April 1st, 2008  |  Leave a comment

THE GREG RIKAART AND EMILY O’BRIEN INTERVIEW – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

rikaart.jpgBy Michael Fairman

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TV SOAP:
Jana is in a prison uniform right now.  What has happened to cause her to be locked up behind bars?

EMILY:
Jana has turned herself in and is having a fun time with Phyllis right now.  At this point Jana is panicked.  She doesn’t know anyone in the prison environment, and she is latching on to Phyllis because she is the only one Jana knows.  She is trying to become close to her, because she doesn’t know anyone else.  Jana has just had this tumor removed, and she is so lost.

TV SOAP:
So, are we sure that the brain tumor that Jana had removed was the actual cause of her killing of Carmen Mesta?  Also, the evil she perpetrated on Kevin and Colleen, by locking them in a freezer and leaving them to die, months ago?

EMILY:
Jana thinks so and Kevin thinks so.

GREG:
That is what we are banking on, at least for Kevin.  The tumor was this great explanation for Jana’s behavior.  I think he never really understood why she did what she did.  Kevin is trying to create this whole defense for her; that everything she did was because of the tumor.  Whether or not that’s true is what we are banking on… right?

EMILY:
Yes.

TV SOAP:
Emily, did you know that Jana would be coming back, after you were written off “Y&R” a few months back?

EMILY:
I didn’t.  (To Greg)  I don’t know if you knew?

GREG:
I didn’t specifically know.  I always suspected, because I knew that Emily was very well liked and she is a strong actor and stuff.  Beyond that, I felt that story had not run its course yet, not just the relationship between Kevin and Jana, but also the explanation as to why.  There was not much closure on it.

EMILY:
I had no idea.  I thought when I went off the show the first time, that was it.  I didn’t know if I would be back.  But then I thought, that the writers could write in that she died or she ran away and was never coming back.  But, the show would continue talking about Jana.

GREG:
That was the other reason I thought she was coming back.  Months before she came back, Kevin was on the prowl trying to find her.  I remember telling Emily before she left, “I have a feeling you would be back.”

TV SOAP:
How is working with Emily?  How do you explain the way you ignite the screen together?  You both have told TV SOAP separately, that you have a mutual admiration society for each other.

GREG:
At least my explanation for it is, there is no explanation for it.  It’s just a chemistry thing, it’s either there or its not.  Pretty much from day one, working with Emily was effortless. You don’t have to try and turn it on; we go onto the set and work well off of one another. To me, chemistry is not something you can manufacture.

To hear this audio snippet, click back to The Global sections,
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TV SOAP:
Is she a good actress?

GREG:
Certainly!  That is one of the many factors that play into how and why we have this chemistry.  If you don’t have a lot of respect for the work of the person you are working with, it would really be hard to create this reality with them.  I think Emily is terrific!  In fact, I will go on the record as saying, and I have been saying this since January when we had the scenes in the freezer that she locked us in, that I am absolutely certain she will get nominated for an Emmy this year.  And, I think she is going to win. She has such solid work, and routinely delivers. That is the other reason I am glad she is back, because the whole voting process is warped, in my opinion.  A lot of time what happens is, “out of sight… out of mind”.   If she did great work in January, and we don’t vote until December of that same year, then people forget.  But, now she is back and people are reminded.

TV SOAP:
Emily, what about working with this guy?

EMILY:
Well, you heard what he said?  That is why I love working with him.  No, I am kidding!  I am kidding! (She laughs)

GREG:
“He flatters me and I like it” (being Emily responding)

EMILY:
Yeah, exactly, I mean… look at him!  He is Greg, and he is great.  From the first day on the set he made me feel so comfortable.  He remembers I was a nervous wreck the first day.

TV SOAP:
Did you screen test with her?

GREG:
No.  I do know that they were specifically looking for someone who would be a good match for me.

EMILY:
See, I didn’t even know that.  I thought I was going to be on 2 or 3 days.  That was what the character description was, not recurring or anything.  When I started becoming his girlfriend on the show I thought, “OK.  This is great.”  The first day he made me feel totally comfortable.  I had so many questions like: “Where is this? And how do I do that?”  I thought when I came on the show that these actors were going to shun people and be only interested in what they were doing, but that wasn’t the case.  We are good friends off screen, and have so much fun together, and that reads on screen.  It really does read on screen.  I look up to him.  He is an Emmy winner, and well deserved.  I have learned so much from him, and it’s a privilege to work with Greg.

TV SOAP:
The recent scenes in the hospital were so meaty for Kevin and for you, Greg, as an actor.
When we last spoke, Kevin had not been utilized too much.  Now we are seeing the Kevin we know and love. Were those scenes hard for you?  Are you proud of the work?

GREG:
Certainly!  Yeah, it’s work I was proud of.  There was a transition before Jana came back to town where Kevin hated her and tried to kill her.  Here we are a relatively short time later, and he has power of attorney and her life rests in his hands.  He wants nothing more than for her to get well.  So, it was challenging making that transition by making it pretty quickly.

TV SOAP:
But this whole relationship is so twisted!

EMILY:
Jana is far too adventurous to be with someone normal.
GREG:
I know that Kevin was concerned when Jana found out that Ji’min died, and she was all concerned about it.  I was like, ”Wait, you don’t want to go take pictures of the body; you know, all that twisted stuff?”

TV SOAP:
To clarify, why is Jana in jail this time?  What crime is she paying for?

EMILY:
Jana turned herself in for murdering Carmen Mesta.

TV SOAP:
Do you also think that Jana could still have killed Ji’min?

EMILY:
You can’t escape from the hospital.

GREG:
Anything’s possible!

EMILY:
She is in prison for her past crimes, and she tried to murder Kevin and Colleen.  Right now she is in jail for the Carmen Mesta murder, only.

TV SOAP:
Emily, how do you justify the actions of Jana and portray such a complex character, and do justice to someone living with a brain tumor?

EMILY:
I did as much research as I could on this, because I did not want to insult anybody that had a tumor.  I really tried to read into it that if this kind of personality disorder happened, I do believe Jana thinks it’s a part of her that she has no control over.  I have read that it can happen.  It’s like another person controlling her.  It was that person that committed this crime, not the Jana who loves Kevin.

TV SOAP:
How is working with Michelle Stafford (Phyllis)?  It’s like “Babes Behind Bars”!

EMILY:
It’s fun, and it’s good.  The material is so absurd and we are so contrasting.  Jana is holding on to her with everything she has, and Phyllis just wants to get away from her.  Jana is freaked out!  I am always over Phyllis’ shoulder and in her personal space.

GREG:
I can’t wait to see it!

EMILY:
Its fun!

TV SOAP:
But now Colleen could be the real spoiler here.  Do you think fans can look forward to a Colleen/Kevin/Jana triangle?

GREG:
Yeah.  As much as I love working with Emily and the Kevin/Jana relationship, I think happily ever after is mind-numbingly boring… “Tumultuously ever after” is what I like to call it or say.

TV SOAP
But it is so twisted, considering Kevin’s past with Colleen!

GREG:
Jana tried to kill me, and I am in love with her.  Then I tried to kill Colleen, and then if she falls for me, the whole thing is warped.  I hope there is a triangle.  That would make wherever the Jana/Kevin relationship goes, that much more complex.

TV SOAP:
Has there been a scene where the two of you thought, “Gosh we were good.”?

EMILY:
A few.

GREG:
We are not a modest bunch over here. (He laughs)

EMILY:
They write such beautiful scenes for us.  There was this one in particular… the water
tower scene….

GREG:
Let me explain this.  We leave the coffeehouse and in the next scene we come back.  But, we had this wild adventure where we climbed a water tower, and all this stuff happened off camera.  We didn’t go climb a water tower, but we were really clear on our moment before, and what we did the moment we climbed the water tower.  I was making fun of her accent and stuff, and it was real.  There was that, and I loved the stuff when Jana was missing and Kevin had Michael take him to the site where the blood was.  Kevin was convinced that she was dead, but then found her, and then getting trapped in the freezer with Colleen. The whole gamut of emotions we went through, I thought was great.

TV SOAP:
What about the recent scenes where Kevin is holding Jana at gunpoint?  That was so intense.  Did you feel it came across the way you wanted it to?

EMILY:
I think seeing it live,  personally, you would have seen it differently.  Seeing it on a small TV screen, you don’t capture as much.  I did expect it to be bigger.

GREG:
It was really intense.

EMILY:
It was.

GREG:
It was intense.

EMILY:
You could see it on screen.  I was so overwhelmed, being back.  I was playing it into my character. When you see it, it’s always different then when you are feeling it.  It’s like a stage play.

GREG:
Lynn Latham (exec. prod. and head writer, “Y&R”) came down to the set to say that she was angry, because we were distracting her so much that she was unable to write.

TV SOAP:
Kevin gets to that quick-to-anger place that is riveting to watch.  Is that a part of you, Greg?

GREG:
Yeah, sure.  I read something once that said, by the time you are six months old you have experienced every emotion, like being angry… all that stuff.  It exists within me.  But tapping into it, I don’t know.   I remember when I first came here to the show; it was easier for me to tap into the anger because I had upheaval going on in my personal life. But now that I am sedate and content in my life, it was a bit more challenging, but I found it and I got it back.

TV SOAP:
Emily, in speaking with you, we do not hear an English accent.  But, you are from England and Jana has a thick accent.  Does that get tricky when playing this character?

EMILY:
No.  I can switch in and out of it very quickly.  I forced myself to lose the accent when I came to the US.  I got teased a lot.  So, it’s ironic that a lot of things I go out for, they want me to bring the British dialect.  I mean, my father still has a very strong dialect, and when I go back to England, I can pick it back up within a week.  I can switch in and out.

TV SOAP:
Do you catch her accent when acting with her?

GREG:
Well, I will make fun of it.  Sometimes in the scenes, I will do it on purpose.  As for me, I grew up in New York and I had a really thick New York accent.  I always found when I brought it back for an audition, (I tried really hard to lose mine, also) that I would be the guy from the Midwest trying to do the New York accent.  Because once I lost it, I couldn’t get it back.  So, it’s good that Emily has that in her arsenal.

TV SOAP:
What’s up next for Jana?

EMILY:
I don’t know.  Hopefully, it’s uphill for now.

Go to the GLOBAL section of my site to listen the snippet of this interview

So, are you looking forward to happy times between Jana and Kevin?

EMILY:
Of course, he is the love of her life.  I hope there is one day when she is back to normal.

GREG:
I want the scenes where Kevin is hogtied to the bed or something. Then the next thing you know, Kevin is off to the hospital because whatever we were doing has gone too far. That is the happily-ever-after for us. (He laughs)

TV SOAP:
All the crying and emotional scenes must take a toll on both of you, as actors.  Is it tough to leave the work behind at the studio, once the cameras have stopped rolling and you are heading home from a days work?

GREG:
I am better at it now; I used to not be able to.  It’s still hard, but I try and stick with it.  If it was something that was challenging and difficult, I will go, “Wow, I think we did it well.”   Instead of moping around and staying in that difficult place, I will say, “Wow, we just did some good work.  Now it’s over and let’s move on.”

EMILY:
I can just let it go after it’s over.  Greg and I can usually make a silly joke.  However, there was one scene, and it was the surgery scene.  I felt like the environment was so real and heavy, when I was lying on the operating table.  I had recently been in a hospital myself and gone through it myself.  Being there was really freaking me out, because there was a real doctor behind me, and a real paramedic on set.  I was lying there and I could not control it.  No one could see it at all, and it was scaring me.  It was fine once I got off the table.  I could not see anyone in front of me, and all I could see was all the medical devices.  I told Greg afterwards, “My hair is soaked.”

GREG:
She was crying.  It was funny at one point, because she was supposed to be unconscious, and there is this tear streaming down her face.  It was really sweet.

EMILY:
It’s easy for me when it’s rooted in reality, and that was the one scene where I left and thought it kind of freaked me out.  The rest is easy for me.

TV SOAP:
Greg, what should “Y&R” fans look forward to from Kevin?

GREG:
I think it’s funny that Kevin manages to grow and evolve and still stays the same at the same time, if that makes any sense?  I am sure we can look forward to more relationship trouble in the future, and more dirty deeds with Gloria, and more sibling rivalry with his brother.  It will be more of the same, yet it will be new, but with some of the same battles.

TV SOAP;
Greg, when TV SOAP spoke with you earlier in the year, you were adjusting to working in scenes with both Judith Chapman (on-screen mom, Gloria) and Christian Leblanc (on-screen brother, Michael.)  Has it gotten any easier for you?

GREG:
It’s one of those sink or swim things, where you have got to put up and then deal with it.  I think I have managed to stay focused in the moments where it can be challenging.  That being said, too, it’s the “eye on the prize”, and when the cameras roll, we all do good work together.

TV SOAP:
What has the fan response been, to Kevin and Jana being back together?

EMILY:
I went to a fan event and they all said they were enjoying this. They were all looking forward to Jana and Kevin getting back together, and being more normal.

GREG:
“Normal” they mean “abnormal!”

EMILY:
Yes, “abnormal together.”

Go to the GLOBAL section of my site to listen the snippet of this interview

What do the two of you do for fun together, when you hang out off the set?

EMILY:
Eat!

GREG:
We are both “foodies”. We have this big joke with these plans, that Kevin and Jana will become daytime’s first morbidly obese couple.  (He laughs) We are “foodies” together.  We go to movies together.  We saw the motion picture “Ratatouille” this week.

EMILY:
We have dinner parties.

TV SOAP:
But, you guys really pig out together?  What do you eat?

GREG:
Celery.

EMILY:
Hominy beans.

TV SOAP:
Oh, c’mon!

GREG:
We eat… trust us.

EMILY:
We won’t go to Dominos or Pizza Hut and eat something extremely greasy …

GREG:
It usually a night of dining with Emily, which is followed by a weekend of purging and celery! (He laughs)

EMILY:
Oh, man!

GREG:
Everything in moderation!

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