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

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

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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Angelacooks7570MargheritaViolet LemmDamien Recent comment authors
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Semaj
Guest
Semaj

I Been a Fan of Devon and Elena aka Elevon since their first meeting and the amazing chemistry between Bryton and Brytni on and off screen together rooting for Devon and Elena reunion

Linda M Leake
Guest
Linda M Leake

I wish this back & forth old loves keep coming into play let someone be HAPPY hope Devon & ELAINA get bk together like everyone else do,let someone be HAPPY for once the dead TWIN sister is up to something & I hope Devon finds out just what she is up too, bringing Hillary’s twin into the equation was not necessary to me let devon & ELAINA find their way bk together,look at nick & phyllis bk & forth which is sickning phyllis is trouble always has been.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

I would potentially be into this storyline if for the following points:

A) I were actively watching The Young and the Restless.

B) Anthony Morina and Josh Griffith were fired from their positions. Both men have systematically dismantled this soap from day one of their hiring, and it shows in the final product, which is a boring, must-miss soap opera.

I will say this: after being criminally underused as General Hospital (where I initially disliked her), I am glad to see Brytni Sarpy able to work as an actor.

James R. Poissant
Guest
James R. Poissant

I give the show credit for using her so much more than GH did. She did so good in her scenes that I am so glad she made the decision to come over to play this character. I think we’ll be seeing lots more Brytni for some time to come!!!

Violet Lemm
Guest
Violet Lemm

Yes. I would like Elena and Devon together. I don’t care much for Amanda as she is too much like Hilary whom I didn’t like at all

sonniorsolita
Guest
sonniorsolita

I want video of her doing her Nate, Amanda and Lily voices, lol!

Boop
Guest
Boop

Brytni’s performance is superb; she’s portraying her character as if her soul is at risk ! I am absolutely feeling her sorrow and pain . Spectacular performance!

Sharon
Guest
Sharon

I love Elena and Devon together. I hope he forgives her and will once again trust her and cherish her as she deserves. They are the perfect couple on and off the screen.

Pat
Guest
Pat

Yes, yes, yes. Please put Devon back with Elana. Beautiful couple. No way should Devon end up with Amanda. I didn’t like her anyway, too bossy and pushy. If anything Nate should be taken out the story line for a while so that Elana can work on getting Devon back.

Violet Lemm
Guest
Violet Lemm

Pat
Really agree, and let Amanda go with him!

Carolyn Johnson
Guest
Carolyn Johnson

I truly hope Devon forgives her and they get back together. I truly enjoyed watching them together.

Judy L Hanson
Guest
Judy L Hanson

Yes yes yes, they must be together again

Jacquelyn R W Jones
Guest
Jacquelyn R W Jones

I would love to see Devon and Elena back ❤

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

Let them get back together, knowing that they are a real life couple makes it more loving, ups and downs are fine but put them back together

Lindsay
Guest
Lindsay

I can’t get into this story… or any story for that matter. Intimacy and closeness is so important. It makes you connect to the stories and the characters. You can’t do that now. And it was so obvious that it was Bryton in that cheating scene which made it even harder to care about the material. Why is bold and YR the ONLY shows doing social distancing? Days of our lives has resumed filming, yet they are still doing kissing and love scenes. Same with GH and primetime shows. I’m about to tune out until the distancing is over, and… Read more »

Caitie
Guest
Caitie

Brava Brytni! She has more than proven her star quality and her continued role as a well-featured, long time member of The Young and The Restless family. Looking forward to seeing where new stories take this talented beauty!

Brytni always gives insightful, generous, informative interviews. I especially value her insights into this story – a story which has, at times, been inexplicable. Thank you.

Momo
Guest
Momo

Brytni did a great job in the scene where she’s begging for forgiveness and then Devon throws her out. I’m sure the love scene was awkward, but it worked. Good job to all.

Wendy J.
Guest
Wendy J.

I would actually like to see Amanda and Devon get together. I think Elena is more suited to Nate, they share the same passion of being Doctors. Amanda and Devon have more in common, especially since she is technically his sister-in-law and looks exactly like the love of his life Hilary.

JenW
Guest
JenW

I definitely do not want to see anything but friendship between Devon & Amanda; it w/b too confusing for both the audience and Devon in my view given they’re identical in looks. I for one hoped to see Amanda & Nate develop their relationship; I thought they had great potential.

Love Mishael Morgan and I loved Hilary (eventually). While Amanda has grown on me and love to see MM, I would rather she had been able to stay on as Hilary.

ROIVON Evans
Guest
ROIVON Evans

Personally, I like Elena and Sean Dominic together. They seem to have more on screen chemistry.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

shucks, as long as this doesn’t spell the end of Brytni Sarpi, i’m hoping along with ^^^ other posts, that she’s acting more than ever, and is establishing herself key player. I waited for nuggets of Brytni @GH. always paid off. LOL loved her w/Kristina, they are @Charlies, she’s bartending… Kristina: you’re looking sexy in that uniform Valerie: oh, in this ole thing i am not watching this story… just wishing the best for one of my girls, yeah, she has a place in my nest. Sean Dominic has the LOOK ! especially cause Nate looks like his momma !… Read more »

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

She is beautiful and can act! Why the hell would GH let her go? Now, she is stuck with that god awful Devon! Everyone attached to him gets fast forwarded! Sorry Brytni! Either recast Devon or find somewhere else for this young lady to go. Y&R is not a hospital show. She needs another career or keep her as a nurse who works at Crimson P/T.

Damien
Guest
Damien

The new gen winters/ hamilton fam needs a visit from the elders! Paging Dr . Olivia Winters!!!! Tonya lee williams especially more than ever needs to check in on son Nate given his infidelity and the possible reprecussions of not being able to practice medicine anymore like mommy! Liv also needs to check up on niece Lily and her going rogue on the Abbotts and Newmans with the Adam story! I think also Elenas pops Slade and Liv would be a cute couple! Y n r really needs to tap into the rich Winters history. A daddy Malcolm visit would… Read more »

Violet Lemm
Guest
Violet Lemm

There seems to be no other place to mention other characters, so Iam doing it here. Someone please tell me what it was that Gloria hid in the box at Keven and Chloe’s? I tried replaying 2 or 3 times and couldn’t make out what it was. Thanks.

Margherita
Guest
Margherita

Looked like some sort of a flash drive to me. Originally I thought it was a jewelry bag containing diamonds, but instead it seems to hold a lot of information accessed via a computer. I’m sooooo glad that Glow is back!!!

cooks7570
Guest
cooks7570

I want to see Brytni have more scenes with other characters soon. I just wished GH would’ve used Brytni more and I miss her on GH.

Angela
Guest
Angela

These were great scenes & is being played out well. Look forward to me. Fabulous acting by all involved. This is why YR will always be most watched soap..other soaps should take a hint.

Days Of Our Lives

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

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: TOLN

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

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

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Interviews

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

 

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: Gilles Toucas

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

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

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

 

 

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

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

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

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

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

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

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

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

Wait, what?

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

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

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

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

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

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

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

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

How long was it open on Broadway?

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

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

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

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

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

Photo: Prospect Park

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

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

Photo: LANYEntertainment

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

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

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

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

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

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

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

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

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