Interview

ICYMI: Christian J. LeBlanc Looks Back At His Favorite Y&R Moments

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Credit: JPI

Favorite Y&R Storyline? “I’ve had some great ones. I think the conflict initially of Michael’s brother, Kevin, coming into town and the intro of their wayward mother is my favorite. Joan Van Ark [ex-Gloria] was Mummy then, but for me, it was just the novelty of finding out these intense situations that I didn’t know as an actor if I could pull off. It really tested my skills and I had to up my game. The scene with Joan and Greg [Rikaart, ex-Kevin; Leo, DAYS] in the hospital, where Kevin was dying and Michael freaked out, had a degree of difficulty and I was alarmed that this was stuff I could do honestly. Joan was such a generous actress. We didn’t really know each other very well and we had to play mother and son, and as we’re counting down to the scene, she gave me a huge hug, then went back into position. It was very clear that this storyline was a team effort, where everyone was committed, and one that made me a better actor.”

Favorite Line Of Dialogue? “The writers do give Michael some good moments. This was more of a bit than a line of dialogue; Michael was on a date with Christine and they had me do an imitation of Inspector Clouseau and I had to speak with a French accent. At first, I questioned why would Michael, who is a single, slightly pompous, driven attorney, break out into Inspector Clouseau? ‘My character would never do that,’ and then I heard the record scratch in my head and I went, ‘Hold on. Why wouldn’t he?’ So I did it and it was so much fun. It was such a lesson in building a character and from then on, whatever came down the pike, I didn’t question. I think that’s what gives Michael legs. That character wasn’t supposed to be around for very long and then the writers gave him staying power. I would get these seemingly dead-end lines from the writers but I would look at them and say, ‘Wait a minute, this makes him a much more interesting human being who people can relate to.’ A cartoon is not as interesting.”

Favorite Scene? “It was when Michael and Lauren had the talk about divorce after he finds out that she cheated with Carmine. When Tracey [E. Bregman, Lauren] and I rehearsed that scene in my dressing room, we started bawling but when we did it on set, it wasn’t a crying scene. It was a true-life married couple scene, where you save up the worst things you would say for the people you love. You wouldn’t treat a stranger this way but you would your spouse, and this was one of those scenes where you’re absolutely cruel with the people you love. You would never show that much of your true self to anyone else. Lauren and Michael weren’t the best people before they came together and all of their stuff came to bear because there was a betrayal. It was an adult conversation and it was an adult fight. Tracey and I had to filter all these emotions through these great characters we’d been given. It was wonderful writing because it was rough and difficult to say. I loved doing it.”

Favorite Thing About Working With Tracey? “We have each other’s backs; as crazy as I am, as loud as I can be. The most you can do for another actor is you can be the trampoline and let your scene partner jump as high as they want. Tracey is that for me and hopefully, I’m that for her. Wherever she wants to go, I’ll follow. You know if you fall, someone’s got you and that’s all you can ask.”

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JPI

 

Favorite Thing About Working With Judith Chapman (ex-Gloria; Diana, DAYS)? “Judith is legitimately crazy and within the parameters of playing Gloria, she was priceless. Every show needs a Sally Spectra and Judith was ours. I look forward to her coming back, whenever it’s decided. She was something like I totally never worked with before, but then was the perfect mother. She is old school. There are very few people who walk the walk and talk the talk, but if she wants to do something, it happens. She has this crazy energy and she gets things done. You see what it takes in her to be in this career for a lifetime. You have to be slightly insane because that’s what it takes and Judith has that. When she’s playing a character, every molecule is kind of shooting out and it’s wonderful. I love her.”

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JPI

Favorite Thing About Working With Eric Braeden (Victor)? “He’s an accomplished actor and a true professional but I love that I can make him laugh, and he has the best laugh. He’s a funny, funny man but nobody knows it. I’ve posted clips of us singing together. My joy is singing ‘Haben Sie Gehört das Deutsche Band?’ from The Producers for him or we sing ‘Ode To Joy’, which has no words. Generally, he’s just funny and he does these characters. Wait till you see his Emmy submission. It is genius. It’s amazing.”

braeden leblanc

JPI

Favorite Thing About Playing A Lawyer? “The writers make you smart and you get to give long speeches in courtroom scenes. There’s a theatrical part of being a lawyer in front of a jury and you get these beautiful words that are like poetry. Michael uses his intelligence as a weapon and he can be a shark, but it’s interesting that intellects can become fragile people. The law saved him because he found the structure in life that you’re supposed to get from family while growing up. As a lawyer, he was somebody who was controlling and anal and smart, and then all of a sudden he fell in love, which is not controlled and is all about losing boundaries and it made him nuts.”

Favorite Thing About Playing A Father? “It brought a whole other layer to play. Even though I’m not a father, it still stirs up the paternal instinct in me. I really enjoy playing it and all of the challenges. When Lauren told Michael that she was pregnant, he wasn’t ready. He was worried that he’d be another animal like the father he had. And now, if anything, Michael is a hyper dad because he feels he’s making up for a lot of bad parenting he’s known in the past. Max Ehrich did a great job as Fenmore, but now I have Zach Tinker as my son, who is so bizarrely like me. We have the same hand gestures and sing the same songs. Even Tracey said, ‘Uh-oh, this is trouble.’ It all makes Michael more fun to play.”

Favorite Y&R Set? “It has to do with Jeanne [Cooper, ex-Katherine], and that is the  staircase in the Chancellor mansion. Katherine had a great exit when she walked up those stairs and said good-bye to Jill at the bottom, and that turned out to be Jeanne’s last scene. Whenever I pass that staircase, it affects me. No other set affects me like that one, just because of the history of it.”

Favorite Diva? “Jeanne, and what a diva! She was such a broad, such an actress and such an entertainer. I loved doing fan events with her. We could sit in her hotel room and talk for hours. After she passed, I didn’t want to do the special episode about her because I thought it was kind of taking advantage and I wasn’t really ready. Then Doug [Davidson, Paul], who knew Jeanne much longer than I did, said to me, ‘Are you kidding? She would light up! She would adore this!’ After that, I thought, ‘She absolutely would!’ ”

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Favorite Thing About Winning Your First Daytime Emmy (For Outstanding Lead Actor) in 2005? “That my father was there. My mother had passed in 2003 and she had been to the Emmys with me before. If I had written the movie, she would’ve been there with my dad. I remember they had called my name and I was shocked. I had put my name in Lead Actor as an aspirational thing and just thought it would be fun. All the heavy hitters were in there, like Michael Knight [ex-Tad, ALL MY CHILDREN], Grant Aleksander [ex-Phillip, GUIDING LIGHT], who were deservedly legends. When I got up to the podium, the great moment for me was that I was so moved that my father was right in front of me that I cried, knowing how proud he was. And it became clear to me that I was a mouthpiece for the people who put me up there. Whatever award you get in life, it’s because of people who lifted you up, higher than you thought you could. Another special moment was Greg [Rikaart] also winning that night [for Outstanding Supporting Actor].”

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JPI

Favorite Thing About Working With Greg? “That we really are like brothers and we know how to irritate each other. The writers and Greg gave this perfect combination of such completely different people who absolutely loved but irritated each other. There was love, betrayal, disgust and hate but at the end of the day, they adored each other. I only have to look at Greg’s eyes when we’re acting and I feel it all. He has the best eyes in the business. I miss him a lot.”

Favorite Thing About Being In The Baldwin/Fisher Clan? “That when Gloria, Kevin, Lauren and Michael were in the same room, it was a show. It was seamless. They were the grifter family, and there was something not quite right about these people, but you knew without a doubt they loved each other.”

Favorite Time With The Cast? “When we do the charity teas, which I’ve done with Kate [Linder, Esther] for 20 years. I just don’t see some people outside of the studio, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend time with them. Whoever goes, we’ll do things like walk around Stanley Park in Vancouver [Canada] or have drinks somewhere in Toronto and you get a little insight into them. That’s how I fell in love with Camryn [Grimes, Mariah], Bryton [James, Devon], Robert Adamson [Noah] or any of them. And the teas are for charity, so to watch them interacting with fans and with disabled children is a heartwarming experience. Afterward, we’ll take a walk in the cool of the evening, so you feel you’re in neutral territory and can let your hair down. Fun times.”

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