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Y&R’s Jason Thompson Talks On: The Self-Destructive Billy Abbott, Victoria, Phyllis, And Katie’s Disappearance

Photo: CBS

As February sweeps kicks in to high gear on The Young and the Restless, Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) and his ex-wife, Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) are once again in each other’s orbit.  First, Billy was not too happy to learn that his nemesis, Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) shared some passionate kisses with her.  In fact, he went running to Cane’s imprisoned wife. Lily (Christel Khalil), to give her the lowdown.  Next, their child, Katie has gone MIA, but as viewers saw on Friday’s cliffhanger she is somehow heard singing through the walls at the Newman Ranch. Previously, Katie said she was playing with an imaginary friend, but someone is lurking around and watching the Newmans every move!

And let’s not forget, Summer (Hunter King) is back in Genoa City!  The last time she hit town she all but destroyed Billy – his gambling addiction returned, she tried to seduce him, and he slept with her as revenge against Phyllis for her having sex with Nick (Joshua Morrow), and we could go on!  After all the hurt, and the dissolution of their relationship, Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Billy are not seeing eye to eye on much, but saying they will try to work together.  Can they?

To fill us in on all the drama, Jason Thompson chatted with Michael Fairman TV and weighed-in on: the future for Villy, Philly, what he has learned from working on two major soaps; General Hospital, where he played the popular Dr. Patrick Drake, and Y&R, his thoughts on his recent Daytime Emmy Pre-Nomination in the Lead Actor category in what was a banner year of storyline for him in 2018, and much more.

Insightful, driven, and talented, Jason is one of the standouts in our genre.  Check out what he had to share below.

What did you think about the plot point that had Billy going to visit Lily in prison, and once there, he informs her that her husband, Cane has been kissing on Victoria!?

JASON:  What I think about it is somewhat irrelevant.  It wasn’t hard for me to rationalize it.  In the moment, Billy was hurt and pissed off.  He is irrational sometimes.  Once he got to the prison, I think he second-guessed himself.  Lily did a pretty good job of convincing him that she needs to know what is going on in order to just live in a certain amount of truth in this situation.  Billy felt that it would be worse for her wondering what was going on on the outside without knowing the truth.  I think that in that moment, he was convinced that telling her the truth was the right thing.  There was a part of him that wanted to get back at Cane, and when Billy gets hurt, he seems to lash out a bit and then sometimes he kind of recoils.  Could he have let it go?  Probably.  I think it’s an interesting thing for Lily and Billy’s relationship; to be honest.  Billy has always respected Lily.  I think that he’s always looked at Lily as someone who does the right thing, and was a good wife, and a good mother, and all of those things.  He thinks that she is in a rough place and wanted to offer her a little bit of support, and that’s the way that he did it.

Photo: JPI Studios

Where do you think the show can go now with his relationship with Cane?  They have been contentious all this time, anyway, and now this has happened.   How do you think this will resolve, or would it ever resolve?

JASON:  I think it’s one of the most interesting relationships Billy hasI don’t know that it will ever resolve.  I don’t know that Billy thinks too much about Cane either way, but in saying that,  there is still no one that can get under his skin and quickly!  In an instant, Cane can be Billy’s enemy and I think that’s great.  I always think there is story for Billy and Cane.  In our working relationship as well, I think we both get a different energy out of each other that inevitably ends up in the characters.  That’s always fun.

Photo:” JPI

How does Billy feel about Victoria now?  She’s been struggling since her relationship with J.T., making out with Cane, etc. 

JASON:  Billy does have feelings for VictoriaI think it’s a number of things that contributes to this.  I think it’s where he finds himself in his life.  He has been kind of hurt by the woman he loved (Phyllis).  He had everything for a moment that he wanted … he had the job, he had the girl, and if he had just done the right thing and had a little bit more self-control, he probably would have been in the best place of his life.  So, when all of those things get pulled away, the one constant is just when he goes to see his kids and they smile, and they don’t know what’s going on in the outside world.  I think the only people who don’t judge him are probably the kids.  There’s something really comfortable about that situation.  No matter what happens, there’s always going to be a little something with Victoria.  She’s always very supportive (not that she hasn’t been very, very upset with him, at times), but there is always something about their relationship that will keep him wondering if they should be together.  I think it will probably be like that for the rest of their lives.

Billy is still unaware that Victoria, Nikki, Phyllis and Sharon are all part of a cover-up in J.T.’s murder.  How aware is Billy in the depths of the abuse Victoria suffered at the hands of J.T.?

JASON:  There was never really a big realization about how dramatic, hurtful, and volatile the whole situation was.  It was a shock to hear all of that obviously, but he has no idea about the depths of it all.

Photo: CBS

If he found out, how do you think he would react knowing what Victoria had gone through?

JASON:  I think he would probably want to kick him again and then re-bury him. Billy has got a lot of flaws, but there is one thing that he will do, and that is always stand up for his family, and that includes Victoria.

Currently, it is just devastating for Billy when Katie goes missing.   He’s like, “I can’t go through this again after what happened with Delia,” and I know you didn’t play the Delia material, because you weren’t on the show at that time.  However, this does give you the opportunity to tap into all of that.

JASON:  Yes!  I mean, that is his biggest fear … going through all of that again.  I think that he would rather not be on the planet than go through all of that again.  What happened to Delia is never going to ever leave him.  I can’t imagine that something like that ever really does.  You just deal with it on a daily basis probably, and things come up, and you feel it all over again, and this is one of those moments.

Courtesy/CBS

I think that you being a father of two children now in your own life; really gives you a perspective when you play these things types of emotions and scenes out.

JASON:  Definitely.  Peter Bergman (Jack) and I were having a conversation about how much life and living, and trying to live a full life, really helps you with your acting.  I work really hard on my craft, but the most important thing that I can do for my work and my career is live a full life.  With the kids and everything else in my personal life, that to me is something that I can always draw upon.  It’s hard to even let myself go there sometimes, because of how scary it would be.  But yeah, I think Billy is not far off from that.  That character has a lot of life and is tied to this volcano and it’s just waiting to erupt, and that eruption is good and full of liveliness fear, and anger.  Some of that comes from hurt, and some of that comes from pain, and some of that comes from a good time, and some of that comes from addiction, and it makes it fun for me because there’s always something to play.  When I talk about what I think of a particular story line, I don’t think of it as, “Oh, I would never do this,” or “I would never do that.  That doesn’t make any sense.”  I try and make sense of everything.  That’s my job.  I just try to find a reason why Billy would be in that situation; instead of trying to find a reason why he wouldn’t be.

Photo: JPI Studios

Would you say that the situation with Katie will draw Victoria and Billy closer together?  At the end of Friday’s episode, they hear Katie’s voice in the wall, so they know she is alive.

JASON:  I think so.  One step up is often two steps back with them, but they are always connected in that way.  The kids do that, and what they’ve been through in the past, and like you said, I wasn’t necessarily there for a lot of that, but it’s in this character.  I would never say never with Victoria.

Photo: CBS

So, where is Billy at with Phyllis?  You and Gina Tognoni played that coupling to the hilt and the show separated them.  Major romances are never really ‘done, done’ on soaps.

JASON:  I mean, it only gets worse with Phyllis.  I’ll say that.  They’re not in a good place.   We have gone through some changes behind the scenes.  So, I have no idea what is happening as far as storyline.  I think there is always going to be something unresolved with Phyllis, but that’s the good thing about this kind of stuff.  You can put these two people together when you have two actors who kind of embrace it, and work at it, and have a natural chemistry, which in turn helps the characters have chemistry.  When Gina and I talk about what we did and accomplished with our characters, to be honest, it’s a little bit of a bummer that they are kind of apart right now, because we had a lot of fun.  We really enjoyed working with each other.  We felt like there was a lot more there to continue to explore, but like you said, it’s never over.  As far as the way that he sees Phyllis … it’s interesting.  I think as an outsider, he kind of looks at her as a selfish person who is going to get and grab whatever she wants, but I feel like he does understand her differently than other people do.  I think he’s looking at Nick and Phyllis and shaking his head like, “You can’t be serious.” (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI

You have had quite a gold mine of leading ladies in your daytime career from: Kimberly McCullough (Robin) to Kelly Monaco (Sam) while you portrayed Dr, Patrick Drake on General Hospital, to Gina and Amelia at Y&R.  I have to say that of all of the leading men on daytime, I think you’ve had consistently some major romantic kickass scene partners.  What are your thoughts on that?

JASON:  Yeah, I have been very fortunate.  I can go back thirteen years now and talk about how much Kimberly helped me out in the beginning, and how patient, and impatient (laughs) she was in a lot of ways.  Kimberly taught me a lot about how the business is, and to hold onto your values, and that it is very important to collaborate with your directors, and your writers, and your producers, and with other people that you work with.  You then see new things.  I’m constantly seeing things in other characters where I’m like, “That would be really interesting to shine a light on.”   I think there’s something really interesting about Sharon (Sharon Case) and Billy.  I think Billy could bring something out in Sharon that somebody else can’t.  That’s what is exciting for me as an actor – trying to find something different and trying to bring life that is not necessarily there yet.  I have had a lot of trust from writers, from producers, and from networks.  I have been very fortunate in that way.

Hunter King has returned to Y&R as Summer.  She played havoc in Billy’s life her last go-round.  I know now she is currently after Kyle (Michael Mealor) and not after Billy, but does Billy blame her at all for his spiral back into his gambling addiction?

JASON:  Realistically, if  Billy were really being dead honest about it and trying to really work soberly in his life, he would say there’s nobody to blame but himself.  There’s definitely that conversation that could be had between them about the situation that they found themselves in.  They both hurt each other pretty badly, and the people surrounding them.  I think there is probably a little bit of blame that can go around on both of them, but I don’t think he really sits back and blames her for falling back into addiction.  She might have been one of the triggers, but I think that he was really responsible for that.

Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy Pre-Nom in the Lead Actor category!  It’s quite a talented group of ten actors that made it through to the final round of competition. You certainly had a stellar year of material!

JASON:  I had a ton of great storylines last year, and it just kind of kept going, and kept going One thing I will say that really helped me out is my relationship with Mal Young (Ex- EP and head writer, Y&R).  We got along really well.  He helped me out by letting me know six months ahead of time where we planned on going with the story.  So, I was able to understand and slowly build the depths of hurt, and the gambling, and how it got further along, and the lies.   I was able to understand where we were going and the plateau that we needed to get to, which was very helpful for me. I worked with amazing people constantly; every day was like something different.  The hard part in this next round of voting is trying to find something that represents the whole year.  When I look at that list of pre-nominees, I’m proud of the work that daytime actors do … everybody from a little bit of a younger guy like Billy Flynn (Chad, DAYS) to icons like Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) , and Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH).  What Maurice brought to my life as an actor and still does has been wonderful, and on the other side of that you’ve got Peter Bergman, who is like a real brother to me now, and we’re really close.  It’s a nice comradery between everybody in the category.  It’s a great group of people to be included with, and aside from the competition part of it, that’s the really cool part.

Photo Credit: JPI

So, let’s talk about your on-screen, mom, Jess Walton (Jill).  I’ve heard you say publicly how much you really like working with her, and she with you.  What can you say about when you do get some scenes with Jess, and get to play that mother-son relationship?

JASON:  That’s another one that you can loop in with all of the other women I’ve worked with.  It’s a different kind of relationship, but talk about a soap icon! Jess Walton is right up there.  She’s a pro, and she’s got this little girl inside that is the sweetest thing alive, and her little giggle.  I can say that relationship is just there with her.  I would love for her to be there more.  If there’s one person that can tell Billy to just, you know what, she’s somebody that can give him a little whipping, and he’d be like, “Okay mom, you’re right.” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Finally, you are on this juggernaut of a show that just celebrated yet another milestone, 30 years at #1.  You go from a historic show like GH, to another here at Y&R that keeps celebrating these milestones that nobody will ever overtake.  All of this has to be a ‘pinch yourself’ moment for you?

JASON:  Yeah, I definitely pinch myself.  I think at this moment, all four soaps that are left are having monumental anniversaries and celebrations, because the truth of it is, it’s really incredible what soaps have done in our history.  With playing Patrick on General Hospital, I still look back on that time and that character, and am just so grateful that I was able to bring him to life.  Every once and awhile I wonder what Patrick’s doing.  On the other end of that, to come over to Y&R with a show that is now 30 years at number #1, and the pride that they have, and the support that they have from the network, there’s a real kind of challenge that we have in order to keep that up.  It is not about the slogans, or the glitzy ad campaigns in the magazines that say, “Hey!  We are #1 for 30 years.”  While that’s very important, what’s more important are the people who have gotten us there for the last thirty years.  We have to show them respect by doing the best that we can and continue that. That’s what drives us. You can feel it in the building.  To take on a character like Billy, who has been a part of that for a very long time, there is a pressure that comes with that, but at the same time, there is an excitement of taking on this character and continuing to make him relevant, and a part of this great soap’s history.

So, do you want Billy to end up with Victoria, Phyllis, perhaps Sharon, or someone else? Who do you think has got Katie and is watching the Newmans?  Are you rooting for Jason to receive a Lead Actor nomination for his work on Y&R in 2018?  What do you think about the other sentiments shared by Jason in this interview, and what was your favorite part of our discussion? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Denise A Daniel
Denise A Daniel

Billy & Phyllis belong together. Gina/Jason have palpable chemistry. They’re a team that can play the drama, the angst, the fire & the comedy. Whatever Victoria/Billy had is long gone. It left with Billy Miller. Villy now have a sibling vibe at best.
I really want Phyllis/Billy to be trapped somewhere just the 2 of them. Let them hash all their hurt & anger out without interruption then move forward together.

On a side not I’m pissed that Summer just continues to be a wrecking ball & she’s never held accountable. She callously set out to destroy her mother yet Phyllis is all hunky dory with her. That’s straight up BS.

Lisa Richards
Lisa Richards

I have to agree, with Billy Miller gone, the chemistry is not there for Billy & Victoria. I’ve come to accept Jason as Billy but he clicks better with Phyllis than Victoria. I could possibty see him with Sharon but would love to see him and Mia bump boots!

Keren
Keren

Phyllis hands down. Billy and Victoria have a good co-parents vibe, and Phyllis challenges him. It was a mistake to break them up and I wish they would put them back together. Gina and Jason have off the chart chemistry.

GHYR1Days
GHYR1Days

Team Villy! Sorry, but Philly makes me sick

Sherri
Sherri

Gina and Jason have the kind of chemistry you just can’t ignore. It’s like lightning in a bottle and, since they are both so talented in their own right, they would kill any storyline they were given. I am utterly baffled by the fact that the show chose to do anything other than capitalize on the Billy and Phyllis pairing. Billy and Victoria have been tried as a romantic pairing over and over again. It has never worked. They are great as friends and co-parents, but the Billy and Phyllis are definitely the money couple.

They are the reason I watch. If the new writer continues to push the current pairings, none of whom have the natural chemistry of Philly, YR will be a thing of the past for me.

Meg
Meg

Thank ,Michael ,love this interview ,Love Jason ,And the work Mal Young gave him this year .

Emily G
Emily G

I’ve wanted Billy and Phyllis to be together since the affair. We were lucky enough to have them reunite, but they were never given a serious story as a couple. They should have had a real engagement and wedding. YR could have at least built them up before tearing tthem down. It’s insane to me the way Soaps just keep going back to the same tired pairings. Victoria and Billy have had multiple reunions with 4 different actors..enough! Philly was an original pairing with the original actors. Why not give them the story they deserve. Gina and Jason are just too incredible together onscreen.

Leslie
Leslie

In the beginning I understood Billy and Phyllis hatred of Victor and their connection. I figured Villy was doomed to Victoria’s devotion to her father. Vic chose her dad! Philly got together. I hated them for what they did to Jack but they seemed genuinely happy for a time.It wasn’t long before all I saw was lust though. Billy is a gambler. Phyllis craves drama and excitement Billy was on a high that could only crash and burn in spectacular fashion and it did. For the record, Phyllis was already eyeing Nick before the breakup Clearly Billy had not been paying any attention at all. I’d rather see Shilly than Philly if I can’t have Villy for the long haul. Even on a soap, sexual romps with 0 substance gets old. Jmo!

April McKnight
April McKnight

PLEASE ! NO MORE of the Billy & Phyllis show . Billy & Phyllis DO NOT BELONG together PERIOD.

Rabiosa Maria
Rabiosa Maria

Billy is better with Victoria and they can talk like normal people.With Phyllis it’s always about sex and sex,nothing else

Elaine Oxford
Elaine Oxford

Love Billy always have and Jason is doing a great job! Especially after Billy Miller who I adore so he had for me a hard act to follow, Burgess was ok but Jason is better, but the 6 years Billy Miller was there was my very favorite !

jtre
jtre

I love Billy and Victoria writers have really not given them a chance since Billy Miller left it would be nice to see how well Jason/Amelia can play Billy and Vicky in a romantic capacity. Phyllis is a great character but she should never be with Billy its wrong in every way.

Lew S.
Lew S.

Naw, it’s time for Phyllis to have a relationship with someone who is not an ex. Someone to challenge her and doesn’t have baggage with an ex of his own. I don’t think that character is currently on the canvas.

Jennifer
Jennifer

Victoria. Victoria and Billy will always be the loves of one another’s lives no matter how much the show tries to downplay it. So glad Mal got fired.

Kelsey
Kelsey

Victoria, But clealry Jason doesn’t understand their history at all. Makes me sad.

Jacquie Dalkins
Jacquie Dalkins

Billy and Victoria are and will always be soulmates but it sounds like they’re not getting back together yet again. Just a long long five year tease. Sort of tired of it.

Rabiosa Maria
Rabiosa Maria

PLease no more Billy Phyllis,all they can do it’s calling sex ,I want my Villy back (Billy Victoria)for ever ❤️❤️And let them be happy ,wending 2019 and be happy with Katie and Jhonny

Margaret lonergan
Margaret lonergan

Well hey why not give Sharon a chance with billy????? They might be a nice change!

Deanna Anderson
Deanna Anderson

I always wanted to see Villy reunite. They are and always will be my favorite Y&R couple. Yes I’m all for Jason winning the lead actor award, He truly deserves it. I’ve loved him since his days on GH, but I love him more since playing this role of bad boy Billy Abbott.
Much Love to Jason Thompson/ Billy Abbott

Bahiya Harris
Bahiya Harris

Billy is a HORRIBLE character!!! He never showed any remorse for what he did to his brother!! Any man that would really do that is a POS! He was just as much responsible for deilias death as Adam probably more then slepping with summer?? I bet the writers make sure Victor and Nick don’t learn of that

Jen
Jen

Jason Thompson’s departure from GH has left a continuous hole in the quality of the show. A big mistake in letting him go. None the the men on GH hold a candle to him (except Tristan Rogers).

Dana L
Dana L

I miss Philly. They shouldn’t waste this kind of chemistry because it’s so rare. I wasn’t particularly happy with the writing for them during the last year because I would have preferred more depth for their scenes and storylines in general. But the spark, it’s always here!!! I hope we’ll see them sharing scenes in the future. It would be really sad if we didn’t.

Harry
Harry

I guess they shared some kind of slimy chemistry but it never felt particularly warm or romantic. Their whole relationship was predicated upon deceit and for me, they were never able to wash the smell of that deceit off of them.

Harlee
Harlee

Now that Jess Walton’s husband is through his health crisis YR, Sony, CBS should offer Jess a contract. Work around her schedule, if DOOL can tape 6 months in advance CBS, Sony & YR could work around Jess’s schedule. We need Jill on canvas big time stirring up trouble but also running CI.

Grand Hotel

Denyse Tontz and Lincoln Younes Preview Forbidden Romance & Intrigue As ‘Grand Hotel’ Premieres

When Grand Hotel opens its doors to its audience tonight on ABC (10PMET/PT), it will have a very familiar feel to soap fans for several of its series regulars and its executive producer all come from the world of daytime or serialized storytelling.

Executive Producer, Eva Longoria (Ex-Y&R, Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Telenovela) brought to the screens a provocative drama with Miami Beach as its backdrop of the last family-owned hotel (by the Mendozas) with a contemporary take of an upstairs/downstairs story of 2019.

Former General Hospital’s Bryan Craig plays Javi, who is joined by two other soap notables; former All My Children reboot star, Denyse Tontz (Ex-Miranda Montgomery) and Australian-born actor, Lincoln Younes (Ex-Casey, Home and Away) who’s characters are interlocked in some very sexy and mysterious ways.

Tontz, plays Alicia Mendoza the strong-willed daughter of the Mendoza clan, who is fresh out of business school… and who will make a huge discovery about her dad, but is also set to embark on a romance with a new staff hire!  And that staff hire is Danny played by Younes, whose character Danny is not who he says he is at all … and he has one goal in my mind which brought him to the hotel … but things get complicated for him when he feels a massive attraction to the hotel owner’s daughter … Alicia!

Michael Fairman TV took part in a press roundtable discussion with Tontz and Younes to get some teasers of what’s to come when Grand Hotel premieres.  Here’s what they shared in some questions posed by us and others below.

Photo: ABC

Danny and Alicia definitely have an instant attraction in the season premiere. Where can you tease that it might go?

LINCOLN:  Well, it can go in a number of directions, but hopefully towards a positive one.  They each have their own motivations for why they’re at the hotel.

DENYSE:  Alicia’s main goal, or at least from the beginning, is to prove herself, just having graduated business school and sort of step into her mother’s shoes a little bit. She’s had a lot of pressure on her for most of her life to sort of fill that role and keep the family together.  I think it’s really tough to have to juggle that and the desire to explore this potential romance with this person who is so intriguing to her.

LINCOLN:  I think with Danny, his reasons are kind of unknown as to why he’s at the hotel.  He comes in as a new employee, but there is something off about him.  It is complicated by the arrival of Alicia and the chemistry the kind of ensues between them.  I think that’s kind of the interesting thing to watch is them navigating their priorities and their initial motivations with the inevitable chemistry and dynamic that has appeared.

Photo: ABC

The main family in Grand Hotel is Hispanic.  And what is intriguing about the premise is that their ethnicity is not the backdrop of the story, it’s just who they are.  Would you agree?

LINCOLN:  Eva is kind of a trailblazer in that way because this is about the story of a family, and a hotel, and the guests, and the employees, and the employers, and all of the different things these people go through.  It’s not so much the color of their skin and their background.  I think as soon as you take away the magnifying glass of how a person appears and really look at what is going on inside, that’s a step in the right direction.

DENYSE:  I think that even though we are really a diverse cast and crew, that really has nothing to do with the actual premise of the show, and I think that’s really cool even to just see that.  To just play a character who happens to be Hispanic, and that’s not the central theme of this character, I think there really are no stereotypes that are perpetuated in any way.

LINCOLN:  It’s the perfect melting pot of culture, and the fact that it is set in a hotel where anyone from any part of the world can come into, it creates this show that I don’t see anything like this on TV, and that’s very exciting.

Do you see Danny and Alicia as a duo to root for with their dysfunction and all throughout the series?

DENYSE:  I think there is this sort of allure to the forbidden romance aspect of it all.

LINCOLN:  They have these obstacles in front of them.

DENYSE:  But you want it to happen. (Laughs)

LINCOLN:  You want it to happen, and it’s just against all odds.  That complicates things.

Photo: ABC

You have such a great cast to work with; chief among them Demián Bichir, Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids)!

DENYSE:  Oh man, working with Demián and Roselyn and Eva Longoria was a dream.  They’re each so special in their own way.

LINCOLN:  Three powerhouses.

DENYSE:  Yeah, three powerhouses and very different.  They each have their own way of approaching a scene.  Demián is mostly a movie actor, and it really shows in the way he approaches scenes, and the way he is not glued to the lines, and it’s kind of cool to watch him and learn from him in that way.  He’s so funny too.  He makes it a really comfortable environment, and you feel safe to try stuff.   Eva … same thing.  She has a clear vision for what she wants.  She can direct in such a way that I think a lot of directors can’t, because she has been on the other side of the camera, and she has got a really good perspective.  I think she’s really great at articulating what she wants you to do.

LINCOLN:  Yeah, she’s very meticulous.  I think the thing about all of the people who you’ve just mentioned is that they all have levity.  They are all very specific, but they are all very authentic.  That carries through in both their acting and how they carry themselves off set.  That was really great to kind of learn from them.

Photo: ABC

Many in the cast are from daytime dramas, or soap operas previously, including both of you!  Was that a coincidence in the producers casting choices, you think?

LINCOLN: I think, just knowing Eva so well now, and Brian and Ben, the creators behind it, they searched long and hard for the people they wanted to play the roles.  So, it might just be a happy coincidence.

When the scripts came out, how did the cast handle the twists?

LINCOLN:  There was a lot of speculation going on.  There was a lot of gossiping on set and off set.

DENYSE:  Lots of gossiping, stealing scripts… a lot of bombshells though.  There really is no shortage of plot twists.  A lot of these characters you think are going to start out a certain way, and then you find yourself completely changing your opinion of them halfway through the season. Without giving too much away, nobody is really who they appear to be.

Photo: ABC

How do you both feel about the fact that the wait is over and Grand Hotel is finally premiering?

DENYSE:  It’s super exciting.

LINCOLN:  It’s very surreal.  This is my first American show, so I have no idea what to expect.  I just go to Denyse for advice.  I’m like, “What do I do?”  (Laughs).  It’s all very exciting.  I think when you love a project; there is another element when it is released to the public.  Everyone on the show loves it.  Everyone is so passionate about it.  So, I just hope that the audience feels the same and that we get to keep doing it.

So will you be checking out Denyse, Lincoln, Bryan, Eva and more on Grand Hotel?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below. But first check out this promo for the kick-off tonight!

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General Hospital

GH’s Cynthia Watros Talks On Taking Over The Role Of Nina & Ingo Rademacher Dishes Jax’s New Love Interest

Today on June 3rd, Daytime Emmy winner, Cynthia Watros is set to begin taping all-new episodes of General Hospital as she steps into the role of Nina Cassadine, last played by Michelle Stafford, who has left the ABC daytime drama series and headed back to The Young and the Restless to reprise her signature role of Phyllis Summers.

Watros, best-known for her delicious portrayal of Annie Dutton on Guiding Light, and who was last seen on daytime on Y&R, is back to the grind of the soaps taking on the complex Nina.  Add to that, it is clear that GH is setting up a potential love triangle, or new love interest for her, now that Jasper Jacks is back in Port Charles with GH fan favorite Ingo Rademacher returning to the show.

Last month on the recent GH Nurses’ Ball episodes, we saw Nina (then Stafford) lock eyes with Jax, and the two demonstrated an instant attraction to each other.  Add to that in story; Jax was revealed to be the new 50 percent owner of Aurora Media, which Nina’s Crimson Magazine falls under, putting them in each other’s path in more ways than one.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Cynthia and Ingo along with other members of the media at last week’s ABC Summer Press Roundtable junket, and here were some intriguing and insightful moments from the conversations below.

When we asked if Cynthia had a conversation with Michelle Stafford on taking over the role of Nina, Watros responded: “I did.  We had lunch together, and I have to say, Michelle is an amazing, lovely, giving woman.  Just to be able to sit across from her and talk about Nina and to talk about the show, I was just in awe of her generosity.  I will always be a fan of Michelle’s.  She actually reached out to me and said, ‘If you ever want to call or text…’ and I said, ‘Let’s have lunch!’  So, we found and afternoon and spent like three hours just talking about it.”

Photo Credit: ABC

Since Watros has brought the cray-cray to her best known role of Annie on GL and is so adept as an actress to go from that to playing grave reality, Cynthia weighed in on how she sees Nina and the challenges of being a recast in a soap role: “Nina has all of this stuff that I can’t wait to play.  She’s got stuff that she hasn’t explored for a long time because her life is going pretty well right now.  What happens though when your life doesn’t go really well?  You start exploring those things that you thought were sleeping a little bit, you know, that weren’t necessarily bubbling up to the surface.  So, I like it all: when a character’s life is going well and when a character’s life is not going well. Because I’m playing Nina now, it’s going to be different.  It’s going to be challenging.  It’s the first time I’ve ever taken over a role that someone else has played.  I don’t want to totally go off, so people go, “Wow.  Nina’s totally different,” but of course, I want to make it my own.  Again, I’m an actor who likes to use all of the tools.  I like it all … the funny, the not so funny, the playful, and the crazy.”

As to the timing of Watros returning to the soaps at this time in her life … and how it went down that she landed her new gig at GH, she revealed: “It sounds not very dramatic, but I got a phone call.  Just a phone call asking, ‘Would you be interested?’  Guiding Light will always be in my heart because I had such a good time doing Annie, and I was on Young and the Restless and Another World for half of a second.  So, daytime has always been in my life and in my world.  My last show was in Atlanta, and my daughters were in high school in LA, and it’s hard to go back and forth for them, for me, and for my life as a mom.  So, I kind of took my acting and said, ‘Well, I’m going to slow it all down until they graduate high school.’  They graduate high school June 2nd and I start GH June 3rd.  So, it just seemed like it just made sense.”

Photo: ABC

As to what the future holds for Nina as she takes over the role, Watros shared: “I can tease that I get to play with this guy (Ingo) a lot, and Nina is trying to find a stronger role in the magazine where she is really going to step up in making that a success and her love for the magazine , and trying to navigate her relationship with Jax.”

Cynthia will also get to work with Nina’s present love interest, James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), which the actress is also excited about:“I have to say, I have not met him, but I have been watching the show, and he is just phenomenal.  I love his character.  I love how he is this sort of like bad guy, but it seems like the women really dig him.”

Watros says she is excited to work with Maura West (Ava), Laura Wright (Carly), and Billy Miller (Drew) from the cast.  She has previously worked with Laura and Billy in her soap career. As to her nerves for her first week at the ABC studios where GH is taped, Cynthia shared that she is: “Less nervous, more excited. I feel like a 20-year-old back in soaps.  I remember Kim Zimmer (Ex-Reva, Guiding Light) back in the rehearsal room, and I was off script, and she was on the show for a long time before me, and I was new. I was yelling my lines, and she goes, ‘Excuse me! Can you tell this actress not to act so early in the morning?’ (Laughs) I feel like I’m going to do that again.  So, I’ve got to tone it all down.” (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

For Ingo, he certainly has a view as to how Jax fits into the canvas of Port Charles: “Jax is to me, and I’ve only just been able to put it into words now that Captain America came out, but he’s ‘Captain America’.  He’s all about fairness.  If he sees a bully, he will stand up for the person who is being bullied.  So, that’s who he is.  He’s the white knight.  He’s the person who will always do the right thing.”

Now that Jax has big time ownership in Aurora Media and thus Crimson, does he see the sparks flying with Nina? Ingo reveals: “Yeah, basically he walks in, and she goes, ‘What are you doing in my office?’ and he goes, ‘Actually, it’s my office.’  When I heard about him doing that magazine, I was a little surprised because that’s usually much too small for Jax.  He’s more of a Richard Gere in Pretty Woman character, corporate leader, takes corporations apart, sells pieces … this is, I think really for his daughter, Josslyn (Eden McCoy).  He’s thinking about the future.  Also, to keep him busy in an actual job that he might be good at.   I think it’s a big change in lifestyle for him where before it was about businesses which were much more global.”

Photo: CBS

As to what is behind Jax’s attraction to Nina, Ingo summed it up by sharing: I think Jax is attracted to Nina the first time he sees her.  I have a feeling he already knew who she was the first time he sees her at the Nurses’ Ball, because he’s been studying Aurora Media before purchasing it.  He’s done his background work, and to piss off a Cassadine is just a bonus.  Also, I think what is interesting for Nina’s character is the two different guys.  She’s engaged to this more mysterious character, and then, you’ve got this jolly, upfront one going, ‘Hey!  How’s it going?  Everybody having a good day?’ (Laughs)  He’s very confident as well, but in a different way.  I think it’s nice for the story for Nina to be tugged between two completely different men.”

So, excited to see the debut of Cynthia in the role of Nina? Are you up for a triangle between Jax/Nina/Valentin? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first, watch Cynthia’s Emmy-winning moment as Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on Guiding Light.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk & Paul Telfer Talk On Masks, Villainy & Their Wildest Storyline Yet

Take three great actors, add a prosthetic mask into the equation, and let them have at it! That’s just what NBC’s Days of our Lives is in the midst of serving up to its fans with this latest plot device and twist.  Last week, it was revealed that the nefarious Kristen DiMera (Stacy Haiduk) is alive and well and pretending to be Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker) donning a mask, a voice alternating device, and some other body tweaks!  The goal …  to be with Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) and she will do anything to accomplish that!

Enter Xander (Paul Telfer) who has been in the thick of the plot being the only one we know of, so far, who knows that Kristen is parading around as Nicole.  They hatch their next moves inside a room at the Salem Inn.  They even went so far as to set it up to appear that Nicole’s daughter, Holly was killed, so she could blame Eric (Greg Vaughan) and cause a break-up of the long-suffering lovebirds and play it off as she needs to be consoled by Brady!

Michael Fairman TV chatted in an entertaining and wickedly funny interview with Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk, and Paul Telfer to get the lowdown on what happened when they learned they would be wearing or working with a mask, how they pulled off the emotions in the storyline twist, and what to look forward to from here.  Under the clever pen of head writer, Ron Carlivati looks for the hits and twists to keep coming as this storyline continues to rock the world of Salem for some time to come.  Here’s what Arianne, Stacy, and Paul had to say about their latest on-screen predicaments and schemes!

Ari, at what point did you know that you really weren’t Nicole … and that you were Kristen playing Nicole?

ARIANNE:  I actually didn’t find out until a little bit after the van went off the road in the storyline; thinking it was Holly who was killed.  Sometimes, the less I know makes it fresher, and I think if I had known before those scenes, and the scenes with Eric (Greg Vaughan), and when I first came back, I would have had a little too much Kristen on my mind, and I don’t know if I could have been as raw as I felt in those scenes.  So, anyway that’s my long explanation.  I found out after I started back on the show! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Additionally, did you have a conversation with Stacy about certain mannerisms hat Kristen has if you’re “masquerading” as Nicole?

ARIANNE:  Our co-executive producer, Albert Alaar had talked to me about watching Stacy because everything was happening fast.  Stacy and I really hadn’t had a chance to even talk to each other even from the last round of me being thereI remember Stacy was inundated with dialogue up the wazoo when I came back for that twelve-episode arc.  So, because of all of that, Albert said, “Watch Stacy! Watch her mannerisms, watch what she does,” and then I’ll throw a little Ari in it.  I just hope that I do as good of a job as Stacy does.

Paul, you and I talked about this on the NBC ‘Inside Salem’ podcast, when we played back for you (for the first time) the clip of Kristen taking off her Nicole mask.  Xander had the perfect set-up line for the reveal: “The part of Nicole Walker is being played by Kristen DiMera!”  Did you not have a good laugh doing that scene?  How did you get through doing that moment?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  Oh, yeah, I was laughing my ass off the whole time.  This is an insane storyline with masks and doppelgängers.  But, it looks great on-screen, and that way it’s edited.  So, I was really happy.

STACY:  There was one moment when Nicole would hold steady to unfold the neck.   So, Ari started that to the point where I’m pulling it off completely.  I think it’s cool.  It’s “Mission Impossible”.  How nice!

PAUL:  That’s what I going to say.  If Tom Cruise can make a hundred million dollars doing this stuff …

STACY:  … then, we can do it!

ARIANNE:  Right?  We can make a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of that.

STACY:  We’ll make it look good!

What is the real deal between Xander and Kristen?  They are conspiring and in cahoots, but there’s this underlying sexual tension between them.  I think Xander respects Kristen in a way, because she can one-up him!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  I think every character who Xander has interacted with who isn’t a member of his family, he’s trying to either get something from, or get into bed with, and he can’t really do either with Kristen, because she’s crazier and more dangerous that he is up until this point.  That’s certainly the way that it feels.  The way Stacy plays it, she is not to be messed around with. Honestly, I think that turns him on.

STACY:  Yeah, there you go.  That sounds good. (Laughs)

PAUL:  I mean, it makes sense.  Just like, “Wait a minute.  This is a bit spicier than I’m used to,” so, he’s excited, but at the same time he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he doesn’t want her to murder him!  (Laughs)

STACY:  Well said.  I like that. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what does Kristen think of Xander at this point?

PAUL:  That, he’s a useful idiot.

STACY:  She actually needs him to go out into the world because she can’t leave.  When she does, she has to leave as Nicole, and then it becomes a whole other storyline.

PAUL:  It’s fun because Kristen is actually the boss, and Xander is convinced that they’re actually partners and that becomes our whole dynamic where she’s treating him as her lackey, but he’s like, “No, we’re partners, because I know your secret.”  Then, it becomes kind of a bargaining chip between the mask and all of that.  It’s so crazy because certain evil characters when they come back, they have to come back in disguise; whereas Xander’s always quite happy to be just jogging through town square with his shirt off after holding someone ransom or kidnapping a baby like, “Ah, whatever.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Arianne, it’s been awhile since you got to play the villainess side of Nicole, and with this return to DAYS you get to play that side of her as well, even though it’s really Kristen. Do you enjoy playing the bad girl?

ARIANNE:  Stacy and I were just saying today that you have these conversations about the villain character, (and Paul, I’m sure you’ve felt a lot of this too) people hate you or they love to hate you, and you’re like, “Hey, it’s a good thing because I’m doing my job if you hate me,” but in order for the storyline to move, you’ve got to have a villain.  Nicole used to be kind of villain-ish but playing someone like Kristen who is such a valued villain on this show is just … oh, my God!

Stacy and Paul, what do you think is the most heinous thing your characters have done so far?

STACY:  The most heinous?  (Laughs). Wow.  You know what’s funny is that she’s done all of these things, and I don’t think she thinks what she does is bad.

PAUL:  It’s so funny because you totally would expect her to be like, “The other characters are evil.  We’re the good guys!”

STACY:  I mean honestly, so she kidnapped Nicole, and took her baby.  There’s Marlena and the window.  I mean, it’s hard when she’s done all of these crazy, horrible things.  I’ve just really enjoyed playing her because she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s this brilliant, deviant person who just wants one thing, and there’s one thing on her mind, and everything else gets in her way.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is the one thing Brady?

STACY:  Brady, Brady, Brady, and I think even Xander has to repeat it over and over again.  We were playing in rehearsal, and I think I had him do that.  I don’t remember the line, but I said something, and he goes, “Brady Black,” and I go, “Say it again,” just because I want to hear him say it again.  That’s her driving force.

What did Greg Vaughan and Eric Martsolf say when they found out about what the twist was?  Did you tell them?  How did they find out?

ARIANNE:  Well, Eric Martsolf always has a great chuckle.  He has a great laugh, and I think Greg Vaughan just stared at me for a minute.  Then, I told him about the mask process … about making the mask …. and how I thought I was going to pass out and die.  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is putting on the mask an extremely weird experience?  How long does it take to put on? 

STACY:  About an hour?  It’s quick, and I thought we were going to suffocate when we were under that because I’ve never done my whole face before, but I’ve done body things. Make-up department is like, “You’re going to be fine.”  It was heavy too, really heavy.

ARIANNE:  Yeah, and because it’s so heavy, after a while, it starts to pull your skin down a little bit, and you’re like, “No, no!” (Laughs)

Did anybody else go running around with the mask on?

PAUL:  Oh yeah.  Everybody!

I knew it!

ARIANNE:  How could you not?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what is the relationship between the real Nicole and Xander, which we saw play out before her death?

PAUL:  She’s my wife!

So, Xander sees Nicole as his wife?

PAUL:  I’m happy to give Xander’s perspective on Nicole, and then Arianne can feel free to correct it.  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  Alright, that sounds good.

Photo Credit JPI Studios

PAUL:  The way I’ve tried to handle it over the years in our ins and outs of this failed romance is that they’ve saddled poor Arianne with: this psycho chasing after her, and kidnapping her and her baby, and whisking her off to foreign lands – and also to Nashville.  When Xander first came into town, before they decided to make him a total psychopath, it was all working nicely, and Nicole wasn’t really on the up and up with Xander, and she wasn’t really honest about what her intentions were.  Meanwhile, Xander was involved in all of this chicanery with Serena, so once that metastasized into full-blown evil, and Nicole was aware of this, it shifted from, “I just really wanted to take this girl to the movies,” to, “Well, I guess I have to kill her now.”  (Laughs)  So, I think he’s just been playing that out ever since.  “Well, if I can’t date her, and if she won’t love me, then I guess I just have to torture her for the rest of her days.”  I think now on the other side of her supposed death, I think Xander has probably reconciled that his twisted romantic notions, or torture, or whatever he was doing with Nicole, is probably over, and he’s moving on to greener, more alive pastures like Sarah.  To be fair, I do think they’ve purposely made it confusing.  Not just for the audience, but for us.  There’s a real sense of, “Am I playing this to Nicole as Kristen, or do you want me to play this just to Nicole?”  Very often they just go, “No, just play it to Nicole,” because it’s funnier if for Xander it just occasionally slips his mind because she looks just like Nicole.  I’m kissing her… like he’s just enjoying the fact that he can.  “I never really got to kiss Nicole much, but this is Nicole’s face, so I’m going to.”  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  That’s hilarious.

Ari, what would you say is their relationship?

ARIANNE:  Well, I’m certainly not as long-winded as that.  (Laughs)

PAUL:  He’s a creep!

ARIANNE:  He is a creep.  What cracks me up coming from Nicole is, “Ew, what a jerk.  He’s so gross.  Yuck, yuck!”  Like, really?  You’re not going to make that one work, huh Nicole?  When you reach that far back to the history of Xander and Nicole, it doesn’t have a lot of depth for the two characters because the next thing you know he’s trying to kill her and Eric.  It’s like that scary online dating when you go on one date and it didn’t work out because that guy is going to kill you.

PAUL:  Xander is like the ultimate bad Tinder date.

ARIANNE:  Totally. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

That is classic.  The bad Tinder date.  That’s basically it.  Xander also apparently feels bad for Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) as she is having her bout with alcoholism.  Is that correct?

PAUL:  Yeah, I’m actually excited to see some of that stuff.  It was great doing it because I love Suzanne to bits.  I was very afraid of ruining Xander by making him too nice, but at the same time when I was first brought on to Days, I wasn’t offered a villain role originally.  Xander morphed into a more severe villain than I’d been led to believe he would be, and it happened quite quickly.  So, I’m actually quite happy to right the ship a little bit back towards he’s bad but he has some occasional glimmers of goodness in him.  So, Maggie really represents that because she’s actually quite nice to him and nurturing in a way that no other character on the show is.  When she has her dalliance with alcohol, he’s one of the few people who doesn’t judge her for it, and we finally get a little bit of Xander’s back story.  I’m actually excited to see those scenes because they felt nice to do, so hopefully they come across well.

Stacy, how did you track this storyline, when Arianne would be playing Kristen as Nicole? 

STACY:  Well if I didn’t get the script, I didn’t know about it.  So, if I wasn’t in the script that time, then I would be looking at Paul going, “What are we talking about?” and then, Ari had obviously already shot those scenes, so they were written for me, so I’m like, “What did I do?  What did I do?” It’s just scenes between Xander and Kristen at the Salem Inn.  Occasionally, you’d get somebody knocking at the door, but then I’d have to quickly put on my mask. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, Ari did you ever have to go to Stacy to get tips about Kristen’s past or anything?

ARIANNE:  It was all about the future moving forward.  I think old, former Nicole had some crazy similarities with current Kristen because it felt kind the same as pulling some things from what she used to do … you know, just a couple of crazy chicks in one crazy character. (Laughs).

The other big part of this is Rolf’s diary that Xander has in his possession.  Is Kristen in cahoots with him on that?  Is she trying to get that from him?

STACY:  I think she is.

PAUL:  Yeah, that’s when she starts to get mad at him; when she realizes that he’s not just being her underling and he’s off scurrying around with his own agenda in the meantime.

ARIANNE:  He’s manipulating and doing his own thing.

PAUL:  I use it to start manipulating Eve (Kassie DePaiva).

So, what would you say to the fans to look forward to?  “You never know who you’re talking to on DAYS?” “Gird your masks?”

ARIANNE:  I definitely think fans know that’s not Nicole the way she is.  And, you never know who is going to give you a shot in the butt and turn you into somebody else.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Well, that’s true.  You never know.  One day they’re going to tell you that you’re playing Julie today! (Laughs)

ARIANNE: “Today the character of Julie will be played by…”

STACY: “… you will never guess by whom!”

PAUL:  This was fun.  This is a fun way to do it.  Let’s all do all of our interviews together moving forward!

So, what have you thought of the plot twist? What do you think of the Nicole mask and the performances and comments made here by Arianne, Stacy, and Paul? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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