December 20th, 2012  |  Leave a comment

The Christian LeBlanc,Tracey E. Bregman & Max Ehrich Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

You better be a damn good actor to hold your own with members of Genoa City’s Baldwin/Fisher Family!  This fictitious clan puts the capitol “D” in dysfunction with their sordid pasts, messed up relationships, and schemes gone awry.  However, the duo of Lauren Fenmore Baldwin and her husband Michael Baldwin, are one of The Young and the Restless most enduring couples, even though they have not been together for decades.  Six years in soap time is an eternity, especially on the number one soap!

Recently, the powers-that-be at Y&R chose to age Lauren and Michael’s tot of a son, Fenmore, to a teenager (another victim of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) and with that comes new complex problems for the Baldwins, and as it appears “Fen” may be a chip off the old block … sort to speak.  The talented Max Ehrich was cast as the new Fen, and since he has begun to air in the part he has received high marks, not only from his scene partners, but daytime fans, too.

On-Air On-Soaps had the opportunity to sit down with Daytime Emmy winners Christian LeBlanc (Michael) and Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren) and Max Ehrich to discuss how Max’s entrance on to the canvas has given this long-loving, long-suffering couple some exciting new dilemmas!  And as for Max’s Fenmore, he is turning out to be a hand full with an obsessive eye on pretty young Summer Newman, and getting into some deep trouble that will have far-reaching consequences for the teen scene and the adults, since Y&R has kicked off its very timely cyberbullying storyline.

One thing is for certain: watching and listening to Christian, Tracey, and Max together, it’s very clear why they click so well on-screen and off!  So here now, to spread a little Christmas cheer, is our conversation with The Baldwins of Genoa City!

MICHAEL:

Christian and Tracey, when you found out that Y&R was going to SORAS your on-screen son, and now make him a teenager, what were your initial reactions?

TRACEY:

Courtesy/IMDB

The funny thing is that it never occurred to me if they aged my son that we would have been married longer.  You know what I mean?  Michael and Lauren were celebrating their sixth anniversary, and I went, “How can we have been married six years and have a fifteen-year-old?” Oops! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

First let me say we love Robbie Tucker, who played little Fen, but there is more that we can do now with Max, and there are a whole lot of levels we can play now, than the two of us waiting, for God sakes, for Fenmore to grow! (Laughs)  Max was good from the get-go.  Having to walk in and being thrown into the insanity is not easy!

TRACEY:

And … Max fit in from the moment he walked in, because he is insane like all of us! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Max, did you know about the quirky Fisher/Baldwin clan before you started on Y&R?  Who was the first in the clan you met?

MAX:

Y&R is my grandpa’s favorite show!  He has been watching it since 1973, but that is beside the point (Laughs).  When I had my final callback for the role of Fen, it was with Christian.  It was this really intense scene that I think they used for some other character.

TRACEY:

Yes, it was a Nick and Noah scene, and I know this because my son actually auditioned for the role of Fen.

CHRISTIAN:

It was really interesting during the casting process.  They had a whole lot of different types coming into to play 15, but they were not going to cast a 15-year-old.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MAX:

I also tested with Summer, which at the time was Lindsay Bushman.  But, coming on to Y&R has been an amazing ride so far.

MICHAEL:

Max, are you able to get Christian and the rest of the gang to simmer down before shooting a scene with you?  That can be a tall order, I hear! (Laughs)

MAX:

(Laughs) I think when we are all on set together we all feed off of our energy.  We all are very emotionally exhilarating, and so it’s always great to do a scene with these two, because I think we all just go to these levels together, and it becomes fun to make TV magic!

MICHAEL:

Were you ever intimated by the fact that you were going to play the son of three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Christian LeBlanc and Daytime Emmy winner, Tracey E. Bregman?

MAX:

I kind of put Hollywood smoke and mirrors away.  Fenmore does not know they are Emmy winners. (Laughs) So to me as Fenmore, they are my parents.  So the answer would be: no, I was not intimated.

MICHAEL:

When you envisioned the teenaged son of Lauren and Michael, were you hoping that he would be just as quirky and messed up as Lauren and Michael had been in their early days?

TRACEY:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I was always hoping that they would show the dark side of our child, because both Lauren and Michael have dark sides.  That is something they both work hard on to suppress, that comes out now and them.  So I was really hoping they would do exactly what is happening right now.   I mean, exactly!

CHRISTIAN:

What was so interesting in the audition process is a lot of these actors came right at you in the scene, and the “older” came through and so it became a very different scene.  And then Max came in to do what I consider a very difficult thing.  I thought about it because I think I was around 26-years-old playing 16 on As The World Turns.  So what Max did is he played a 15-year-old coming at his father.  This was a son coming at you, a young son. Again, I know the difficulty of that, but it was really sweet what Max did with the material in the audition.

MICHAEL:

Max, so it apparently had not been hard for you to play younger than you are. Would you agree?

MAX:

I am only playing a few years younger than myself, but that age is a very vulnerable age, and an age when so much happens.  I still find myself relating to Fen a lot.  He came on the show very innocent and wanting to oblige by the rules.  However, we all have a dark side.  I am so happy that I get to explore some darker territories of the character, and that is fun for me.

MICHAEL:

When the three of you found out that Y&R was going to launch into a ripped-from- the-headlines-of-today storyline about cyberbullying and the effects it has on the kids and the families involved, what were your thoughts?

TRACEY:

I was thrilled, because it is a sore subject and it is very prevalent in the times we live.  I think they are telling the story very well.  The storyline really has legs!  This story is going to go, and go, and go.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/Nickelodeon

And it’s unexpected!  Fenmore is not the “bully-ee”!  This could be set up any number of ways, but I think the writers did a great job of setting up this story so well for this particular family.  I thought it was so interesting that they did not bring a young good looking kid on for a couple on the show as the hero.  All three of our characters are very human characters with all these very human flaws, and capable of doing the right thing for the wrong reason, or doing the wrong thing for the right reason.  The writers have given us gold, and that is something they do not dole out a lot.  You have this family that is not going to be killed-off tomorrow because they are so evil.  You have this family that people can relate to where you go, “Oh, he screwed that up, royally,” but that is very real.  Right now, Max has a very difficult thing to do as Fenmore, and he is doing it beautifully.

MICHAEL:

Fen is really fixated on Summer, so much so that now he is willing to do anything for her!  This is not good and spells big trouble!

MAX:

Everything he does is for his love for Summer.  He has this obsession with her.  Every action he does stems from that.

MICHAEL:

I think what is interesting is both Lauren and Michael have had obsessions of their own in their pasts, too!

TRACEY:

I was the object of an obsession by Fenmore’s Uncle … by the way!

CHRISTIAN:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Yeah, don’t forget, Kevin (Greg Rikaart)!  Michael is nothing without Lauren, who saved him and saved his brother… and then the focus has been this child by Michael and Lauren.  I will never forget a line we had under Lynn Latham (Ex-EP and head writer, Y&R) where Lauren says after receiving the news that she is pregnant: “We are happy Michael, aren’t we?” And Michael goes, “Are we?”  Initially it was about, “Yeah! We’re pregnant!”, and then it became about, “I don’t know how to be a good parent.”

TRACEY:

You know Lauren’s father died early on, and she had a horrible mother.  We had no role models.

CHRISTIAN:

Right.  And we did not get that standard scene with lines like, “Oh, the baby.”  It was more like, “Oh, now what?”

MAX:

I think that is awesome in a sense, and that is so realistic, especially with younger people such as 16-years-old getting pregnant.  But also at any age to have a child, I mean, I don’t know, but I am sure it’s very overwhelming.  I think what is cool about this is that if you see a family portrait, and you think it looks like perfection and if you tear apart, what is behind it is when you realize we are all human beings.  That is what it comes down to, especially for our on-screen family.

MICHAEL:

What is Fen doing?  Assisting Summer in the cyberbullying of Jamie?

MAX:

Courtesy/IMDB

Well, first I was trying to get her to stop.  Then she continues with it and he becomes the assistant!

MICHAEL:

Bullying is so prevalent among teens today, and has caused so many suicides.  Were you bullied in real-life, Max?

MAX:

Yes.  I personally experienced it.  I went to middle school in New Jersey, and I was always into the arts, and I got bullied.  I experienced it a lot.  So to be on the other end of it, the only thing that has been sort of an awakening is that a lot of these bullies are having their own internal struggle, and that is what I realized.  They may have something going on at home and they don’t know who to take it out on.  Summer is doing it because of her own struggle with her mom.  I don’t think she is a bad girl.  Fen just likes someone who is doing stupid things.

MICHAEL:

So, as the story plays out do you think this will band Lauren and Michael together as mother and father, or do you think it could cause a rift in the relationship due to how they each decide to deal with what Fen has done?

TRACEY:

Lauren sees her son as I see my son … that the sun shines all the time and the angels sing when they walk through the door no matter what they do.  As a mother, you want to see the good side of it.  I think like most mothers, Lauren will protect her son, no matter what.

CHRISTIAN:

Lauren and Michael fell in love as adults acknowledging each other’s dark side, and kind of a little fearful of their dark sides.  It’s interesting. Michael had dealt with Kevin and Terrible Tom and that history.  So Michael was being bullied by Terrible Tom, and then he left.  For Michael, it’s always truly about his ability, or inability, to protect the people he loves.  Kevin will always be that person that Michael owes, and dealing with his obsessive compulsion behavior for good, or for bad.  So how do you treat your own son after Michael let Kevin be tortured and left him?  So now, for Michael, seeing how obsessive his son has become and doing something that he despises, sets off so many red flags for him.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

MICHAEL:

Where would you like to see this storyline go?  And, how would you like to see it resolved?

TRACEY:

We want to do a musical episode!  I’m serious.

MAX:

We do want, too!

CHRISTIAN:

Max is in a boy band in real life, and he is in a show with Peter Porte (Ex-Ricky) where he sings.  So a musical could be fun.

MAX:

Seriously though, what I want is some resolution, of course.  I want Fenmore to find his heart.  He is not evil, whatsoever, but he has just fallen into a trap.  I think he will find his way out.

MICHAEL:

Jeff Branson (Ex-Ronan) left Y&R again, and from a recent interview it was reported that Jeff was to have more of the burden of this cyberbullying storyline being Jamie’s mentor.  But since his departure, it became more of Michael’s story with Fen.  Is that how this went down, Christian?

CHRISTIAN:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Ronan was mentoring Jamie.  Now I don’t know, if he was here and Ronan was dating Phyllis, how the bullying would end up?  You never know.  I so want Jeff Branson and Jennifer Landon (Ex-Heather) back on the show.  I do miss those two.  Jeff left because he is a working actor, and I do miss having him in a storyline with me. But this is how daytime is made.  You just never know how long someone might be staying put.  We all know at a certain point that what we are told ahead of time can happen, or can’t happen, because this has to be a very flexible medium, and we live real-time.  We are just so thankful that it ended up this way, and we have this amazing story to tell.

MAX:

When I heard about the storyline I would have with Summer, there is only so much you can do as a teenager on the show… such as, rebel or go drinking, or do something bad.  So when I heard this storyline and where it was going, I was very very excited.  Having Hunter King (Summer) on the show now is great, and Daniel Polo (Jamie).  They are just great actors to work with.  I know there have been a lot of changes on the show in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes since I first came on the show.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of that, how is it for you having new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and returning head writer, Josh Griffith helming the show now?

TRACEY:

It’s been great, and the transition has been smooth and the writing has been rich and full.

CHRISTIAN:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Each one of these different producing and writing regimes has given us some terrific material.  Maria Arena Bell (Ex-EP and head writer, Y&R) gave me the chance to see Tracey do bitchy Lauren!  I have never seen her do that!  It was stunning.  We have been given good stuff, and it goes all the way back to Bill Bell (Creator, Y&R).  It’s not easy to capture lightening in a bottle.  I give credit to any person who is willing to step into those shoes, because I cannot imagine the pressure on anyone who tries to do that and write for 30-plus characters.  Now we have Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffith as our executive producer and head writer.  The proof is in the pudding, and they are on set and very hands-on.

TRACEY:

They are very hands-on.  When you come on set, they are there.

CHRISTIAN:

And I go, “Why are these people on my set?  I have to focus!” (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Josh Griffith watches us a lot.  I like that.  It’s to see how to write for us, I am sure. Either that, or he is going, “What the hell was I thinking?”  (Laughs)  I really appreciate it, because I remember going, “Wait a minute. Is this when I do…”  And I was able to run over to Josh for clarification, and it was great and extremely helpful to my performance.

MAX:

My favorite thing I ever did on the show was my first scene.  Tracey and I were backstage and I don’t know why it felt like a vaudeville moment, (laughs) but Tracey turned to me and said, “Welcome to the show, kid!”  It was just the way she said it.  I knew it was the beginning of fun and madness.  And outside of work, I have had Thanksgiving at Tracey’s, and at Christmas I will probably spend it with Tracey’s family. All my family is in New Jersey, so I am a Bregman now by osmosis, I guess.  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MICHAEL:

Max, what does your family think of you being on the number one soap, The Young and the Restless?

MAX:

They love it!  As I told you, my grandfather is a huge Y&R fanatic.  He has been predicting things all the time that happen in the storylines!  He will say to me, “You’re mean.  You are doing bad things.”  I have to tell him, “It’s my character, not me.”  My whole family is very thrilled.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, I truly think that Lauren is suffering from chronic PTSD, after everything she has been through with Sheila!  I mean, I would, too!

LAUREN:

Honestly, what was really cool is that I talked about being Fen’s mother.  And, the fact that I had to send him away so much because of Sheila, and it affected me as a mother, and how it continually affected me because of the things I did early on to protect my children.  “Maybe, I was not the kind of mother I thought I should be.”   These were thoughts Lauren constantly has had.

MICHAEL:

So what would each of you say is the best part of being a member one of the most fascinating TV families?

TRACEY:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The fun part is when the whole Baldwin/Fisher family is together.  I remember thinking how we are all pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly together, but they are not perfect edges.  Some jut out, some go inward, but the pieces imperfectly fit together once they are joined together.  I just love working with the incredible talent of Max and Christian, but also they are really, really good people.  I love to come to work because of these people.

CHRISTIAN:

I always bring up the moment where Lauren and Michael were watching a concert on the show.  We are sitting there and the crew took a break, however, we are still holding hands as Michael and Lauren.  We are just talking away while the crew is on a “five”, and they come up to us and go, “Hey guys, we are on break.”   I have always had a comfort level with Tracey physically right off the bat.  We have been lucky to have this family built around the character of Michael.  When Greg Rikaart walked in, there was an immediate sense of trust, and then came Judith Chapman (Gloria).  When you see, Judith and Greg, and Tracey and I in a scene together, it feels seamless while we are doing it.  There was just a level of trust between us that was never discussed.  We never had to hammer it out.  Sometimes, chemically you really have to work hard with other actors to attain the same level, and that has nothing to do with skill.  It has to do with chemistry.  It has to do with relationships.  Then to see Max walk in, who right away had this skill level, was great. Daytime can be very difficult just because of the speed and the pace of it.  I remember thinking, “Oh, I hope they are not going to cast some freak, who will have such a problem with us?” (Laughs)  It has been such a joy to come to work, even after 20 years now.  I come through those double doors here, and like Tracey, I’ve got to tell you, I am still interested.  Even on my worst days, it’s fun to be here.  I still feel like I am on a playground!

TRACEY:

We laugh! I mean, we did a lot of scenes the other day where we had to stand in the background for the very last scene.  I think we were on set for three and half hours, and while standing there I pulled out my phone because I was done with my dialog, and up came next week’s script.  I went, “Ooh!”  I started reading it thinking, “I can’t wait to do these new scenes!”   Look, we are very blessed.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MAX:

In closing, I have worked on my fair share of projects.  I don’t think I have ever come to work and felt such a sense of family.  We are an on-screen family, but off the stage we are like an artists’ family.  We have fun, and yes, we are dealing with very serious subjects in our stories.  We always check in with each other to see if we each are O.K, and yes, we have to focus on our own intentions, but we also look after each other.  It’s just a level of comfort that allows me to go to emotional places.  It’s been great to be on a show that gives me the opportunity to work with such fun people.  I have to mention that Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffith have been really welcoming to me, and it could not be better.

 

  1. MK says:

    What happened to the story that Fen was coming out Gay, did they chicken out?

    Reply

  2. robert says:

    Interesting

    Reply

  3. Mary SF says:

    Chemistry between actors is often that intangible ingredient that makes some soap relationships work and others don’t. It is obvious the actors that make up the Baldwin clan work well together and it shows on screen. And now that ME is having more scenes with CL and TB he is growing on me. I only wish he would pick a hair style and stick with it, but other than that- he is holding his own with the role. Lauren and Michael are one of my faves on the show- I am glad they have left them alone to have a real marriage- so it might have only been 6 years actual time, but it feels longer because they haven’t constantly broken them up and brought them together again. I wish they would do that more often with other couples. I hope new regime will continue to show a marriage can rough spots without divorcing the minute they do. PS- Great interview.

    Reply

  4. Linda says:

    It actually has been eight years together for Lauren and Michael as a couple and seven years married. Thanks for the interview. I love that Christian, Tracey and Max are so positive and excited about their story. I love Michael and Lauren as a couple and it is wonderful we are seeing them more on screen and getting heavily involved in family drama. The Baldwin-Fishers actors are all so talented and have been neglected too long. Good to see things changing.

    Reply

  5. Doe says:

    I liked this interview very much, Michael. The three actors seem very comfotable with each other , and when the were talking they nade it seem so easy. I like where their story is going, However, you know Fen i s going to make trouble for Jamie. Chtistian and Lauren will have a big problem with Fen. I hope this byllying story will be better than some of the other soaps that have done the same story,

    Reply

  6. Beacon says:

    I wish you’d asked Tracey about Kimberlin Brown. Kim’s available to return to the show, she loves the character of Sheila but Victoria Rowell, Kim’s friend, said on twitter that a certain actress is “guarding the gate on that one” preventing Kim’s return. I can’t believe it to be Tracey. I always felt Kimberlin brought out the best in her.

    Reply

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