When all hell breaks loose in Genoa City, you can bet that Victor Newman is major to the action, with either half the town trying to bring him down, or get even with the mogul who has built and kept his business empire at all costs! But, while he may fight those interlopers to the finish, one thing can be said, ‘Victor loves his family,’ even though the Newmans are one, big ole’ dysfunctional bunch. Look no further than this week, on the number one CBS Daytime drama series.
In the mother-of-all-reveals: Gabriel Bingham is finally outed thanks to Phyllis (Gina Togoni) and Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan), and revealed to be Victor’s believed-to-be-dead black sheep son, Adam Newman (Justin Hartley). As the week plays out, Victor has highly-charged emotional scenes with Adam! Not only is his son alive, but he learned Adam was half of the mastermind behind the Paragon Project with its virus unleashed with the intent on destroying Victor’s company. Add to that, Victor has a new grandson! And, while all still believe it is Nick’s (Joshua Morrow) son with Sage (Kelly Sullivan), from the looks of it the bio-dad is actually Adam!
Such great drama has afforded for 35-years, the opportunity for Y&R’s Eric Braeden to deliver masterful performances. For love “the moustache” or hate him, Braeden has made the character of Victor Newman a classic, and himself an icon. Highly intelligent with strong personal and professional viewpoints, Eric let’s you know the gospel according to him, which in turn, has provided him with great respect.
On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Eric at CBS Television City to get his thoughts on: the Adam reveal, his cast mates including: Justin Hartley and Peter Bergman (Jack), what he thinks about the current writing regime under Chuck Pratt Jr., some of Victor’s most recent machinations including: doppelganger Jack, (the Peruvian Marco), and more. In addition, with so much conflict happening throughout the world and right here in America, Eric weighs-in on some of today’s social and political topics, as only he can. Never to take his job for granted, or find long-term comfort in it, as he reveals, the contributions that Braeden has meant to the Y&R brand are immeasurable, and widely recognized. So here now is the one, thee only, Eric Braeden!
When Victor realizes that Adam is alive and well, and has been living in Genoa City with a new identify and a new face as Gabriel Bingham, what is he immediately thinking?
ERIC: Obviously, this forces Victor to re-evaluate his whole father/son relationship. But what I need to remind the writers all of the time it is not Victor who abandoned Adam at all. It was Hope’s decision to keep Adam on a farm and raise him alone in Kansas. Victor tried several times, and would have been very solicitous of his son. So Adam goes to Harvard business school, and Victor is very proud of him and offers him all kinds of high position jobs at Newman Enterprises to the chagrin of his other children. So this notion that the writers, and the character of Adam, have had that Victor abandoned him is simply not true! Victor wanted to have a relationship with his son. He gave him a great job, and Adam screwed it up! It’s as simple as it is. He was the bad seed. They think Victor was this dreadful father. No, he is not; there is no evidence of that. No proof of that at all.
Adam wants to take his father down, destroy his business, and take everything from him. Knowing then how Victor feels about his son, this must be such emotionally damaging information for a father to find out about one of his own children!
ERIC: It must be for families, and mothers, and fathers, who have an offspring who is just not very good! But what upsets me greatly is that all of this is being attributed to Victor’s actions, or lack there of, and it’s not true. I have spoken to the writers about it, to remind them of it. Unfortunately, when we get the scripts it is a feta accompli. This constant maligning from all the characters of the show that Victor is the worst; is true to a certain degree. However, they are righteous hypocrites! Look what they have all done: from Billy (Burgess Jenkins) to Jack (Peter Bergman) … including Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), who has a laundry list of things she has done up her sleeve! (Laughs) True! In other words, I have nothing against Victor fighting dirty and hard when it comes to business and defending his family, but to unload this pejorative of stuff said by other characters on to that character is going too far. Then, whatever Victor does doesn’t become credible anymore. In his mind, and in my mind, a lot of his actions are justified. There was always a fine balance that Bill Bell (the late co-creator and head writer, Y&R) maintained. I went to Bill Bell after the first year I was here, and said I am leaving the show. He said, “Why?” I said, “I can’t play just these bad guys. I have done it for years, and I can’t do it anymore.” So he came up with this brilliant storyline of explaining why Victor was who he was when he wrote about the orphanage and Victor’s childhood. The moment I did that key scene in the story, and I have told you this before, I went to Bill and said, “Now I’m staying.” I knew then I could play different registers of the character.
How did you then feel about the doppelganger Jack/Marco (Peter Bergman) storyline then? Was it too heinous of an act to perpetrate, even for the great Victor Newman?
ERIC: But, it played! I just wish they would have written that Victor owns this company of advanced genetic studies in Peru, and that a bunch of Peruvian Ninjas of high intelligence created this doppelganger, OK? (Laughs) This Marco guy came from Peru and spoke with no accent. Whatever the case, Victor got away with the whole thing … for now.
This week viewers have been watching the fallout of the entire town finding out Adam is alive, and his duplicity. It has provided a great opportunity to showcase the talents of the cast. The scene at the bar at the GCAC, when Victor and Adam talk for the first time as father and son, was riveting. What did you think about those scenes, and the work of the cast in this pivotal week of air shows?
ERIC: I remember taping the reveal. Victor is a loner, and he makes decisions on his own. He doesn’t need anyone’s f***ing input! Therein lays the nature of Victor Newman, and that hold’s true in those scenes with Adam. Look, I love working with all the actors. I think the whole cast is wonderful. I think we have some very good actors on the show. I really must say I admire the crew. The amount of scenes we do, you ask anyone in nighttime they will say to me, “That’s not true. That cannot happen.” I say to them, “Come and watch! Nighttime is a joke to what we do … film is a joke compared to what we do. Try to do scenes that we do! Whether it be: Peter Bergman, Melody, Joshua Morrow, Justin Hartley, Kristoff St. John (Neil), I mean all of them! They do things in one take! What I fought against since the beginning on this show is the self-deprecatory attitude towards what we do. I said, “I will not tolerate it. What we do is absolutely honorable, and I have done all forms of acting: nighttime, Broadway, film, theatre, etc. This is the hardest medium in the world. Nothing is harder than this. You try to be a good actor, given reams of dialog, and at many times given to you at the last minute, no less. It’s extraordinary.
Having been on the Y&R and experiencing the ups and downs of playing a character, are you enjoying what Victor is up to right now?
ERIC: I love working with my fellow actors, and I love doing what we are doing, with a few adjustments here and there. Victor is not outguessed by anyone. He is the guy that finds Ian Ward, played by Ray Wise, who I love working with, by the way. He should have gotten Ian’s balls, not in a scene with Phyllis (Gina Tognoni). Give me a break!
Victor and Jack are the two titans of Y&R, and now Victor knows Jack knew Adam was alive for months and posing as Gabriel Bingham, and never told him. I would say … payback is in Jack’s future?
ERIC: I hope they fulfill that natural desire, given the history of these two guys, because Victor is going to get even now. We must pay attention to emotional continuity not to be superseded by events. There is an emotional need now that has been created for the public for years: ‘If Jack does something to Victor, then Victor is going to get even, and that is followed by an attempt on the other side.’
Where do you see Victor’s relationship with Adam going from this point forward?
ERIC: The relationship with Adam is a very complex and difficult one. It’s going to be more complex, obviously. There was a moment (and not enough of a moment, I think) where Victor has an enormous physcholigcal shift in him. This is his son! He knows now this is his son. He does not want to dismiss that. It’s an enormous struggle for him, and for me, because I know I was solicitous of that character throughout his life. Hence, it is doubly difficult to justify. I don’t remember the seminal moment in Victor’s life where he says he will now accept Adam. I don’t think it was long enough and drawn out enough. It’s this emotional fabric that must not be ignored, and paid attention to. I don’t know what will happen in the future. I certainly would not want to be in the writer’s shoes, because I have enormous respect for writers. I think writing is the most difficult job in our business. It’s the least recognized, the least acknowledged, and arguably the most difficult job in our business. Without being on a piece of paper, you have s**t. I respect the writers on soaps enormously, and to keep a clear line when writing for 40 characters, that’s hard. I honestly wouldn’t want to do it.
What have you thought about the performances of Justin Hartley?
ERIC: Justin Hartley is a wonderful actor. He is a joy to work with, and has a great sense of humor. He is very bright, and very good!
And, what are your thoughts on the state of Y&R under head writer Chuck Pratt Jr.’s storyline? For most weeks through 2015, Y&R’s ratings have been up from last year.
ERIC: I was not surprised the ratings have gone up. I have watched the show the last 3 to 4 months, much more than I used to. I must say I sit there and say, “Damn. Where did that come from? I am surprised! I am curious to know what will happen next.” Really, and I have done this for 35 years! I find myself sitting at home and watching Y&R going, “Whoa!” What is going to happen here?” Where I have trouble sometimes is if it’s written too one-sided in one direction. Victor is just the dark knight and the evil guy … well, it’s more complex then that.
When malicious intent incidences occur, such as Ian and Adam unleashing the Paragon Project virus to destroy Victor’s company, does it affect him deeply? Or, does Victor know he can never really be brought to his knees, no matter how hard people may try?
ERIC: He is affected by it, but Victor grew up in a very tough environment. He has been a loner since he was 7-years-old when he was taken to that orphanage, period. He fights alone, he doesn’t trust anyone, and he doesn’t even fully trust his family! But that is where that comes from. I bring it up sometimes in scenes, because his mistrust comes from that. The childhood years are the most important years of our lives. Patterns are set.
I would like to get your thoughts on some of some more of the actors in the Newman clan: First, I have to say, I love the scenes between Victor and Victoria, as played by Amelia Heinle. There is a realness to them, where you believe that these two could be father/daughter. You have had the good fortune to work with two Daytime Emmy winners in this role: first, Heather Tom (now Katie, B&B), and then Amelia.
ERIC: I adore Amelia! She is the sweetest person to work with, and a wonderful actress. Heather Tom, I so admired and so cherished. I have been very lucky to have been able to know and work with both of those actresses. Heather is arguably one of the brightest human beings I have ever met. She has an enormous intellect, as you know, and a very high IQ. When she left the show, I was very upset. But I must say, Amelia has been such a joy to work with, and so good at what she does. I also think Melissa Ordway, who plays Abby, is damn good! She really is. My, God! Playing the ding-a-ling is one of the hardest things to play. (Laughs) But honestly, she does it so well! Melissa is also a joy to work with.
And then there is your on-screen other son, Joshua Morrow (Nick)!
ERIC: I think Joshua could have been a big nighttime television star for along time. And, I have not changed my mind about that.
And of course, the incomparable Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki)! Now, exactly where are Victor and Nikki at in their relationship? Sometimes it’s hard to follow. (Laughs) They seem to be together now?
ERIC: There are not enough scenes right now between the two of us since Victor and Nikki are back together again. I do understand the writers need to write scenes with conflict, but sometimes I wish they would write some scenes without conflict. Just seeing Victor and Nikki together, without her having to constantly complain about him being domineering. Let’s show them in a loving situation, for once. There does not always have to be an ulterior motive. I do love working with Mel, as you know. I just wish they would have some scenes where the two of them are sweeter to each other, and not constantly critical of each other.
Earlier this year, you spoke at Peter Bergman’s 25th anniversary with Y&R during the on set celebration. I thought that speech you gave was terrific. What can you share about what Peter also means to this brand?
ERIC: Peter is indispensable. I love working with him. He is always right there, and always concentrating on what we have to do, and always present. It’s a great on-screen conflict. I have a different approach to it than he does, but it works. We are both very important to this show.
So do you think the … you-know-what … is going to continue to hit the fan, since the truth about Adam has come out?
ERIC: I hope so! What people in the audience like as well is the continuation of the emotional conflicts that they have been used to for years. It’s important to not forget that.
You have shared your views on hot social and political topics of our time. Often on Twitter, you tweet your commentary on the news of the day. So, I want to get your take on a few issues. Just the other week, we saw another mass shooting in a community college in Oregon, and the debate for gun control continues. There was recently a statistic showing how many deaths were caused in the US via guns and mass shootings that was horrific in body count!
ERIC: To me, it’s sick! To me it’s a gross misinterpretation of the second amendment of the constitution. It was meant to arm the militia against a possible re-envasion by the Brits, period. It is obscene to see that much power on the part of one lobby. What the hell do you and I need an AK-47 for? What’s the matter? I thought this was country made out of people with guts: Football players, cowboys, etc. What is this, “Make my day” behind a f***ing gun? Congress, most of them are whores, and they are subject to the whims of lobbyists. NRA is one of the strongest lobbies. To vote against even the slightest restrictions, such as background checks, etc … this defies all logic! And excuse me, what are Americans afraid of? What are Americans so paranoid about that they all need guns? This notion that after that movie theatre shooting in Louisiana, this joke of a Governor from Louisiana, Bobby Jindal comes out and says, “Well, we should allow people to arm themselves when we go to theatres.” Are you serious? This is insanity and it needs to be stopped. But sadly, it won’t be stopped.
Syrian refugees and immigrants are making their way to your home country of Germany. What do you think of the situation there? In fact, there was one young Syrian teenager who dreamed of making it to Germany, and did, who learned to speak English by watching Days of our Lives!
ERIC: You mean she did not learn to speak English from The Young and the Restless? (Laughs) We probably speak different English here in Genoa City! (Laughs) I think it’s a really good thing, but where I really think you need the immigration is in Eastern Europe, because they are successively losing population. They are breeding less and less children there: meaning there is no one to sustain the social and medical system, for example, that still exists in Western Europe. Germany is on the same path of declining birthrates, so we need the immigrants if you want to look at it from a practical point of view. Is it difficult? Of course it’s difficult. You’re bringing in a totally different culture. It will be interesting to watch. Mainstream Germany is welcoming them. I don’t think any country has been more aware of the terrible nature of what happened in that 12-year period in Germany, than Germany. No country in the world has paid the kind of reparation that Germany has paid. America is still debating reparation for 250 years of slavery. Still debating it!
Pope Francis was just here in the United States. What do you think of his stance on the issues that plague the church?
ERIC: What the Pope represents, and I am encouraged by it, is the essence of Christianity as I learned it, (I grew up as a protestant) it was the notion of forgiveness and the notion of universal love, and universal acceptance. That part of Christianity I have always embraced, and the notion of embracing all human beings regardless of creed, color, inclination … whatever it is. That the Catholic Church is still very far behind in some of those areas is sad. If the Pope now were to stop this celibacy issue, and have the priests marry and live normal lives, you would have them join the Catholic Church in droves. One thing you have to say about the Catholics, their ritual is fantastic. I mean, Whoa! Pomp and Circumstance! It’s incredible and fantastic. There’s nothing like it. We people need it. The Pope’s acceptance of gay marriage, for instance: he is still hanging on to old-fashioned notions of it. Yes, he is more progressive than the other Popes, but he needs to be much more, and then the church would be overwhelmed with people who would want to join.
CNN recently aired the republican debate featuring over ten candidates, including Donald Trump. The debate went on for hours, yet it was hard to look away from it … like a bad train wreck! (Laughs) What were your impressions of it?
ERIC: You mean, the comedy hour? One thing I have to say about Donald Trump (laughs) I find myself sitting there going, “What is he going to say now?” He is so outrageous that you just sit there in disbelief! And of course, the other candidates are all slickly brought up in the political world, and they know how to be hypocritical and full of s**t. It’s a sad state of affairs, to be frank with you. What I loathe, and resent, are these debates where nothing is really being debated. And, the anchors are the worst! All CNN is interested in is ratings, and beating FOX News. Why did someone not say why Megyn Kelly asked Trump very hostile questions? Do you know why that is? Rupert Murdoch does not want Trump … he wants Jeb Bush! So hence, he said to Megyn Kelly, “You bring him down!” They want to diminish him immediately. Therefore, I kind of like Trump, because he gave him the finger like, “Oh, really? I will show you!” (Laughs)
In closing, you have some of the most loyal, die-hard fans. Whether they love to love, or love to hate Victor Newman, for 35 years you have brought such enjoyment and must-see performances to your work. These viewers have so invested in you and your character. What has this meant to you, and the responsibility that comes with it?
ERIC: In the end, the reason I am being interviewed is because of the fans, and that is the only reason. The reason we are here is because of the fans. The reason the show is so high in the ratings is because of the fans. That’s the reality. We forget it too often. I don’t, but others forget too often. Twitter is a wonderful way to stay in touch with them. I deeply appreciate it, because when you think of it logically, or emotionally, where would we be? Without ratings where would we be? We wouldn’t be here. Yet you have to be your own man, and be independent, and say what you have to say. So, I know a couple of remarks I may have said today in this interview may upset some people, but so be it. They respect me as well in that I say what I want to say. But, I am deeply, deeply grateful to the fans, because it has provided me with a living. So when you do nighttime, or films, you kind of become more cynical, because you are more insulated as an actor. When you do daytime and you go out and do public appearances you suddenly realize, “Whoa! What I do has an impact!” To be very honest with you, I was so disenchanted with the 60’s with this business that I said, “This is too intellectually boring to me.” And then by doing Y&R, I realized that I do something far more important then discuss social issues, or political issues portrayed in films. I entertain people. This medium has taught me more than any other medium, and I had to learn that. I learned from Bill Bell it is more important to entertain people, who look forward to seeing your show every day. It has given me a whole set of responsibilities as an actor to be: truthful, hard working, and to make the scene work. I just don’t blow by a scene. I may pretend to sometimes, because we have a lot of fun on the set, but when it comes down to it, ‘boom’ I’m there. I’m prepared.
In all seriousness, it’s got to be cool to play Victor Newman! You’re clearly not ready to retire.
ERIC: It is cool to be Victor. Yes, that it is true. However, in my dressing room, I have no pictures, because I have been here for 35 years and I still don’t trust it. I have never trusted it, never have, never will! I have seen too many people come and go over the years, including when I was working in nighttime. You see big stars sometimes fade way and never be heard of again. So, I never have the feeling that I am resting on my laurels. Each scene to me is a new scene. I essentially don’t trust that I’m here, or will be here for much longer. But it’s now 35 years later! I do not want to retire. And do what? Play Golf? Ping Pong is much more interesting than golf, anyway! (Laughs)
So, what have you thought about the Adam reveal and Eric’s performances? Do you think Victor wants to find common ground with Adam, after he makes him pay for his crimes? Do you agree with Eric’s comments on how the other characters often view the powerful Victor Newman? What did you think of his thoughts on his co-stars and the success of the brand that is Y&R? Do you agree with the view’s shared on the hot political topics currently being discussed in this country and abroad? Share your sentiments in the comment section below!