September 5th, 2013  |  Leave a comment

The Eric Braeden Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Getty Images

This week on The Young and the Restless the CBS soap opera honored its iconic star, Jeanne Cooper, with a two-day memorial episode for the beloved character she played for almost 40 years, Katherine Chancellor.  One of Jeanne’s longest running co-stars, who was deeply touched by the loss of his long time friend on-screen and on-off, is the indominatable Eric Braeden (Victor Newman).  Now the question remains, with the reading of Katherine’s will next week, how might it affect the mighty Victor?

Over the last several weeks, while there was plenty of attention of viewers waiting to have a good cry at Katherine’s memorial episodes, there was also controversy brewing at Y&R with the swift departure of head writer Josh Griffith, who Braeden took to Twitter to publically defend Griffith’s stories, and who voiced his displeasure over a change at the top.  In this new interview with On-Air On-Soaps, we ask the Daytime Emmy winner, where he sits with it now?  And, that raises the age old question: has any writing regime in the history of the show even come close to the way that Y&R creator Bill Bell told stories and constructed the show?  Eric certainly weighs-in heavily on the matter.

In the coming weeks on Y&R, look for more bombshells, especially when Victor finds out that his son, Adam’s (Michael Muhney) secret investor is really his nemesis, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman)!  Braeden gives us a preview of a major fallout!  And what about the entire Newman clan?  Will Victor ever let Victoria (Amelia Heinle) run Newman?  Will Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) share with Victor the secret contents of her letter from Katherine?  Or, will it cause a rift in the star-crossed lovers marriage, yet again?  For the answers to this, and Eric’s thoughts on the exit of Michelle Stafford (Ex-Phyllis) and not getting much air time to work with his other on-screen son, Joshua Morrow (Nick).  Read on for our chat with the always candid, tell-it-like-it-is Mr. Braeden!

MICHAEL:

As this week’s viewers witnessed the memorial service of Katherine Chancellor on Y&R, going back a step, how difficult has it been for you dealing with the loss of your longtime cast mate and friend Jeanne Cooper?

ERIC:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

It was difficult for me.  I must say Jeanne’s death touched me more than I would have anticipated.  It really hit me, and I thought about it a lot.  I suddenly realized I have been working with her for more than 30 years!  That is a helluva a long time.  I was very fond of Jeanne, and loved working with her.  She was such an intrical part of Y&R that it affected me more than I thought it would.  Jeanne’s memorial service, which was held at her house with her sons Corbin and Colin, and her daughter Caren, was so moving, nice, and so real.  Jeanne was an extraordinary person, and you can see that in her family.  Her children are some of the most stand-up people I have known.  As direct as Jeanne was, I was just as direct, obviously. (Laughs)  So, I had such a huge fondness for her, I must say, and as she got older and frail I even felt more protective of her.

MICHAEL:

I remember you speaking at Jeanne’s memorial.  It was so authentic and touching.

ERIC:

You know, that during the memorial service when Corbin spoke there was a dove right behind him, and it stayed there during the entire service, as if it was Jeanne listening.  I have never seen anything like it, right over his shoulder!

MICHAEL:

Do you think the fans will be touched by Katherine’s memorial episodes?

ERIC:

Yes, I think so.  It was a difficult day.  We had scenes where different people are involved; it became very difficult with the other actors, and for the crew.  But it was certainly appropriate.  I look forward to seeing the episodes.  I remember after we finished shooting Katherine’s memorial service, Corbin spoke and said some very lovely things, and how strange it was for him … how art and real life meet.  He is talking as the son from the stage of where his mother spent most of her life.  Very strange in ways, and very moving.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Do you have a favorite of all-time of yours and Jeanne’s?  You had so many scenes together as Katherine and Victor.

ERIC:

What comes to mind is what I said at her real memorial service.  It is the first time we had a scene together.  She came up in the inevitable Jeanne Cooper way, and grabbed me by the “privates” and said, “Ok, big boy. Let’s see what you got!”  And I said to myself, “I am going to get along with her!”

MICHAEL:

Nikki knows the content of her letter from Katherine, and so too does Paul, but Victor does not know what it says.  Both are dealing with the loss of Katherine in their lives.  Would you say Nikki is hardest hit by her passing?

ERIC:

I would say Nikki is obviously hit hardest by it, because Kay was her confidante and best friend.  I can say a lot of surprising things will play out over the next few weeks.  I loved it.  It’s great stuff!

MICHAEL:

Often times, fans recently have been vocal that Y&R has focused on newbies that they don’t know or care about in favor of the veterans.

ERIC:

I think every since I have been on the show, during the summer months they have made the mistake to try to garner the attention of the young demographic, and that is an edict from above.  So all networks think they have to grab the attention of a young demographic, and without realizing it, it’s the old demographic that is your core audience.  I have heard these complaints for 33 years every summer.  Nothing has changed.  I think it’s a corporate decision that is made on top, but I think it’s a mistake.  I don’t think the facts support the hypothesis that it gets more young people to watch the show. But that is the thinking industry-wide, and wrongfully so.  It is the older demographic who has the financial wherewithal to buy things anyways, or to give permission to the younger kids.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

How do you feel the writing of Y&R was, during just exited head writer Josh Griffith’s tenure?

ERIC:

As you know, whenever there is a change, it takes a while to get adjusted to it.  I am happy with the storylines right now.  I was happy before, and so as an actor you learn to do the best with what you are given.  I must say, I can’t complain at all about what I have been given.  There was only one time in 33 years that I was blatantly unhappy, and only once during someone’s regime as a head writer, but not for a long time.  I love working with Maria Bell, and I loved working with Josh Griffith.

MICHAEL:

You have voiced your displeasure on Twitter over the departure of Josh Griffith as head writer, and what kind of criteria a person should have to be put in that position to write the number-one soap. (Reports have been that Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman are the new co-head writers at Y&R, although unconfirmed by the show) What are your thoughts on the subject now?

ERIC:

It was upsetting to see that Josh was gone.  I am so use to changes, one becomes unoit to it after a while, but I was surprised.  Obviously, someone who knows the history of the show and is familiar with the characters should be the new head writer.  I don’t like change.  I did not like Maria Bell leaving, and now I don’t like that Josh Griffith leaving, but that is part of the business.  I am not aware of the reasons why Josh is gone.  I was upset on Twitter about his departure, but I have had changes for 33 years on Y&R, and the only real calm time was under Bill Bell, as we all know.  There was a sense of continuity which has not been replicated since.  Bill simply did not tolerate any interference … none!  Hopefully, the show continues in a successful way.  I think Jill Farren Phelps (Y&R executive producer) is doing a good job, and Josh was doing a great job, and we had just gotten use to that.  I am against that change, period.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Adam’s secret backer in business, is of all people, Jack!  What do you think will happen when Victor finds out?  It’s on the verge of happening!

ERIC:

Well, just fasten your seat belt.  That is all I can tell you!

MICHAEL:

Did Victor want things to go well with having Adam at Newman Enterprises?  Or, did he not want it to go well?

ERIC:

I think for Victor initially, part of him wanted it to go well, and he was hoping against hope that Adam would become someone he wanted.  But, we must always remember from the moment Adam came into Victor’s family, or the periphery there of, that the moment he came back into Genoa City he has been nothing but trouble.  I mean, people forget the things he has done, and the list goes on and on, and so it makes for interesting drama.  I think every father has a desire to get along with his children, no matter how wayward one of them has become.  Anyway, it is a very interesting storyline.  Again, fasten your seat belts!

MICHAEL:

The reading of Katherine’s will is coming up.  Could the contents in the will be paramount to Victor and his future business dealings?

ERIC:

I would say there is another bomb about to go off!  You bet!

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I am hoping Victor won’t screw with Katherine holdings.

ERIC:

Victor is a businessman, but he is very respectful of Katherine.

MICHAEL:

How does Victor feel about Nikki’s multiple sclerosis?  Has it changed or impacted him in some significant way?

ERIC:

Obviously, Victor is very concerned for her, and it gives him pause in his business endeavors to not forget what Nikki is going through.  I think it has struck a chord in him that he wants to be more affectionate to her than usual.

MICHAEL:

When you call Billy Abbott (Billy Miller) “Billy Boy”, which is so funny, where did that come from?

ERIC:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I think it’s very funny.  I love working with Billy.  He is a character. (Laughs) The “Billy Boy” thing came from me.  I remember using that when I shot my nemesis in my film, The Man Who Came Back.  I shot him in the balls and I said, “I shot you in the balls, Billy Boy!”   And that stuck with me!  “Billy Boy” I just love that!  It rolls of your tongue. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Why does Victor not want Victoria in charge at Newman?

ERIC:

That isn’t quite true.  I adore Amelia Heinle, and I love working with Billy Miller.  Unfortunately, there is always friction between father and daughter.  And in my real life, I would hate friction with my own kids or grand kids.  That is one thing about Victor I never really liked, but it’s conflict and drama and we need that.  But my God, I would be so warm and giving with my own daughter, of course.  I enjoy having dinner with my son more than any other person, and we are very close.  My grandchildren I just adore.  Victor gets to show part of that, but for my taste not enough.   But what a great conflict with “Billy Boy”! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How does Victor view Adam as opposed to Victoria in business?

ERIC:

He does not trust Adam business-wise, but he wants to trust him.  Adam is always up to shenanigans that makes Victor very disappointed.  It must be horrible in real life to have children like that.  Again, we are doing a drama and need conflict.  As far as Victoria, I think Victor thinks she is very capable, but in the end he doesn’t trust anyone.  So let’s be frank, he wants to run the ship himself and that ain’t going to change.  So, would he like to be close to his kids?  Of course, yes.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Why do you think the Jack Abbott/Victor Newman clash has worked so well over decades?   Do you attribute it to you and Peter Bergman as actors?  Or, the story?

ERIC:

That is a good question to ask, and very difficult to answer.  I think it is to the way that Peter Bergman plays Jack, and the way I play Victor.  We piss each other off.  It’s as simple as that.  I respect Peter as an actor enormously and we certainly get along, but then we start acting these scenes, and they are full of vinegar and poison.  That is due to how we both interpret our parts.

MICHAEL:

Did you think the role of Victor would last this long?  You must moments of “How cool is this”.  You are playing this delicious role that many actors only dream about getting to play once in their lifetime!

ERIC:

I have many moments of how cool this is, when you think of how hard it is to keep a job in this business.  We have 150,000 actors registered in the union, in which 1% makes a living.  I have been doing this show for 33 years, and I have been in the business for 50. The longest I have been unemployed is for three months.  I consider myself very fortunate with this job, and very proud of this show.  Do I wish I had more say and power as I have over some films, such as The Man Who Came Back?  I would be lying if I said “no.”  But you do the best within the parameters that you have been given.  This is too fleeting of a business.  This medium is so fast.  We shoot 80 pages in one day, and what they write about we find out about 2 months later.  So, I am reconciled to the limited parameters of Y&R for me as actor.  We have 25 characters most of the time on the canvas.  So I am very happy where I am, and the kind of life I have had.  There is no question about it.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Soap operas over the last five years have faced numerous network television cancellations.  A few, AMC and OLTL moved to a new online platform and format.  How do you think soaps are doing now?  What do you think of how CBS Entertainment Daytime SR. VP Angelica McDaniel has been doing in her position, since being put in charge of the day part that Y&R resides in?

ERIC:

I think Angelica has proven that she is very passionately in support of our show.  I like that very much.  I appreciate that very much.  Look, we have been number one for a very long time, and there is a reason for that.  We try to make it as real as we can.  We stay away from the fantasies, and away from the science-fiction stuff.  We can’t do certain things as well that other people can do in films, or nighttime television. This is about being real people, and their real emotions.  I have always insisted in playing my role as realistically as I can.  I think that is the key to success in our medium.  We just need to have good stories.  Our medium is not made for something fantastical, or out of the ordinary.  It is made for real emotions.  That is what people want to tap into.  What is art about?  Art is about people looking at something, or watching something, or reading something, and going, “That’s interesting.”  You transport them into the lives of the artist whether its music, or daytime soaps.  Within that enjoyment of looking into other people’s lives, you need people to be as real as you can be as the artist, so you identify with them.  If people can’t identify with it, you lose them.  I think the medium is here to stay if the people who write soaps understand perfectly well that the audience needs to buy into the characters, and that’s all.  We have done that to a greater or lesser degree on this show, ever since I have been here.

MICHAEL:

You are up on Twitter a lot more now!  How do you like being part of social media? I know a few times you may have encountered some controversy while on there, as of late.  (Laughs)

ERIC:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I must say I love it, because you get immediate feedback, and you begin to in the 33 years I have been here, be intimately aware that there is an audience out there and that is the reason you are here to begin with.  We in Hollywood often times become cynical of what we do, because we are not in contact with the people who watch.  And when you do films, you are just totally out of touch with the people who watch you, and who pay to see you.  Twitter is an avenue where I really appreciate the audience, and learned that the audience is very smart.  They know exactly what is going on, and I resent the condescending aires of certainly people in Hollywood as if they don’t know … they know!  The audience knows when something is phony; they know when something is real.  They really know it immediately, and Twitter gives me an immediate feedback. So one lesson I would teach Hollywood executives, some actors, and directors, is don’t ever under-estimate the intelligence of the viewing audience.  You make a huge mistake when you do that.

MICHAEL:

Do you think Michelle Stafford leaving Y&R was a big loss for the show?

ERIC:

I am very upset that Michelle is gone.  She is one of those rare actresses who doesn’t come along very often.  She is very unique, and very passionate about her profession.  When she comes on the screen, it lights up the scenes and pops!  For whatever reasons she left, partly personal reasons … I don’t know, and I don’t want to know, but I am sad she is gone.  It’s a loss.

MICHAEL:

Michael Muhney and you play two very strong-willed characters.  What is it like acting in a scene with him when you go toe-to-toe constantly?

ERIC:

Well, I have never been worried about someone else’s strength, that does not bother me. Michael is very good at what he does, and so the scenes work well.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Do you wish you had more scenes with Joshua Morrow? Viewers don’t get to see the connection between Victor and Nick much at all anymore!

ERIC:

It saddens me, because Joshua is my first son on the show and he couldn’t be a nicer guy. He is a very good actor.  Joshua has one of those casual all-American attitudes, where sometimes you underestimate what he does.  I don’t.  He can star in any medium, as far as I am concerned, nighttime television or film.  So sometimes it saddens me that he and I don’t have a closer relationship as Victor and Nick, as father and son, on the show.  I am so sick of Victor interfering in others people’s lives!  I don’t give a shit, but unfortunately I have too.

MICHAEL:

Will Victor ring Sharon’s (Sharon Case) neck for changing the paternity test on his son, Nick, when that eventually comes to light?

ERIC:

More than that!  She also set fire to the damn ranch!  Yes, I am asking “Paul, God dam it. Find the culprit, will you?” (Laughs) And he hasn’t yet; he walks around with that silver briefcase all the time.  It must be so heavy; when he comes home he needs a rest.  (Laughs) Anyway, Doug Davidson (Paul) is wonderful to work with.  The only problem when Doug and I work together is we have a difficult time keeping from laughing.  With Dougie, when I see the glint in his eyes, it’s difficult to keep a straight face with him … it really is!

MICHAEL:

So as we conclude our chat, we can leave the fans knowing that truly all is OK from where you are sitting with what’s happening now with Y&R, and in the near future, for Victor Newman?

ERIC:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

To be frank with you, I am happy with the storyline.  I was sad to see Maria Bell go at the time, because it was the last of the Bells that went.  It really affected me a lot.  I have a good relationship with both Jill Farren Phelps, and Josh Griffith.  I am an actor and paid to do what people write, one must not forget that.  But if I had to do it over again, I would have decided years ago to direct more.  I like to have complete control of stuff, and that is the one frustrating thing of being an actor on a soap.  If you star on a primetime series or a film, you have far more power.  In daytime, your power is limited and you can’t affect things.  And, that I would never do again.  I have seen too much; I know too much.  I know what I think is right.  So my interests are that I learn my lines, I do as well as I can, but then when it’s over, I am on to the rest of my life.  So that is one thing I would change if I had to do it all over again.  I would start directing earlier, I would be more involved in the writing, and have much more control over it, than I have allowed myself to be.  But having said that, are you kidding?  I am very happy playing Victor Newman. And look, we all have complaints about this and that, that are life and part of the creative process. We don’t always agree, but we pull ourselves together and in true show business style, you say, “Let’s go.  Let’s get it done, and do it the best way that you can.”

  1. mary jonas says:

    what a guy. what a guy! He’s funny. I love how he tweets Doug about “who burnt the damn ranch”.
    Fun read.

    Reply

  2. kalamaty says:

    Great interview with the icon himself! Always loved his absolute candor, and love his affection for his costars!

    Reply

  3. Monica Junge says:

    Wonderful hearing from Eric.

    Reply

    SHARON HARRISON replied

    ERIC,, I WAS WATCHING THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS YESTERDAY. AND I THOUGHT THAT JACK ABBOTT WAS GOING TO GET YOU MAD ABOUT NEWMAN ENTERPRISES. I SAID GET HIM VICTOR . JACK THOUGHT THAT HE HAD YOU FOOLED. ABOUT ADAM IS PLAYING ON THE DIRTY SIDE WITH JACK ABBOTT. I WILL BE WATCHING YOU ON THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS TONIGHT GET HIM VICTOR

    Reply

    SHARON HARRISON replied

    ERIC THIS THING ABOUT ADAM MAKES ME SICK. HE IS A SNAKE IN GRASS FOR WHAT HE DID TO YOU AND NIKKI NEWMAN. I HOPE THAT YOU WILL LET HIM GET A WAY WITH IT. I WONDER WHAT NICK THINKS ABOUT HIS BROTHER ADAM DOING WHAT HE HAS DOING TO YOU AND THE NEWMAN FAMILY. HE IS AS BAD AS SHARON NEWMAN THAT SORRY NO GOOD. BECAUSE SHE IS TRYING TO MESS WITH NICK”S WEDDING PLANS. SHARON HARRISON

  4. k/kay says:

    The one thing I hate is that the writers on both of these regimes screwed up the relationship he had with Sharon it was always a father/daughter if you will. The one storyline I know he hated was when LML was running the show and had him cutting out paper dolls that was indeed an eye roller.

    Reply

  5. Diane says:

    I so loved reading your interview..thank you so much..Eric is the backbone of the show..with Jeanne gone he makes it still feel like family..they have added to many young actors to fast ..so it gives me comfort to see Eric as often as possible ..
    Great interview…just wonderful…
    Thank you..dd

    Reply

  6. Michelle says:

    This was such a great interview. I have such respect for Eric saying all that he said and being truthful about it. He is right about tweeting…it gives you that personal bond with the actors.

    Reply

  7. ethel says:

    loved the interview!

    Reply

  8. MEG says:

    I would have liked to know how will treat Adam when they find out ,the baby is Adams will he be there for Adam and his son .

    Reply

  9. Eileen Hargis says:

    In person, the first thing u learn about him is that he has a wicked sense of humor! He is truly so interesting to listen to and I value that he twitters to me fairly often, the first thing he that he said to me at the autograph table was a tweet I sent to him while he was in Monte Carlo earlier! Eileen n Vegas

    Reply

  10. glenda alford vaughn says:

    I loved every min. of this interview. He is a legend! He demands respect, and gets it in the end.

    I do hope it all plays out the way; that all is well, and like OKAY:-)

    Reply

  11. Colleen says:

    What an awesome interview. Eric is admirable in every
    human way possible. Both on and off screen. If only he would follow
    me on Twitter!!
    And Michael, as always, your interviews are excellent !
    I really enjoy all of them.

    Reply

  12. Jewell says:

    Love how he came up with Billy Boy. haha Eric is so fun to talk to on Twitter, he is very intelligent , and so funny..

    Reply

  13. SR says:

    Honest, straight forward, insightful, consummate actor, respectful of fans and dam smart. He rocks! Great job Michael.

    Reply

  14. mark says:

    great interview hes a classy guy!

    Reply

  15. Sherry Holas-Herrick says:

    I admire Mr. Eric! I started watching this Y&R soap when Steve Burton jumped over from GH, but it turns out, my most favorite scenes are with the Victor character! Michael Fairman, you do a great job interviewing also :)

    Reply

  16. MARY ELLISON says:

    PLEASE BRING PHYLLIS BACK AND GET RID OF SHARON . IT TIME FOR HER TO GO|||

    Reply

  17. Kerry says:

    My mother has watched Young and the Restless for as long as I can remember, and I am now 48 years old. She is going to be 82 September 29, 2013 and she
    was diagnosed with stage 4 mouth cancer barely a month ago and it is progressing VERY quickly. She would be so thrilled to have an autographed pic from the cast…..especially Murphy. Obviously she would love it if he could call her, or better yet visit her, but I know I have to be real!!!! If there is anyone out there who knows how I could accomplish this in a quick manner I would be so grateful. Moms name is Carole. She doesn’t know I am doing this, but my brothers and sisters all agree that this would really be an awesome gift hearing from the The Young and the Restless cast who have been family to her and a huge part of her life ; )

    Thank you and God Bless!

    Kerry

    P.S. Victor…she has always been in love with you too!!!! (As have I!)

    Reply

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