December 18th, 2014  |  Leave a comment

The Christian LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: CBS/Getty Images

For months, the in-the-know Y&R viewer has been aware that a major storyline was coming down the pike for three-time Daytime Emmy winner and veteran of the series, Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin).  And this time it was to be something the character of Michael Baldwin hasn’t dealt with before, for it would be a major health issue that also cuts deep to the core of this man, or any man for that matter.  Recently, after having problems in the bedroom with his wife Lauren (Tracey E. Bregman), many wondered if it was due to the emotional scars left by Lauren’s affair with bartender Carmine (Marco Dapper)!  Although the couple seemed to find a path to move forward, and stay together, what was going on?  Fast forward, Michael has some tests and is informed that he has stage 3 prostate cancer.  And for weeks, Michael couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone, let alone the wife he loves so much!  Finally, last week in a stunning scene, Lauren learns from Michael that he has cancer.

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with the duo who are known best by Y&R fans as “Likey”, a Daytime Emmy winner also, Tracey E. Bregman, and Christian LeBlanc, for this insightful conversation on the complexities, long range story ramifications, and the possibilities that playing this kind of important, impactful, and emotional storyline has for this beloved long time on-screen couple, and how the series and the actors hope it will shed light on a cancer that raises so many issues for the man going through it, and those he loves.

In the weeks to come, starting with upcoming scenes on Y&R’s Christmas Eve episode, look for the Baldwin/Fisher clan, and key people in Michael and Lauren’s life, to slowly learn the news and rally behind him. Will Michael survive?  If he does, can he accept living with the outcome if he decides to undergo treatment?  Can his marriage survive when it’s always been so sexually-charged?  Here’s what Christian and Tracey shared with us now that the story is picking up steam.

MICHAEL:

Christian, how did you find out that they were going to be telling the story of Michael getting prostate cancer? What was your initial reaction?

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

We had kind of started into the ED (Erectile Dysfunction) part of it, and we were having problems, but it seemed it was about stress, and that they both were busy in their careers and lives.  A big part of Michael and Lauren’s marriage is the sex, and that these are two type-A personalities who constantly promise each other, “Let’s make time for one another.”  So that had been established.  But we had gone into the story, and my father passed in May.  Our executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and I had exchanged family stories about our real lives.  So she said, “I have a story for you.”  I didn’t rush to find out what it was.  However, Brent Boyd, one of our writers came downstairs and said, “We are starting this storyline and we thought you should know.”  It turns out that Jill thought I might be too sensitive to come to talk to her about a story about cancer.  But I didn’t know anything yet, and then Brent said, “Cancer” and I said, “Cancer?”  Then he said, “Prostate Cancer” and then I said, “Oh, not the glamour one!” (Laughs)  But then I talked to Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante (former head writers, Y&R) and they were very excited about this story.  Any women, or any wife, would tell you that men will not go to the doctor for this unless the arm is literally dangling from them.  It’s a big problem, and if it’s anything to do with sexuality or urology, or any of those issues, it’s even less likely that men will go see a doctor.  It’s a very sensitive area, and they wanted to sort of touch this third rail of manhood.  I said, “Oh, I will never be the hunk now!”(Laughs) And Jill goes, “Afterwards!”   When you have a hard story, or something that is difficult to tell, I want to have the opportunity to tell it, and I want them to give it to me to play.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, when did you find what the storyline was actually going to be?  What did you think when you knew they were handing Christian the ball with this one?

TRACEY:

I knew before Christian!  Jill told me, but told me not to say anything to Christian, because they wanted to tell him, and so, I avoided him like the plaque! (Laughs)   I knew Christian would be amazing, and it would be an amazing storyline for him.  Listen, for me, and what I have said to our writers, is that we like it messy, and we like to play the emotion.  I even said this morning; we like to do it different than it’s ever been played.  We like to fight it out, and maybe not give you the reaction you would expect.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

That is interesting you say that, because it was very unpredictable, and not expected when Lauren laughed, when Michael painfully and finally told her he had cancer!

TRACEY:

She really felt terrible, and I wished we would have been able to play that more, so that the audience really understood where I was coming from.  I tried to do it during the scenes while I was waiting for him at the party, but there wasn’t really the dialog to support it.  That laugh actually came from a real life event that was very similar, yet very different.  I had a very inappropriate reaction after a very serious time, but it came after thinking that someone in my life was going to die, and we were waiting and waiting for results, and the movie Shrek had just been released.  And after waiting for weeks, we thought this was it, and in walks a man who sounds like Puss in Boots as played by Antonio Banderas in Shrek!  He goes on to talk about all the procedures that can happen, but does it in a, “Well, you could have the Gamma knife” and he had the inflections of Banderas as Puss in Boots, and I started to laugh from the bottom of my toes, but the good news is we were told that this person was O.K.  And then all I could see was Puss in Boots, but now was not the time for that, and that is what they were using for the scene with Michael and Lauren, but it was in such a different circumstance that I gotta be honest with you, I wasn’t sure I could do it either.   So, we just had to try it and to see if it worked.

MICHAEL:

It has been widely known that forever and a day, that many fans of Y&R had let the producers know that they did not want to see this couple messed with, or broken up. They wanted them happy.  They love their “Likey”! (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Yea, but you have to do have us do something … and be on camera.  (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a great time to explore something like this from a couple who has been married for a long time, where they are not running off and have been with everybody else on the show.  These are two people that fell in love after they both had done some terrible things, and they had their eyes wide open.  They are not a couple of green-eyed kids.

TRACEY:

I was talking to our new head writer, Chuck Pratt, that Michael has been crazy and Lauren has been bad, which is what we say all the time.  Both of us are not afraid to be either one of those together to protect our on-screen family.

CHRISTIAN:

They have given us the infidelity story to play, which was great, and it’s about the sex.  There is something that comes out of Lauren’s history that they use, and the reaction to prosecuting Fenmore (Max Ehrich), and her defense of it, and then being highly sexual at the same time.  It all came out of a history of a couple who had lived together for a long time.  Lauren used the bartender as an outlet, but that was from her history.  They did not come up with that out of thin air.  And, from Michael’s history of being so stonewalled and cold when it came to the law, he was making his son obey the law, because he was afraid of his son becoming him.  Here you have an inherent sexual couple.  This is not a terminal disease.  Its stage 3, and it’s treatable, and so it’s different, and for someone like Michael who has used his sex to bludgeon women and people.  It is so important to him.  He married the hot woman.  He married the vixen on the show, and so it’s not that it is terminal.  It’s about: Does that character want to live with the consequences that come with treating something like this?  It’s not death, but it’s a quality of life issue, and it’s being tied up with, as it is for any man, with their sexuality.  One of the by-products of this storyline has been that now people are coming up to me and telling me their stories.   This disease has a big component of shame, and hiding it so that you keep it from everyone.  First, there is the cancer diagnosis, but then there is something about the shame of the sex of it, and questioning, are you a man anymore?  Michael thinks sex is, and it is, an important thing in their marriage.

MICHAEL:

Does Michael think that because of it being prostate cancer that he would lose his wife because of it?  And, especially because she has cheated on him with a hottie behind his back before!  I am sure that doesn’t help the situation!

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

We play that all the time.  That is the first thing that comes to mind for both of them in all the situations, but I think the thing that Tracey and I accomplished together is that there is not a beat of history that is not explored.  Michael and Lauren have such a rich history.  And of course, there is her cheating with Carmine, and now this happens to Michael!  Of course, Michael is going to be bruised by that, and Lauren laughs coming out of what she thought he was going to tell her, which was: “I thought you were going to tell me that you found a hot stenographer.”  It makes perfect sense.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, will Lauren remain supportive to Michael as he deals with the diagnosis and treatment options?

TRACEY:

All she cares about is that Michael beat the disease, and that he is alive.  She’s not thinking about anything else.  She’s scared to death.

CHRISTIAN:

She has a line where she says, “There are lots of ways to make love.”  It’s one of the things that people in this situation deal with, and that was a lifesaver to throw out.

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

She loves him so much, and he is her salvation.  Lauren just wants him here no matter what.

MICHAEL:

Lauren does realize how traumatic it must be for Michael knowing that she had an affair with another man, and now he has to come to terms with this diagnosis?

TRACEY:

She feels tremendous guilt for that, and even though she felt justified at the time, she feels the guilt.  Michael does throw it up to her … he does!

CHRISTIAN:

As you would in a couple, it doesn’t go away.

MICHAEL:

Now that the cat is out of the bag, sort to speak, so many of your fans are worried that they might kill Michael and thus kill you off the show!  What would you say to them?

CHRISTIAN:

Depending on how this proceeds, we shall see.  The question is not will the disease kill him; it’s will he chose to live with the consequences of having to treat this?

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Will they explore the nuances of the diagnosis, and what it means in real time, or “real” in soap opera time?

TRACEY:

We hope so!

CHRISTIAN:

We are just beginning.  I brought up perhaps he should go to a support group.  There is a diner I go to New Orleans, and this waitress came up and showed me a band around her wrist, and I had just missed this a few weeks before, but there was the first prostate cancer march in New Orleans.  She told me about her husband, who has the terminal kind of cancer, because he waited.  So there it was right there in the middle of your breakfast, and the wonderful thing about what we are able to do, day in and day out, is we grow old with our fans.  Someone comes up to you at breakfast and tells you something like this, and they grow with you.  People will come up to me, or Tracey with this storyline, and tell us, “We know exactly what you are going through!”

TRACEY:

Even on Twitter, from the scenes where Michael reveals he has cancer to Lauren, we got tremendous feedback.  When we were taping those scenes it broke my heart.  People told me on Twitter, who have been through this, that they think the scenes were very truthful.

CHRISTIAN:

She made the scene.  I got to tell you, I turned to her as I do that speech, and you find it in the other person’s eyes.  I learned a long time ago, if you have lost the scene go to the other person, and that’s where you’ll find it…

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

…Well, I always find it in his eyes.  And no one slays me deeper than Christian … nobody.

MICHAEL:

Greg Rikaart (Kevin) has been breaking my heart, every time he is in scenes with Christian.  Kevin so badly wants his brother to be OK. 

TRACEY:

Wait till you see the Christmas Eve (airing on Wed. Dec 24) show.

CHRISTIAN:

They have given us the most difficult material I have ever had to do …

TRACEY:

….Ever!  The scenes the other week, and our Christmas Eve show, were truly like the hardest, and most emotional for us.

CHRISTIAN:

Max Ehrich (Fen) has even a harder job since he comes in from doing other shows.  He comes in cold, and can jump right into it.  The scene where Michael tells Lauren would not have come off that way if I had not been surrounded by the crew, because you feel so comfortable with them, and then we have this Baldwin/Fisher family!  You will see scenes from now on with Gloria (Judith Chapman) and Lauren, Fenmore, and Kevin (Greg Rikaart) that you just can’t do without knowing each other so well.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Will we see Michael get sick-sick?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t know.

TRACEY:

That’ a great question for Chuck Pratt.

CHRISTIAN:

Death is not, not an option.  I don’t know where we are heading.  I did talk to Chuck and I have a continual concern.  I want to make it clear that it’s stage 3, and if you treat it, it’s stage 3 and it beatable.  The point of this being it’s a shameful thing for him, and how do you deal with the results of what the treatment can do?  And, that in essence could be extremely difficult for a man who is trying to deal with insecurities about his manhood.

MICHAEL:

The scene in which Michael tells Lauren is so riveting, especially the end of it when you scream out loud, about the injustice of it all.  Did you use that for your Pre-Daytime Emmy nomination scene submission? 

CHRISTIAN:

I actually put something else in, but it’s a good one.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Is Michael playing over in his mind that he is dying, or he is thinking he is going to come out of this O.K.?

CHRISTIAN:

I think whenever you hear that diagnosis that you have cancer; all those things go through your head.  I don’t know, because I have never personally had this kind of diagnosis, so really I don’t know shit.  I am in awe of the people I have talked to who have battled this.  I come face to face with it every time we do a charity event.  There was one woman who told me, “I had so many things removed … my husband thinks I am a tin can.”  Wow, I thought.   She was the funniest woman in the room.  And to hear that … I am just in awe… and I can only try with the powers that we have as actors, and the skills we strive to have, to make someone experience something like that without them having to live it.  But, when you hear the word “cancer”, so many of us in our head would go right to hearing “death” and loss, and anger, and all of those things that I would imagine.  I have to then make those specific for Michael, and for Michael it’s about, “Do I want to live this way?”  It’s horrible.  I haven’t even started treatment on the show, and so the fear of what that could do to him …

MICHAEL:

Christian, do you think that Michael would want to take his own life over this?

CHRISTIAN:

Oh, I think that is a distinct possibility.  There are not many things that could make him consider that.  There is the law, and Lauren.  If he lost the ability to have either one of those, that would be devastating for him, and the next would be losing Fenmore or Kevin, and as for Gloria, that’s a big question mark.  That’s such a disturbed relationship.  With him not being able to have sex, that is something he never foresaw.  It’s who you are, and to have that taken away I wouldn’t be surprised if taking his own life won’t cross his mind.

MICHAEL:

Fans have waited for you, Christian, to drive a story all of your own for quite some time, and this is it.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a man’s story.  I am very excited, but it’s very difficult.  I kind of feel like this is a team effort.  It truly is the women coming to talk to Michael.  The men aren’t coming up.  It’s the wives that are coming up to talk to him.  It’s a very important message.

TRACEY:

The fact that he is waiting for treatment, and exploring other options, makes Lauren crazy.  She is so afraid the cancer is going to advance, and he is not doing anything.  She just wants him alive and with her.  She is not thinking about the other repercussions.  She is thinking, “We’ll deal with it.  It’s OK. We are just going to make it all OK!”

MICHAEL:

Who will be Lauren’s confidante in all of this?

TRACEY:

It will be Jill. (Scenes airing in January)

CHRISTIAN:

He is mortified of anyone knowing.  I think the show did it best when they did that push into Michael with the camera, and dropped out the volume when he learned what he had and gets diagnosed.

TRACEY:

It’s like static!  You’re hearing static, or a “wha-what-wha” almost kind of noise in your head when you get terrible news.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

You just see a mouth moving … but you may not be hearing, or grasping what they are fully telling you.

MICHAEL:

It will be so interesting to watch when Gloria (Judith Chapman) finds out!

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, but she hasn’t yet.  There are only four people who know so far … Michael, Lauren, Fenmore, and Kevin, and that’s it.  And now Jill will know, because Lauren tells her.  So there is a whole journey ahead of telling Gloria, and I think Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) comes up soon.

MICHAEL:

I loved the scenes with Greg and Christian, where Kevin was trying to motivate Michael to tell Lauren the truth about his condition.

CHRISTIAN:

It’s a great flip-flop.  I have been waiting for this to come for a while, and that’s Kevin being the big brother to Michael.  Greg is so wonderful about it.  And remember … Kevin was fixated on Lauren to the point of killing himself, and that’s how Michael and Lauren met.

MICHAEL:

Seems like everyone wants to kill themselves after being with Lauren! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

It’s true!  She kills people with her sex! (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

Remember, Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) had a heart attack after having sex with her! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

It’s been 41 years plus on this show, and they have taken on a storyline about shame, and not talking about it, and prying, and trying to get it out but resisting.  It’s fascinating.

MICHAEL:

So, has Peter Bergman (Jack), or the other guys in the cast, said anything to you about this storyline?

CHRISTIAN:

It’s interesting.  The guys will make fun of it, and they will be guys, and it’s nerves. There are all sorts of jokes, and it can be funny.  I would laugh harder, except after I talked with a doctor about the cancer, this is exactly what the men fear from other men when they have this diagnosis.  It’s not women who come up and make fun, it’s other men.  Tracey and I have fun with it though.

TRACEY:

I’m allowed!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s great that Y&R is tackling a social issue storyline, which harkens back to the day of what Bill Bell (creator, Y&R) used to do in his storytelling.  Have you done a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for inclusion at the end of any upcoming Y&R episodes?

CHRISTIAN:

No, not yet.

TRACEY:

Have you done your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test though?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes.  I get that checked all the time.  I am at that age.

TRACEY:

Good!

 

 

 

  1. Sheila says:

    This is a wonderful, frightening, enlightening and necessary storyline. The interview was filled with emotion, education and determination. Thank you Michael for doing it.

    Reply

  2. Pearl.Quebec,Canada here says:

    Thanks so much both of you for this……. Merry Christmas, Happy 2015

    Reply

  3. Kim Huck says:

    I love Michael. I wish Kim Brown as Shelia would come back. I miss the classic YR. Victor is just not the same. He hates women and children he uses like they are disposable . Adam should NEVER of been paired with Chelsea. Yrs ago it was wonderful how Nick would see he missed Sharon but Adam loved Sharon. Im so happy Kevin finally has someone. Not since Jana was Kevin given a real love story. Chloe was so wrong for Kevn. Now if we can only get back DRU and Malcolm and Daniel and Amber the show would be as amazing as it was. Holidays need to be improved. Love the Abbott family holidays with John Abbott at the head of the family . Jack needs to get it together. Phyllis is all wrong,

    Reply

    harry replied

    Why on earth would you want Sheila back? She was done to death and with her coming back from the dead countless times, I began to think Freddy Krugger was a slacker.
    No, no, no more Sheila. She can go make a stunt appearance on GH. They never tire of the over-the-top campy villain.

    Reply

    Regina replied

    Please, NO Sheila. Not again, EVER.

    Beacon replied

    Kimberlin Brown only came back to Y&R once. You act like she’s been brought back dozens of times. Her character was stolen from her.

  4. Scott (ATWT Fan) says:

    Beautiful interview; Shelley and Jean have been handling this storyline and all others, with great detail and superb writing. The life story of cancer is real for a lot of people, and Christian, Tracey and everyone else involved in this story has been doing an excellent job at portraying the range of emotions that would happen in a real life situation. I hope Michael is able to pull through and come out victorious with his diagnosis, and that viewers are able to find some comfort within the storyline if it does hit home for them.

    Reply

  5. Timmm says:

    Great insight Michael, thanks. I hope they do tell this story with great compassion and realism. I would like Michael to attend a support group filled with real people talking about their journey. It may be crazy but I thing Gloria may take the news the hardest?

    Reply

  6. Jennifer Endicott says:

    I am glad that you’re not killing off Michael, from what I read. It would be a shame to see him leave. He and Lauren make a wonderful couple!

    Reply

  7. Bea says:

    Christian LeBlanc plays his character to the hilt! I love the storyline don’t like Devon and Hilary and Nikki storyline.

    Reply

  8. bunting says:

    Great interview. This feels like a Bill Bell story and Michael and Lauren are the perfect ones to be used to tell this story because of the depth of the relationship. We are invested in them and their family. It’s daytime drama for grown ups. All the Baldwin-Fisher actors are terrific but there is something so special about Christian and Tracey’s connection on screen. It always feels like I am eavesdropping on a real couple when I watch Michael and Lauren. I hope they continue to play the beats of this important story and we continue to see Christian and Tracey on screen for a long time.

    Reply

  9. Dee Mac says:

    Thank You Michael It is an awesome interview and you asked the best questions . Tracey and Christian are the best actors for something this sensitive and heartrending. I love it and appreciate it and it was very insightful as to what is going on with Likey. Michael pain when he told finally told Lauren the truth The acting is superb . Hoping he comes out of this and becomes a Cancer survivor.

    Reply

  10. harry says:

    Beautiful interview. I always knew Christian was an amazing actor, but I did not know Tracey could deliver such a heart felt, guttural performance. Sure, I knew she was a perfectly capable soap actress but I didn’t know she could deliver a scene as if it came from her heart and soul.
    Both actors were powerful and emotionally compelling. Now, I have an admission to make. I am a closeted soap fan. No one in my family or circle of friends know I have a soap addiction issue which has lasted over thirty years. I was watching that scene which transpired between Michael and Lauren (where he tells her he has cancer) and I burst into tears–something I almost never do. But it was utterly heart wrenching! My spouse walked in at the moment horrified to discover that not only was I watching a soap, but that I was crying! “Since when do you watch soaps?” I was asked. ‘Oh. I wasn’t watching that! I was watching the news and this just came on……and, uh…well…. I have something in my eye,” I stammered. ‘Hey, how about those 49ers?’ I ask in my attempt to recover. I do not follow football but if I did, I would know our home football team is not doing very well so my attempt to deflect failed miserably.
    I snapped off the television, grabbed some free weights, and re watched the aforementioned scene alone on the TV Guide channel later that night. Both Tracey and Christian deserve Emmys for that scene. Wow, just wow.

    Reply

  11. Bridget says:

    Christian and Tracey are going to ROCK this storyline. They have both been amazing so far, and the scenes with Michael and his brother…amazing work!

    Reply

  12. Arlene Harper says:

    This is a Great story line with Amazing actors! I know they will do it justice and that the producers will promote information about testing for this kind of cancer. I do not like the new Phyllis. Move her into another story line and let Jack see her nastiness and continue to have “true love” with Kelly! I like what you have done with Adam, it is believable! Move forward on the Devon and Hillary story. Beal needs to be reunited with Priscilla! I find it hard to believe she hasn’t come back. We believe she survived the fall!! Thank you for the best Daytime Soap!!

    Reply

  13. Kelly says:

    Such a great bunch of actors to handle such an emotionally packed storyline!! Christian and Lauren are doing a wonderful job conveying all the emotions needed to make it believable. Bravo!!

    Reply

  14. nina says:

    i really enjoy this show and these two actors playinga difficult part in this story line i hope they come up with more story lines where the character can be saved im been watching this show for a very long time and enjoy this two actors if they leave i will quit watching the show i signed the partion to save the person to save his job getrid of the writer everybody deserves to do there job good luck tothese actors that are leaving you will be missed

    Reply

  15. Laura says:

    What an amazing way to tell a story that affects so many men and families. Dealing with cancer is horrific and the way they are dealing with revealing it to the family is excellent. FYI people, the interview was about how they are dealing with the cancer not about the other storylines going on now.

    Reply

  16. Paula Ivie says:

    Victor and Nikki…that ship has sailed. Y&R needs a new solid couple, that couple is Micheal and Lauren. Nick and Sharon, Jack and Phylis, Paul and Christine….not so much.

    Reply

  17. Vernelle says:

    PLEASE dont let Michael die fix his problem and let him live. I luv Michael & Lauren,he’s a GREAT attorney and what would Avery do without Michael at her side he is the BEST attorney on Y & R, besides Mitchell Sherman who was Catherine Chancelor attorney. With that being said “LET MICHAEL BALDWIN LIVE”.
    We luv CHRISTIAN LEBLANC.

    Reply

  18. Kari says:

    Don’t kill off Michael. You have already ruined Y&R enough.

    Reply

  19. Shannon Carter says:

    As a long time viewer I really hope the writers & production staff think about how hard suicide is on the surviving family members. My 20 year old son took his life in February 2010, and it is truly the most painfully awful thing to cope with. My husband, daughter & myself miss Lee every day & it just hurts when his birthday, Christmas, and other days come & go every year. I hope that if they choose this scenario, that there is exhaustive research into how & why people commit suicide & present the raw, horrible reactions to the loss. I really pray that Michael overcomes this cancer & lives another 50 years!!! Think about how you would feel if your son died before you !!!

    Reply

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