In 1997, B&B tapped 18-year-old newbie Jacob Young to play the role of Rick Forrester. He exited in 1999, taking home a Daytime Emmy that same year as Outstanding Younger Actor. After a stint as GH's Lucky, he settled into AMC as JR, a part he's played since 2003. But the actor isn't wondering what the future holds after AMC ceases production at the end of August: He was snapped up by B&B to return to Rick, a role last played by Kyle Lowder from 2007-11. He spoke to Digest about his big move.
Soap Opera Digest: Congratulations, Jacob! Though I must admit, I'm simultaneously happy and sad.
Jacob Young: I know how you feel. Michael Knight [Tad] called me at home yesterday. He wanted to tell me congratulations, but I told him, "You know, I feel in some ways like I'm turning my back on people." And he goes, "No, no, don't feel that way at all. You gotta do what you gotta do." He just kind of gave me that nice congratulatory speech and told me it's the right decision, so that was good. You know, it's very good. I'm happy. I will miss ALL MY CHILDREN dearly, but it's time to start changing.
Digest: The bummer aspect of this for AMC fans, of course, is that this means you won't be part of AMC's move to the Internet.
Young: The uncertainty [about that transition] is the hard thing. All I hear is, "Well, when it," or, "If it." That doesn't add much security, personally and professionally. And even then, are they going to be able to meet all the needs [of the cast] financially? Those are questions we all have to ask ourselves.
Digest Did B&B reach out to you or vice-versa?
Young: Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] contacted my manager and basically asked him if I would be interested in coming back and [said] that the character of Rick Forrester hadn't been the same since I left. He basically put it out there and that's how it started. My manager called me, we talked about it a bit and just kind of threw around some possibilities. They seemed excited. There have been times where some people from the production staff over there kind of dropped hints over the years, but I was very happy playing JR and being on ALL MY CHILDREN and living in New York and I really wasn't prepared to make that change. But now that there's uncertainty and change happening, it was pretty easy for me to be able to make that choice.
Digest: Have you spoken to Brad?
Young: I haven't even spoken to Brad or talked to anyone, to tell you the truth.
Digest: Well, John McCook [Eric, B&B] told us that he's delighted you're returning.
Young: That's so great to hear. I love John.
Digest: In addition to John, there's a score of B&B folks from your first stint who are still there, like Katherine Kelly Lang [Brooke] and Ronn Moss [Ridge].
Young: That's the coolest thing. We're talking 14 years from when I first started!
Digest: Do you know when you start taping over there?
Young: I don't know when I'm going to start working. It is kind of nutty. I don't know how it's going to work because Julie [Hanan Carruthers, AMC's EP] really needs me at AMC to finish out the storyline; I know there's a lot that's going to be hung on JR and his story. So I'm going to be working feverishly through the last bit of ALL MY CHILDREN. But I also know they have a huge story in place, which I haven't heard anything about yet, at BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL. So I'll be jumping right in. I know that the last air date of ALL MY CHILDREN is September 23 and that literally the next Monday, people can catch me on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL.
Digest: Which, ideally, will ease some of the pain of AMC fans.
Young: I hope some of my fans stay with me. Out of all of the shows, I'm the least recognized from B&B but I still get that occasional, "Didn't you used to play Rick on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL?"And I'm always like, "Yeah, like a century ago!" It feels like it, it really does. I look at pictures from back then and I was a kid!
Digest: You said Michael Knight's call helped you manage some of the bittersweetness of this decision. Have you been harboring some difficult feelings around your AMC castmates?
Young: I was going through my own feelings and it was difficult because obviously I didn't want to talk about anything until I knew it was actually going to happen and it just kind of made me feel like … I was a little insecure about it, I gotta be honest. This is a really difficult time that everybody's going through right now and I didn't want it to be like, "Oh, here's this guy who's got a job," and everybody else is going to be looking for jobs. I don't know. It makes you feel kind of strange. I honestly want the best for every single person on our show, from the crew to all the other actors. I just want for them to continue working and continue living their lives and their dreams. It made me nervous, it really did. The day the news came out, Agnes [Nixon, AMC's Creator] was there and Julie approached me and was like, "Jacob, Agnes is here and she would like to say hello to you, but most importantly, she would like to give you a spanking." I was like, "What do you mean, a spanking?!" I went down there and she was just so complimentary to me about the work that I've done over the years and what it's meant to her and to ALL MY CHILDREN and she was just so sweet and good to me. Obviously, she wanted me to stay; her line was, "Obviously, I'd feel a lot better, if you know what I mean." But she said it with a wink and a smile.
Digest: Listen, you're not the kid you were when you started on B&B; you've got a wife and a son to think about. No one would think that this is you being disloyal to AMC.
Young: I hope not. Just a couple weeks ago, it was uncertainty, and what's the next move, do I wait around or do I keep going out and auditioning? And then all of a sudden, this kind of came together. I don't know. The great thing is that it's nice for me to be able to go back and regroup with all those familiar faces and the actors that I first learned from. Those were the days of the very, very beginning for Jacob Young. So it's cool to come back. That part of it is going to be really fun and unique, to be able to step back onto that show in that group. I hate to say it, but I'm more of a seasoned actor; I've done my years. I think there's a lot that I'm going to be able to bring to Rick. I plan to make it different from JR, that's for sure. It's a new beginning for Rick and for Jacob and I plan on embodying that and bringing a different aspect that people haven't seen. I'm really excited about it.
Digest: Meanwhile, they've been keeping you very busy on AMC, and JR's downward spiral has been pretty epic — and nothing short of enthralling.
Young: Well, thank you. It's kind of nice to let myself get a little sloppy. He's kind of a mess, you know? I've been digging it. It's fun to spiral out a little bit.
Digest: Are you flattered that JR is such a pivotal player in the wind-up of AMC's time on ABC?
Young: It's absolutely flattering. I didn't expect it at all. I mean, I was on the radar, but I wasn't on the radar that much! And of course, these last couple weeks now, it's all winding down onto JR and it's a real, absolute honor for them to entrust that kind of responsibility to me as an actor and give me something really meaty that I can really go out with a bang with. I promise, for myself and for the audience, I will be putting everything I possibly can into those last episodes to make sure that they are the most powerful and impactful shows that I've done since being on the show. It's going to be really good. Everybody is working on that level; I know all the actors feel the same way. Everybody has been really putting their best foot forward through this whole thing. You think it would be a really sad place but the morale has been really strong and positive.