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Exclusive: YOUNG AND RESTLESS’s Susan Walters On The State Of Diane

Susan Walters, Michael Mealor

Howard Wise/

Mother Knows Best: According to Walters, Diane sees herself as a placeholder until Kyle (Michael Mealor) can claim his rightful position at Jabot.

What do you like about Diane now and where she is in her life? “Well, I think it’s always nice to play well-rounded characters, so she’s not just an evil person. By this point, you clearly have seen that Diane has a lot of heart. Even though she has the potential for causing a lot of problems, because that was her, you can also see that she’s put her money where her mouth is and really does love her son and love Jack. That, as an actor, gives you a lot to play and then their actions really affect you more.”

When Diane came back from the dead two years ago, the odds were against her being able to get to where she is now. “I think she thinks she’s where she’s exactly supposed to be. So, I think that’s why when there’s any little crack in the wall, it really affects her.”

Which, at the moment, seems to be the tension between her and Kyle that she has the co-CEO position at Jabot and he doesn’t. She’s tried to address that with him, but he’s been quite mercurial on the issue. First, he says it’s a great thing that she’s in the job, and then he says, “No, I’m really upset about it” and then he’s back to, “I’m really okay with it.” “Maybe he was talking himself into both sides of that. Diane is smart enough to know that, besides the upside for Jack not having to compete with Billy or even be eclipsed by his son, he has an ally in Diane. It’s like Jack gets two voices in a way and I don’t think that’s lost on her.”

Why do you think Diane accepted such a big role at Jabot when her dream was to have father and son being in charge together? “Aside from the reason I just said, I think ultimately Diane wants Kyle to be co-CEO, if not CEO, so it’s better that it’s Diane [rather] than an outsider or Billy. If Jack’s not going to hire Kyle, then at least it’s not someone else who might stick. And since she’s taken the job, Diane has [offered], ‘Why don’t I step down?’ ”

So, she’s effectively a placeholder? “Right. I think there’s probably a lot of that. And here’s the deal: Don’t boards vote people on and off? So if, God forbid, something happens between Jack and Diane, they’re going to get rid of Diane. She’s never going to get the company from Jack. I mean, Jack’s able to make her co-CEO but the rest of [the board] wouldn’t keep her on. Her best bet is to have her son in that position.”

So many naysayers warned that Diane will take over Jabot if given the chance. That hasn’t happened, but she seems honestly concerned about protecting the Abbott family and Jabot. “I stressed the element of, sometimes you want something and then you see how it’s affecting your personal life and you realize, ‘Okay, maybe it’s not worth this.’ So she loves the power and the position she’s been given, but when she sees how upsetting it is to her son and how angry she’s getting about that, she’s like, ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t what I wanted.’ I think it’s very noble of Diane to realize that it may not be worth it. I think Diane’s biggest picture is her relationship with her son.”

Does it seem like a nice break that she doesn’t have Ashley, Nikki and Phyllis ganging up on her anymore? “Oh, they still are, it’s just now independently.”

There’s definitely that underlying animosity. Case in point was the run-in she had with Phyllis when Diane shared the news of her promotion and Phyllis asked if Diane was now the head of rubber band balls. “I’m just, like, the brunt of their jokes now. But that’s okay because you have to have the foil, right? You have to have the person to set these things up and what I’m able to do as Diane right now, because of where she is in her life, is try to rise above it. That has to be her action since she doesn’t have any comeback.”

But that scene is a reminder of how delicious that static is between them. Would you mind seeing that kick up again? “Oh, I absolutely wouldn’t mind that. I love working with Michelle [Stafford, Phyllis] and their history is always kind of fun. I love that it cracked you up and didn’t make you go, ‘Oh, gawd!’ ”

Susan Walters, Eileen Davidson, Peter Bergman

Howard Wise/

Give Peace A Chance: Walters thinks it’s only a matter of time before Diane and Ashley (Eileen Davidson, with Peter Bergman as Jack) are bickering again.

Do you think a genuine détente has been called between Diane and Ashley? “Well, could we call it that? I mean, I think they’re just not fighting with each other. Ashley is not going to be won over by Diane anytime soon, which is kind of interesting because the storyline coming up requires Diane to have a lot of empathy and compassion for Ashley, but it’s extremely tempered by their history.”

Diane is being very patient and understanding about Jack helping Nikki to maintain her sobriety, but you can tell there’s resentment brewing there. How much longer can Diane tolerate Jack rushing to Nikki when she needs him? “Here’s the deal: Diane is smart enough to know that what helped her to get Jack to give her another chance is his personality and his flaw of wanting to be the white knight and save people. Now you have Nikki in this position of needing support and Jack is the person who can give that support. So for Diane, that is not the best of circumstances, but she’s on her feet, she’s got this relationship with her son, and she’s trying not to cause a lot of problems with Ashley because she’s never going to win with Jack on that. Diane doesn’t need saving but now Nikki does, and it fulfills a need in Jack. Diane already asked him, ‘Do you really think you’re the person who can help her?’ But if you’re a sponsor of someone who’s drinking, there’s not an intimacy in the basic sense of the word, but there is an intimate relationship with that person. Nikki is sharing things with Jack that she’s not sharing with her own husband. It’s giving Peter [Bregman, Jack] and me a lot of fun stuff to play.”

What do you think of the direction your character is being taken? “Well, I’m just kind of trusting the process. The storylines ebb and flow, and everyone thinks happy couples are boring couples. But I think it’s really important for Diane and Jack to have a solid relationship because what comes next matters more.”