Collage egan feature
Credit: Joanna Degeneres; Howard Wise/JPI (2)

“She is really capable of anything.”

To say that The Young and the Restless‘ Adam is making some pretty bad decisions of late would be an understatement, and the biggest might be thinking that asking Sharon to help Chelsea is somehow a great idea. “I’m sure he has the best of intentions,” laughs Melissa Claire Egan of her alter ego’s love interest, “but all Chelsea can think is, ‘Why are you being such a jerk?’”

Unfortunately, thanks to the stroke which has left her incapacitated, Chelsea can’t actually read her fiancé the riot act. “Inside, it makes her spin,” says Egan. “Who is Chelsea’s biggest threat? Sharon. It’s always been her. These two women have always had this competition between them. So this is really not the best choice he could be making.”

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What Adam might be forgetting is that the woman he loves — and we’re talking about Chelsea here, lest one get confused — has made a few bad choices of her own. While we now think of her as a heroine, more or less, she’s got a long history of pulling cons and acting out. Could those darker impulses be brought to the surface if she continues to feel as if her relationship is threatened?

“Not to give too much away,” teases Egan, “but yes. Bad things can happen when a person is pushed to their breaking point. Sharon has the ability to incite Chelsea. She’s already seeing things that aren’t really there, because Sharon just lights a fire inside of her, and we’re going to be seeing more of that moving forward. I can’t wait for everybody to see it!”

Chelsea imagine Adam, Sharon kiss Y&R

From an acting standpoint, Egan is grateful for what she sees as the greatest challenge of her career thus far. “I was excited when [headwriter] Josh Griffith told me what was coming up, but I was scared, too,” she says. “As actors, we’re used to using our whole bodies to communicate what we’re feeling. To take all of that away and only be able to use your eyes is a cool challenge, and unlike anything I’ve done before.

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“People have joked that I don’t have to memorize lines or remember where to stand when I say them,” she continues with a laugh. “They’re like, ‘You have the greatest job ever!’ But believe it or not, it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

So how does one rehearse for scenes in which there’s no dialogue? “You know what’s funny? My husband said, ‘Can you practice not talking at home? I like this version of you!'” quips the actress. “Seriously, though, what you have to do is learn how to feel the words, since you can’t say them aloud. You have to think about how your eyes would portray sadness or jealousy or anger.”

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It also requires one to be extremely focused. “There have been times when I’ve frowned without even realizing it, because it’s just instinctual, and the director will stop and say, ‘Yeah, you can’t do that. Let’s try it again.'”

Clearly, her method is working, as evidenced by the response it has elicited. “I’ve gotten tweets from so many people saying, ‘I’ve had a stroke’ or ‘My sister had a stroke’ and thanking us for portraying it in a way that they find believable. That’s so touching, and it really gets to me.”

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As for how things will play out, Egan warns that storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. “Chelsea’s spiraling, and when that happens, she’s capable of just about anything. Who she is at her core has always been kind of a con artist. It’s in her DNA. So Adam just needs to keep Sharon far, far away.”

Do you think Adam’s determination to “help” Chelsea could wind up having consequences he could never have imagined? Lay out your predictions in the comment section, then join us in reflecting on the long and (literally) storied history of Genoa City in the below gallery.