who is single, and who works and who is trying to live her life, and you are not writing for a woman who is celebrating how hot she is!” (Laughs)  I love making women feel like they are important.  I love making people feel important.  It is a tough gig out there in life.  Everybody is just trying to do the best job they can.  I really want to give to people, and make them feel validated, and make them laugh.  I am really excited about the site.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Alison Sweeney (Sami) of Days of our Lives has been extremely successful building her brand from first: her soap career, to hosting Biggest Loser, to her website, to all her other projects.  What do you think of how she cultivated her audience, and how she speaks to women?

MICHELLE:

Alison is a smart girl, and an ambitious gal, and she got it.  I also think she had something to say.  I think she understood, and that would attract women who had a problem with their weight too, and that is a huge thing. The blog I have on my website on weight, that is the most asked question; “How do I keep my body in such good shape?”  It’s an interesting thing that body image is so on the forefront of women’s minds.

MICHAEL:

You also talk about dating experiences in The Stafford Project, and on your website.  How is dating going for you now that Natalia is a three-year old?

MICHELLE:

I was dating this guy recently and he started spending the night, and I was really like, “Oh, my God, I am a filthy whore!” (Laughs)  I was like, “You can’t be here when my daughter’s here!  You cannot be here!”  So my mom takes my daughter every Friday.  So I suppose whoever wants to have sex with me, it’s only going to happen on Friday or Saturday when my mom has Natalia! (Laughs)  But it’s going to be really good; it’s going to be a Mardi Gras! (Laughs)  It is very legitimate question you ask.   I think I am better about it now! (Laughs)

Courtesy/CBS

MICHAEL:

As a wrap-up to your time on The Young and the Restless, let’s take a look at some of the key relationships you have had on the show.  You and Sharon Case (Sharon) have this long standing rivalry as Sharon and Phyllis.   How do you feel that relationship played out on-air?

MICHELLE:

I wish that we had more of it.  I liked it.  I think it worked.  It was really great with Sharon Case and me, because we really understand the viewpoints of our characters. When we did the scenes both of us actors knew how we felt going on into the scene and about each other.  So there is never any fear of  “I don’t want to be mean to you” because some actor will pull back with those emotions.  She and I never did that.  I am not Phyllis, you know?  I am OK screaming at you, because I am just playing a role.  I don’t mean anything by it.  Sometimes actors will back off of each other, and Sharon and I never did that to one another, and I think that showed.  It was very real to people that these two women had such jealousy of each other, and there was so much emotion born from the death of a child, and the husband leaving.  It was such a great real story.  I loved Sharon and Phyllis’ relationship.  It was vicious and very real.

MICHAEL:

How did you feel when they told you that they were going to SORAS your on-screen daughter, Summer, to 18?  And, how Hunter King (Summer) has done in the role? She has done an amazing job over the last few months!  She has an Emmy reel for next year, for sure.

MICHELLE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Well, they aged Summer before Hunter, and they kept aging her.  And, so we had a baby, then we had a two-year-old, then we had a five-year-old, then we had an 8-year-old, and then an 18-year-old, and Hunter.  Hunter is great, and such a little doll, and I love her.  She has a great career ahead of her.  I miss my little Hunter.  I cannot say enough nice things about her.

MICHAEL:

At the end of your run on Y&R, Phyllis was once again paired with Jack (Peter Bergman).  What were your thoughts on this duo getting back together?

MICHELLE:

Peter Bergman and I had worked together off and on so many times, and so I was like, “What can we do new with this?”  I was like we have been together more years than anyone else, or probably equal with Nick, and I wanted to find something new in it, and probably would have had I stayed on.  Of course, I love Peter Bergman.  He is a lovely and beautiful human being.

MICHAEL:

I think we all loved you most with Joshua Morrow (Nick Newman)!

MICHELLE:

I know.  It was just clearly what these two actors had in a scene together, and it was so interesting to see.  We just had so much chemistry, and they weren’t really telling sexual type of stories on Y&R then.  They were never doing things where people were just ripping off each other’s clothes.  We started writing every scene like that! (Laughs)  It was very dynamic, and I loved working with Josh.  Josh and I literally just had to say the words and it really, really worked.  It was a huge spike in ratings, too.  I am really proud of that time on Y&R.  I think it was really great.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MICHAEL:

Jeff Branson (Ronan) and you also had some serious chemistry going on.  What did you think of Ronan and Phyllis?  And how ultimately, Jeff was written-off the show?

MICHELLE:

I thought their relationship was really interesting, but when they ended it, I guess they had him come back on, and he was totally in love with Phyllis.  I was not sure about that, but Jeff was great.  I am never a fan when they write a man totally heartbroken over a woman; I am just not a personal fan of seeing a man be like that.  I like to see men be strong.  I don’t like seeing them be desperate, and Jeff played it great.  He is a great actor, and he was let-go when Jill and Josh came in.  I said, “Jeff, you are great.  Just go do your gig and go be a star,” and he is working a lot.

MICHAEL:

Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R) is your buddy.  Is it weird that he is there at Y&R, and you’re not?

MICHELLE:

I know he is sad, because it was first losing Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) and now me … two main actors on the show.  Listen, Christian and I will always know each other, and know each other when we are 108!

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

 … And you will always hijack each others interview? (Laughs)

MICHELLE:

Yes, and I will always be funnier, and he will always remind me he has three Emmys and I have two.  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What is the last word you would like to say to your fans?

MICHELLE:

I hope they watch The Stafford Project like 25 times each, and backwards.  If we get 50, 000 to 100,000 hits in the first week that is great, and means it’s successful.  If they are sad about Phyllis not being around, just watch The Stafford Project.

 

 

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Cathy Reese
Guest
Cathy Reese

I watched The Stafford Project this eve and loved it. Its going to do well I think.

David J.
Guest
David J.

I watched The Stafford Project last night and thought it was wonderful.

mollie
Guest
mollie

OMG…the “mulatto” comments! lol. Viewers could tell this was ripped right from Michelle Stafford’s own experiences. What some people will say! I love that Michelle sees the humor in the ridiculous, and that she shares it so sublimely 🙂

My only other comment is that I think an episode release every three weeks is much to slow…not only because I would like to see episodes more frequently, but I think the series will lose forward momentum with viewers. Just too slow a pace for interested viewers. Just my opinion.

Love it, though.

Beacon
Guest
Beacon

Nice shout out to Delia on Ryan’s Hope! I can actually see that character may have influenced Stafford’s early Phyllis who was desperate for the security of Danny by having his son, just as Delia was desperate for the security of Pat (and had an adversary in Kate Mulgrew’s Mary who was disgusted by her, just as Cricket was disgusted by Phyllis.)

SZima
Guest
SZima

I haven’t watched Project yet, but I will.

I just have a comment…that top picture of Michelle is SO wierd to me…very un-Phyllis like. Never in a million years would Phyllis be caught in a princess dress like that!

Teresa Ungerer
Guest
Teresa Ungerer

She’s Michelle Stafford, not Phyllis

Mad/hatter
Guest
Mad/hatter

Thank you so much for letting Michelle clear it up once and for all that she and Sharon Case enjoyed working together and do not hate each other I was so sick of that story being told. I think she has a flair for comedy so good luck. The show is so different now that I think she was right to move on.

Robin
Guest
Robin

OMG what cave am I living in? If not for you, Michael, and this interview I’d be wondering how long Phyllis was going to be gone lol. Great interview!!! Happy for her and wish her continued success. SO SAD for us Y & R fans. Show will not the same without her!!!!! I’m going to start my mourning process now.
Thank God I have cookies in my cupboard 🙂

Jacqueline
Guest
Jacqueline

I wished they did not get rid of Phyllis. I loved her on the show and gonna miss her. I hope she comes back and get Sharon.

cheryl
Guest
cheryl

i hope that phylis comes back and sets things right with the sharon thing,i wish you success on your new adventure, but you will be so missed on my favorite soap..i have watched this show from the beginning, love it.

Lafaux
Guest
Lafaux

I smiled all the way through! Great job! I can’t wait to see more.

Sharol
Guest
Sharol

I watched the Stafford Project and I completely loved it. It was so very funny, which really fits Michelle well. She is such a great actress and I’m sad that she left Y&R but I am loving seeing her in this project of hers. Keep up the great work and I look forward to a lot more!

Megan
Guest
Megan

Michelle Stafford’s future is just beginning. I look forward to
Her star becoming bigger and brighter everyday.

O
Guest
O

I watched The Stafford Project It was funny and I wished Michelle would had stayed on Y&R ,Phylliss would had kicked ass and loved itwhen she battled Sharon and Christine Blair> I can’t wait until she does a primetime sitcom do 2 & a half men she would be funny with Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cyrer or Mike and Molly

Teresa Ungerer
Guest
Teresa Ungerer

Oh yes! Great idea

O
Guest
O

I would love to see Michelle team up with Colleen Zenk (Barbara) and Kim Zimmer (Reva) the 3 of them could do a sitcom together

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

Not everybody liked Phyllis with Nick.

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

Loved Nick and Phyllis together, show will not be the same without Phyllis. I wish Michelle well and will be tuning in on her show

janice layton
Guest
janice layton

She left because of Scientology. She refused to work with Michael (Murphy), because he came to his senses years ago and left the cult. She is doing a web series now, with all Scientology members. Talk about mind control.

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

I heard that to but he is never on could not figure out how that could be who knows. You have any idea how much money you put into this thing I call it a Pyramid cult. Lol

michael
Guest
michael

Scientology is her belief, who are we to judge. She is missed on Y&R – she’s an amazing actress, but I love that she’s got balls and isn’t afraid of doing what she wants. I didn’t want to like the stafford project because i was upset that she left Y&R – ha! how egotistical is that!? but i love it, she and the show is hilarious. and incredibly well produced

Darling
Guest
Darling

Michelle what can I say, I hate to see you leave the Y&R but if that’s your wish, I wish you the best of luck. May you prosper in all you do; God bless you and your beautiful, little girl.

Thelma
Guest
Thelma

I love Michelle on Y&R . Hope she return if only to get Sharon lie straight. I pray your success in whatever you want to do . I know that you would be good at it.

jamie
Guest
jamie

Does anyone know if Michelle is married in real life?

Red Rivers
Guest
Red Rivers

So Phelps fired Jeff Branson too. This witch just loves to kick actors out on the street. She’s a witch.

Interviews

Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On Dina’s Death & How It Will Impact Jack, His Final Scenes With Marla Adams & Taping During COVID-19

The Abbott family is reeling from the death of their mother, Dina Mergeron, who passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the end of last Friday’s episode; signaling the end of an era for Dina’s portrayer, Marla Adams.  In a pivotal and heart-breaking scene, Dina shares one last goodbye with her children: Traci (Beth Maitland), Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and of course, Jack (Peter Bergman).

Today, the drama continues as the Abbott’s grieve Dina’s death and its aftermath while they remember the life of their flawed mother. This puts Jack at the epicenter of the family, and like it, or not, the new head of the clan.  What does the future hold for him now?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman, who has embodied Jack for over 30 years on the top-rated CBS Daytime drama, to get his thoughts on: how Y&R needed to handle Dina’s death within the confines of the coronavirus pandemic and its safety protocols, what he felt about playing those final scenes with Marla Adams and the significance of the ‘teardrop of love’, and a preview of what fans can expect in the coming days as the impact of Dina’s death will be felt by the Abbott children and extended family.

 

An actor’s actor, you can always expect a conversation with Peter to be forthright, candid and enlightening, and this one was no different.  Here’s what one of the genre’s absolute best had to share about the significance of this story and more.

How has it been returning to Y&R during the pandemic?  I bet you never thought in all of your years in daytime, that you would be doing your scenes socially-distanced, sitting or standing, so far apart from your castmates.

Courtesy/CBD

PETER:  Just getting back to work felt great, loved that.  I wasn’t involved really in romantic scenes at this point, so that I didn’t have to do.  So, all in all, I was very happy to be back, and socially-distancing didn’t really bother me at all, and then Dina died.  Doing that from six feet away was just awful.  You saw the limits at a time where not any of us could be within six feet of each other; where you would usually hold a hand, stroke a brow, and talk softly.  So, I think the writers did what they needed to do to make it work for Dina’s exit.  We are in the middle of COVID, in case anybody forgot, and so you have to ask, ‘Does America really want to watch an elderly woman die in the middle of the Abbott living room or anywhere else?’  So, we had to have Dina’s exit without looking at a dead body, out of respect for the times we are living in.  We had to do a strong, powerful, pivotal scene with our hands tied behind our backs.

Courtesy/CBS

It’s so interesting that you say that because that’s how I felt watching it, knowing what it would have been like, if Jack, Ashley and Traci would have been with Dina at her bedside, up till the end, for instance.  But all of that said, Peter, I got so choked up in your last moments with Marla.  Jack is just sitting there and Dina is telling him how much she loved him and you’re doing the thing that only Peter Bergman can do as the tears well-up in your eyes.  As we have talked about previously, my mom died from complications from Alzheimer’s, so these are always tough types of scenes for me to watch.  I am sure it was also for those in the audience, who have lost a loved one to this disease, many of whom reached out to me on social media following its airing.

PETER:  It’s got to be tough for you to watch.  I get that.

Photo: Ed McGowan/Plain Joe Studios

Yes, so I felt for Jack and Dina in the moment as a son and his mother.  But what did you think about how the scene was written, and what Dina was saying to Jack and his sisters as her final goodbyes to her children and their reactions to it?

PETER:  As written, something in this necklace triggers something in Dina that brings her out of a stupor, brings her out of the murk, the fog for a brief instant to tell the people who she cares the most about that she loves them in slightly different ways.  I have, with everything in me, a struggle to always add in there, “I have a complicated relationship with my mother.”  I’ve added that line in there so many times over the years, you have no idea.  It was a complicated relationship because by the time she dies, there is no kind of straightening that out, there is no kind of Jack looking for answers. The depth of what Ashley is feeling, what Traci is feeling, what Jack is feeling, were kind of lost because of the way we had to do it. The writers had to do it, so I’m not blaming anyone, but because of the way we had to do it, there was no, “Wow, why isn’t Ashley crying?  Why is she just so stoic that this isn’t touching her at all?” because she can’t go there. Traci feeling like she found her place in the family simply by Dina saying, “You’re the beating heart of this family,” and Jack, who is doing the right thing, “She should leave peacefully, she should leave feeling loved, we should all be here, we should give her nothing but love,” damn, this is complicated.  You couldn’t have any of those things.  .  Hopefully, some of that slid in there and we wedged some of those complexities into it, but it was hard to write a complex scene with the situation as it was.  We needed to get it done it one day.  We did not need to drag this out.  Again, were it not COVID time, sure, let’s drag it out.  Let’s spend some time on this.  People die.  Let’s watch the family process a death.

Photo: CBS

I just think of what it all means for Jack moving forward.  Dina basically tells him, “You’re in charge of the family. Look after the family.” That’s kind of where it’s been going for Jack this whole time.  I don’t know if that’s what Jack wanted, but that’s where he is ending up.

PETER:  Right!  That’s where he ends up, and you know, this has been a long time coming.  Dad dies, and it is pretty clear that he’s got to step up, and his mom comes into town, and she’s not just his mother.  She’s Ashley’s mother; she’s Traci’s mother, we’ve got to look out for her and give her the dignity and things like that.  Now, there is just no getting around it.  Jack is the head of the family.  That’s the way it fell.  Twenty-five years ago, was Jack ready to be head of anything?  Absolutely not, but I think enough has happened to Jack now: enough heartache, enough growth, enough introspection, enough losing people, that Jack might just be ready for this job.

Courtesy/CBS

When Marla Adams came back to Y&R 2017, and they started telling the Alzheimer’s storyline, it brought up such abandonment issues for Jack and rightfully so, about how a mother could just leave her family and children,  Throughout all that,  you did such poignant work.

PETER:  I wanted that to be in there at the very end.  One of the powerful parts in this whole thing is that Jack wanted to scream at Dina every bit as much as he wanted to hug her.  That was there for quite a while, and Jack had to kind of come to terms with, “Hey, you’ve been leaning on this excuse for quite a time.  She’s here.  She can’t do you any harm.  She feels bad about what happened.  What do you want, Jack?”

Photo: CBS

One of the highlights of this storyline was when Y&R explored the history and relationship between the siblings, Jack, Ashley and Traci.  We saw their younger versions as the show flash-backed to when Dina left John and the Abbott family.

PETER:  Between the writers and Peter Bergman, we built this story that the night that Dina left, Dad was upstairs with the girls, they were weeping inconsolably, there was no fixing it, there was no telling them that everything was going to be all right.  He didn’t want to lie to them and say she will be right back, he told them, “She’s not coming back,” and he comes downstairs, and Jack is fourteen-years-old, and a little confused, but decided to say to his dad, “Hey, can I help?”  He looks across the room, and his dad is weeping, first time he had ever seen that.  His father is weeping, and he said, “Jack, you’re going to have to help me with the girls.  I can’t do all of this,” and it changed Jack’s life forever.  Jack was a parent to Ashley for a good part of their relationship.  So, all of this stuff with Jack’s identity, all of the fighting with Ashley, all of the Jabot madness is Ashley finally getting to say, “I don’t need a father!  You’re not my father.  Stop talking to me like you’re going to fix things for me!  I’m sick of it.”  All done by Dina … all truly caused by Dina.

Courtesy/CBD

In my interview with Marla, she told me that at the end of her last scene, you and many others came back to the set to pay tribute to her.

PETER:  We did.  The show had arranged it, and Tony Morina, the executive producer, stepped out on the soundstage with a microphone, and Marla sat on the sofa in the Abbott living room. Tony began telling a lovely, lovely story about how far back his relationship with her goes because Marla and Tony wife’s, Sally Sussman (Ex- head writer, Y&R), also had a long-standing relationship.  Tony was just so grand and gracious in saying that there are some people who, if they weren’t an actor, they’d be this or that or the other thing, but that Marla was born to be an actress.  That’s what she is, and it was so generous.  I think she got three and a half years that she didn’t expect to get out of this.  It was supposed to be a six-month storyline, and four years later, she was still there, and it was a good thing for her, and a unique story turn for the rest of us.  It really was.  It was a powerful thing, and now the Abbott family has a new shape.  There are three adults there: Ashley has established her independence, she is not around as much, she is back and forth between Paris, and Genoa City, Traci is trying to be as supportive and kind as she can be, but essentially, Jack is in the big house by himself.

Yep!  Well, now we’ve got to find Jack a good woman.

PETER:  Yes, or a bad woman.

… Or a bad woman!  I’ll take him in a relationship with someone to stir things up.  I also hear coming up, there will be the reading of Dina’s will.  Is there anything you can tease about that?

PETER:  There is a will read, yes.  No one knows what to expect, and Dina … in the end… comes through for almost everybody…

Courtesy/CBS

Well … that ought to be good.

PETER:  Yep… really comes through for almost everybody, and you know, the Abbott children are wealthier, and all three of them are alone, and in no small thanks to Dina for that.  These are three adults who have been very unlucky in love.  Of course, this is the next challenge.  I don’t mean to assume that I have any idea of what you went through in losing your mom, but there is a point at which you also have to let go and say, “Okay, now it is just me, and what do I want to do with this life?  I’ve used this as a reason not to move forward for a good while.  What am I going to do now?”  I think the next turn in the Jack Abbott story comes pretty organically.  Dina’s death frees Jack to be just as alone as he has ever been.

No matter what Jack does, including the bad things, you always see the inner-pain that is very palpable within him, as you have portrayed him.

PETER:  Yes, but he really has grown in the last 30 years.  Jack is hungry for more right now, and he couldn’t really be that way with Mom in the house.  He didn’t have time for that.  Now he has all of the time in the world.  So, we’ll see what he does with that.

Courtesy/CBD

I understand there is a funeral for Dina, but it will be off-camera?  I guess, because of COVID, it is better that way.

PETER:  That’s true and it’s off camera, that’s correct.  What’s important at most of these things isn’t what happens at the gravesite, it is what happens at the reception afterwards, and that is also a fun turn.  So, they all agree as a family they are going to do it at Society, and they kind of close the joint and make it their own little party, and someone shows up who isn’t expected, and it throws a really, really different vibe into the whole thing, and everybody has to adapt.  It’s actually fun, what it turns into.  It turns into a memory fest with crazy stories of Dina.

Courtesy/CBS

Do you have a favorite moment, or memory, of a scene you played with Marla?

PETER:  I think I had a day where Jack tried to get through to her and tell her, “Do you realize the damage you did?  Do you realize?” and she wasn’t able to take it in, and he went to Traci, and he said, “I want to shake her.  I want to yell at her… and I want to protect her.”  I thought there was something just so rich about that.  That was my favorite moment, my favorite part of it, when Jack finally said, “She’s going, man.  We’ve got to get this conversation done now.  We’ve got to talk this through,” and he was too late.   She was too far along with Alzheimer’s.  She wasn’t up to it.  She couldn’t do it.

Photo: JPI

And now here is Jack; and his parents are both gone.  There is no Jerry Douglas or Marla Adams on the show as both John and Dina have passed on within the history of The Young and the Restless.

PETER:  Again, you were generous enough to share your own personal experience, but isn’t it amazing?  Wow, you’re the grownup now.  Isn’t it amazing?  That’s what the Abbott’s are going through: just what you went through.  There is no older generation to turn to for anything.  We are the older generation.  It’s powerful stuff, and I’m really, really grateful for anytime that Ashley, Jack, and Traci are together talking about those things, talking about, “Wow, okay, that just happened… where do we go from here?”  It’s going to be really interesting.  If you asked me, “Over the last 30 years that you’ve played Jack Abbott, have there been many times where you’ve thought, ‘I’ve got no idea where this is going!’”  I would say, “Yeah, right now.”  I’ve got no idea where we are going with this.

Courtesy/CBS

There has been much speculation that the “teardrop of love” necklace will lead Jack to a new romance, or some new adventure in his life.  They spent a lot of time mentioning it in short order, that it would seem it’s not just to bring Dina some closure.  What are your thoughts on it?

PETER:  I think it has legs.  I think you’re going to hear about it again. There is something in there, and I don’t know if it’s the teardrop’s magic charm or that its history is not what it was, or it gets stolen.  I don’t know, but I think we have spent enough time saying ‘teardrop of love’, that there could be a story there.

In Dina’s final moments where Jack brings her the ‘teardrop of love’, wasn’t it symbolic to her because it was her acknowledgement of having her family back together and with her at all times? There is a back-story to that piece of jewelry as well.

PETER:  The point of the necklace is, “This was when I was truly happy, when I had this necklace, when it is all back together,” and maybe we are to know something more about the teardrop…?  I don’t know.  So, this was a gift to her before Jack was born.  She wore it home from the hospital when she brought him home, but we don’t know exactly what year she got it, and we don’t know exactly what year she lost it.  It was stolen, and it was on the black market for a while, and Victor (Eric Braeden) was looking into it.  It was clear that it was very important to Dina.  So, Jack, against his own wishes, said, “No, I’ve got to do the right thing.  I’ve got to try to trace this thing down.  It clearly means something to her.  Maybe she is trying to tell us something.  God only knows.”  So, he did the right thing, not because, “I want to make Mommy happy,” but because he forced himself to do the right thing, to find the damn necklace, and to see what this is about.  Then, we saw the affect it had when he gave it to her.

Photo: CBS

It’s always good to chat and check-in with you during these key and historical moments in the life of the character of Jack Abbott.  There have been many throughout your time on Y&R, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

PETER:  It will be, and I’m telling you, this is a real moment.  Normally, we just go from one story into the next, into the next, and this one has been hanging for so long that, “Okay, now that it is over, wow, what is going to happen to Jack?”  I’m just as curious as everybody else.

So, what do you think will happen next for Jack?  Did you reach for the hankies in Peter’s final scenes with Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Marla Adams Talks Her Final Scenes As Dina Mergeron, The Alzheimer’s Storyline, and Her Touching Farewell

Today on The Young and the Restless marks the end of the enduring run of Marla Adams in the role of Dina Mergeron. In story, Dina passes away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a storyline that started four years ago when the CBS Daytime drama brought back the character and Adams; and one that has deeply affected many in the viewing audience who have also had their own personal experience of losing a loved one to this dreadful disease.

If you have not seen today’s episode yet, you may not want to read any further, but needless to say, make sure you have the hankies ready for Dina’s final moments with her children and how she leaves this earth, which will be remembered for quite some time to come.

Marla originated the role of the rich and spoiled Abbott matriarch back in 1983 and portrayed the role on and off for what amounts to five decades. Her classic scenes with Jerry Douglas (Ex-John), Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and so many more from the iconic soap, always made for great and complex stories.

 

With this her final airdate on Y&R, it also puts an exclamation point for Marla on an incredible daytime career having also appeared on: The Bold and the Beautiful. Capitol, Days of our Lives, Generations and The Secret Storm

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Adams in this very special conversation where she shared with us how it was to play these heartbreaking last scenes, the importance of the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace to the story, how Y&R gave her the most overwhelming and beautiful send-off, and her ‘thank you’s’ to all of you, who have been her extended family and are sad to see her go. She is one-of-a-kind …and now, here’s Marla.

Photo: Getty

Marla, I am so glad we have the opportunity to chat in this full-circle moment as you have brought the character of Dina to a close.

MARLA:  It’s such a joy to talk to you.  It seems like yesterday and an eternity as well.   I thought of you so much, and I remember talking to you specifically with all of the different interviews over the years, when I was at the studio.  But I will always remember the interview you did with me and Beth Maitland (Traci), my darling soul sister, and you talked to me about your mother who has since passed on from Alzheimer’s.  I’ll never forget what you had to say all those months ago

Photo: HallmarkChannel

Yes, and when as audience members we watch these stories unfold with characters we have loved, or watched on our screens for years, and there is a death, we feel connected to them as well.  And in this case, as a child who has lost a parent to Alzheimer’s, like many in the audience, you ask yourself first, “Can I watch this?” It hits very close to home, but I’m sure when people watch today’s episode of Y&R and see Dina pass away, they will be extraordinarily moved.

MARLA:  Oh, my gosh.  Wait until you people see Friday’s show.  I know they will be moved.  They should be!  I’ve got friends who I’ve already said to, “Get your Kleenex box out.”  It’s so beautiful what happens at the end of the episode.

Courtesy/CBD

How did you feel about playing Dina’s final scenes?

MARLA:  It was wonderful because it showed her lifetime of sorrow and regret, and what was so wonderful was the fact that the hero of the whole thing is the kindness and respect that she really did have for her whole family.  They had the most beautiful sendoff for me.  They sent me a limo!  I went to the studio, and dear Patti Denney (Make-up artist, Y&R) was there, of course with all kinds of makeup and everything else, and she looked like she was entering the ER room for Covid-19, because of all the safety protocols we must have.  It was unbelievable, the kindness that was served to me.  After we finished taping my final scenes, I came back to the soundstage and they totally surprised me.  Dear Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R) and Sally Sussman (Ex-head writer, Y&R) were there, and Tony spoke about me, and so did my Y&R extended family and on-screen children: Peter Bergman (Jack), and Beth Maitland, and Eileen Davidson, and much of it was put on tape (see excerpts in video below).  Afterwards, Tony gave me beautiful flowers.  I was driven back home after this, and I felt really special, and it was just amazing to me. I had written Josh Griffith (Current head-writer and co-executive producer, Y&R) a ‘thank you’ for writing the show with his wonderful people, but I never heard back, but when I walked in my apartment, the phone was ringing.  Guess who?  It’s Josh!  He said, “I waited until I knew you would be home to thank you,” and I felt so lovey-doved up, I couldn’t believe it.  I want to read something to you that I received in the wonderful flowers that came the next day from CBS Daytime executive Margot Wain and others.  The flowers were so big that they didn’t fit on the bar!  The card read: “Thank you for bringing the amazing force that is Abbott matriarch, Dina Mergeron to countless fans of The Young and the Restless.  Your vast contribution to Y&R and CBS for more than five decades is unparalleled.  We are forever grateful for all you’ve brought to Y&R as both a consummate professional and a cherished co-worker.  All our best wishes.”  I was just so touched by the sentiments.

Photo: CBS

I also want to share something with you.  When it was revealed in the promo that came out last week that this would be your last show, I received so many notifications on social media, saying, “Oh, my God!  We love Marla!  You have to interview her!”  You are loved by the Y&R fans.  I hope you know that!  They’re sad to see you go, because you’re a legacy character to them, and soap fans have deep connections to characters that have been on their favorite soaps for decades.

MARLA:  Five decades!  My God!  I’m eighty-freaking-two.  I can’t believe it.

Courtesy/CBS

In story, Jack was on a mission to get the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace back to Dina before she died, hoping that she would have one last moment of lucidity and would recall it and it would hopefully make her happy.   He moves heaven on earth to get it, and does, and brings it to her and viewers saw her reaction. 

MARLA:  The necklace had never been anywhere before in story except recently, but I said to myself that I would play it ‘quietly and graciously’, because it made for such a beautiful moment for Dina with her children.

Courtesy/CBS

For Dina, the necklace was a symbol of remaining connected to her family and her children, even when she was not with them all of those years.  In your final scenes, Dina had these moments to say goodbye to each of your children.  Do you remember looking at Eileen, Traci, and Peter taping those highly emotional beats?

MARLA:  Yes, they were so there for me.  They are an extended family that is so precious to me, and playing this iconic character has been, too.  I remember when Sally Sussman told me a few years ago, “ I’m going to bring you back on The Young and the Restless, but you’ve got Alzheimer’s,” and I said, ‘What!?  You’re bringing me back so you can kill me off?’ and she said, “Oh no, it’ll be about a year.”  That dissolved into four years, and now five decades had passed and I was still on Y&R.  I am beyond grateful.

Courtesy/CBD

As an actress, was it hard to play Dina’s final moments when she goes to the light to join her beloved, John?

MARLA:  It was heart-wrenching for me.  In the story, Dina died when she went outside and to the front door of the Abbott home.  They did not tell me before-hand, and that’s why it was so wonderful.  I hope they came in for a closeup of that because I had no makeup on, it was beautiful, and then, Dina said, “Oh, John.”  I’ve done everything from movies, to daytime, to nighttime, to Broadway, but that was the iconic moment for me, to do this gig with wonderful, wonderful actors and friends, and to do this particular storyline.

Photo: CBS

It was 1983 when you first appeared on Y&R.  And through the years, Dina did not do such great things! She had an affair with Brent Davis who was the biological father of Ashley that caused such a rift between mother and daughter for years.  She abandoned the Abbott children and walked out on them and her marriage to John, and that’s just for starters! Dina was a complicated character. Did you love the fact that she could be very selfish at times?

MARLA:  You think?  That’s why I loved her.  Of course!  I can be very selfish, too.  You have to be selfish if you’re an actor, good God. (Laughs).

Courtesy/CBS

It was great that The Young and the Restless brought you back four years ago so that through the telling of the Alzheimer’s storyline that Dina was able to somewhat repair her relationships with her children.  Obviously, over the last many months the audience could not witness the more day to day progression and toll the disease took on Dina and her family in its final stages, but unfortunately with the way COVID-19 has affected shooting daytime soap operas, and all of our lives, including safety protocols, I am sure plans had to be altered,

MARLA:  Of course.  As an actress, this was the most important role of my life, and to have her final moments spread out in one day really is because of all of the fans who have been writing in and wanting to see Dina again,

Photo: CBS

People were rooting for you to win the Daytime Emmy back in 2018 when you were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. That must be a nice moment to carry with you from playing Dina’s final storyline.

MARLA:  Yes, and I should have won!  Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) was furious. (Laughs)  He said, “What do you mean, darling, you should have won!  Goddammit!” He’s a wonderful man and a good friend.  He came to pick me up several times to go to the studio for my last few shows, and that’s the kind of mensch he is. So, I feel just so blessed and I feel great love and loss.  I would like Dina to come back as a ghost, but I have no idea, if that will happen or not. But if the fans would be interested in seeing Dina as a ghost … make sure to write in to the show and tell them!

Courtesy/CBS

Speaking of the fans that have followed you for decades on Y&R, what would you want to say to them now that Dina has passed on?

MARLA:  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for all of the love, the support, and the chance to play Dina out… and I’m thankful that you cared, and loved her, up till the end.

So what did you think about Dina’s final moments on today’s Y&R? Will you miss Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first check out the special behind the scenes tribute for Marla, followed by The Michael Fairman Channel’s interview with Marla and Beth Maitland from Y&R’s 45th anniversary celebration referred to during the above conversation.

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Interviews

B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood Talks Steffy’s Opioid Addiction Storyline, The Emotional Scenes & Adjustments Made Due To COVID-19

If you have been watching CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful over the last two weeks, you have witnessed the compelling and important storyline unfold with Steffy Forrester (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) at its epicenter.  In a harrowing tale of opioid addiction that can so easily happen to anyone given the circumstances, the daytime drama took on a social issue prevalent and rising in our society today.

This story gave Daytime Emmy-winner, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood another chance to shine in some of the most deeply affecting episodes and scenes in soaps of 2020.  In story, after Bill Spencer (Don Diamont) accidently hit Steffy with his car while she was on her motorcycle; she became hospitalized to treat her injuries. Once there, she met new love interest, Dr. Finnegan or as the show calls him “Finn” played by newcomer, Tanner Novlan. Finn prescribes pain medication for her. But before you know it, once Steffy is out of the hospital and back at home she struggles with the pain and the isolation of her life, and the losses she has experienced over the last many months, and before you know it, she is addicted, and no longer getting the pills from her doctor, but by any means possible.

Last week, we named Jacqui’s work the ‘Power Performance of the Week’, but we are also giving it to her again this week for her masterful performance on Tuesday’s episode, where Steffy breaks down after being confronted by Finn, Liam (Scott Clifton) and her father, Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) and finally coming to the stark realization that she is an addict.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood after all the key scenes had aired to: get the inside Intel on what went down taping those moments, and how the show made some important decisions amid the coronavirus pandemic about the telling of this storyline. Here is what Jacqui had to say about: her co-stars, herself, and what she learned about those who struggle with addiction.

Courtesy/CBS

How did you feel about being handed the ball to tell this important story, and how much were you told ahead of time?

JACQUELINE: Originally, I was told that we were going to tell this story, and that was before Covid-19.  So, it was literally the week before we went into lockdown, and we were about to dive into this story. Obviously, I am so grateful to be able to tell this story because traditionally The Bold and the Beautiful has a long list of social stories that we are known for telling.  It is something that that we need to talk about because it is happening, and it is happening everywhere.  Someone knows somebody – it is in our family, or our friends are dealing with this, and I didn’t realize how close to home it was for so many people.  I think that with our show, the way we balance drama, and romance, and real social issues that really touch people, is special.  I noticed that throughout this week with so many people reaching out to me.  People who are police officers, to people who actually work with people who are addicted, people who were addicted have reached out to me.  There have been a lot, but I’m very honored, again, to dive into this story.

A lot of fans and viewers remarked along the lines of “Wow, Steffy got addicted very fast,” because it felt like the story kind of accelerated itself, and some people are like, “Well, they just told it too fast.”  I wondered how you felt about that, knowing what you know about soap operas and research you may have done on addictions.

JACQUELINE:  I did some research on YouTube on opioid addiction from first-hand accounts of addicts and the effect on just them, but also on the grief it had caused their families. I originally had mistakenly thought, “It must take years to become addicted,” and I was very surprised by how quickly and easily one can be trapped in pain management, and many cases are heartbreaking.  You always think, with opioids, “Oh, this can’t happen to a lot of people,” but it’s not just, “Oh, the ‘crackhead’ down the street…”  It could be a mom, or these people who have a surgery, or an accident, and then they just get on these pills, and it happens so quickly.  Yes, the storyline happened extremely fast, but there is truth to it because addiction does happen very quickly in this world.  The other thing I have to say, I think what Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) did so elegantly, is that we were going to tell this story, and we were going to tell this story for a very long time.  I love that he was very perceptive to this – that we are in a dark time right now.  It’s a dark world, and I think that it is important, again, to shed some light on this, but we didn’t want to necessarily drag it on too long because it’s like, you watch every news outlet, and it’s depressing, and it’s depressing everywhere.  Before Covid-19, this story would have been a lot longer, and I think it was kind of realizing, “Let’s take it back.  But, let’s dive into this.” I think we were also being mindful of the viewers because we are shedding light on this, but also, opioid addiction had now skyrocketed through this pandemic, and this quarantine.  I think, again, it’s important to tell this story, but we didn’t want to be another show that is just so depressing right now during such a depressing time.

Photo: JPI

Right, so the story won’t be as elongated , but obviously, she will always have this addiction now, which is always great as a character, to delve back into, that Steffy will have in her physical and emotional make-up now.

JACQUELINE:  Absolutely.  She will always have that.  She will always have to be mindful of it.

What did you think about Dr. Finn in all of this?  Do you think that he should have caught on earlier that this was happening to Steffy?

JACQUELINE:  (Laughs) Yes, absolutely.  I think, Steffy was pretty good at hiding it from him, especially the last time when she invited him over, and she said she didn’t need the pills.  However, on Tuesday’s episode when there was that huge explosion, and he really got to see that visceral side of Steffy as defiant and angry, that was a lot for him to take in.  Tanner has been doing such an incredible job of diving into this and telling this story, but yeah, you wonder if Finn noticed, but again, I do think Steffy was pretty good at hiding it.

She was pretty slick, but when she got the pills from Vinny, I kept thinking, “What did he give her?”, because they seemed awfully strong, or laced obviously with another drug. 

JACQUELINE:  When Steffy got the pills from Vinny, that was the first thing I said, “Is this just opioids?” Now, she’s getting it off the street, and we just don’t know.  It’s laced with God-knows-what.  She has no idea because she’s not getting it from an actual doctor; she’s getting it from Vinny.

Courtesy/CBS

So, when Tanner came to the show, did you read screen-test with him?  What was your initial thought of him and Steffy finally having a potential new relationship?

JACQUELINE:  He is absolutely wonderful.  It’s funny because we have a lot of friends in common, and he is a fellow Canadian, and we bonded over that.  He originally screen-tested, I think, a few days before we went into lockdown.  So, who knew that we were not going to be able to work with each other for months and months and months, but he has been completely added to the group, and it is a different world that we are navigating, especially with how we are filming on set and the 8 feet apart rules, and you have these emotional scenes, and you feel like you just want to grab someone, and hold them, and cry.  I have so many fans going, “My God, I just wanted one of the characters to hold you!” and then you’re like, “COVID,” and nobody can really touch me, so…

Photo: JPI

Isn’t he kissing his wife though as your stand-in?  B&B alum, Kayla Ewell?

JACQUELINE: Yes, yes he is!  I just thought it was priceless that, how long have I been on the show, that Steffy has just been pining away for Liam for years, and years, and years, and finally gets the go-ahead, and she’s going to get a new love interest, and I’m like, “Woo-hoo!” and then, COVID happened, and I find out, “Your love interest is going to be a doll!”  So, he gets his wife, which is great.  My husband has been completely supportive, but my husband has not come in.  I don’t think it would work playing opposite him as Tanner, but his wife actually has a very similar look to me, which is great.  So, she’s been in a few times, which has been amazing!  I get the foam doll. (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

I was just thinking it’s so funny, too.  Steffy FINALLY gets a new man, but she is with a doll! 

JACQUELINE:  I know, I know.

Photo: JPI

What’s great about when you get to play these kinds of emotional levels in an addiction storyline … or anything that kind of flips the character’s mental state, is that you get to see the anguish.  You know, we’ve never seen Steffy discuss or really say anything about having Beth taken from her, whom she raised her as ‘Phoebe’, and then losing Liam to Hope, and this is kind of addressing her pain through this story arc, which I thought was really good, that it wasn’t just swept under the table.  The characters, the audience, and Steffy were realizing that she had emotional baggage and distress over those losses.  How did you feel when taping those scenes with the confrontation where she pulls out a switchblade on Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), Ridge, Liam and Hope (Annika Noelle)? Those were great scenes. 

JACQUELINE:  Thank you, thank you.  We didn’t know how we were going to be able to do these scenes.

Because of the social distancing?

JACQUELINE:  Well, yeah, social distancing!  We did it in one take.  It was a long 10-12 page scene.

Photo: Gilles Toucas/Bell-Phillip Television

Well, the final 7 minutes of that episode were just a riveting; which included that knife scene, which in itself was gut-wrenching to watch, as I assume it must have been to play?

JACQUELINE:  It was a big scene, and it was a big, emotional week for all of us, obviously, and I couldn’t have done it without my cast.  They were so phenomenal as well.  We were trying to think, “How are we going to do this?”  Thorsten Kaye came up with this idea that Steffy should have a knife because Ridge would want to go to her and grab her, and the only thing that would maybe keep him away.  She is so angry, and she does have so much emotional baggage, and yes, she is in pain from her motorcycle accident, but I think that a lot of people saw in that phone call from Hope, where Hope said, “Oh, Kelly wants to spend another night,” that was that whole mental shift of, “Oh, my God, this is my worst fear.  It’s finally happening.  My daughter doesn’t want to stay here.  I am truly alone.  I don’t have anybody.”  Her life up to now has been about raising Kelly, and then that was that whole baggage unload – the pain of all of the years of what the Logans had done to the Forresters – it was just a domino effect. She obviously is not dealing with the pain in a pragmatic way.  I think Steffy was using the pills to mitigate her misery, physically and emotionally.

Courtesy/CBS

I think there were two turning points … after the switchblade incident, when she finally realized, “Oh, my God, what am I doing?  I’ve got this knife,” and she gets rid of it.  She does seem to have these moments (in that episode and the one that aired Tuesday) where she realizes, “Oh, my God, I’m messed up,” which were heartbreaking moments.  Do you remember playing that moment of, “Oh, my God, I’m an addict,” where Steffy admitted it out loud?

JACQUELINE:  Yeah!  It was extremely difficult.  I’m really good at being able to work on set and being able to leave it behind.  That’s the one thing that people will say to me, “What is it like off of set?  It must be so emotional for you!”  Once we say cut, I’m done.  I don’t mentally check out from the scenes, but I’m just able to let go because we just have so many episodes and so many emotional scenes, but I have to say this took a little while to shake.  I had to get into my car, and I was still emotional, and I had to put some good music on, and blare it, and drive home.  To know that these things are happening in the world and it is happening to so many people, it just breaks my heart, and I still get emotional about it.  It is gut-wrenching to know that this happens.  When I have those emotional scenes, (especially like that) I can’t fake it.  That’s just not who I am.  I can’t just fake cry to get through it.  Yeah, I’m an actor, but even though we film so quickly, even though it’s usually just one take, even though we are crying all day with all of these scenes, I really like to emotionally get there.  Obviously, over the years, I’ve learned to get there quicker, and I am really proud of myself for that, but what you see is what you get.  Those are real emotions.  I am just as present as I possibly can be in that scene and just listening to Ridge, and Liam, and Finn and just taking it all in – then Steffy realizes that she is addicted, just that moment of everything breaking down; her whole world was falling apart.  I think it was an important moment, but we were just really there for one another in that scene.

 

Scott Clifton, I just really want to say, throughout that week, had to play annoyingly holier-than-thou with you as Steffy.  People were annoyed with Liam.  He was the perfect annoyance to get her really pissed off!

JACQUELINE:  Yeah, I know!  It was actually funny at one point because so many fans were like, “Steffy was out of her mind!  She was clearly on drugs!”  I love the Steffy fans who were like, “Liam is so wrong!”  You could see how loyal the fans were.

Courtesy/CBS

They were!  It was great, but Liam was super annoying. That being said; did you watch back last Friday’s episode where after Steffy runs out, the camera pans to Scott, and Liam breaks down and cries?  So good. 

JACQUELINE:  Yep, yep.  I know, it was so good, and that was him!  That’s what I find so beautiful is that when you are in that scene, you don’t know what the reactions are going to be, and I know that was so true and authentic of Scott.  It was a genuine emotion that came out of him. I hadn’t seen him break down in a long time, but it was so unexpected, but I was glad to see it, really glad.

Photo: JPI

We haven’t seen Bill Spencer come to Steffy yet.  How does she feel about that?

JACQUELINE:  That’s a good question.  I don’t know how Steffy is going to feel about that.  I think, obviously before the addiction happened, she would blame him for hitting her on her motorcycle, but you never know, things could change coming up with Bill and Steffy.

Well, he will probably blame himself now for the addiction, I would think, because he hit her.

JACQUELINE:  I think so, too.  That’s one of the things he may be playing in those scenes.  So, we shall see.

Courtesy./CBS

Talk to me about Thorsten Kaye in those scene with you as the dad, because in the episode we saw Tuesday, there was a powerful moment when he just sat beside Steffy, but not holding her at the very end.  I thought that was a very nice touch given also Covid-19 protocols.  At that point they weren’t dragging Steffy out into a rehab facility.  We just watched him sitting there quietly while Steffy had this reckoning to herself. 

JACQUELINE:  I really liked it.  I liked that we had a lot of those chill moments of taking each other in. Thorsten and I get along so well.  We’ve just always had a bond, and I love working with him because in rehearsal, we do something one way, and then, again, when you’re filming, it’s always so unexpected, you don’t know what he is going to throw at you, which makes you be even more present.  It’s a tough scene.  I was feeding off of him and vice versa, and I’m sure he was putting himself in that situation of God-forbid if his daughters were in this situation, and you know, I’m looking at him in that father-daughter moment and seeing him become emotional for his daughter.  It just kills you, it really does, but it was a heartbreaking moment, but I like how we ended the scene: with something as very simple as sitting beside each other.

Courtesy/CBS

Your fans and the soap pundits are saying that obviously you have your Emmy reel for next year, it’s done.  It’s right there.  This may just make you a two-time Lead Actress Daytime Emmy winner.

JACQUELINE:  Aw, that’s so sweet.

It is great for you because you have an arc of a story there to tell, and we’ve talked about this before – an arc of a story for a submission in Emmy competition seems what many of the judges like to see and can understand because they watch the performer in scenes from the progression of a story.   

JACQUELINE:  Definitely, and it was nice to know that I was going to do this story and that we were going to tell this story, but once we came back months later, I didn’t know that we were still going to dive into opioid addiction with Steffy, because again, with our show, and with a lot of soaps, storylines change all of the time. I am very grateful for it.

 

So, what can we tease?  Will Steffy get Kelly back, or will she be estranged from her for a little bit?  What do you think?

JACQUELINE: I think that Steffy is a strong woman, and I think she will come back stronger than ever, and I think she will get her daughter.

Courtesy/CBS

You should be very, very proud of this work, Jacqui!

JACQUELINE:  Thank you.  I am.  During the week, when we had all of the dialogue to do, and it’s a different world now when you’re taking care of a toddler, and then with the Covid-19 protocols, and then you get the story, (and again, so grateful for it), but it was so much dialogue, and going back and forth, and making sure you’re bringing it emotionally, and it was extremely challenging, to say the least,  But, I am really proud of myself that come that Friday I was like, “Oh, my God, we did it.  We did it!”

What have you thought of Jacqueline’s performances in the opioid addiction storyline? Were you glad to hear the show decided not to drag out the story due to the times we are all in? Do you feel this storyline was powerful and could help those in need of help? Share your thoughts on the interview with Jacqui and more via the comment section below.

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B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood deliver the Power Performance of the Week as Steffy’s drug addiction leads to a confrontation and intervention by her loved ones with dire consequences.  Here is the last seven minutes that featured Emmy-winner Wood at her best. Leave A Comment

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Power Performance

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General Hospital

Airdate: 10-08-2020

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