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Exclusive: Jason Thompson Weighs In On Billy And Adam's Y&R Breakthrough

The contentious relationship between Y&R’s Adam and Billy has undergone a surprising thaw in the face of Connor’s psychological struggles. Digest checked in with Billy’s portrayer, Jason Thompson, about the storyline turn.

Melissa Claire Egan, Jason Thompson, Mark Grossman

Howard Wise/

Common Ground: Billy (Jason Thompson, r.) has found a new empathy for Adam (Mark Grossman).

One of the standout scenes in the unfolding of Connor’s OCD story was Billy comforting Adam outside the child psychologist’s office. What do you think about how that played out? “It was great to go back to those places of kind of vulnerability and moments in characters’ lives that have changed the trajectory of their life. I think that comes with history, and what we get to do in this genre is tell those long-form stories. So, yeah, there’s a lot going on with Adam and Billy’s incredible personal history. Billy opened up to Adam [about] that night, ‘I tried to run you down’ and those words have never been said out loud yet by Billy, let alone to Adam. But there’s a humanness that I think that they’ve found with each other that was like, ‘Look, I’m never going to like you, but as a human being I can have empathy for what you’re going through right now.’ And I think that’s a really nice moment for people to have. Does it last? Who knows? That’s what we get when characters continue to develop and things happen.”

What’s amazing about that scene with you and Mark Grossman (Adam) is that the conversation was so unexpected. Adam and Billy could have just gone off at each other, assigning blame and being antagonistic, which would’ve been their usual shtick. But the way that this was written and how you guys executed it, was so refreshing. “Yeah, I agree. That was noticeable with us, too, and it was great because we talked about that and we’re like, ‘Okay, this is interesting.’ They could revert to old habits very quickly just as much as Chelsea could, which in turn, spins it off in a whole other way. We’re all capable of going back to that place, but we’re also capable of having these human moments as well, which is a little more complex and fun. I think it’s engaging storytelling.”

You’ve always liked working with Mark, especially when Billy and Adam are at each other’s throats. How do you like the new nuance Connor is adding to their dynamic? “I love working with Mark. Not only because we feel that we can be truthful to the characters and everything else, but Mark has got an energy about him personally and he really does bring that into Adam. He keeps you on the edge a little bit and that’s a good thing. But I also love that there has been a lot of evolution [between Adam and Billy] since Mark and I have taken over these roles. An evolving character is a good character, it’s a well-written character. I think that Billy is always going to have that edge, too. He’s going to fight for whatever he thinks is right. It’s okay to mature and get a little smarter and find balance but it doesn’t mean that you’re always going to make the right decisions.”

You’re a father in real life and Mark isn’t. Have you offered him any advice when it comes to Adam’s reaction to his son’s OCD? “I told him a quick little story about when my son was born and how everything up until that moment of my life was absolutely perfect. And then you have a kid and now you’ve got to figure out how to be a parent, because your life is totally different, there’s nothing in the world that is as important as that child and you don’t want them to be in any sort of pain in anything. You don’t want them to struggle, so it’s profound because you just want to take all that from them. I told Mark, ‘Adam is in that place right now and you’ve just got to find out what that is for him.’ ”

Connor’s story has so many moving parts, including the effect it has on Billy and Chelsea. What’s your take on that? “Billy and Chelsea feeling all the stuff they’ve been through with her on the roof [when she was contemplating suicide] and his relationship with Lily ending, there’s been a lot of vulnerability and guilt, and then the honesty that they’ve been able to find with each other — but then this moment kind of happens that needs to be taken care of and it [involves] a kid. It just got real all over again and, ‘What does this mean for you? What does this to mean for us? What is this going to mean for your kid who I’ve come to really love?’ He’s a great kid and he’s going through some stuff. And I think me playing that character, sometimes I want to just say, ‘Look, he has been through a lot with your [suicide] attempt and everything else. And it makes sense that this [OCD] might happen to someone and it’s scary’, but I don’t even think he can say that to Chelsea yet, which is very interesting for me.”

Jason Thompson, Melissa Claire Egan

Howard Wise/

Son Set: Connor’s troubles are having an impact on Billy (Jason Thompson) and Chelsea’s (Melissa Claire Egan) relationship.

Do you think Connor’s condition could set back Chelsea emotionally? “He’s been through his own addiction and he knows how close that edge is where she could fall back into old, let’s call them, habits [in] the way that she might talk to herself or the way she feels about herself with depression and all of these things. So it’s a very delicate rope and now you add Adam into the mix and it becomes a little more volatile just because of their history. It’s fun to play all those dynamics. You’re working with two powerhouses, Missy [Claire Egan, Chelsea] and Mark, and Judah [Mackey, Connor] has done some really great work, too. And I think sometimes those kind of storylines only work when you have a child [actor] that brings it to the scene, as well, and they show how scared they are and then you can really identify with that. It all has to work and I think it’s a fun little start to a bigger-picture kind of story as it continues to unravel.”

I’m sure you’ll agree that Missy has been doing a phenomenal job. “Yes, but I’m not surprised. To be honest, that’s kind of what’s really interesting about all of it, because Chelsea has been through so much and now everything is pushed aside and you’ve just got to try and be there for your kid at that point. Missy’s a new mother and all of that love that’s inside of her, she’s a good enough actress to pull it all [into her performance] and she kills it every single time. She’s so good.”

Do you think Adam and Billy can stay on the same page when it comes to Chelsea and Connor? “They’re never going to be best friends. They’ve done some pretty horrible things to each other, but Chelsea and Connor supersede all of that. The safest and most productive way forward is for Billy to try not to get involved, but he’s going to support Chelsea and he really does care about Connor. He would jump in a lake to save Adam’s kid. The safer the transfer of all that energy goes, the safer it’s going be for Chelsea to be in control of her emotional life because the fear of her going to that [dark] place again, I think, is very real for Billy and the triggers [for Chelsea] are very delicate. He wants to say all of the right things and even if he and Adam resort back to the type of interaction that they’ve been doing for years now, it’s gratifying to know that they know how to get back to that spot of understanding each other. Now, they know what they’re capable of.”