Soaps.com readers, I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Y&R's Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin)! He had just returned from a 'birthday trip' to England and Scotland! We chatted about the Fall colors (which we agreed are gorgeous), and cooler temperatures there, and Christian, who was back in L.A., told me that although the Santa Ana winds bring wonderfully warm weather, they dry everything out, and he could see the resulting wildfires burning in the distance.
As talk turns to the upcoming Soap Cruise, Christian assures me that 'it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on'! The first cruise (last January) turned out to be so entertaining for the actors, that he admits he was afraid they wouldn't be able to 'put lightening in a bottle' twice, but he signed on, and immediately started encouraging his actor friends to sign on as well! Christian told me that not only was it a great experience to have interacted with other actors he wasn't accustomed to seeing, or had never met before, but he was 'agog' at the places they visited as well. "They had to dig me out of the Inca Ruins!" He called the Soap Cruise 'an adventure', where three days of your life feels like a month - in a good way!
When I asked what Christian thinks the fans get from the experience, he said that from his perspective, it's three days for them to interact with the actors, with no real barriers! It's an extended time together where fans can provide the actors with feedback about their shows, have fun, and everyone really gets to know one another! "You're all on an adventure together. You all sink or swim!" He names the script writing competition, where fans get to write their own segment of a scene, and the winners of the competition get to cast their play and perform it, as his favorite type of interaction between fans and actors on the ship. He laughingly told me that there were plenty of cocktail parties afterward to discuss that activity, and it was resoundingly popular with both the actors and audience.
Christian tells me that Mike Gold (cruise organizer) will be offering up improved scheduling this year, as well as a much more high-end ship! Mike, according to Christian, has gone out of his way to be reactive to the feedback from the first cruise, and therefore expects this year's version to be better than ever! 'Celebrity Cruise' will be providing the ship and the facilities this time around and it will be amazing! The highlights? A breakfast with the actors, several cocktail parties, bingo, the script-writing competition, improvs, tons of Q&A's, and just casual encounters between fans and actors around the ship! "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you are a fan of Daytime!" Christian declares.
When I ask Christian what else he has going on right now, he proudly shares with me that he has a piece of art up in an art gallery in his hometown of New Orleans! "It's hanging in the Jean Bragg Gallery for anyone who wants to go see it!" I tease him about his children's book, which still hasn't come out, telling him that I expected to have it for my five year-old son for Christmas this year, and he laughingly declares that I'll definitely have it for my grandchildren! He explains that they are still entertaining ideas about how to promote and publish the book, and in the meantime, prints of the original illustrations (done by Christian), have brought in as much as $4000 at charity auctions - he's astounded by this!
I wonder how Christian feels about his latest Y&R storyline and he laughs about how one thing never happens to Michael - five things happen to Michael! "You've got the Victor Newman case going on, you've got the sister misbehaving, you've got the father and coming to terms with that, and how that brings Gloria in!" He gives full credit to Michael Gross for his depiction of the hippie, River, who could have easily been cartoonish, and to Maria Arena Bell for her outstanding writing for the Baldwin clan! I point out that Michael [Baldwin] has been on a real roller-coaster of emotion lately and Christian admits that the writers really push him. "This is some hard stuff and you've got to make it believable…Meeting your real father for the first time, meeting your sister for the first time. Those are hard moments to pin down, and you've really got to focus. They're forcing me to really play hard." He notes that the other actors he shares scenes with are always at the top of their game, and points out that this makes him better. Christian tells me that Michael is not very much like him, firstly, and secondly, they press Michael to these extreme places, where, for him, he feels he could hit or miss. I take this opportunity to tell him that viewers can't tell that he's challenged by the material - he does a great job! "I always say, no one does stress like Christian!" He laughs out loud at this, and says that in real life he doesn't seem to have stress and is very calm after work. We agree that it's very therapeutic playing Michael!
Lastly, Christian gives me the heads up that there is a big kerfuffle coming up with Gloria - and there will be new information coming out about how Lowell got to where he is, and how the whole situation happened. "It's fantastic. They did an amazing job."
To find out more about Christian, and to see some of his artwork, visit his website!
What do you think the 'big secret' coming up will be? Be sure to leave a comment below!