She’s baaaack! That force of nature that is Hurricane Gloria. She blew back into Genoa City over Christmastime on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, and fans of the top-rated soap have been over the moon to see the antics, and the talents of Judith Chapman in her portrayal of ‘momma bear from hell’, Gloria Bardwell. Already, Gloria is rubbing people the wrong way, as she steps over anyone that gets in her way, to climb the top of the corporate ladder! But, will she succeed? She just might after Tuesday’s stunner of a moment when viewers learned that smilin’ Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) and his former step-mother, Gloria, hit the sheets following a drunken stupor!
Since returning to town, Gloria has already used her daughter in-law Lauren’s (Tracey E. Bregman), company’s financial trouble for her own personal gain, but as with everything that Gloria touches there is always a downfall. But can she find a way to have everyone at Jabot answer to her, and be the woman in charge? Fans will have to stay tuned.
As for the glorious Judith Chapman, since arriving onto the scene at Y&R back in 2005, she has chewed the scenery, and delivered riveting and hilarious performances again and again. After the previous powers-that-be made the decision to write Gloria off the canvas a few years back, there was definitely a void felt on the series. Fast forward to the end of 2016, and newly implanted Y&R head writer Sally Sussman, who had the forethought to bring Judith back to the show in all of her glory.
For Chapman, her return to the iconic series has been a personal triumph of perseverance, and rolling with the punches that life throws talented veteran performers in the rough and tumble world of show business. On-Air On-Soaps sat down with La Chapman at Y&R to dish on: getting the surprise call to return to the role she loves, what she thinks of Gloria’s latest scheme, reuniting with her beloved co-stars, and where she hopes Glo goes this time around. Always fascinating, funny, and heartwarming, here’s Judith!
What a reaction you received from the fans when they first heard the news you were returning to Y&R! It was overwhelmingly positive, and so touching to see how much they missed you as Gloria! What did you think about all of that ?
JUDITH: I have to give a lot of credit to my wonderful assistant, Vonda. She has kept me so front and center with friends and the fans; whether it be through my travels, or my theatre work, because I had made peace that I may never be back on-screen. I am a full-time yoga teacher as many know, and I have a life. I have had a great career. So, to have this happen with Y&R literally out of the blue, it was just a gift from heaven. The bar has been set so high for me, and the expectation, but I was able to step right back into the character of Gloria.
How much time did you have to prepare from when you first found out Y&R wanted you back, and when you actually had to tape your first episode?
JUDITH: A week. John Callahan (Ex-Edmund,AMC), Bobbie Eakes (Ex-Krystal,AMC and Ex-Macy, B&B) and Tristan Rogers (Colin, Y&R) and I were all doing this lip-synching contest inPalm Springs. I was gluing my nails on, and a gal called and asked if I was available to tape at Y&R. I said to her, “Ah, sure. Why not!” I got the scripts, and I just howled. I was wondering how they were going to bring Gloria back. I had an idea of what I would have liked, but what Sally Sussman came up with was far superior!
So, you are really back big time at Y&R! Many times, soaps promise a return of a fan favorite, or a beloved character only for the audience to find out they are returning for just a short arc, or a handful of episodes, but that’s not the case with Gloria.
JUDITH: I had written on facebook that Gloria can be a little naughty. I did not want the fans to hate me after a few weeks, and go, “God! Get her out of there. Gloria is a terrible human being.” But I don’t think they will think that. I think they will have fun with whatever Gloria gets herself into.
I think it’s clear that the soap viewing audience, and the TV audience in general, wants to see strong women portrayed who can cause havoc and can stir up the pot. We need characters like Gloria. Had you tuned-in to Y&R at all while you were away from the series?
JUDITH: I will admit if I am not on a show I won’t watch it. I have done several soap operas over the years, but they were all number one when I was on them: As the World Turns was number one when I was naughty Natalie … General Hospital was number one when I was Ginny … and Y&R was number one when I played Gloria. I said to myself, “If I was ever going to come back to daytime, come back to number #1.” Y&R is number #1!
When did you let your TV sons; Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R) and Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R) know you were returning to the show?
JUDITH: When I showed up here for work! I think word did leak out a bit on set, though. The boys were ecstatic, and across the board everyone was so kind, and it really touched me. We were doing a scene with the family, and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki, Y&R) raced on to the set and threw her arms around me, and went, “Thank God!” So to have that reaction not only from the fans, but you’re on-camera peers and colleagues, that means everything. Because, as you know in this business, it can be ‘out of sight out of mind.’ I am giving myself goose bumps talking about this, but to be welcomed back like that was mind-numbing.
What I love about your real-life professional story is that it is so relatable to people, in that we all never know if we will have to reinvent ourselves over and over again, because the opportunities may not be there any for us to do what we love, or feel, that we were meant to do. In this case with you, acting. But, look now! Here you are back in the saddle in Genoa City.
JUDITH: Periodically, I have left Hollywood and come back. A former teacher of mine once said, “Judith, you are going to get better the older you get.” I have thought about that over the years, and I thought about that when I came back to Y&R the first time, but he was right! Here I am hitting whatever age, and I am back. Many don’t get the opportunity to do this stuff.
Have you had that ‘pinch yourself moment’ of “I’m back! Watch out world!”?
JUDITH: People say “Aren’t you excited to be back?” I say, “no”, because there is knowing that this is where I am meant to be, and this is what is suppose to happen. It took me a few weeks to get back into the rhythm. I don’t mean to be maudlin, but my partner James died three years ago this March. So to now take care of the dogs, and take care of the house was a change, because James did everything. He was the perfect house-husband. I would go, “OK, honey. I will be back in a few days.” I would go off toHollywood, and everything was taken care of. Now I have to think ahead: “I have to board the dogs, and think who’s going to take the garbage out, etc.” It has taken me a couple of months to settle in. The acting part was the easy part; as well as packing a bag and leavingPalm Springs, and finding my yoga class in LA, etc. But, it’s definitely been a period of adjustment.
The recent Christmas episode where you made your splashy return was played to perfection by everyone in the Baldwin/Fisher clan. Did you not all laugh doing those scenes? There was Gloria popping out of a box, and Michael and Kevin getting liquored up to deal with the sudden and shocking arrival of their mother! (Laughs)
JUDITH: Even Mal Young (executive producer, Y&R) told Christian, “Gosh, it’s like you guys have been working together forever!” Christian says to him: “We never miss a beat.” But to answer the question, yes we laughed. For the first week or so, I was a bit rusty, but we laugh and giggle a lot, and then we also hug a lot.
When Gloria returned at Christmas she had some choice words for Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson)! She is on to her, and knows she is hiding something, especially where little Bella is concerned.
JUDITH: She hates Chloe! Didn’t she leave Kevin at the altar … that snake? Oh, no no! You can’t fool mommy. (Laughs)
Is Gloria going to figure out everything that Chloe has been up to? I would love it if Gloria blew the whistle on her and all of her deceptions!
JUDITH: I hope so. I think so, but we have been on to other stories right now and haven’t touched back on it yet. I would also love her to blow the whistle on Chloe. She wants her out of her son’s life. Anybody who harms Michael or Kevin, Gloria will make pay. She makes this interesting point to Chloe, because she too has lost everything. Gloria has nothing else to lose. So nobody is going to tell her what to do. She will say and do whatever she wants, whatever she needs to, and she won’t be played the fool again, or let’s hope that doesn’t happen!
What is Gloria’s goal right now?
JUDITH: She is trying to find a meal ticket, and she is trying to find a job. She liked working with Lauren even though she was a disaster at it. She always loved working at Jabot, even though she was a disaster at it. She knows she has these gifts. She knows given the right circumstances she will rise to the top even if it means stepping over Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman), or stepping over Ashley (Eileen Davidson), who have abused her over the years, and all of these other people too! The only ones that were ever nice to her was Mrs. Chancellor (the late Jeanne Cooper) and Victor Newman (Eric Braeden).
How does Gloria feel about how double-crossing her daughter-in-law, Lauren? Lauren is Michael’s wife, after all. It appears that Gloria doesn’t even care if she was using Lauren’s company’s misfortune to her advantage!
JUDITH: That’s the way it looks, but it’s not that way at all. Keep watching! She is trying to put the two perfect companies together, and there has to be a little backstabbing, but if she can get a place within these joined companies then all the better! Jack is the perfect match of her, but yes, it was rude of her to run handsome men off from investing in Lauren’s company. Gloria was trying to pave and clear the way for Jack to move in, because Lauren was very resistant to going with Jack. But does Jack honor his end of the deal? Hmmm.
Recently, Gloria has been in collusion with Jack!
JUDITH: Yes, because she would love to get her hands on Jabot. Gloria loved John Abbott (Jerry Douglas). Nobody thinks she really loved John, but she did. John was the one person who taught her how to be a lady, sort of. He taught her about life and fashion. She used to go hang at the Jabot counter, and now she bathes in it. Gloria wants to own it, and have her name on the door. She wants to be “Devil Wears Prada!” That’s what she wants to be.
What happened when you met up with Peter Bergman for the first time in years, and you both realized you were going to be in a lot of scenes together?
JUDITH: It was total glee for both of us! We always loved working with each other. With Eileen Davidson, it’s so much fun too, because Gloria and Ashley are like oil and water. Gloria just gets under both Jack and Ashley’s skin, and grates on their nerves.
Talk about strange bedfellows! After Lauren pulls a fast one on Jack and he ends up with only 49% of the merger, and she has controlling interest and 51%, he turns around and cuts Gloria out of their deal, even though she paved the way for him to take the company. This infuriates her to no end. So, Gloria and Jack end up drinking themselves into oblivion, and later end up in bed naked together! Lead me through what happened in your words?
JUDITH: Gloria is so mad at Jack, because he is not honoring his part of the deal, which is to make her part of Jabot, and get her a really good job. She tells him, ‘what you did is not good enough.’ Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Now this deal would never have even happened without Gloria. Now Gloria has egg on her face, because Lauren is not speaking to her. Michael is not speaking to her, because Lauren and Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) figured out Gloria’s part in all of this. Gloria calls Jack over and says, “How dare you! You did it to me again! You screwed me over again.” Jack says, “Listen, I will buy you a drink. I will buy you a cab home.” He is so condescending to her, and Gloria thinks, “Fool me once that is on me, but fool me twice, I am taking you down.” So they get quite inebriated and continue to drink. He is supposed to be clean and sober due to his pill addiction, but they are doing shots at the bar, and that somehow led to the boudoir. So they go up to a room at the GCAC, and we don’t know what all happened. They wake up in a room at the GCAC, and much to their horror … they are next to each other in bed! It’s very funny.
What did you think of doing comedy with Peter Bergman in those scenes?
JUDITH: He was very funny. He was not the structured Peter, but the looser Peter. When Jack wakes up next to his former step-mother, Peter is hilarious.
Do we know if Gloria and Jack really had sex?
JUDITH: We don’t know! Who knows? As I said, Gloria has nothing left to lose and she takes full advantage of this. “You slept with me. You don’t remember? I remember everything!” But she probably doesn’t, and is making this whole thing up as she goes along. Now Gloria is going to use this to her advantage.
Now armed with this dalliance, what do you think will be Gloria’s next move?
JUDITH: She wants to be in charge and top of the mountain; she wants to be an executive at Jabot. As she said, she wants to be at the corporate table. This is what she has always wanted, but the Abbotts have always tried to push her down, and push her down even further.
What is supposed to have happened to Gloria’s ex, Jeffrey Bardwell (Ted Shackleford)?
JUDITH: He is a bad boy, too! Everybody that she has loved has dumped on her. He spent all of her money. Jeffrey had a very big gambling debt, but she loved him and followed him to the ends of the earth – all of the parties and the racehorses – and he just went through everything. So what’s a girl to do? She goes home to her son, and pops out of a box. (Laughs)
Do you watch your work back, and have you caught your recent episodes? Did you make some notes for yourself?
JUDITH: I do watch, and my main notes have been my hair had gotten too long, and too dark, and I didn’t know what Gloria’s situation was. I did send Mal Young an email. I said, “Is Gloria poor? Is she rich? Is she impoverished? Should I come back in full blonde hair and the nails?” So I didn’t know at first. But Mal said, “No, she’s broke.” I then said, “OK” But I have to say, I like me on TV. I am not one of those actors, who say, “I never look at myself.”
Because you have taught acting, what do you think about the acting you see on the soaps, in particular by the cast of The Young and the Restless?
JUDITH: At Y&R, the first thing that blew me away was the caliber of the acting, the storylines, and the work that was being done, and how everyone was prepared. That is why I love working with Eileen Davidson; she is always prepared. When I left the show, I stopped watching it, but now being back and seeing the infusion from Mal Young and Sally Sussman, and this whole new regime, it’s just so exciting. It’s a thrill to be back here, and it’s thrilling to see such a new energy at the show. Someone said to me after my first few days back, “It’s a happy to place to work” and it shows. Everyone is coming in knowing their lines, and there is an enthusiasm at the studio.
When you see how the character of Gloria is now being written by Sally Sussman and the Y&R writing team, do you ever feel the need to make any subtle changes to the dialog?
JUDITH: I have made very few changes. I used to say about Gloria in the past, “She doesn’t know how to pronounce, or understand monosyllabic words yet.” (Laughs) But now she has become a little more sophisticated, and she will always be more street-wise. At our Christmas party, I said to Sally Sussman, “Your words are so sayable. It’s so playable, and it’s so doable.” It’s not like, “Oh, I have to shift this around” or, “Oh, I wouldn’t say that.” It’s wonderful to perform these scripts.
Would you like Gloria to have a new and viable romantic love interest?
JUDITH: It probably will be somebody very young! (Laughs) Gloria is so uninterested in romance right now. She was just so gutted by Jeffrey, and so gutted by life that she just wants money and power. She has always led with her heart, and followed the man of her current dreams. Gloria can still play the cute and coy thing, but underneath she is saying to herself, “I will have my revenge!”
Gloria truly loves her sons; Michael and Kevin, although she often has an odd way of showing it, or going about things. Wouldn’t you say?
JUDITH: Yes, of course. There is a hugely, bizarre dynamic going on between all of them. As I said to Christian LeBlanc this morning as he was cutting up off-camera: “There is so much love between them. This family is really is ‘The Grifters’”.
When the chips are really down for her children, and in whatever drama that ensues, will Gloria really be there for her sons, if it means sacrificing something that would be advantageous for herself?
JUDITH: When I first came back to the show and I was talking with Mal, we were mentioning bringing some of the humor back. I don’t want people to forget that in the early days, there was a lot of high drama. Gloria was estranged from her children, there was ‘Terrible Tom’, and it was just about them all trying to make peace, find common ground, and there was also this loathing. I told Mal, “I never want their drama to escape, and that there is always that tension about Kevin being an abused child, and how Michael abandoned them.” They have kept all of that.
Does Gloria at all think she is a screw-up as a mother? She must feel guilt deep- down for the terrible childhoods her children had.
JUDITH: She did years ago, and there will always be that twinge that if anything happens to either one of her boys, she will feel guilty and responsible for them. Christian and I always play scenes between us that you don’t know whether they are going to hug each other, or attack each other.
As we touched upon earlier, Gloria is very relatable in that it’s never too late to go for your dreams, think big, and keep kicking even when life drags you down. How did you go about embodying the character from the beginning?
JUDITH: Even from day one years ago, I wanted her to be this middle-aged girl who still had it going on, who wore nice clothes, and make-up, and had big hair, and was aware of her sensuality and sexuality. She would not say to herself, “OK, I am middle aged. I have got to go sit in a rocking chair, or retire, or do nothing,” So, I have always wanted Gloria to be an inspiration that women still got it going, and can go wherever they choose to, including going straight to the top; even if it means stepping over a few bodies along the way. She never wanted to hurt anybody. They drove her to that stupid face cream! (Laughs) They were mean to her, and threw her out in the snow! This time it’s: “Oh, hi, Ashley! Oh, hi, Jack!”
Now after your initial run of episodes has aired, what a reaction you received from the fans! They are so loving Gloria back on the canvas! Has that also touched you?
JUDITH: I know! I get a little gushy about it. Who knew? What is wonderful is the fans say, “We love Gloria, and we love to hate Gloria.” That is the trick … to keep the audience interested, and always keep her somehow redeemable.
OK, Judith. Tell us … what should fans look out for in the coming months from Hurricane Gloria?
JUDITH: More … (Laughs) I think she is going to sleep, blackmail, and do whatever it takes to get to the top this time. She was turned back before; but she is not going to be turned back again, if I have my way.
So, what did you think of the plot point that has Gloria waking up next to Jack in bed? Do you think she will parlay this situation into all it’s worth? Do you hope Gloria ends up in power somehow at Jabot? Are you enjoying Judith Chapman back on Y&R? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!