Since taking over the role of Adam Newman on The Young and the Restless, Justin Hartley had won over the viewing audience with his strong, subtle and complex portrayal.
Now he is going for gold in the upcoming 43rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards. And for the first time in his career, Justin is competiting in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series category for his star turn in the Adam reveal. While there were so many tentacles to this story and the fallout of the reveal, Hartley sat down with On-Air On-Soaps to talk about his decision to use the scenes where Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) learns Gabriel Bingham is really her believed-to-be-dead husband, Adam. The two-person scenes won praise from Y&R fans, soap pundits and now from Hartley’s peers.
In our spotlight Emmy nomination chat, Justin fills us in on the making of one of the most memorable moments in daytime and if winning is everything come Emmy night!
When you found out you were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor were you expecting it, surprised, or shocked?
JUSTIN: I don’t know how these things work and this is my first time being nominated. It’s so subjective, and you never know how these things will go. I was very humbled to be nominated. It’s funny, the way it shakes out when you look at some of the people who were not nominated that are phenomenal, not only do they deserve to be nominated, but win, in fact. That sort of came to my mind first of all. We were on set when I found out, and I think Christian LeBlanc (Michael) started telling everyone who was nominated.
You submitted the Adam reveal to Chelsea. What made you choose that episode? Did you have any help deciding on it?
JUSTIN: I am horrible at picking, and it’s such an interesting thing to pick out stuff that you do and then deciding what’s good, and not good. I sort of took it out of my own hands, and I asked Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) what I should do. She came back with the Adam reveal episode where Cheslea finds out who Gabriel Bingham really is. Truthfully, I think Melissa and I submitted the same thing. I think I just submitted her reel! (Laughs)
You did not choose any other scenes in your submission, even though you could chose scenes from up to two episodes, lasting 20 minutes in length total with the revised rules this year.
JUSTIN: I think 20 minutes is a lot to ask people to sit through, and so I just went with the one episode. Missy’s feeling was you just tell the arc of the story, and then when people are watching it their not watching your resume, but they actually get to watch a story.
Why did you like the Adam reveal scenes?
JUSTIN: I think it’s a story that the show spent a lot of time and effort writing and telling and sort of weaving little stories in and out throughout the year and a half. Then I just thought it was a good payoff for the audience, and I thought we did a good job with those scenes. Missy is just so easy to work with. She’s connected, she is right there. And as an actor, if you ever find another actor who says they never slip out of a moment, I think they are lying to you. But when you do slip out, the goal is to slip right back in. If I find myself in my own head, all I have to do is look at Missy and connect with her. So many of the actors on this show are like that. They are so into the moment that all you have to do is really be there with them.
At the time you filmed those keys scenes; did you realize the enormity of it? That this was one of the biggest moments in Y&R in quite some time that audience had been waiting and waiting for?
JUSTIN: I think the writers new how big of a deal the reveal was. They were very good at letting us do our thing. Missy and I sat with it for awhile and there were a few things that we tweaked. It’s been my experience on the show that you can do that as long as you don’t shift story.
What was your rehearsal process with Melissa? Did the two of you work and work on the scenes?
JUSTIN: Missy and I rehearsed these scenes quite a bit, but not on set. Those scenes got off to such a clunky start. They gave us extra time to do them … I think it was the whole afternoon. Then we got to set there were mic problems, camera problems, and there were all kind of problems. It was just so strange, and as I said, it was such a clunky start to it that I think it gave some levity to it, and it lightened everyone up a little bit to sort of realize, we are still shooting a television show so let’s have fun. So it became this really quiet sort of peaceful, really delicate, hands-off experience. Everything was so quiet in there. We were the only two people talking. They would come down to us with notes, and then we blocked all of the scenes before we shot them. We just sort of new what we were doing, and so it was sort of a dance. It was really the closest thing to a play that I’ve had since I have been here, because it’s just one after another, after another, after the other, and the whole story got told. You could see that they started here and there was a middle and an end.
When you look at your competition in the Outstanding Lead Actor category, what are your thoughts on your co-nominees?
JUSTIN: I think we are all different. I can’t speak to anything except for the fact than I don’t think people get nominated by accident. There is a gentleman in the nominations: Anthony Geary (Luke, GH) who had been nominated like 367,000 times. (Laughs) We are all different performers and we all do different things. I have seen all the nominated performances, and every one is so different.
A lot of people often say, “It’s an award enough just to be nominated.” How do you feel about that? Do you want to win the Emmy?
JUSTIN: I would be very happy to win and I want to win, of course. I think everybody wants to win. Being nominated is great and being on Y&R is great, and winning would probably be great. Winning’s fun!
Watch Justin’s nominated performance below and then let us know: if you thought the Adam reveal was one of the best moments on Y&R last year? Did you enjoy hearing Justin’s perspective on working with Melissa Claire Egan on the key scenes? And are you going to be rooting for Justin to take home a gold statue come Emmy night? For more with this year’s Daytime Emmy nominees, listen to the Soap Nation Live! with Michael Fairman Daytime Emmy Nomination Special.