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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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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.

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!

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.

Team Villy! Sorry, but Philly makes me sick

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.

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

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.

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!

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

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

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 !

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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).

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.

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.

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.

I love this Man. His looks remind me of the Hollywood legends like Gregory Pec. He’s so talented and so handsome. Any story line is good with him in it.

Interviews

Y&R’s Melody Thomas Scott Talks on 45 Years as Nikki Newman, the Keys to Playing Drunk, And Those Genoa City Relationships

February is ‘Nikki Newman Month’ in soapland as the The Young and the Restless iconic Melody Thomas Scott celebrates her 45th anniversary in her leading role.

My how time flies! Nikki has had numerous marriages, and some to the same man, battled her addiction to alcohol too many times to count (and we loved it all), and faced so much heartache in the process.

Currently, on all-new episodes of the top-rated CBS daytime drama series, Nikki can’t quite get a grip as Jordan (Colleen Zenk) is out there and in the middle of her next master plot to make Nikki suffer, all the while Nikki is drinking again. Thanks to the heinous plot concocted by Jordan and Claire (Hayley Erin) that revealed itself last November.

Photo: JPI

In a special conversation for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Melody shared her thoughts on a myriad of subjects including: her current story, those long tape days at Victor and Nikki’s weddings, why she plays drunk better than anyone on television, plus we take a mini-deep dive into Nikki’s past.

Y&R fans were stunned when the powers-that-be had Nikki kidnapped and then hooked her up to an IV of booze. Just how much did Melody know of the story going in? She elaborated, “I knew Nikki would be terrorized. That’s all that I knew. I thought that sounded like great fun. I didn’t know for a little bit that she was going to fall off the wagon in the process of it. And then when I heard how it would happen, I was thrilled to bits. I did kind of want to have a little leader (or crawl) down at the bottom of the screen saying, ‘Hey, people don’t put an IV with vodka in your arm because that will kill you.’ But, poetic license, I suppose.”

Photo: JPI

Melody also weighed-in on if she thinks Nikki will stop drinking anytime soon, expressing, “She just can’t get out of this. Then of course, Jordan’s not letting her out very easily. Just when Nikki thinks she is mentally strong enough to never take another drink, well, of course she does, because something else happens. I think it’s also a learning point for people who are watching the show who may have an addiction problem. Now, I could be wrong, but I think it’d be highly unusual for somebody to be just mentally strong to be able to stop.”

If you wondered if Melody enjoys playing a drunk Nikki, look no more, “I do. That’s simply for selfish reasons,” she shared. “That’s for my enjoyment. I take great pleasure in it. It’s fun for me, and just the process of pretending to be drunk. I love the end result. I try not to do too much because there’s nothing worse when an actor is overplaying drunk. So you have to kind of keep it a little bit underneath (the surface). However, sometimes because of Jordan, Nikki does get much sloppier than I normally would play it.”

Photo: JPI

In recent episodes, it seems that Jack (Peter Bergman) and Nikki are gravitating more to each other, as both are drawn together through their shared experiences with addiction. Victor (Eric Braeden) is not happy that his arch-nemesis is helping Nikki try to stay sober. Could Melody see Jack and Nikki becoming romantic again? “I love Peter. I mean, Peter was my second favorite husband on Y&R. It would be wonderful, but I don’t know if the fans would go for that,” she explained. “They’re so invested in Niktor that I think they would really be upset about that unless Victor did something really crummy, then I could buy that.”

Photo: JPI

One of the more ‘out there’ stories during Melody’s 45-year run, was when Nikki was paired with Crazy Edward, and he took her home to meet his mother … who was in an urn! You would think maybe Melody didn’t like the story .. but think again! “Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) was writing the show in those days, and Bill kept that information pretty tight. I don’t remember us knowing even a week in advance. Maybe, we would get our scripts, three or four days in advance and that was it. You knew nothing about future story, but I loved the story,” she raved. “It was almost Hitchcockian, shall we say. The actor who played Crazy Edward, Paul Tulley was so magnificent and such a sweetheart. We loved working with each other so much, but man, when that red light came on the camera, he scared the you-know-what out of me. He was absolutely terrifying. But then, the minute the scene was over, we’re fooling around and laughing and everything. He was so good. So good!”

Photo: JPI

According to Melody, the pairing of Victor and Nikki was not something she, nor Eric Braeden, initially thought would made sense: “I was a little terrified when I heard that he and I would be doing scenes. I thought, ‘What, what?’ He also wondered, ‘What am I going to be doing working with that young kid, that snotty kid?’ We had no idea what Bill Bell saw. He had a vision with us and somehow knew that we would have chemistry. It didn’t take Bill long to show us in the scripts why he put us together. Then, we started to see it. Although, it was hard to imagine at first, certainly we knew it worked by the time Nikki had baby number one during the ‘Who’s the father?’ storyline. Nikki and Victor weren’t even married yet. So, we did figure it out pretty early on.”

Photo: JPI

From her early years as Nikki Reed, Melody reflected back on some major story points in her character’s history, relating, “I actually did like her in the very beginning when she was just a little brat living with her sister and her father, who of course ended up trying to rape her…  and she had hit him over the head with a lamp … and he died. I did not care for the stripping storyline at all. Only because I knew that I didn’t have the natural dancing ability. I wasn’t fluid enough to really look good up there stripping. I know they hired wonderful choreographers and everything for me, but I just didn’t feel worthy of being up there … I guess is what it was. Of course, now I look back on it and I think, ‘Oh, I guess it wasn’t too bad.’ Later, there was a strip she did in the Colonnade Room. At the time, she was married to Jack. Victor’s sitting there with some other woman and she’s drunk. I saw that scene recently, and I thought it was great. I didn’t at the time, but looking back, I thought, ‘Wow, that was good.'”

Photo: CBS

Watch the full 45th anniversary conversation with Melody below.

Now let us know, are you enjoying Nikki being back on the bottle? Would you want to see Jack and Nikki try their relationship one more time? What has been your favorite storyline of Melody’s over the last 45 years on Y&R.  Let us know in the comment section.

 

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Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Legendary Susan Seaforth Hayes Talks on the Horton House Fire Storyline, Mourning the Loss of Husband Bill Hayes & His Near-to-Final Performances

It has been an emotional time for longtime fans of Days of our Lives and beloved veteran, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie Williams). On-screen, the iconic Horton home was burned to the ground in what appears to be a storyline-dictated decision that shocked many. In real life, Susan is mourning the loss of her husband and DAYS enduring favorite, Bill Hayes (Doug Williams), who passed away at 98 in January. Over the weekend, during the 2024 SAG Awards In Memoriam tribute, Hayes was remembered along with other motion pictures and television stars whom we lost over the past year.

Since the Peacock streaming soap opera tapes months ahead of air, the Horton home fire and its aftermath are currently playing out in all-new episodes with more on this story featuring Susan to come. Bill Hayes also appeared in several of these episodes making it all the more touching and heartfelt.

When Julie came back to the Horton home to see what remained of it after the fire, Days of our Lives fans were treated to a heart-tugging episode that streamed last Wednesday, February 21st. In it, newly-taped scenes of a young Tom (Zach Chyz) and Alice (Sydney Kathrann Smith) Horton telling the story of how they came to live in the house to raise their children, juxtaposed with Julie and Doug (and members of their family and friends), surveying what’s left of the beloved house, brought many a tear.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Susan Seaforth Hayes for this very candid and heartfelt conversation to get her feelings on the Horton house fire, and being given the opportunity to have a storyline at this point in her storied career. In addition, Susan provides some insight on what it was like for her ailing late husband to tape scenes at DAYS shortly before his death, what the series plans to do about writing off the character of Doug while honoring the legacy of Bill Hayes, and how she knew she had the greatest love affair that anyone could hope for in their lifetime, which in turn, has inspired all of us.

Photo: JPI

I was shocked when they decided to burn down the Horton house. Were you at first devastated … and did you know that there would be a big story surrounding it?

SUSAN: I did not know how big a story was with it. I knew that many years ago, another regime had planned on trashing the set and getting rid of the set because nobody cared about the Hortons anymore. It was stopped by one person, and I was eternally grateful for that. This time I thought, “Oh, my goodness! I guess I’ll be meeting people for a cup of coffee at the Horton Square. No home, no roots, no reason to be called in,” and thinking that’s the end of Julie. That’s the end of Doug and Julie. Then, when they began to structure a story around it, I think all of this came up during the writer’s strike. So of course, I was curious to see how this was going to turn out. I enjoyed the aftermath, because in the aftermath, and a little bit before the fire, if you saw the show, I get to talk a bit about the history of the household and the people in it.

Photo: JPI

In the special episode that aired last Wednesday, Julie gave Leo (Greg Rikaart) the family tree history of the Hortons for his story in the Spectactor.

SUSAN:  I’ve had a couple of good long soliloquies about the past. I’m fated to be the character that does that because I’m the one still standing. I must say, I do enjoy doing them. Emotionally, all I have to do is rerun some of the actors and my own family in my mind and the emotion starts to come, you know, the emotion starts to flow.

Julie talks to Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) immediately after the fire. She is upset that the Horton family Christmas ornaments are gone. Fans were not happy that they could possibly have burned up. Thank God! There was a happy ending when they were located and unscathed, or there would have been hell to pay! 

SUSAN: I knew that they were in the prop room and that they still existed. But how much they were going to put a story around their loss, I did not know. We don’t get to ponder the plot. We just get to show up and start doing it. I think on this particular matter, something as important as a structure of the original set of the show, there’s been quite a bit of interest. So, I can appreciate that.

Photo: JPI

I was thinking, ‘Did they decide to burn the house down, because they were finally retiring the old Horton home set?’ What was the purpose of it?

SUSAN: They’ve done everything to make quicker set changes, which is remarkable and very efficient right now. The set designer said, “I’ll be interested in your input,” which was nice. The one thing that I loved that had been done, didn’t work. You couldn’t shoot into it. It was a federal mirror over the mantle. I loved it. The size was perfect. I was just delighted. And then, we tried to shoot it, and because of the roundness of the mirror, you got a perfect view of camera one and camera three. So, it came down.

This is Julie’s project to renovate the home. She’s determined to bring back all the memories and redo it?

SUSAN: Absolutely, which is another nice note to play for my character. She’s determined to make the house something that her grandparents would recognize and still feel comfortable in.

Photo: JPI

What did you think of the episode that just aired where the show incorporated flashbacks of a young Tom and Alice Horton?

SUSAN: Well, I set it up. They had their own their own lovely scenes. I read them, and I’m sure the audience was charmed.

What do you remember when you first came to DAYS, and you were in that house, in that set?

SUSAN: What did I notice about the set? I noticed that it was a strange shade of green. (Laughs) It was explained to me that that dull color meant that your face would pop on color TV. I understood that. I loved the little window up the staircase. I’ve always loved that. And at one time, there was a model of the house that sat on the set on its own little pedestal, a little playhouse of the exterior of the house. Whenever the house was on (and remember this is when we were a half-hour and practically live, but not live, because there was no editing), there would also be the sound of a barking dog whenever we reached the Horton house neighborhood. We never saw the dog, but I’m sure his name was “Spot”, and I’m sure he belonged to someone.

PhotoL JPI

You shared so many scenes with Frances Reid (Alice) and MacDonald Carey (Tom) in the Horton living room set and up till they passed. Did they get along well with Bill? Looking back, how was your relationship with them?

SUSAN: They loved him. Well, Mac and Billy had worked together before in theater. Mac was very kind to me at the beginning and helpful. Frances was as well. As Frances got older, she got a bit testy. When someone says, “You’re not going to read the line like that … are you?” It catches your attention. (Laughs). I got peeved at Frances from time to time, but her intent was always to make everything as good as it possibly could be. I saw her come back from her stroke. learn to talk again, learn to do it all again. Not do it easily, but to do it at all was wonderful, and the same with Mac. In his last shows, he was very frail, but we’re actors. We liked being there.

Photo: JPI

During the taping of the episodes surrounding the Horton house fire, Bill was mostly in them with you. How was Bill doing at the time you taped these scenes?

SUSAN: He was okay. He was up for it. He had difficulty moving at that point. So, they restricted his movement a lot. Bill always enjoyed coming to work a lot, and it was extremely difficult for him because he was blind, and didn’t move very well. And now, to do a scene with people who may or may not, have rehearsed with you, who may or may not, give you the exact cue, and when they are attempting to have you look each other in the eye, you can’t see who’s eyes they are, that was the hard part. The easy part was working with him, which was lovely and was a gift. It was a gift from Corday Productions that he was able to work within three weeks of his death, which I thought was super and extraordinary.

Photo: JPI

That is amazing. Did Bill understand everything that was going on at the time of the tapings?

SUSAN: Absolutely. He understood what was going on. He just couldn’t see it or touch it.

The timing couldn’t have been easy for you with Bill’s declining health, and that the show was going to burn down the Horton home where you shared so many scenes and memories.

SUSAN: Well, it hasn’t been my greatest stretch. But I knew that life would be like this. I’ve had five decades of an absolutely wonderful, blessed marriage and a chance to work and a chance to live in my own home and travel, all good. And now, we’re going to have the epilogue. And the epilogue is the hard part, seeing rapid change around you and losing the people that were the center of your life. I’ve just been very fortunate to have cultivated some wonderful friendships, and to have a wonderful large family of Hayeses.

Photo: JPI

You do realize that you and Bill were the gold-standard of what we all should be lucky enough to have in our lives. What an incredible, beautiful, passionate, loving marriage that the two of you had. You don’t see marriages like that anymore. We were all just in awe of the two of you. To us, it was the greatest love affair. You got to have that which is so extraordinary.

SUSAN: I know, and it was all Bill. I mean, any idiot could have been married to Bill Hayes and been deliriously happy. The guy was so perfect in every way that you really would have to pick something and blow it out of proportion to ever complain about any of his traits of character. He was just all good character, goodwill, and good humor. I just followed along and tried to live my life for him, with him, and follow his style, which I hope to carry on. I hope to be as good to people as he was to people, and, not be selfish.

Photo: JPI

I always remembered how the two of you would come to the studio with your suitcases, ready to work no matter what material, large or small, they gave you. You showed up. You just had such great work ethic and you don’t see that as much anymore.

SUSAN: At the moment, it’s hard to find it everywhere. I think it’s probably generational. You cannot get too angry at people that are still holding up their phones in the one rehearsal that we have. I think it’s more convenient to receive your work electronically, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite as real. You don’t have a script in your hand anymore unless you print one up yourself.  Sometimes you haven’t met the person you’re working with. Well, that’s not unusual, but no rehearsal at all, that’s kind of marvelously new.

Photo: JPI

Does Julie lean on anybody for emotional support as she tries to rebuild the Horton home. Who’s there for her?

SUSAN: As far as I can tell, nobody. I’m supposed to be the wise woman, and Marlena (Deidre Hall) is supposed to be the other wise woman. I haven’t had any scenes with Marlena for help. I would think Marlena would be the person I would be going to for grief counseling, for friendship, for all of that. I haven’t seen it in the scripts, yet. I’m still deeply entwined with Chad’s (Billy Flynn) storyline.

How is Billy Flynn to work with?

SUSAN: A pleasure. Billy Flynn has grown a lot as a human being and as an actor since I’ve known him. I’m really enjoying his company and really enjoying doing scenes with him. We rehearse and then we get on other subjects and laugh and talk and inform each other. We’re interested in a lot of the same things. He’s a new parent. He’s really devoting himself to that, to that experience in the best possible way. So, I’m lucky.

Do Julie and Chad try to figure out who set the fire?

SUSAN: Oh yeah.

Photo: JPI

I kept thinking about how Julie got burned in the kitchen fire years ago and her face was scarred, At the time, your mother Elizabeth Harrower was writing DAYS and wrote that for Julie. Did you hate that story?

SUSAN: Well, I know where the story came from. It came up from something in mother’s own life. I knew the people involved, and I wasn’t crazy in love with the idea. Then, when it was supposed to go for six weeks and went on for months and months, I was concerned. Mainly, I was concerned that my face was going to be affected because of the appliance, the scars, that I was wearing. I was told by a dermatologist, “You’re going to have a little beard after this. Ripping your face every single day to get this off is going to be hard on you.” But, I seem to have survived.

Has the show even addressed with you how they plan to handle writing-off the character of Doug Williams, and how they want to honor Bill?

SUSAN: Only in the smallest way. I had a conference call with the producers and our head writer last Friday. I was informed about the immediate, immediate future. I’ve also been promised that they’re going to keep me busy. It’s a cast of over 40 people. I’ll be happy to show up and to be included.

Photo: JPI

I was just hoping that whatever they decide to do with the character of Doug that they were going to run it by you, first.

SUSAN: They have, and they have been very sweet about it.  I’ve got to tell you, this regime, they have a sign up on the wall now, that says, Things we expect on this stage.”  The first one at the top of the list is “kindness.”

Have you watched your work back all these years? I know some actor’s never like to watch the scenes they taped.

SUSAN: I think you learn by watching yourself, if you have an open mind, and if you are not hypercritical, or dismissive. I cannot be dismissive of a character that has given me such a wonderful life. I’m still interested in Julie, perhaps I wouldn’t have been if I’d been on the show for three years and never returned to it. But I’m quite interested in her now, and what she has to offer as a member of this ensemble.

Photo: JPI

Julie’s ties to the whole history of Days of our Lives from this point on are very important. How do you feel about that?

SUSAN:  There are those that don’t care about the history of the show. I know that. I know there are those that only care about continuing with something snappy to keep eyes on the screen through action, adventure, drama, death, kidnapping, missed opportunities, all that, which I suppose that’s what the audience craves. But, that’s not just what the show can do. What the show can do so well is character. There’s a lot of people over 70 who are still on the show now. I’m the oldest one, but I’m not the only one. We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary. I don’t think the show is worn out. And if it is, it’s had a remarkably successful six decades.

Lamon Archey (Eli) is back on DAYS for a stint. What has it been like to work with Lamon as his on-screen grandmother?

SUSAN: I think he’s terrific and visually he is so beautiful, so appealing. I think both Eli and Lani (Sal Stowers) are very appealing as characters. I’m delighted to be connected to Eli as a family member. That was a lucky break for me.

Photo: JPI

Do you think DAYS fans are going to continue to be emotional in the aftermath of this fire and all the story that comes out of it? Do you think we’ll be touched by what Julie goes through to get the remains all cleaned up for a new house?

SUSAN: I think anybody in America who’s gone through a disaster, and have unfortunately had the disruption of their home, will be sympathetic and interested in how it all turns out. It’s a nice note to play. We haven’t had to do that very often. We just go from one lovely apartment to another without much discussion. I think this is the one set that meant a lot to people. I was very sorry to lose “Julie’s Place,” as it turned into kind of a sandwich shop. I still loved having a business, a tangible place to be, and an alternate place for people to meet.

Photo: NBC

Upon reflection, what was your favorite scene with Bill? Was it when Julie and Doug got married on-screen, or was it something else that was much more intimate?

SUSAN: I think our last scene is going to be more important, emotionally. I think the first wedding was beautiful, but the material around the time of our second wedding, when Brenda Benet (ex-Lee) came back on the show and Doug stood up to her and says, “I’m not going to be manipulated anymore,” was also strong. There has been a lot of very important times – when Doug was killed-off by James Reilly, and we met in the tunnel of light. That was a day. That was a difficult day, which I certainly can’t revisit right now emotionally. When Julie found out Doug had run off and married her mother, Addie, that was a day. It was a day because, I went to the producer at the time, Jack Herzberg, and said, “Is this it? Am I not going to work with him anymore?”And he said, “Right! That’s it. You’re not working with Bill Hayes anymore.” We were not married at the time, and I thought I was going to go through the floor! That wasn’t a happy day.

Photo: JPI

In terms of Bill’s final day on the set with you, did you know that it was his last, and what would turn out to be his last scene?

SUSAN: Well, they didn’t know. But I knew. I had been allowed to rewrite it. So, I can’t tell you Bill’s last line now, of course, but I will in time.

What do you think about the sentiments shared by Susan on her late husband, and this storyline? How do hope the show properly honors Bill and Doug Williams when the series writes-off the character? Are you enjoying the Horton house fire story arc or does it upset you too much? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Trevor St. John Chats On His Latest Film ‘A Good Enough Day’, His Y&R Leading Ladies and the Loss of Kamar de los Reyes

The Young and the Restless multi-talented Trevor St. John (Tucker McCall) most recent film dropped last week on Amazon Prime, AppleTV+ and Tubi. Not only does St. John star in it, but he directed and co-wrote the feature, as well.

A Good Enough Day features St. John as Tyler Hamilton, a terminally ill photographer who has been saddled with enormous grief over a loss in his life for over 10 years, while trying to tie up loose ends before his death. Wanting to right his fractured relationships, Tyler interacts with his sister, and his daughter via phone calls in two haunting and moving moments in the film. St. John shot all of the scenes in the movie in his home state of Washington.

During a recent livestream conversation on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Trevor spoke on the character he portrayed, the making of the film, the poignant phone calls and the takeaway he hopes lingers in audiences’ hearts and minds. In addition, Trevor shared his thoughts on his experience thus far on Y&R, and being in story with two strong leading ladies, Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Zuleyka Silver (Audra).

Photo: AGoodEnoughDay

Many fans recall Trevor’s stellar performances as One Life to Live’s Walker Laurence/Todd Manning/Victor Lord Jr.  Recently, he and many other members of the OLTL family, suffered the loss of actor Kamar de los Reyes (ex-Antonio Vega). St. John takes a moment to share his thoughts on losing one of his dear friends. Coincidently, Reyes’ wife, Sherri Saum (ex-Keri, OLTL, ex-Vanessa, Sunset Beach), also appears in A Good Enough Day.

Speaking on embodying A Good Enough Day’s Tyler Hamilton, and what the journey he is going through during the film, Trevor shared, “We did our best to make this man, not all one thing or the other. If you heard the other end of those phone calls he was on, you think this guy’s a real piece of work. But then you realize he really suffered. He didn’t choose the grief, and maybe he made some choices out of that grief. Maybe he did not do enough to resist being all consumed by it. But as you pointed out, how can anyone know what that’s like to go through what he did?”

Photo: A Good Enough Day

As fans of St. John’s may know by now, when Tyler speaks to those on his phone, it all seemed so raw and real. Trevor gave us the secret as to why it worked so movingly and effectively. He explained,”The calls were shot and performed in a really unique way. We gave each character a very detailed biography. In particular, the detail of their relationship with Tyler, and their particular family life in the present day. But, we didn’t tell them anything else. So, none of those actors were ever told or were given the full material. We just said, ‘Here’s what you know about this man. Here’s in great detail what’s happened in the past 10 years and maybe even before. That’s all we are going to tell you. He’s gonna call you and you answer the phone as if this is all you know.'” Trevor added, “It was very risky, but once we shot that first scene I thought, ‘I think we might be able to get away with this.'”

Photo: A Good Enough Day

The beauty of A Good Enough Day is that it requires the viewers to think, interpret and go along on Tyler’s journey without hitting you over the head of exactly what is happening. However, by the final moments in the film, and we mean after the credits roll, you know everything you need to know. Trevor shared on laying out the movie: “You have to, you have to reveal everything. By the end, everything must be revealed. The question is the timing. The question is the intensity with which you peel layers away of information. The goal is to have the audience thinking, ‘I’m not sure I know precisely what’s going on here but man, I can’t really look away. I wanna see what happens next.'”

Photo: JPI

On The Young and the Restless, St. John has been in a red hot storyline with two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Eileen Davidson (Ashley Abbott), where Ashley’s sanity is now completely in question., Trevor expressed on sharing scenes with Eileen,”She’s terrific. She’s such a dear person.” St. John is also quite impressed with her recent work, “She’s become so open to the unexpected and the unknown, and that’s where you want to be. She’s a wonderful playmate and a really great person, supportive, and just super talented. I’m very lucky to be working with her.”

The CBS daytime drama currently has the relationship between Tucker and Audra taking several turns. St. John shares he is not sure where it’s ultimately leading,”That’s very difficult to say. When I get these scripts, I’m surprised as the audience. So I’m intrigued. Tucker has definitely some legitimately strong feelings for Audra.  She’s his best friend. She might be his only friend. The connection with Audra is profound. Whether he can communicate it, whether she can communicate, is another matter. But there’s something inherent there, something built up over years.”

Photo: JPI

So, just how is working with Audra’s portrayer, Zuleka Silver? Trevor remarked, “I just adore her. I light up when I’m around her. She’s just a lovely person and talented and we have great fun together. I like to tease her a little bit, but she’s also open to the unexpected, which for me, if you’re any good, you gotta be prepared for curve balls, you know, because as a human being you don’t know what’s gonna happen next. If you’re a good actor, you’re receptive to all of that, and she’s like that. ”

Photo: JPI

Back on Christmas Eve of 2023, Trevor’s former One Life to Live castmate, Kamar de los Reyes (ex-Antonio), passed away after his battle with cancer at the age of 56.  St. John opened up on this personal loss, explaining, “That was hard. He was a good friend of mine, a dear friend. I miss him. I miss him terribly. It still hasn’t even penetrated completely that he’s gone. It’s just that stage where you don’t believe it. He was a beautiful man. I saw Sherrie recently and she’s doing okay, all things considered. She’s got a nice support system. My heart breaks for her, and his family, and his boys. I appreciate you asking. It’s been very difficult.”

Photo: JPI

In case you missed it, watch the full interview with Trevor below, followed by the trailer for A Good Enough Day. 

Now let us know, if and when you watch Trevor’s film what was your reaction to it? Then, who do you want Tucker to end up with on Y&R? Audra, Ashley or someone else? Let us know in the comment section.

 

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Video Du Jour

Peter Reckell returns for a second visit with Michael Fairman following the wrap-up of his recent run as Bo Brady on Days of our Lives.Leave A Comment

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