Exclusive Chat with Y&R's Michael Graziadei! Part I image

Michael Graziadei (CBS)

Michael Graziadei (CBS) recently connected with Y&R's Michael Graziadei [Daniel Romalotti], who has been busy on and off the Daytime soap. We discussed how he began his acting career, whether his real life interests mirror those of the characters he's played, and most importantly, we asked him whether or not he plans to stay on The Young and the Restless!
How did you get into acting?

Michael: In college I took an acting class as a joke. [laughs] It sounded like something fun and easy at the time. I had originally wanted to go to art school, but I gave all that up because I didn’t want to be a starving artist. At the last minute, I changed my mind and I went to a liberal arts school, I went to the University of New Hampshire. I got caught up in a fraternity; just having a lot of fun, hanging out with the guys - just cruising through - school is easy. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but had picked communication as a major and started taking film classes for that, and classes about radio and television, public speaking - all that kind of stuff - and really became interested in that and immersed myself. I took myself out of the party scene and then, as a joke, I took Acting I, thinking, “Oh well, this will be a really easy class,” and I wound up falling in love with it! It wasn’t an easy class, and it filled that little part inside that the art and the music normally filled. So how did you get your first role?

Michael: My mom would say my first role was when I was six years old and I was in "The King and I," but my first role in college was in a play called "The Basset Table," and that’s what kind of made me fall more in love with [acting]. One of the directors came to my acting teacher and said, "I put this play up in three and a half weeks and I lost my lead. Do you have anyone in your classes that could do this?" Of all the classes [the acting teacher] recommended me, so it was a real compliment coming from this teacher because she did not give out compliments at all! From there I just started taking as many classes as I could, and getting into every play that I could. I just knew when I left college, when I graduated, that this was what I wanted to do. I told everyone that, and I went back home, worked in the bar for about a year and a half saving money, and then moved out to L.A. I got out here, got a job, got an apartment, and started with a manager and an agent, and started auditioning.
So was Y&R one of your first big roles?

Michael: I did little things, I did co-starring roles, but the biggest thing I had done was I did a guest-starring role on "Navy NCIS". The day that I finished that project I got a call from my managers and they were like, “You need to come over to the office, you gotta' pick up this other audition.” I had gone in recently and auditioned for The Young and the Restless, and when I got to the office my manager was cheering and yelling, and said, "You're going to work tomorrow at Y&R.” [laughs] So, that was my first real big role. You mentioned that you are into music. Do you anticipate that at some point you will get into the music industry?

I think I will leave that more to musicians. At this point I use music as a tool for my own personal sanity, one might say. After a long day or something, I can always come home and sit down and play a song, or write a song, just relax and kind of space out with my guitar. Who would you say inspires you musically?

Michael: I listen to everything - Frank Sinatra, Etta James… Right now, I'm listening to a lot of what people have put into the category of 'freak folk', it's like Andrew Bird, Joanna Newsome, Bob Dylan - love, love Bob Dylan. When I started playing guitar it was all classic rock, you know, The Doors, Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. Watersports, art, and photography are all interests you have had in your on screen roles - do any of these parallel your real life?

Michael: Watersports, absolutely! When we did "The Reef" out in Hawaii, oh yeah, surfing, jet-skiing, anything like that where I'm outside - love it! They taught us how to dive for that movie, so I got SCUBA certified, and I love it, it's something that I'll have for the rest of my life, wherever I travel to. A lot of people don't like it, they're scared to get underwater, and breathe underwater, and I'll admit that the first time I did it, I put the thing in my mouth and went under, went to take a breath, and said, "This isn't right," and came back up. I then realized it was going to be totally fine. I always have loved the ocean and water, so it wasn't really a stretch to do that stuff. Are you into art and photography, like Daniel on Y&R?

Michael: Yeah! I took photography classes in high school, that was always another outlet, and I have been into art - like I said, I almost went to art school - I've got a portfolio together and everything. That's one of the things I haven't had time for in my personal life, is art, and I probably should make more time for it. I also don't have space where I'm living right now to set up a studio, but I'm sure at some point, I will. What can you tell us about your movie projects, "The Outside" and "The Reef"?

I shot "The Outside" in the wintertime, and then "The Reef" in the summertime, but "The Reef" will probably be out faster because it's with MGM and they have all the resources to put together the movie and get the product out there. "The Outside" was a project that one of my friends wrote, and we all undertook the production of it upon ourselves. So it's a slow-moving process, but it's been really great because we've seen how a movie is made from start to finish. Being a producer [on the project] I took meetings, and set things up in working our way up to doing the film, and then when it came time to shoot, I told everyone else they needed to take the reins, and take control, because I was only concerning myself with acting [at that point]. We've got trailers out for it already, and the picture is locked. We're just trying to get the color-correction finalized, and the sound design. We had some cool news this week of a pretty big name in the industry who is looking for surfing movies right now, and I think he's going to see our film, and see if he wants to help us finish it. You've been doing some work in Primetime lately too, on Criminal Minds with Shemar Moore [ex-Malcolm Winters], and on 90210.

Michael: Working with Shemar's great. I knew him from Y&R, so when I went over there, everyone was really warm and welcoming, but even more so when Shemar saw me in the room and came over and just grabbed me and pulled me right onto my feet! He's the same old Shemar - ya' gotta' just love him! 90210 was a lot of fun as well. I used to work with Anna Lynne [Naomi] at The Saddle Ranch, and she's with my agent as well, so I've known her for a while. It's a small world once you wind up in Hollywood - the people you will continuously run into. So, going over there and getting to play a drug-dealer who is punching people in the face - it was fun; the 'bad guy'! [laughs] So have the movie roles and Primetime gigs given you a taste for moving on from Daytime, or are you looking to stay on Y&R and do outside projects?

Michael: Well, I think in an ideal world, one would be able to do everything, however, we don't live in an ideal world. At the current moment, we're trying to work things out as best we can so that I can stay there, and at the same time, do other projects. [Y&R] has been extremely accommodating as far as that goes. I just sat down with the writers, and they outlined a great storyline, and everything sounds great, but no decisions have been made, and no one from the studio or network has actually said anything, or mentioned the contract - it's not up for another couple of months. So, we're just waiting to see what happens because at the same time of being happy and wanting to stay there, it's also a financial decision, especially the way this market is and everything. We hope you stay!

Michael: Well, thank you very much! That is my family, and I would love to stay with my family. The friendships that I've made there can't even be compared to some of the other friendships I've made while being in L.A. - I go to work everyday. Our set hands and P.A.'s, and hair and makeup - they're some of my best friends in the world; people you can share absolutely anything with. What would be your dream role?

[laughs] I don't know, Bruce Willis is pretty cool when he's in "Die Hard," being in an action film like that would be pretty fun! My dream role would be something that challenges me in every facet of the industry. Maybe something like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" playing Dr. Frank -n-Furter, Tim Curry's role, something like that would be pretty intense, I think. It would be fun - everyday you would go to work and just have so much fun! I just don't know how much fun it would be to put on women's underwear! [laughs]

Click here to read Part II of our exclusive interview with Michael Graziadei, in which he tells all about his character Daniel, his numerous hairstyles, and explains why he's different from Daniel Romalotti! Feel free to leave comments below!

- Candace Young