The Young and the Restless, Doug Davidson (Paul Williams) has had a thrilling and yet heartbreaking first two weeks of May. First, Doug landed his fourth nomination for a Daytime Emmy for his gut-wrenching performance as a father who comes to the realization that he, for all intent and purposes, shot and killed his psycho-son Ricky! The story, as we all came to learn, was much more complex than on the surface. Doug played it to the hilt! Now his performance has been deemed one of the front-runners in the Outstanding Lead Actor race, and it could finally give him the long elusive Emmy gold!
But last week, Doug lost his dear friend and cast mate, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) who passed away on Wednesday after a battle with an undisclosed illness. On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Doug just a few days after the news of Jeanne’s death saddened the soap world, and its many fans.
In an often times emotional, heartfelt, and honest conversation, Doug shared his thoughts on the magnitude of the loss of Jeanne for him, and the Y&R family, but also shared his joy on getting the opportunity to be nominated by his peers for daytime television’s biggest prize in this his 35th year playing Genoa City’s P.I., Williams. Here is what Doug had to say about losing a legend and a friend, the Daytime Emmy voting process and changes he would like to see made, and how he came to choose the all-important episode for Emmy competition.
Doug, I wanted to start by personally letting you know, that of the many times I spoke to Jeanne Cooper, she would always tell me about how much she loved “Doug Davidson”. I think Jeanne would want me to remind you of that now, and so I am, as I know you and many are grieving and feeling her loss.
DOUG: It was mutual. It is like loss of a national treasure. The more I read about just what our every day viewers said, it reminds me that when I was a young heartthrob and would tour the country on the weekends, the number one question from the young girls in my audience was, “What is Mrs. Chancellor really like?” I also thought, not only is that a testament to her, but sort of a lesson to the powers-that-be that you don’t have to be one to enjoy watching one. So when they think young people just like to watch young people, or a certain ethnic group only wants to watch a certain ethnic group, there are those characters that are so universal and all you have to be is to be human. Katherine Chancellor, through Jeanne’s performance, was one of those.
On a happier note, I was thrilled that you received a Daytime Emmy nomination for some of your best work. Were you surprised that you scored an Outstanding Lead Actor nomination? Or, did you think it was a lock because your story and reel were so strong going into the competition?
DOUG: I think because the rules are so specific in getting the nomination that many factors have to be in your favor. One of the most important ones, since you only submit one episode of your work, is selecting an episode with challenging work. So because of the Ricky story, I certainly felt I had an episode that might fit those criteria.
What episode did you actually submit that landed you the nomination? The episode after Paul shot Ricky?
DOUG: If you recall, there was the attempted talk-down in the bathroom. The actual shooting was a montage. Then the next day it continues with the shooting; then at the crime scene with an interrogation from a cop and Ronan. Then he leaves, and it ends with Paul talking to Isabella in Los Angeles. And, the show after that has Paul turning himself into his daughter Heather. He is questioned by Ronan. Avery, his lawyer, is present with Paul in the interrogation room. After reliving the sequence of events, Tricia Cast (as Nina) comes in. And, because she is so familiar to Paul’s inner circle, he then loses the stiff upper lip and breaks down. So, that is the episode that I submitted. It seemed to have the greatest span of emotions. There was a transition from the shock of learning that the knife had disappeared to suddenly Paul is a suspect. It had the biggest range, I felt. Then I ran it by our publicist, Jimmy Freeman, and associate producer Matt Olsen, and Judy Blye Wilson, our casting director, just to get some opinions.
You were a judge on the blue-ribbon panel for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. What can you say in general about the field, or the voting system?
DOUG: In terms of generalities, it’s becoming harder and harder. Personally, it’s hard to find an entire episode that is all about your character, and that you have 10-15 minutes of airtime. The shows are moving quicker, and scenes are much shorter. It’s the style of today’s television. So I am certainly not faulting the writers, but we might choose to change some of the rules, so you can put a composite of scenes together from different episodes where you can show a body of work over a year. I like the idea, but then some people say, “Well, then you are cherry-picking your best scenes.” But you kind of do that anyway, don’t you? You are not so much a slave to the way an episode is constructed, or a story arc. It handcuffs you. I am going to use someone like Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) as an example, because I am so familiar with her. Day in and day out she brings it to the table. I think she is arguably one of the best actors in the genre. Then, she has to specifically find an entire episode that illustrates her obvious talents. I am not talking about actors being allowed to do editing within a scene. But if you grab this scene and that scene in it’s entirety, that you can put together 7-10 minutes of work with black in between them, you are then able to use your entire year. I could have assembled an entire story arc with the Ricky storyline, and I probably would have felt a bit better about that, because it shows the entire span of the story. The category breakdown is another odd aspect to it. What are you judging when you say “Outstanding Actor”? If it’s your story, I consider you the lead actor. There are other characters over the span of the year that had more airtime than I did. But this was pretty much Paul’s story, and Peter Porte (Ex-Ricky) would have been a supporting actor in it.
Peter Porte was wonderful in the story with you. I thought he would land a Supporting Actor nomination!
DOUG: He was great! I was actually kind of shocked that he did not get a nomination. And there again, the minute he had a bone with some meat on it, he tore it up!
Who was most thrilled for you when they learned you had been nominated again this year?
DOUG: I guess, my immediate cast mates are always thrilled, but I would say the surprise happy one was Max Ehrich, the young man who plays Fen. He was truly really excited. I expect the people closest to me to be excited, and I certainly was. There is an anticipation that comes from never having won one. And the longer it goes; it becomes a ying and yang thing, (Laughs) where you go, “Oh, my! I have been stepping up to the plate for 35 years now.” This month on May 19th it will mark 35 years for me on The Young and the Restless.
Jeanne Cooper would have loved to be here to celebrate your 35 years on the number one soap!
DOUG: You know, yesterday I remembered a couple of early episodes of Jeanne’s. And, the collaboration between Jeanne and Bill Bell (Y&R creator) was pretty amazing. The Bell’s, from all outward appearances, were the All-American family. So for him to understand the complexities of somebody like Jeanne Cooper, and write such a full beautiful character like Kay Chancellor, and this was back in the mid-70’s, I just think was the mark of a true artist. A true artist to me is someone who doesn’t necessarily have a history of living all those things, but certainly can recognize them, and share them in his narrative. Wow! I am sure Bill and Jeanne are catching up in heaven.
Jeanne would also often tell me how you have grown as an actor, and how you’ve come such a long way and worked so hard, and how proud of you she was.
DOUG: I really appreciate you saying this … so much. Jeanne and I went out to lunch the day I signed my first long-term contract at Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Blvd! She always seemed to appear at major events in my life. When my daughter was born, it was an arduous labor. My wife did it without any drugs. I think it went on for 36 hours or so over Christmas evening, and it went on through to the 27th of December. After I came out of the operating room, besides my mother, Jeanne was the next person I saw. I don’t know how she found out, but there she was with a baby gift and flowers. She did it for my son, as well. It is just like she had a sixth sense of what was going on. Anytime you had a problem, or an issue, and it wasn’t just me, it was anybody that approached her. You are going to get the same thing from Daniel Goddard (Cane, Y&R) and Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R). She was just such a solid, caring, supportive person with no judgment at all. She was truly a Zen master!
She was truly an amazing woman. There was no one like her!
DOUG: Jeanne had a glow around her every time you saw her. I remember when Corbin Bernsen posted something a few weeks ago on facebook, and at that point I didn’t even know she was in the hospital. So I read this, and I was truly devastated. I could not believe it was that serious. I also truly had no idea what was going on. It was out of the blue, so it was so impactful for me. When I went to see Jeanne later during her recuperation, I told her that I knew I loved her, but when I read that and the thought of losing her, I told her (in tears), and “I guess I loved you more than I thought.” That once again reminds me to love the people around you, and tell them all you can. I was lucky enough that I got the opportunity, and if I hadn’t had the most recent opportunity, I knew how loving and caring she was. Just an incredible, incredible, human being.
Will you be present on Daytime Emmy night?
DOUG: Yes I will be there, but I may be on Xanax! (Laughs)
I might need a Xanax for Emmy night, too! I can’t take this anymore, Doug!
DOUG: (Laughs) With this event of losing Jeanne, it reminds me once again that there are more important things than accolades and awards. I hope that I am big enough to be happy whatever the outcome! But I will be there. The amazing support of our viewership through thick and thin with my character has been truly amazing. If I am here it is in large part because of them.
So, would you like to see Doug Davidson win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series award at the 40th annual Daytime Emmys on June 16th? What did you think of his nominated episode? And, what do you think about the sentiments Doug shared on the loss of his dear friend and long time cast mate, Jeanne Cooper? Let us know your thoughts below!