This week marks the ten-year anniversary of one of the finest young actors soap opera has ever had the good fortune to have as part of its genre. We are referring to The Young and the Restless Daytime Emmy winner, Greg Rikaart. As tormented, conflicted, and yet loveable Kevin Fisher, Rikaart has delivered powerful performances for a decade!
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Rikaart this week at the SAG-AFTRA event honoring Y&R’s recent 40th anniversary. Of course, top on our minds was getting Greg’s thoughts on the loss of his dear friend, the legendary Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) who passed away one month ago. In addition, Greg fills us in on what he hopes will happen with his on-screen relationship with Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) and what is happening to Kevin and his apparent issue with stealing things!
Here’s what Greg had to share below, and … Happy ten-year anniversary, Mr. Rikaart!
You lost one of your dearest friends from The Young and the Restless, Jeanne Cooper. I know how close you were, from my many conversations with her, and you, over the years. What would you like to say about her passing and your friendship?
GREG: I have so much to say. She truly redefined to me what it meant to be the elder in the tribe, and how to go about your life in a way that is truly and absolutely ageless. She was absolutely wise and someone to be revered, but she had this vitality and youthfulness about her that I was in constant awe of. I have never had a friend that was 84 year old, and it never felt like I had a friend that was 84 years old. It just felt like I had this really wise friend who was funny and silly, and gave me great advice when I asked for it, and pinched my ass. I would also have tender moments where she would tell me that she loved me. She was just so special.
Why did you think you and Jeanne connected so well, and had this special bond?
GREG: One of the things that I told Jeanne’s son, Corbin Bernsen, was that shortly after I started on Y&R, I was on set watching her, and Jess Walton (Jill) shoot the “garden hose” scene. She was having so much fun, and she was in it and she was so prepared. I was like “Oh, wow!” Jeanne always looked like she was having more fun than anybody else. I think that was always the thing that drew me to her. And beyond that, we did a personal appearance together a few years ago, and spent a lot of time together then, and connected then, too. At that point, we had really had a close relationship and we sat next to each other on the entire plane ride home. I kept saying that after a half hour on a plane your neck is hurting, and you kind of want to stop a conversation because you’re neck is hurting. Well for me, I kind of re-adjusted so I could keep talking to her! She was just great. Jeanne used to tell me I reminded her of a young Montgomery Clift, which was such a great compliment! She was wonderful, and I miss her a lot.
When we last talked, you were hoping that Kevin splits up with Chloe and that he causes more trouble again, which looks to be happening!
GREG: Yeah, and we are getting there. What I like about what is happening on the show is that it is a slow burn. It’s really taken awhile, which is how things and relationships happen. Relationships, more often than not, do not fall apart over night. So it’s been fun to play. There has been a little bit of a back and forth of “will they split up? Or, won’t they?” Kevin loses his business this week, which is a big blow to him!
Why do you think Kevin gets off on stealing and danger?
GREG: I think it is a power thing, and I absolutely, in justifying it for me, liken it to an addiction. Where it is that kind of thing where you dip your toe in something you are not suppose to do. It’s easy to dive in head first, and then it’s hard to stop. I think the addiction for Kevin is not thievery. I think in some ways, I can really relate to him with this, which is kind of funny. But it’s about hovering that line and border between right and wrong. I don’t think he wants to fly right over it and be really wrong, but I think being righteous, or good, bores him to tears.
Have you and Elizabeth Hendrickson sat down and said to each other, “I hope we break up?”
GREG: Yes, and look, I adore her. We are friends. I am fairly confident she adores me, and she would be crazy if she didn’t (laughs) but we always say, “We have done this. We have played this. Now let’s play breaking up.” That will be different.
This Saturday, June 8th is your ten-year anniversary of playing Kevin Fisher on Y&R. Are you shocked you are still around and in Genoa City?
GREG: Am I shocked? Again, they would have been stupid to fire me! (Laughs) But no, when I first got to Y&R I was supposed to be here for a couple of weeks and that became a year, and after my first week, I already drank the Kool-Aid. I am happy to be here as long as they will have me. Sometimes it feels like I have been here six or seven years, and sometimes six months, but it is hard to believe at times it’s been ten years as Kevin.
Did you ever think you would be a soap actor?
GREG: Not really. I certainly think I had moments in my career where I had ideas of being a movie star, and I’m not saying that I have put that to rest, or that I don’t want that to happen. But, I also know in the big picture of my life I am absolutely satisfied with my career, and I am content, too. When I look back and I am Jeanne Cooper’s age, I want to look back and go, “Look at this body of work I had.” And if I can say that, I will be happy. It doesn’t mean I have to be a movie star. I just want to be able to work.
So then, what will the name of your memoir be? Jeanne Cooper’s was Not Young, Still Restless. So, yours will be titled …?
GREG: “How I Never Got Crabs, I’ll Never Know!” I didn’t even have to think about that answer! (Laughs) I have said that in the past. Look, we all have our checkered past, but I never got an STD, and I am grateful for that. See, I think it’s answers like I just gave you, are why Jeanne Cooper and I connected! (Laughs)
So what do you think about Greg’s sentiments on longtime friend, Jeanne Cooper? The future of Kevin and Chloe on Y&R? Kevin’s penchant for stealing? And Rikaarts incredible performances now a decade on the CBS soap? Share your thoughts!