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The Stephen Nichols Interview – The Young and the Restless

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This week, daytime fans get one of their wishes, to see Stephen Nichols back on daytime. After being let-go by Days of our Lives almost a year ago, the talented and popular actor finally debuts on The Young and the Restless, Wednesday, in the role of Tucker McCall — the billionaire mogul revealed last week to be the son of the grand dame of Genoa City, Katherine Chancellor. Not only did Tucker reveal he is the son Katherine gave away, but that piece by piece he dismantled her beloved company and took it for himself! Poor Katherine is still reeling that the child she gave away was not a little girl (as she had thought) but a little boy! Let the fireworks begin! Nichols could not be coming into the role at a more exciting time.

The back-story, as had been reported…Y&R had decided to make a change in the direction of Tucker McCall after casting veteran actor William Russ in the role. After watching Russ on-screen, the powers-that-be thought it best to make a switch sooner than later, and with a phone call to soap vet Stephen Nichols, the show felt they found what they were looking for.

From his role as Stefan on GH to Patch on DAYS, you know that Stephen Nichols is going to play Tucker for all he is worth, and then some. In this exclusive online interview, Nichols talks about his first airdate, working with the legendary Jeanne Cooper, the state of the genre, and being a soap recast for the first time in his career, and finding professional happiness on the set of the number one soap!

Listen to the audio: The Stephen Nichols Interview

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MICHAEL:

How long have you been taping at Y&R as Tucker?

STEPHEN:

I started right before the holidays and it was such a nice Christmas gift.

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MICHAEL:

Your fans and I were so upset to see you let-go as the beloved Patch on DAYS….

STEPHEN:

…You weren’t the only one.

MICHAEL:

So you received a call from Maria Arena Bell (Y&R head writer and co-executive producer), saying that they would like you to take over the pivotal role of Tucker. You must have been beyond excited when you heard that?

STEPHEN:

Yes, I was happy, excited, and terrified all at the same time.

MICHAEL:

What makes this role so unique? Maria had stated that it’s so integral to the show. Did you know the set-up of the character enough before you came in here to start taping?

Yes, they described what the role would be. I think what makes it exciting is that I am connected to so much history on the show. I am the son of the matriarch on the show. And that is very exciting, number one, because it’s always good to start on a new show with a rich history, and you are not some guy from out of nowhere. It’s so great to have ties to the show and to the history of that show. The most exciting part is working with Jeanne Cooper (Katherine). She is amazing!

MICHAEL:

So, when you first premiere this Wednesday, should we grab our popcorn and sit back and enjoy a Katherine and Tucker smackdown?

STEPHEN:

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I don’t want it to be anti-climatic if things don’t work out when you are watching it. (Laughs) But I have to tell you, the first time I worked with her it was as if I had been working with her for 20 years, and Jeanne felt the same way. We had this connection, and you get that feeling once in a while, especially in daytime where it’s a daily grind and you are doing so much material. It’s rare that you have this feeling with another actor, and I had it immediately with her. On my first airdate, something happens in the realm of business between her and me. But once that is revealed we are left alone in the room, and Katherine says something to me that really hit home. So those are the first scenes we have together alone, and they are pretty exciting.

MICHAEL:

You knew of each other’s work?

STEPHEN:

I had seen Jeanne’s work over the years, and I think there is a secret that a lot of soap opera actors keep, and that is we watch each other’s work. There is a television in your dressing room. So if you are on a soap, and you have a TV in your dressing room, and you have some downtime and it’s around noon, you flip around and there you see Y&R or GH, or one of the other shows, and you watch. I am interested in seeing the work of other actors in daytime, and what the stories are, and if the writing is good and what the production values are. I have tuned in several times to Y&R, and every time I have seen Jeanne Cooper on the show, she has been amazing.

MICHAEL:

Y&R’s co-executive producers, Maria Arena Bell and Paul Rauch and I, spoke about you in an upcoming interview. They had said you bring so many complexities, a strength, sexuality, and drama to this character. Is that what we are going to see with your Tucker?

STEPHEN:

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Oh, sexuality. Did they say that? (Laughs) I am an intuitive actor. I don’t know a thing about big business, for example. Now, I have started in the morning reading the business section of the New York Times. I only used to peruse it. But now I read it cover to cover, because I don’t have a head for business. So, I have to trust the writers that they are going to give me good dialog. I see it and I go, “OK, now that sounds pretty good, but I have to understand it.” If I don’t understand it then it’s not going to come off on screen.

MICHAEL:

Are there tricky words used in your corporate scenes like, “Takeover”? (Laughs)

STEPHEN:

Oh, “Takeover” is a very tricky one, (Laughs) and “Dominant Market Share!” There is a lot of stuff I don’t have a clue about, that’s just not my thing, but the writing is very good and they make me look good and sound good.

MICHAEL:

So we can safely assume that the conflict and confrontations between Katherine Chancellor and her son, Tucker, will continue? He is out for revenge on his mother!

STEPHEN:

Yes, he is out for revenge on his mother. I mean any kid that was put in an orphanage at birth, and whose mother put him there and never looked back, would feel resentful of that. So yeah, I am going to get her.

MICHAEL:

You also get the opportunity to work with the rest of the Chancellor clan. There are so many wonderful actors for you to play with.

STEPHEN:

That is the other thing that is unique to this situation. In fact, Maria said this when I was speaking with her one time, “You know this character will be dropped right in the center of all the main characters on the show.” And I thought, “Wow! What a prospect.” It’s been amazing. I have already worked with Eric Braeden (Victor).

MICHAEL:

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How was working with Mr. Braeden, as the powerful Victor Newman? I hear things are going to get very tense between the moguls!

STEPHEN:

My first day, we hit it off great. We had some great scenes. There was a lot electricity and a lot going on. I so appreciate that, because when you prepare yourself at home and then you come into the studio, you don’t really know what’s going to happen until you get on the set and start doing the scenes with the other actors. When you get that tennis match going and people are really going and hitting the ball to you, and you have to hit it back… that is exciting! I can tell you that is what happened with Eric and that is what happened with Peter Bergman (Jack), and all the young guys I have been working with; Daniel Goddard (Cane) and Michael Muhney (Adam), and especially Jess Walton (Jill). She is amazing! We had a couple of scenes last week where right afterwards I said, “Oh, My God. It’s just amazing working with you!”

MICHAEL:

Now that Jill realized Tucker stuck it to Katherine, do you think the romance between Jill and Tucker is still going to move forward?

STEPHEN:

Well, it’s under the surface, because they had a real hot sexual relationship, and unfortunately, William Russ got to play more of that than I did. So I am looking forward to some of that for me!

MICHAEL:

Is Tucker a ‘playa’?

STEPHEN:

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Oh yes, Tucker is a player. I can give you a little tidbit. One night, Tucker gets a knock at the door and it’s Jill, and he was not expecting her. Tucker is trying to get rid of her the whole time she is standing there, and at the end of the scene, once he finally gets her out of the door, a 20-something year old comes out of his bedroom. I say, “I am sorry this took so long.” And she says, “Less talk and more action, baby.” And I say, “Oh well, I like the sound of that.” And then we get to it…. and so… he is a ‘playa’! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Tucker must be torn up inside with huge abandonment issues?

STEPHEN:

He has all that stuff, but he has found a way to create a very strong armor. He doesn’t let it break very often. He does not let anyone see his true feelings, and I think the reason he is such a player is, and it’s my take on it now, is that it’s for that very reason. He does not want to get close to anyone. He does not want to get hurt.

MICHAEL:

So as a recast, how is this going to be handled on-air? Will they make a voice-over announcement, “The part of Tucker McCall will be played by soap superstar, Stephen Nichols?” Or, are they going to have your name on screen under your entrance in typical soap replacement fashion?

STEPHEN:

There is that weirdly embarrassing thing. (Laughs) In fact, I walk out of my bedroom in a robe, and Jill is already out of bed looking out the window. I walk out to see her, and as I am walking out to see her, the director asked me to stop and take a pause at the door before I continued, and that is where they put a chyron emblazed across my robe or my chest, “I am Stephen Nichols and I am playing the part of Tucker McCall.” (Laughs) It’s embarrassing, but fun. It never happened to me before.

MICHAEL:

Is it true what I read previously, that William Russ sent you a note on your first day?

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STEPHEN:

Yes he did. On my first day in my dressing room, on top of my television, was a little piece of paper or a piece of a script, and he had written a note on the back of it and it said, “Good luck with the role, Stephen…William Russ.” It was very nice.

MICHAEL:

How is it at Y&R, compared to your time at GH and DAYS?

STEPHEN:

Things have changed so much in this medium from the time I was at GH, which was from 1996-2003. We were not working quite as fast as we are now. There was a time where it was block and tape and almost no rehearsal. Now, there is virtually no rehearsal. You are lucky if you even get a blocking session, but you get used to it. People say, “Well, how do you learn all those lines?” You just do what you have to do to learn the lines. For some people it’s easier and for some people it’s difficult, but whatever your level is, you do what it takes, because if you don’t, you can’t do the job. It’s the same thing with block and tape. If you can’t do that, then you can’t do the job. You have to find a way where you can do it.

MICHAEL:

How has it been working with Paul Rauch?

STEPHEN:

I worked with Paul on Santa Barbara. I was on the soap for the last three months of its run. We had a good time. Everybody had a good time. First of all, it was a great show with great actors, and really the highest production values of any soap ever on the air, because New World had a hell of a lot of money. We all knew at that point we were going off the air, so everyone was having a good ole’ time. Paul was a lot of fun, and here at Y&R, so far, we have a really good relationship. The thing about Paul is he has really good taste. You can tell by the way he dresses… the man’s got taste. When he gives a note, he knows exactly what he is saying. Paul is very specific and he does not do it very often, and that is a sign of a good producer. He really allows people to breathe and to be creative and to let the thing happen. If it is not quite right, he will get out there and say, “This is the note.” I mean, I have only been here at Y&R a short time, but the notes to me have made perfect sense. He is hands-on, and his eyes are always watching what is going on.

MICHAEL:

You have seen the best and the worst of the genre; budget cuts, stars being dismissed, and cancellations. Are you concerned about what is happening now?

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STEPHEN:

You know, you’ve got to roll with the punches. This is life and that is what life is about, and it’s also about change. Anyone who thinks just because they have a job today, they will have a job tomorrow…. this past year is evidence for me to the contrary. It would be a shame to see daytime go away completely, because it is such a part of American culture, and we have so many die-hard fans. How many shows can say they have an audience for 35 or 40 years? No shows except daytime shows, perhaps some of the game shows. So, it’s important to remember that soaps are part of American culture. If television executives are smart, they will find a way to continue to make daytime thrive.

MICHAEL:

Do you see Tucker as a true villain?

STEPHEN:

No. I don’t believe there is such a thing, unless it’s a cartoon. You said something about humanity before and everyone has humanity, and you aren’t human if you don’t feel things, and at some point it’s going to show. I do enjoy playing villains, but I enjoy playing complex characters more. People have so many different facets to them. These writers are very good. The thing I love about the scripts here is; there is always extra stuff between the lines about character motivation, and you don’t see that very often. I saw it the first year and half I was at GH. The ones who wrote really good dialog, like Patrick Mulcahey, that is always very helpful. So I am not in the dark. I don’t have to call up and say, “What do you mean by this or that?”

MICHAEL:

Did anyone show you around your first day?

STEPHEN:

Jess Walton took me around. She introduced me to everybody and the crew, and every single person I met here including all the actors have been so warm, and even the B&B people I see across the hall! Don Diamont (Bill, B&B) said, “Welcome to the building!” and John McCook (Eric) and Ronn Moss, (Ridge). You see these guys at all the soap events over the years, and I don’t know them well, but to have them come up to me and be so sweet made me feel warm and comfortable. I really appreciated it.

©Nancy Lee Grahn.com

MICHAEL:

You took part two weekends ago at a Haitian Relief fundraising effort that your former cast mate Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH) organized. What are your thoughts on the disaster in Haiti and what we should all being doing to help?

STEPHEN:

The Red Cross has raised something like a hundred and seventy some million dollars for Haitian Relief, mostly from this country, and that is fantastic! I think people are finally getting the message that we live in a global community with the internet and this quick connection to everybody and the sharing of information. We know what is going on in every corner of the world. We cannot close our eyes anymore and live in our little house bubble. We have to be proactive throughout the world and if someone else is in trouble, we have to do something about it.

MICHAEL:

So did Nancy just call and say…

STEPHEN:

…. Nancy called me the night before and said, “Hey it’s tomorrow at 3PM, can you do it?” My day was booked and I did not know if I could do it, but I got done what I needed to, and I got over to the Rose Bowl quick. There were a lot of young DAYS actors there, who I did not know. (Laughs) There were some GH people there, too, and some folks I knew from other shows. We stood there and collected money as people drove up and put their checks in the box. I think we raised that day something like $100,000.

MICHAEL:

So what can we expect from Tucker McCall, the Stephen Nichols version?

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STEPHEN:

He will be very, very cool, and he will be full of a lot of fire and a lot of surprises.

MICHAEL:

And finally, your avid fan base that has followed you through all of the twists and turns of your soap career must have been overjoyed to hear about your new role!

STEPHEN:

They are excited. I have been almost off DAYS a year. In February it will be a year, and they were getting really tired of not hearing from me. And, they did not see me, so I would do a couple of online chats and we would get together that way. The last chat was right before I got this gig, and I could not tell them. I had to keep it a secret. So I said, “Don’t worry. I bet something is coming down the pike. There will be some really excited news. I can just feel it.” (Laughs) They are very happy and I am happy to be back.

MICHAEL:

You were told by Y&R not to say anything to anyone?

STEPHEN:

I was not sure if I could tell my own mother! So I said to Y&R publicity, “My mother won’t tell anybody. Can I call her and tell her?” They said, “Yes, you can tell your mother.” My mother needed some good news at this point. She lives in Ohio and my grandmother just celebrated her 105th birthday. I want to say, “Happy Birthday, Maddie!”

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MICHAEL:

Does your mom watch your work?

STEPHEN:

Oh, absolutely. She is very proud.

MICHAEL:

Does she call you up and go, “Why are you kissing that woman?”

STEPHEN:

Once in awhile she will say something like that, especially if I have a love scene. She will usually say, “You are too thin!” (Laughs)

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mary
Guest
mary

I am so looking forward to seeing Stephen on Y & R. He is just the breath of fresh air the show needed. I loved him as Patch and I am sure he will be great as Tucker.

Kimbalee
Guest
Kimbalee

What a great interview! I am sure Stephen will be great on Y & R. I hope he stays for many years.

Doe
Guest
Doe

Michael, that is a very intersting interview with Stephen.I’ve always liked him as Patch on Days, but didn’t know too much about him. So, this interview gave me a good look at his personality. I already know about his good looks. It will be be great to see his take on Tucker and what he will be bringing to this role. I am hoping for some good fights between he and Victor and Jeanne….

cindy
Guest
cindy

Loved the interview.. I’ve been a fan since the early days.. and still love to rewatch the Patchman going after Bo and Hope.. Followed him to all the shows, and love meeting all the other fans. The role of Tucker is great, and I’m so happy to hear that Mr. Nichols is happy there. Have the recorders all ready.. I can’t wait to edit out the tucker scenes and be able to rewatch the MAN in action again.

Sherry
Guest
Sherry

Thanks for the interview Michael. Stephen will bring so much to the role of Tucker. With Stephen in the role I know we will see so many more layers to this character and the sexiness will be off the scale. I’m counting down the hours until his first show airs.

Nad
Guest
Nad

Great interview, and it’s SO great to have Stephen coming back to daytime. He’s gonna ROCK the Tucker character! Good luck Stephen! You know we love ya.

Susan Nash
Guest
Susan Nash

I have never seen Stephen Nichols in any other soaps, but am looking forward to seeing him as Tucker. William Russ did a good job, but Stephen Nichols character of Tucker McCall, I feel will be more of an equal to Victor Newman. His interview gave me an idea of what he will bring to the role as an actor. What a class act! I am looking forward to his scenes.

Sandra
Guest
Sandra

Thank you for this wonderful interview.

Stephen is such a terrific guy and an amazing actor. I’m thrilled that he’s back on TV again, even if it means I have to learn a whole new soap opera, LOL. I’ve no doubt it will be worth it.

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen Nichols since I first saw him as Steve Johnson on Days back in the 1980’s. I was so happy to find out that he was going to be the new Tucker McCall. I’m happy that he has found a place where he can be happy with the way they are running the show. Congratulations to Mr. Nichols he deserves all the success.

Sherry S.
Guest
Sherry S.

This is the perfect venue for Stephen Nichols! I’m thrilled he’s on the top rated soap! Loved the interview!

Linda P
Guest
Linda P

Thank you for the interview. Stephen Nichols appearing on Y and R will make 2010 a terrific year to watch daytime TV. SO LOOKING FORWARD to his talents again showing up for everyone’s enjoyment.

Diane
Guest
Diane

While I loved Russ in this role initially, I knew once I heard the character was changing from the original concept, that Steve was the one to play him.I have loved him since his days on DAYS and was a huge fan when he was on GH as well. Looking forward to a wild and crazy ride from this man on Y &R and I can’t wait for him to lock horns with old Vic! (Victor Newman!) Welcome and good luck.

Donna
Guest
Donna

i have been a fan of Stephen Nichols forever. i remember the first time i saw him on Days and was hooked. i am so happy to know that he is back on screen. i know he will rock as Tucker. Stephen is a great guy and is very good to his fans. the interview was great. you asked some very good questions.

Rich
Guest
Rich

I can’t wait to see Nichols in the role, not only because he’s a strong actor, but because William Russ was such a failure. There was nothing threatening, edgy, or mysterious about Russ’ Tucker — nothing. Scenes that should have been exciting weren’t, he had no chemistry with Jess Walton, and I never believed him as a business exec with an agenda. Knowing Nichols’ past work, all this will change immediately. Maybe William Russ is a nice guy, but that nice guy came through much too much — and the guy badly needed a haircut. Talk about a hair model.… Read more »

JT
Guest
JT

Im absolutely watching Tucker for Stephen. In fact Im watching Y&R for Stephen and Tucker.

I hope Tucker gets a long run and remains on Y&R and I hope they develop Tucker’s history and delve into what the abandonment did and led to.

Jill
Guest
Jill

Loved the interview and was excited to see Stephen back on screen!!!! I saw how William Russ was playing the character and it needed the change to really fine tune the storyline…..I just didn’t quite feel it with him. The nasty was there but it was MAJOR understated and it needed to be pushed a bit more.

I’m definitely a “McCall Girl”!!!

Can’t wait for more tucker against Jack and Victor!

Norman Thomason
Guest
Norman Thomason

I liked the other Tucker and I got used to seeing his face and I didn’t like the change in him. The other guy is not like the other Tucker and I wish you could change him back. This other guy in not as cool as Tucker.

s wainwright
Guest
s wainwright

No offence to the new guy playing Tucker McCall but I like the old one better and think he should have stayed. He justhad the “Tucker McCall” look.

Darcy
Guest
Darcy

Nicely done Interview I really laughed at his mom commenting on his work.. I have to say I did like Russ’s Tucker McCall and will have to get use to Nichols portraying him. The character may be in for a changeover but I hope that the laid back every day kind of guy billionnaire persona that Russ portrayed so well doesn’t entirely disappear. I’ve watched Nichols work over the years so I’m familiar with him especially as I am a huge Stefan Cassadine fan…and DOL Patch fan. But I will miss William Russ. I don’t like when they do these… Read more »

carol
Guest
carol

love him please keep him on for a long long time the best to come along in ages

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

I am so glad to see Steve here at Y &R. I loved him on Days and I believe he will do great as Tucker McCall. Glad to have him back on daytime, he was missed/

Megan
Guest
Megan

Awesome interview Michael! Thanks so much. I am really excited about finally getting Stephen back on my screen on the #1 rated soap. It would be a dream come true if Mary Beth Evans would show up in Genoa City as well. I would love to see what Hogan could write for them as two totally new characters since he was never really given that chance on Days.

carol
Guest
carol

i hope they keep him on forever

Charles A Moreland
Guest
Charles A Moreland

I think that he will fill the role great and do a good job acting

Shell
Guest
Shell

i am so thrilled to see him again on a soap, i have had a major crush on him for years (since kayla and patch days) must add y&r to my daily routine!

gloria
Guest
gloria

I stopped in at my sister’s, and she had Y&R on (mute) Then I saw Stephen!! Well, I guess I am an Y&R fan now. I watched him on Days –early days, Santa Barbara, General Hospital,and then Days again. Blissful days are here again!

Amber
Guest
Amber

I never saw SN till YR. I like him much better as Tucker. I gave the other guy a chance but still never liked him. What a great debut scene for SN….you’re fired! I only wish he had started in the role. Really enjoyed the interview. Wonderful job both of you. I would like to see this Tucker around for a long time.

pat
Guest
pat

Big fan of Y&R! Tucker has grown on me. He is a good actor. Sure not missing the one he replaced. Never watched Days of Our Lives or General Hospital. Just Y&R faithfully.

kathymiller
Guest
kathymiller

i am a huge fan of stephen nichols and i wish he could be back on days playing steve(PATCH) with kayla he is a excellent actor and i wish that the producers of days could find a part for stephen nichols to remain on the show with kayla. your sincere fan kathy miller

Interviews

Y&R’s Brytni Sarpy Talks On Her Emotional Week of Scenes & The Fallout From Elena and Devon’s Break-Up

Talk about self-sabotage! Over the last few weeks, fans of CBS’ The Young and the Restless have seen how one decision, or moment in time, can have an effect on several residents of Genoa City, such as the case with Elena Dawson (Brytni Sarpy), after she had sex with her colleague Dr. Nate Hastings (Sean Dominic) … at the clinic they work at!

It all starts unraveling for Elena when her fears get the best of her thinking that the current-love-of-her-life, Devon (Bryton James) will fall for the sister of his late wife, Hilary, in the form of Amanda Sinclair (Mishael Morgan).  And thus sets the stage for a potential quadrangle, and perhaps … some baby drama?

Since coming to Y&R from General Hospital, actress Brytni Sarpy has been developing the character of Elena and playing her for all she is worth and then some in recent heavy-duty heart-tugging scenes where viewers saw Elena confess to Devon that she cheated on him with his cousin, Nate! Then later, she gets kicked to the curb by the man she loves, leaving her wondering, “What did I just do … and why?”

 

Well, Michael Fairman TV has some of the answers as we chatted with Brytni to get the lowdown and the insight on these pivotal moments in Elevon’s love story, and if there is even a future for them, or is it on ice for good? Plus, Brytni opens up about falling for her co-star and recent Daytime Emmy winner, Bryton James, and taping what would normally look like a red-hot passionate sex scene on the soaps with Sean Dominic, but having to do it under strict CDC Covid-19 protocols. Here’s what Ms. Sarpy had to say about it all!

Courtesy/CBS

You’ve got this big storyline unfolding now on Y&R.  Did you know when they brought on Sean Dominic that they were going to bust up  Elena and Devon?

BRYTNI:  Yes and no.  When Sean was first brought in, there had been another actor playing his role, so technically his character has already been on-screen.  So, I didn’t necessarily think it was going to cause any type of conflict, or a love triangle, or anything like that.  However, I think that there were little hints about it along the way in the writing, and our characters similarities in both being doctors.  The writers are pretty tight-lipped, so I only know things two or three weeks in advance.

Were you playing that Elena had this attraction to Nate for a while now?

BRYTNI:  There was a point where I decided to play it, and that is when I felt that it was in the material. It was when things got a little crazier with Amanda coming around and Elena being at the height of her insecurity about that, and her really choosing to only confide in Nate.  I think that kind of relationship and comfortability that she was finding and that dynamic of being at the clinic with Nate, and establishing that with him, she was not having with Devon.

Courtesy/CBS

Right, and so do you think once Elena knew Amanda was interested in Nate, she subconsciously stepped up her own interest in him?

BRYTNI:  No, I think around this time she was hoping for Amanda to date Nate, and she was asking a lot of questions and things to egg on that whole relationship.  I think in her subconscious she really felt like, “Oh good, if I can put these two together, then my fears about this woman who looks exactly like my boyfriend’s dead wife… that resolves that.”  I think for Elena it was just kind of putting them together.  It wasn’t about Nate.  It was about someone to occupy Amanda so that Elena’s insecurities didn’t have to come out and she didn’t have to worry about Devon, or anything with those two being together.

But didn’t Elena have a nightmare/dream about Amanda and Devon having sex?  Wasn’t she freaked out about Amanda being Hilary’s sister?

BRYTNI:  This was when she had already jumped down the rabbit hole of being insecure about what was going on about Amanda and Devon and how much time they were spending together and hoping that he didn’t fall back into those feelings he had for Hilary that he had just gotten through.  For Elena, I think it was a lot of PTSD; for her.  She felt the first half of their relationship was trying to get over Hilary.  Once it finally turned to a point where Amanda was spending a lot of time with Devon. and she had started only confiding in Nate and not Devon about how she felt, that’s when I think those insecure feelings came up, and her talking about it so much manifested into her dreams, and she set herself up for her own trauma.

Courtesy/CBS

So, you have to do this sex scene amidst Covid-19 protocols with Sean Dominic.  How was filming that scene with Sean because Nate looks at Elena, she looks at him, signaling they want to have sex right now, right there at the clinic, and then it cuts out.  Was it awkward filming it?

BRYTNI:  Yes, it was certainly awkward because his double was Bryton, so it’s hard to play that you’re cheating on a character with the actor who plays the character that you’re cheating on. (Laughs)

We are going to give you the Emmy right there for that!  (Laughs)

BRYTNI:  Right! (Laughs) Then in some of the scenes we are looking into each other’s eyes, and we appear to be close, but of course we are not that way.  So, I am staring up at a mannequin that it is at Sean’s eye-level, and he is staring down at a mannequin that is at mine.  It is not easy to try to sell that energy that is between two people in such an electric, heated moment, so it was definitely challenging.

Do you buy Elena’s rationale that they were on a euphoric high from saving Jared’s life at the clinic, as the impetus that leads her and Nate to have sex?

BRYTNI:  I don’t think she really understands what happened.  I think she is trying to put it together.  Right after it happens, she goes into that whole monologue about how, “I’m not blaming you, but this happened, and we were just coming down from a high.”  I think it’s just her trying to figure out why her emotions brought her to this place because I think this is one of the few times in someone like Elena’s life when she has acted without thinking or without forethought to the consequences.  I think she has just been exhausted with trying to battle her emotions, trying to be a doctor with a residency in a hospital, and then also trying to do as much work as she is doing at a clinic.  Then, coming off of an emotionally-charged partnership with Devon after seeing what he was going through with the ghost of Hilary for so long, and going back into this after finally having a calm and peaceful few months, it rocked the whole boat again.

Courtesy/CBS

Viewers have seen what played out over the last week and half, a lot of scenes were you as Elena are called upon to do a lot of breaking down, and crying.  So, how are those scenes to perform? Do you like those types of scenes, or are you like, “Oh, God! These are so soapy!”

BRYTNI:  For me, personally playing that, I think with all the tears and all of that, it’s been exhausting, because there are certainly levels of reality to this where I have to go for it to not be me just trying to emote on-screen, but actually feel the depths of what my character would be going through.  It’s a lot.  I’ve had a few migraines after work sometimes, but I do enjoy it.  I enjoy getting those emotions out.  I think that because of what I’ve established with her character for a little over a year, I’ve been building up Elena, and more importantly, building up her relationship with Devon.  I think to understand her actions, it had to come from a really solid place.  I don’t think she is ill-intended in any of her emotions.  I think she really cares about and wants to protect her partner, Devon throughout all of this, and then she finds herself unprotected and vulnerable in making decisions that inevitably do the complete opposite.  So, I think at the end of it, she really is disappointed in herself and also, she has just created this entire disruption of her life in the matter of a moment, and I think there is a lot of mourning, and there is a lot of guilt.  I just don’t think that it is intentional of her character to do something like what she did.  I think that for me to make it what it was… something that my character would do or did … it had to come from a real place that didn’t sit well with her, and it just happened, and she feels guilt-ridden.  It’s as serious as a character attempting to murder someone, or any other kind of character who would go to the extremes of who they are in their characteristics.

Courtesy/CBS

For you, since you are romantically-involved with Bryton James in real life, does that make it harder or easier to play?

BRYTNI:  I’d say both.  It makes it harder because it’s more real, but it also makes it easier because it’s more real.  These are situations that could at some point come up or have come up, and to put yourself in those positions, and to have him look at me the way that he does and to jeopardize something that real, to go to that place, is a dark place to have to portray.

… And then Devon throws her out! 

BRYTNI:  He does.

Devon tells her to leave the penthouse and he tells her to pack her stuff and go.

BRYTNI:  Rightfully so.

Courtesy/CBS

Doesn’t Elena deserve that reaction for her actions?

BRYTNI:  I think so.  She made a mistake, and she has to learn from it.  I think if there is any potential for these two to ever reconcile, there has to be space given, and there has to be understanding.  You can’t just pretend like everything is normal even though she is sorry.  Sorry isn’t a reason why and sorry isn’t proactive.  She has to fix the issue.

They brought Jared (Michael Maclane) back to be the catalyst that was ended up being the spark that ignited Nate and Elena’s passionate moment together at the clinic. What did you think of that plot point?

BRYTNI:  The point was actually, that it was a patient who they had invested in and cared about, and she was able to do something for this kid and save his life with someone who she has been leaning on, someone who she has had a shared connection with, someone who shares her perspective, and helped her through situations with Devon, and who has seen her ugly side and her insecure side, and it was a bonding moment, I guess, that they were able to save a kid’s life who they both knew added another layer to their relationship that caused things to go grey.

Coming up, it appears that Amanda is going to be instigating a lot of stuff, and Nate is going to still have feelings for Elena.

BRYTNI:  Yeah, I mean, it’s not over.  Now that the cat has been let out of the bag, they still have residual feelings.  I think Nate is starting to make it very clear why he went the direction he went.  I think he has more of an understanding of where his feelings lie and that they are with Elena.  I think with Amanda, maybe a part of her ego just got bruised, and maybe she wants to unearth the truth of all of this because she was kind of caught in the middle of it.

When you and Bryton are together in real life, are you rehearsing all of these scenes and playing all of the other characters in them?

BRYTNI:  Typically, we run lines together.  I have voices for everyone.  I have a Nate voice.  (Laughs)  I have an Amanda voice; I have a Lily (Christel Khalil) voice.

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

You are in one of those interesting situations where you are with the person in real-life and in story.  I have talked to Bryton about this, but what was the moment when you knew it clicked with him? 

BRYTNI:  We certainly liked each other since day one just as people.  He was a great scene partner to do a screen-test with, very giving, just really professional, but just a down-to-earth nice guy. Then, just moving forward from that and working with him as my scene partner on Y&R, I think it was during our first group scene, it was the opening of Society, and we did a tribute to Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John), and that was the first time I had spent long hours on a Y&R set.  You’re with the whole group all day because you’re doing group scenes.  We just discovered and learned that we are both really goofy, and we were just laughing and talking about stories.  I think we found that we had a lot more in common than we would have realized… very similar pop-cultural references, and upbringings, and all of that.  From there, we’ve just gotten along really well, and it progressed.

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

Back in late June,  there was this viral video of you jumping up and down when Bryon’s name was called as the winner of the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series during the 47th annual Daytime Emmys telecast.  What do you remember of that night with him?  You seemed more excited than he was!

BRYTNI:  Yeah!  I was really excited for him.  The year before – well, I didn’t know that it was our first date –  but,  I guess it was our first date at the 46th Daytime Emmys, because I honestly thought that Matt Kane (publicist, Y&R) had asked me if I wanted to go along, and apparently, Bryton had asked if he could invite me.  So, we spent that time together, and he was nominated that year as well and lost.  Cut to this year where Bryton is a person who I have actually worked with and have seen how he works, and after Kristoff’s passing, and just seeing the amount of work that Y&R put into it, and the time that they spent on those episodes, and how beautiful they came out, everyone deserved an Emmy for that.  It was really beautiful work, and it was really touching, and it was really true and honest.  I really thought Bryton deserved it.  I think he was just as happy.  He’s just more reserved than I am.

What do you want to see happen for Elena moving-forward?  Do you want to see more of her extended family pop up so she is a character who has more ties to Genoa City?

BRYTNI:  I do, I do.  A lot of the characters never know who their father is.  I’d love to know who that is. (Laughs)  Like when I played Valerie on General Hospital, she didn’t know who her father was either.  Things like that are interesting to play.  I’d love to start closing those little holes about her because that helps me.  It helps me to create more dimensions in her character and to make firmer choices, and give her somewhere to go, and it gives more richness in her story.  I would love to also cement her to the Y&R canvas if she has any relation to anyone else there.

Courtesy/CBS

There have been rumors that Elena will become pregnant.  What would you say to that?

BRYTNI:  What do I think of that?  I don’t know.  It could happen.  Crazier things have happened on soaps.  Will it be the classic, “Whodunit?”

You mean, who could be the baby daddy?

BRYTNI:  (Laughs) Yes, that would be interesting, and yes, I’ve seen those rumors, too.

Do you think Elena will fight and claw her way back to Devon, or do you think she is going to let it be? 

BRYTNI:  I think even from the scenes that aired this past week, you can see the extent of how sorry she is.  She is laying it all out there, in a puddle of tears, exactly how she feels even though she is not able to really understand why she did what she did, her sorrow is there.  I don’t think there is really much more for her to do as far as pleading to get him back until he is ready, if he ever is ready.  I think her respecting his wishes in the situation is probably the best thing that she can do at this point.

Photo: IG

Meanwhile, if you have any more romantic scenes with Sean Dominic, Bryton will step in, so you will still be in scenes with him, even if Elena and Devon aren’t together. 

BRYTNI:  (Laughs) Yes, that’s true!

So, are you rooting for Devon and Elena to get back together quickly?  Do you think she may end up in a relationship with Nate? What have you thought of Brytni’s performances in this storyline? Comment below, but first watch Devon tell Elena to move out!

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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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