This interview originally appeared on MSN.ca
As The Young and the Restless celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, MSN sat down to chat with star Joshua Morrow, who has played Nicholas Newman, the son of legendary Genoa City super couple Victor and Nikki Newman (Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott) for almost 20 years.
Morrow opens up about the powerful storyline which saw his character’s adoptive daughter Cassie (played by Camryn Grimes) die following a car accident, Nick Newman’s dalliances with Sharon (Sharon Case), Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) and Avery (Jessica Collins) as well as his rivalries – sibling and romantic – with Adam (Michael Muhney) and newcomer Dylan (Steve Burton).
When you signed on in 1994, did you have any idea you’d be staying with the show this long?
I never imagined it! I couldn’t believe that they wanted me to do it or that I’d end up this lucky to be a part of the Newman family. I didn’t know anything about soaps. I didn’t watch them but when they offered me the job, I instantly took it. I didn’t realize what I’d be stepping into. It’s just been an incredible career that I’ve been able to have. I can’t believe I get to do this for a living. It’s an amazing job which has changed my life immensely. I even met my wife because of this job! It’s been the greatest ride ever!
What has been the most rewarding storyline to play?
It’s tough to say that it was rewarding…I don’t know if it’s the right word, but the Cassie dying storyline really changed the character of Nick forever. It made him deal with some serious adversity. To deal with loss on that level is very painful. As an actor, it kind of launched me into this different role on the show. That story led to Nick being with Phyllis, which really changed my career. It kind of took me out of the “dude who bounced around the coffee house” into one of the leading men on the show. I got to work with Michelle Stafford, who is honestly as good as it gets. Those two stories are kind of intertwined and those are the most impacting stories that I got to tell.
Cassie’s death, which happened in 2005, is something that still has last effects around the canvas.
It’s the genius of the story. It was a very tough story to tell and an incredible risk by the writers. We’re stilltelling that story. Things that happened from that events are still filtering out on the show and they will never go away. I thought it was an incredible leap that they took. Very brave, but also very painful. I loved the character and I loved the actress who played her. She was like my own daughter. To be able to go through that storyline was not fun for me. I always pride myself into believing that I can walk out of the building and leave my story in those halls, but I could not shake that story. I took it home with me. We were telling it forever. I knew what was coming and it was just really awful to go through.
What went through your mind when you first saw it in the scripts?
I could not believe it. I would have bet anything that they were not going to go that route because a child dying is not something that people take very well. This character meant so much to the fans. One of the amazing things about the fans is that the characters are a part of their families. They’re so passionate and dedicated. So when you take a character like Cassie, who was so special [to them], it hurts people. The fans were not happy. It was very difficult to hear and read about it from them. It was just an incredible risk but I think the reward was so giant. We’re still dealing with that story! You’re also not human if you didn’t cry from that story. You should have seen these crew members. Everybody was crying their ass off. It was so difficult to shoot and watch Camryn Grimes lay there and be so brave and tell this mature story – [it’s] the highlight of my career because she was this calming force out there and she was the one dying.
Viewers also got to see this character grow up with the same actress in the role rather than having the show age the character.
They rapid-age all the kids but they couldn’t afford to do it with her because she was just so amazing and meant so much to the crew, the cast, and the fans.
Nick first dealt with Cassie’s death by trying to bring Daniel to justice when he thought he was behind the wheel during that car accident that landed Cassie in the hospital. Which is when viewers noticed a spark between him and Daniel’s mother, Phyllis.
That came out of nowhere! Nobody expected it to happen. It kind of created this lightning…electricity that these two characters didn’t have [before]. I remember when we were shooting that story and I kept saying to Michelle, “You know where this is going, right?” She said, “No. No chance!” And I’m like, “Yeah…” I was just kind of teasing her because I like to see her all riled up. I didn’t expect it but there’s something happened there and man, it was a home run! The fans freaking loved it!
You’ve got one second to answer this: Sharon or Phyllis?
You know I cannot answer that question! I love these two women. I love these two characters and I cannot possibly choose one. They are multi-Emmy winning, incredible actresses. They’ve taught me a lot. Those two made me a man and a better actor.
Nick’s moved on with Phyllis’ sister now. Avery has brought out a different side of Nick.
He’s much more relaxed and playful. I think the character just kind of gave Nick a chance to sit back and take a breath. There was always so much drama surrounding Phyllis and Sharon. She also pushed him into opening his new venture and getting away from his dad. He’s just enjoying life more. Nick was always wound a little tight and had a quick trigger. He was an easy-going dude but if something bothered him, he snapped. He’d start punching people impulsively. Avery is kind of like this Zen-like character for him. But, that being said, there’s this code in life that you don’t hook up with a sibling! Nick is going down a very slippery slope with this. Especially with someone as fired up as Phyllis is. I think that Nick is just kind of enjoying the ride and seeing where it goes. They’re trying to build something…we’ll see what happens.
Y&R’s got a new executive producer in charge.
I’m an athlete and I take sports very seriously. Jill [Farren Phelps] came in and gave us a very strong, commanding voice as a coach. Now, that style of leadership sometimes rubs people the wrong way. Sometimes people are kind of hanging on to the past but I think we really needed some serious leadership. Some kind of “Shut the eff up, get on your marks and let’s go!” She is no joke. I love her for it. I love [former executive producer and head writer]Maria [Arena Bell] too. I thought she was very nurturing. We got along very well. She did a great job. Even Jack Smith before that. They all really respected Nick and always kept me busy – there’s nothing else I could ask for. They all have different styles of leadership. I really like Jill and Josh Griffith has done a great job writing. I can give anybody the benefit of the doubt, but you come in here and do a good job. That’s all I ask for. I take my job very seriously. I want this show to continue and if it takes these two people to do it, then let’s go!
Jill’s brought some friends with her.
Including Steve Burton who plays Avery’s ex, Dylan. Nick has a very calm attitude towards him.
I spoke to Josh about this. This part of the story meant very much to me. Nick completely understands that Aery went through a terrible situation with Dylan. He’s just not going to dismiss it by treating Dylan like he’s this evil guy. This person meant very much to Avery and Nick’s going to try to understand that and so far, he has. He’s trying to not like Dylan and when he walks in, it’s always like “This is the dude that’s coming after my girl. I don’t like it.” But you can tell that he’s served in the military, he’s served his country. He didn’t do anything wrong. He did this huge sacrifice for his country, came home and everything had changed. I think that at Nick’s core, he’s trying to understand what this guy is going through. All he can do is plead his case to Avery and make her know how much she means to him. He’s just not going to be a dick to Dylan. He’s going to say, “Listen, this is the way that it’s going to be: I love her and I understand what you lost.” I think that in the past, Nick would have been a real bully to this guy. He would have punched him at least several times at this point! He understands what happened between these two people and he’s going to give it the proper respect that it deserves.
Whereas Nick’s not so cool with his own brother Adam. Do you think that’ll ever change?
If you ask me as an actor, I hope it never happens. I’ve talked to Josh and Jill about this as well. This relationship is very important to me because it always gives me something to play and that’s hate. Nick doesn’t trust Adam and he never will. I don’t understand how everybody in Genoa City can give this guy a pass. He’s done some absolutely brutal, horrible things to people. Everybody is forgiving him.
Of course! And Nick just says to himself, I’m not doing that. I don’t trust you. I think that you’re a dangerous human being.” I think Nick is always on-guard around Adam. I love having that to play. It’s always there. It’s always in the back of Nick’s mind. There’s always this dude that Nick doesn’t like or trust and it’s even more interesting because it’s his brother. It’s a very powerful feeling to have this sibling that you absolutely hate.
Two years ago, the soaps were in trouble. All My Children and One Life to Live were both cancelled while General Hospital seemed to be next. Did those cancellations shake up the industry? GH is now thriving while those cancelled soaps are staging in Internet come back. Y&R’s ratings are also up compared to last year (even though it has been #1 in both the United States and Canada for decades).
I don’t know if shakeup is the right word. I think that what happened [to daytime]was kind of like what happened with the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? phenomenon [in primetime]. That show came on and everybody decided that they needed to see nighttime game shows. [Scripted] shows were cancelled and there was this oversaturation of material that everybody was trying to recreate. I think that what happened was everybody said, “We’re going to put on a bunch of cooking shows and talk shows because they’re cheap and we’re going to force everybody to watch them.” Well, people need this kind of content during the day. Nobody can watch people sitting around a table and talking about muffins all day long! Soap fans are very dedicated and they need this kind of material.
With that being said, I think that the business model of soaps needs to change. There are a lot more options for people and we needed to scale back our shows and make them more interesting. We’ve done it on The Young and the Restless and with All My Children and One Life to Live coming back, it’s amazing. Hopefully the networks will take notice of this. People need this kind of entertainment. You can’t just throw a judge show or a game show at everybody and expect them to be happy with it.
I care so much about this medium. When you go on the road like I do and you talk to families, you see that [viewership]is generational. They have this show that they can talk about and compare notes. It means something to these people and I don’t know how you can dismiss that as a producer or network head. These shows mean something to people and you can’t just say, “You know, they’re not getting the same numbers they used to.” Scale them back. Change. You alter with the times. You give the fans what they want. And this is what they want!
Speaking of what the fans want…what are the chances of a 3Deep reunion?
Zero. [Laughs] I’m almost forty and I have four children. CJ [Huyer]’s got a couple of kids. Eddie [Cibrian]’s got a couple of kids and bunch of drama. There’s just no chance of that happening. Frankly, we’re just too old to go on stage with open shirts and sing to sixteen-year-old girls.
The Backstreet Boys are doing it. So are the New Kids on the Block. Maybe Eddie could ask LeAnn to come along.
That was an incredible three-year run in my life. I really wish I could write a book about it! I had more fun than humans are supposed to have. I will never ever look back on that time and wonder “what just happened?” It was a zoo, a circus and the most fun I ever had. All I did was laugh, drink beer, get in a van to tour Canada and sing to girls. It was amazing!
I’m remodeling a home and I found a box of old 3Deep stuff. Someday, I cannot wait to show my kids. It was honestly so much fun. The things that we did, laughed and went through! It was me, CJ and Eddie, three of the largest body guards you can imagine, our manager and some publicity people in buses and vans touring Canada…just having fun, drinking beer.
Are you guys still close?
Eddie and I talk all the time. I was actually just emailing CJ the other day, hearing about his kids. Good times.
Let’s talk sports! You’re a big hockey fan and you’ve appeared on TSN’s Off the Record. Any predictions on how things will play out?
Well you know, the Kings are still the Stanley Cup champs until somebody takes them down. Last year was a magical ride. I just haven’t watched much this year because I was so bitter about how things went down [with the lockout]. Hockey is a big sport, but it unfortunately doesn’t have the fan base in the U.S. to sustain these shutdowns. I’m not too positive and confident about the way the owners treat the players. In Canada it’s huge, but it’s got a publicity image problem in the United States. So hopefully they take this shortened season a lesson and never do it again. It’s a different sport and it doesn’t translate in America as well as in Canada and that’s where most of the teams are. It’s always going to be in a little bit of trouble.
It was neat seeing you and Michelle on Off the Record during the playoffs last season.
Yeah, one of my buddies works there [David Krikst, producer] and we were actually coming up with some new ideas to. It’s going to be fun.
The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on CBS and Global. Canadian fans can also keep up to date with Y&R on GlobalTV.com and through On Demand and mobile devices using the Global TV app.