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ICYMI: Brytni Sarpy And Bryton James Interview

Bryton James (Devon) and Brytni Sarpy (Elena) found an immediate groove at Y&R

Soap Opera Digest: Brytni, you were already friends with Camryn Grimes (Mariah) and Christian LeBlanc (Michael). Had you met Bryton before you came to Y&R?

Brytni Sarpy: No, I don’t think we ever really crossed paths until I came on to the show. I was familiar with his work from voting around Emmy time but other than that, no, we hadn’t met.

Digest: Bryton, what did you think when you were told Devon would be getting a new love interest? Did you think it was too soon after Hilary?

Bryton James: No, because it’s a soap opera. I knew [Devon being single] couldn’t go on for too much longer. I was very excited for the possibility of what the storyline could bring and working with someone new.

Digest: How much were you told about what kind of person Elena would be?

James: They actually didn’t tell me anything and I don’t think they told Brytni anything, either.

Sarpy: Yeah, it was pretty vague. I didn’t even know I was reading with Bryton.

James: Even when I first auditioned for Y&R, they didn’t tell me I would be a foster kid until I got the job.

Digest: Were there other actresses reading for the role that day?

Sarpy: There were three other women.

Digest: Did you offer any advice, Bryton?

James: Only if they ask or if I can see some real nerves. I remember when Loren Lott [ex-Ana] auditioned, they had me spend some time with her and a few of the other girls who came in to just rehearse the scene a few times before we actually read for the producers. We would kind of bounce ideas back and forth. But for Brytni’s audition, no, I didn’t say anything. She didn’t need any advice at all.

Digest: Did Brytni stand out to you from the rest?

James: Oh, head and shoulders above the rest. Absolutely.

Digest: Brytni, what was your impression of Bryton during the audition?

Sarpy: He was really cool, really calm, really collected. He seemed like a warm guy. This was actually right after Kristoff [St. John, ex-Neil] passed and I knew the connection, so I gave him my condolences. He seemed like a really nice, helpful, jolly guy. He was already laughing and smiling.

Digest: After Brytni landed the role, when was the next time you two saw each other again?

James: It was her first scene when she came to the door after I followed Ana to the motel.

Sarpy: Right. My first day was St. Valentine’s Day.

Digest: Did you get a chance to know each other before working on the set?

Sarpy: No.

James: No, we didn’t, actually. The first time we really ever got to know each other was when we were in a party scene.

Sarpy: Because there was downtime.

James: All of us spent all day on set together.

Sarpy: It was the opening of Society. It was also their first date.

Digest: What was your real first impression of each other on that day you got to really talk?

James: My real first impression of her was she was a lot more fun and had a better sense of humor than I thought originally. We realized she was as goofy as me. I think that’s the biggest thing. I didn’t realize she had the sense of humor that she did.

Sarpy: Yeah, I mean, I say the same thing. I think after really talking to him, we just shared a lot in common and it was really cool. We got along really well and had a really great conversation.

Digest: What do you remember about the first scene, when Devon meets Elena at the motel?

Sarpy: For me, I thought it was really nice. This is a more overall response, just comparing Y&R to GH. It was just really nice because after my first day, everyone on set clapped for me and I thought that was the nicest thing ever. I thought, “What a welcoming set.” It was a really good introduction to everyone.

James: I remember wanting to impress her. I knew there was potentially going to be a storyline between us and I just wanted to be good.

Digest: Do you feel your acting styles mesh well?

Sarpy: Yeah, for sure. We’re both very subtle. I don’t think either of us pushes a lot. Very natural. We are able to really finesse the scenes and just work them.

James: Absolutely. The preparation process and getting to set is just identical, really. I like to be overprepared and learn stuff the second that I get a script and she’s the same way. When we get to rehearse and really break down a scene and get it perfect it’s easy because we want to do the same thing; we have the same work ethic.

Digest: Do you like to run through the lines several times?

James: We like to run it a lot because the more you know the material and have it down like the back of your hand, it’s easier to be spontaneous with your choices.

Sarpy: Right. I like the emphasis to not be on making sure I have my cues. I’d rather it be organic or what I’m actually feeling.

Digest: The fans have responded well to this duo. Were you nervous about how they would react?

Sarpy: Me, for sure, coming from GH where I was called a homewrecker. [My character] Valerie was brought in to kind of stir up some things [between Dante and Lulu], even innocently. Y&R was a whole different playing field, with Elena in an environment where someone’s wife just died. You can’t be mad at the other woman who doesn’t even exist.

James: I knew it would be tough for some of the really devoted fans of Hilary and Devon to see him with somebody else. But knowing Brytni was going to be playing this character and knowing how long Devon has been a part of the show, I think the fans just wanted to see him happy. It’s not like Hilary was still there and Devon left her for Elena. I knew from the first day, too, from our chemistry and how well Brytni fit this character she’s playing, that it was going to be easy for fans to accept seeing them in a relationship.

Digest: Bryton is one of the nicest and most respected actors in the biz. Did you recognize those qualities about him right away, Brytni?

Sarpy: I think from the beginning. I’m pretty good at reading energy and I kind of trust energy more than anything. From day one I don’t think his energy has ever changed; it’s maybe expanded and has more love in it because we know each other better.

Digest: When did you realize your characters had chemistry?

Sarpy: I think the first episode.

James: I actually thought so from the screen test. The screen test was so comfortable and so effortless. I think the producers in the room also saw something.

Digest: When your characters shared the first kiss, did you discuss or rehearse it?

Sarpy: I don’t think you ever rehearse a kiss.

James: It was when Devon woke up and thought Elena was Hilary, right?

Sarpy: Yeah. I thought it was too soon, that’s the only thing I remember about the kiss. For the characters, I didn’t want to rush the relationship.

Digest: What are the things about your working relationship that work well for you both?

James: I think our personalities just mesh well. Spending a lot of time on and off set and downtime at the studio just makes it easy. We both like to eat the same foods, too, so it’s easy to pick where we go for lunch.

Digest: Well, you like the same foods now. You were eating meat before.

Sarpy: This is not because of me!

James: It’s not, really. I was looking for a reason to cut meat out.

Sarpy: I didn’t tell him to!

Digest: Brytni, what do you like about your working relationship?

Sarpy: It’s just nice to have the same work technique because there are people who don’t want to run scenes, which I understand, but I’m not that person. I’ll do anything five million times. But it’s just good to have someone who has the same work ethic as you.

Digest: Bryton, does Mishael Morgan (Amanda) approve of Devon and Elena’s relationship?

James: I think she does. I’ve never heard her say she doesn’t like it. I think she’s excited to be playing a character who gets to be mixed up with different people on the show at this point. I think she’s thrilled that fans are responding well to us.

Digest: Do you hang out with each other during downtime on set? Do other people join you?

Sarpy: Yeah, we try to have outings every now and again. We went paintballing with Sean [Dominic, Nate] last weekend. We have dinners with the group.

James: Whenever we have opportunities to all go out with other people who are grabbing lunch at the same time, we’ll be hanging with them. After the big [cast] photo shoot, we all as a group went out to a place across the street and had dinner together. Mishael and her husband had a barbecue a few months back and we went to that and had a little pool day. We’re all still very much connected.

Digest: What would you guys like to see happen for Devon and Elena?

Sarpy: I’d like something a little maybe non-traditional than the soap fashion of putting a third person into [the relationship]. I think dealing with real issues that couples deal with is really interesting. I like the dynamic that she recently lost her mother and he lost his father and he’s been dealing with Hilary’s death, as well. Dealing with loss in a relationship is really hard and something that people go through.

James: They’ve done some great storylines over the years with the characters of Michael and Lauren being that couple who has been solid and together for a long time. They’ve had to deal with what life throws at them as a team but still remain that couple that people can root for and know they can depend on the unity.

Sarpy: I think the next phase for Devon and Elena could be, I don’t know, them dealing with a disease or adopting a child or something that a lot of people deal with.

James: And doing it together.