“That’s a great title,” laughs Greg Rikaart (Kevin, YOUNG AND RESTLESS) when he hears the proposed headline for his first-ever Digest feature, immediately easing our reporter’s fears that if the interview doesn’t go well, the brake lines on his car might get cut. But it only takes a few moments with the jovial daytime newcomer to realize that — happily — Rikaart (pronounced “Ri-kart”) is nothing like his misfit alter ego. Or, so he says….”It’s a perfect fit,” he beams from a comfy couch in a dressing room off Y&R’s Studio 43. Realizing that he has just proclaimed the role of an Internet predator/arsonist “a perfect fit,” the actor clarifies, “He’s far removed from who I am, but this character exists within all of us. We can be good people, but we get jealous, envious, manipulative. Confess: Who hasn’t driven past a house to make sure that a car was in the driveway when it was supposed to be? We’ve all done things when, afterward, you’re like, ‘Wow, that was borderline obsessive.’ Kevin doesn’t have an edit button. He has issues and problems controlling his emotions.”Uh, there’s an understatement. Since Rikaart’s debut last July (in what was supposed to be a 10-day gig), Kevin seduced underaged Lily, trashed her loft and nearly killed Colleen after setting Gina’s ablaze. He is suspected of rigging Brittany’s disfiguring accident and recently pulled a gun on Lauren, then threatened to shoot himself. Not surprisingly, playing Kevin has taken its toll on the actor. “The day that I trashed the loft, I had a difficult time,” he recalls. “The cameras stopped rolling and that’s when the tears started and couldn’t stop. But with the suicide attempt, Christian [J. LeBlanc, Michael], who in addition to being a great co-star, is a great friend, gave me everything I needed, professionally and personally. [Supervising Producer] Ed Scott came down from the booth at one point and his eyes were red, so that was a major compliment.”Of course, none of this would be happening if Rikaart hadn’t made an impression in the recurring role of Jack’s boyfriend, David, during the final season of DAWSON’S CREEK. “When I came into my audition at Y&R, Marnie Saitta, the casting director, wanted to see me based on that work,” he nods. “The great thing from that experience was when I received fan mail from a gay or lesbian teenager saying, ‘You helped me through a rough time.’ You realize there is a greater good involved with what we do.”A greater good the actor almost didn’t realize. The Villanova University graduate “majored in political science and minored in English and communications, so naturally I became an actor,” he chuckles. “I was a late bloomer. Growing up, it was instilled in me that after high school, I’d go to college, and it wasn’t until the end of my tenure there that I decided I had to do what was right for me, which meant moving to L.A. by myself.”A move, he admits, that wasn’t easy. “There were some dark days in the beginning,” he acknowledges. “It was tough. I went through some rough patches where I was down on myself.” But Rikaart knew he had the drive to succeed. “It was never ‘if,’ ” he declares. “It was always ‘when.’ As long as each year was better than the year before, I knew I’d be okay.” Now, happily ensconced in Genoa City, he states that life is good. Gainfully employed, he’s single and house hunting. (“I just came out of a relationship,” he demurs. “And no, we didn’t meet on the Internet!”) The actor does confess that he is a little unnerved by his newfound fame. “It’s humbling, and makes me shy,” he confides. “My parents will send out e-mails to anyone who won’t block them about what I’m doing. It’s wonderful that they’re so supportive, but it’s a little embarrassing. But I do know things won’t always be up, so I’m trying to be fiscally smart and savvy.”Pondering our closing “Barbara Walters” question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Rikaart thoughtfully replies, “Hopefully, doing more of the same. I’d like to have a family of my own. Maybe I’ll be at a podium accepting my Oscar. Or, maybe I’ll be in a straitjacket,” he laughs.
Um, about those brake lines, Greg….
Not only did Greg Rikaart once wait tables alongside Jessica Morris (Jennifer, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) at a California Pizza Kitchen in Los Angeles prior to their soap careers, but he also shares a past with another Llanview denizen.
“Kathy Brier [Marcie] and I went to Moore Catholic High School together on Staten Island [NY],” Rikaart recalls. “I was a freshman when she was a junior, and we were on the speech and debate team. The category I was in was dual interpretation of literature, so we would take a 10-minute piece from like a Neil Simon play and pretty much act it out. I remember thinking back then how talented she is. I’m so incredibly happy for her. I haven’t seen her [recently], but I’m sure at some point, our paths will cross. I look forward to catching up on the last 10 years.”
This article originally ran in the Mar. 23, 2004 issue of Soap Opera Digest