Stars of Y&R Interviewed on Their Characters During 45th Year Celebration
SAG-AFTRA presents The Young and the Restless: Celebrating 45 Years.
The Young and the Restless is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. In honor of such a big milestone, SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, honored the show with a panel and Q&A session on Wednesday night, which Soaps.com attended in Los Angeles.
In attendance to represent the show were Sharon Case (Sharon), Daniel Goddard (Cane), Christel Khalil (Lily), Christian Le Blanc (Michael), Camryn Grimes (Mariah), Bryton James (Devon), Kate Linder (Esther) and Jason Thompson (Billy). Executive producer and head writer Mal Young was in the audience, but he did not speak on the panel.
The cast delivered some fun highlights from their first day-on-set memories to the Y&R character they would love to play for one day.
Growing up on Y&R
Three of the actors started on the show at a young age. Here’s how Camryn, Christel and Bryton feel about their formative Y&R years.
Camryn Grymes: I don’t know anything but that. I started so young; it was always a part of my life. It wasn’t until I left the show that I was faced with being a normal kid. I had to discover if I loved acting or if I had stumbled into it and if it was really my calling.
Christel Khalil: It’s the same job for 15 years and I had to rediscover if I loved acting or if I was just there because my mom put me in it. I grew up sheltered and awkward — I was home-schooled my whole life. I always felt like I missed out on that experience. Now, I am grateful for how I grew up. I felt like I matured quickly. You don’t realize how amazing it is until you’re an adult.
Bryton James: I always enjoyed it. Getting to start as a teenager and grow up on The Young and the Restless, you are surrounded by a lot of talent. When you grow up, you change. So when you are lucky enough to consistently play the same character, you get to apply those changes.
Tessa and Mariah storyline
Y&R has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to groundbreaking storylines. That was definitely evident when Mariah and Tessa fell in love.
Sharon Case: We were both incredibly lucky that we were chosen to tell this story.
Camryn Grimes: I remember Christel came into work one day and she said, “Do you hear they are making someone gay? I hope it’s me.” [Tons of laughter.] I thought to myself, I bet it’s me.
I was impressed with Mal and the writers…it was so beautiful. It was just a love story. It never once puts a label on it. It was two people who met and were just taken with each other instantly and fell in love. It wasn’t any different than any love story you encounter. It was just awesome and great.
Rooting for Sharon and Nick
The viewers want Sharon and Nick to be OK, but does Sharon Case have the same feelings as the fans?
Sharon Case: Of course, I do! I like to compare them to Ross and Rachel [from Friends]. They were always in love, but in your mind… even if they weren’t really together, they were always together. That’s the way Nick and Sharon have always been. They’ve been apart, but they share children, they love each other, they still have feelings for each other. I like that.”
Cane and Lily’s relationship
Daniel: We have two kids who went upstairs, eight years old and came downstairs 16 [years old]. There’s something in the water in Genoa City. [Laughter from the audience.] We get to have that family feeling and that unity and allow that to manifest in other ways.
I’ve never seen the interracial thing personally or the age gap between them. Never in my own mind focused or noticed those two perspectives about that relationship. I know that our fans told us that we are the longest-running interracial couple on television now. Before that, it was in The Jeffersons. We now passed that.
Kristoff St. John’s return
Y&R fans are excited to have St. John back, but the cast is thrilled to see him back on set. They really missed him.
Daniel Goddard: He’s been on the show 25 years. I think he’s an icon in this business. Personally, I think his sense of humor is hysterical. For us, we are so close as a group, so to see someone endure what he’s endured with the loss of his son — the way it happened. Leading up to that tragic event with Julian and the years of seeing Kristoff day-in, day-out give of himself — to see him come back after that break was an incredible trial of the human spirit. It’s a beautiful thing.
Christian Le Blanc: He’s a brilliant actor — an amazing actor.
It’s incredible to be a working actor and soap fans are so kind to the Y&R cast. Every once in a while, things go a little haywire.
Sharon Case: I ran into Alexander Skarsgård. He came out of the elevator when I was at Mastro’s [Steakhouse], so I was already kind of drunk. I was watching True Blood at the time and I was absolutely in love with him and his vampire character. I made a fool of myself and he politely waited for me to finish.
Camryn Grimes: When we used to have the Emmys in New York. All of the soaps used to stay at the Rihga Royal, so all of the fans used to camp out front. I was little and my grandparents took me out and we were pushing people away. All of sudden I was being dragged down the street. I look and there’s a woman holding my arm, saying, “Cassie, Cassie, I have to tell you something. Sharon is your real mother, but it’s OK, I’m going to be your real mother now.” Security came and pounced on her.
Kate Linder: As a flight attendant for United Airlines, these two people were being taken off the plane for transporting drugs. I was in charge, so I was up in the front. As they are taking them off the plane, she looked at me and said, “Aren’t you Esther on Young and the Restless?”
Christian Le Blanc: I’ve been on flights when Kate’s been my flight attendant. We get the best service. Oh, the things I carried off in my carry-on.
First day on-set memories
Not every actor remembered their first day on set, but when they did — it was a fairly entertaining tale.
Sharon Case: It was 24 years ago. I am the worst person to ask.
Christian Le Blanc: I was standing in the bleachers. It happened to be the day of the cast photos and I was very excited. I heard Lauralee [Bell] — whom I had just met — say, “That new boy talks a lot.” I was like… they get me, they really get me.
Kate Linder: I remember it like it was yesterday. I went up and introduced myself to Jeanne Cooper and told her I would be playing her maid today. She said, “Well, it’s about time!” I loved her ever since.
Bryton James: I had about six scenes in a row with me and Eric Braeden. The casting director at the time, Marnie Saitta, walked me on the set and asked me if I knew whom Eric and Victor Newman was. I said, “No.”
She responded, “Well, act like you do and just show him respect and you’ll be fine.”
I learned the most valuable lesson as an actor. Every scene that Eric does, he will make the lines a little bit more his own and he will make them different every single take. If you’re not paying attention and really listening, your response might not work. To listen was the lesson I learned that day.
If they could swap characters for a day
The cast loves their characters, but if they could switch places with one cast member for the day, who would it be? The answers are interesting.
Christian Le Blanc: Jeanne. I would do it in a minute.
Bryton James: Victor. I would be Eric so I could do whatever the hell I wanted.
Daniel Goddard: I would be Esther so I could wear the French maid’s outfit. I would wear it backward with nothing else on.
Christel Kahlil: I would say, Phyllis, she seems fun.
Camryn Grimes: I would play Ashley.
Sharon Case: I want to say I would play Victor. I always wanted to take over that company. That would be fun.
How they got their SAG card
All of the actors on Y&R work under a union contract with protective rules stipulated by SAG-AFTRA. It’s an honor to be a part of the union, but that first job that gets an actor in is often a unique one.
Sharon Case: It was a phone commercial and I was hired as a ballerina, but I still got my SAG card.
Camryn Grimes: Before I was on Y&R, I was on an episode of JAG and I had two or three lines.
Jason Thompson: I’m pretty sure it was an episode of Flipper. They told me I had to fly to Australia for two or three weeks of work.
Christel Kahlil: I’m pretty sure it was a Taco Bell commercial. I was in the drive-thru in the backseat eating a bean burrito.
Daniel Goddard: Mine was a gig of Baywatch. I was a guest star, but the show got canceled. I was so excited to join the union, which cost me more than how much I earned on Baywatch.
Bryton James: Mine was the first thing I ever auditioned for — a Disney Mattel commercial — which I booked when I was 2. My parents took me on the wrong day for the audition, but the producer was there and I talked to him for about 20 minutes. They canceled the auditions and I ended up getting booked.
Christian Le Blanc: HBO had a show called The Smart Shopper Show. They would do takeoffs on commercials and show you what was wrong with the product. I was paid to be a Donny Osmond lookalike.
Kate Linder: I was in a film called The PCP Story talking about the dangers of PCP. They even had me sitting in the back of a police car.
Photo credit: Kristyn Burtt/Soaps, Howard Wise/JPI
– Kristyn Burtt/Christine Fix