Eric Braeden (CBS)

As Soaps.com readers might have guessed, Eric Braeden is a very interesting person to sit down and talk with, whether discussing his new film, “The Man Who Came Back,” or getting in-depth about his alter-ego, Victor Newman, which we did in the first portion of our chat on Soap Opera Fan Blog. It was also very interesting to learn a little bit more about Eric himself – the man behind ‘The Moustache’!

Soaps.com: To what do you attribute the enormous popularity of Victor Newman, a role that has helped make you the most recognized actor in the world, and what have been the best and worst parts of playing this character?

Eric:
I honestly don’t really know [what makes Victor so popular], I think maybe fans have the answer to that question more than I do. I just know that I bring a lot of who I am into it. I have a deep sense of what is fair, I think, and I have a deep sense of outrage toward those who go against me – if they go unfairly against me. I was third amongst four brothers – we fought all the time. I grew up in tough times, you had to fight – but it is never to bully – it is to right wrongs. That is what Victor feels. If I feel you have wronged me – I’ll come after you! I have a great proclivity for vengeance, but I can be very vulnerable as well – I guess that comes out. I’m so thankful for this role – I used to play only bad guys – it became boring. Bill Bell and I talked, years ago, and I asked him to give [Victor] a social background that explains who he is, and he came up with the brilliant idea of him being left in an orphanage. It’s sort of close to how I grew up in real life, in a sense, so I could tap into that – that deep sadness, and never trusting anyone really. I’m deeply loyal to this character – and to the show.

Soaps.com: What has been your favorite storyline as Victor?

Eric: There have been so many! I keep coming back to this one – it touches something in me – that is when Dorothy McGuire comes back and plays my mother [Cora Miller]. I don’t even know her anymore, didn’t even know she was alive after she left me on the steps of an orphanage. I question her, and suddenly she says something only my mother could have known, about a hole in a sweater. I didn’t know how to play that scene before, I had no idea, and suddenly something happened in the scene – I don’t know what it was – and it’s still one of the most memorable scenes I’ve ever done, because of the mixture of enormous sadness and anger and hurt. Similarly, another of my favorites scenes, was when I went with my son [Nick, Joshua Morrow] to see George Kennedy, who played my father, and he’s cold – whoa! That also was one of my favorite scenes, there was something fundamentally tragic about it, and real. I also enjoyed playing the scene as I envisioned it before I went – when I played myself as an old man – I enjoyed that enormously. [Eric also counts powerful scenes with Jack, Victor being alone with Zapato, and the touching scenes where he admits to Nick that something is really wrong with him, as being among his past favorites].

Soaps.com: It has recently been announced that Don Diamont will be leaving the show, and many viewers are upset about this development, and concerned about the current climate in Daytime. I happen to think that Y&R is better right now than it’s been in quite a long time, so I’m somewhat optimistic. What are your thoughts?

Eric: I agree with you [about the show], Maria Arena Bell is doing a really good job. As an actor, it is now, suddenly, becoming interesting again. I think it’s an egregious mistake to let Don Diamont go. He was involved in too many storylines. It’s a mistake, and I disagree with it completely. If the climate is one of wanting to save money and all that, well then, there are a number of other people that should go, as far as I’m concerned. He was an integral part of the show, and involved in everyone’s storylines, that’s my opinion.

Soaps.com: Do you have an opinion on the outlook for the soap industry as a whole?

Eric: Well, obviously the economic malaise is such that advertising revenue is [affected], and who knows to what length they are willing to go to save money? The top shows will survive, beyond that, I am the wrong person to ask. I think if the writing to continues to be in her [Maria Arena Bell’s] hands for our show, I think it’s very entertaining – I love watching it! I must say, I’m very hopeful!