ICYMI: Jason Thompson Interview

On screen and off, Y&R’s Jason Thompson is striking a good balance

Through the years and different actors, Y&R’s reckless Billy Abbott has lied, cheated, embezzled, been arrested, knowingly bought a black market baby, dealt with addiction (both alcoholism and gambling) and had numerous affairs, including with his brother’s wife. Jason Thompson, who assumed the role in 2016, is happy that he finally got the chance to delve deeper into his alter ego recently, when Billy developed an alternate personality determined to kill Adam. “I haven’t really been able to explore this side of Billy in my almost four years of being here,” he points out. “I was looking forward to unearthing some of these things that were inside the character and I feel like I have a better understanding of him now. There’s more for me to carry forward, which is always good. You talk about this kind of stuff with writers or other cast members, but until you really emotionally go through some of it, you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to come at you. I had a good time with it. It was fun to do something different.”

After playing out such an emotional tale, Thompson is looking forward to seeing what’s next. “I just want to see him in his life,” the actor explains. “I do like seeing him and Victoria just being home and talking about the kids. There are struggles that we have all of the time with the balancing act of being a professional and a parent. And then we’ve got Jabot. I really am interested in what’s going on there and this balance with Billy and Kyle, and what’s going on with Jack. There’s a lot going on, of course, there always is, but with Billy, I like seeing his world and where he lands, but I think it’s important that he doesn’t lose his edge in all of this. It’s just about getting control of his mind a little bit more.”

Which isn’t to say he doesn’t want to play the drama. “It’s fun for me to be able to come here and get prepared and put on this suit and go have, like, another life in a way,” Thompson muses. “And just kind of get in the trenches, especially this last couple of months. I mean, it’s cathartic in a way to kind of just let all that out, to just let it go. We don’t get that opportunity in life all that often, and for me, I value that.”

Thompson says he has settled in nicely in Genoa City after leaving behind the security of Port Charles, where he played the very popular Patrick Drake. “It’s been almost four years and it’s been wonderful,” he enthuses. “CBS has been great for me, personally, and everybody here has been very supportive. It’s just important to do your job and get along with everyone. Supporting your show and cast members isn’t always about tweeting what’s coming up, it’s about being there in the trenches. I was having a conversation with Eric [Braeden, Victor] a couple of days ago and it’s inspiring how he still cares. He still wants things to be important on the show and he wants history to be accounted for. To me, that’s a good thing when people are invested, and in my years here, I see people are invested.”

The actor doesn’t regret the decision to shake up his work situation. “I felt like I needed to scare myself a little bit, make myself nervous by starting over again,” he shares. “GH was amazing for me. I value that time; it changed my life in a huge way, but it was just time to change it up. And when this opportunity on Y&R came up, I was like, ‘Okay. Let’s change it up. Let’s do something different.’ I didn’t really know anybody over here. I didn’t know anything about the show realistically as much. I mean, I did my research on the character before I got here, but it was fresh and it was new and that’s what I needed in my life. It was not an easy decision because GH was that. I valued that workplace, I valued the fans, I valued what came of my life in the 10 years that I was there. But it was time to change it up. I mean, the fans over there were fantastic. They supported me. A handful of them came over here, too, and still support me.”

Thompson is even more appreciative of the daytime industry now that he and his wife, Paloma, have two kids, Bowie, 3, and Rome, 2. “My kids get to have a dad that’s around quite a bit and that’s just been amazing,” he marvels. “There’s been times where I’ve wanted to branch out and do different things but in this moment, right now, there’s not a better job in the world for me. The amount of time that I get to be a family man and be home for my wife, not only as a dad but to support her as a husband and support the kids. We get to do a lot of things together. They know me being around. They know me getting up in the morning and being there for dinner, picking them up from school, hanging out, skipping a day of school and just going to do something fun. I get to do those things right now and I think that in this time of my life, there’s not a better place in the world.”

Which doesn’t mean Thompson will rest on his soap laurels. “I still want to continue to grow as an actor; that has not left me yet and I’m thankful for that because that’s important to me,” he shares. “But at the same time, after 15 years, I’m just so grateful that I still love what I do. I’m still constantly trying to bring more depth and substance to Billy. I might not be playing this character for the remainder of this show, but I always want to leave it in a better place than when I got here.”

Just The Facts

Birthday: November 15

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Brood ’Tude: Thompson married Paloma Jonas on April 5, 2015 in San Pancho, Mexico. They have two children: son Bowie, who was born on May 23, 2016, and daughter Rome, who arrived on September
20, 2017.

Additional Alias: His first soap role was GH’s Dr. Patrick Drake (2005-16).

Drake Update: When it comes to former soap dad Rick Springfield (ex-Noah, GH), “I haven’t seen him in probably three or four years. When I see Doug [Davidson, Paul, Y&R/Springfield’s real-life bestie], I’ll ask him how Rick is doing, so I do get to catch up a little bit about him.”

Port Charles Pals: “I was talking to Dominic [Zamprogna, ex-Dante, GH] yesterday. I know he’s not there anymore, really. But my family and I went up to Ojai [CA] for a day and we went and saw Kimberly [McCullough, ex-Robin] up there. I talk to
Maurice [Benard, Sonny] every once in a while, Nancy [Lee Grahn, Alexis] every once in a while. On Twitter we’ll say hi or whatever.”


Screen Gem

Thompson has crossed with a number of Genoa City denizens, but there is one that he’d like to connect with more. “I don’t really work much with Bryton [James, Devon] and I just really like what he does,” says the actor. “Bryton is just one of those main characters that has been around for a long time that has such a deep history that I haven’t really had that many scenes with. I think he’s just so great. He’s got this really great demeanor about himself. I know that he’s always prepared and he loves the job and has a lot of respect for it. The good thing about when I come to work is that there’s no weak link at all. Like, every time that I get to do something with somebody it’s like, ‘Oh, great! This guy’s awesome,’ or ‘This woman’s amazing.’ Everybody does a really, really great job. I like working with Daniel [Goddard, Cane] a lot, too, because it’s a lot of fun where I’m not sure what’s going to come out of those scenes, which is exciting. I get to work with Eric a little bit, and obviously Peter [Bergman, Jack]. But Bryton is one of those guys I’d like to work with.”


We Are Family

It doesn’t take much to get Thompson to gush about his clan.

Wife Paloma: “She’s just an amazing person and doesn’t have a selfish bone in her body. And as a mother, as a partner, that’s huge. It means a lot to me. She gave me a lot of confidence because she just not only accepted who I was, but pushed me to push myself, and there’s so much value in that.”

Son Bowie: “He’s a very sweet boy with a lot of energy. He’s very bright and very inquisitive. He’s just a joy to be around. He’s incredibly generous with his sister. They’re only roughly 14 months apart. When she came into the world, he was but a baby himself and they get along really, really well. They’re very sweet with each other.”

Daughter Rome: “She’s just brave. She’ll stand up on the counter and just yell and pretend she’s going to jump and then at the last second she doesn’t. Bowie’s running around and jumping on things and she follows him right away. She’s the first one to jump in the pool. She doesn’t check the temperature, how deep it is or anything. It scares the crap out of me a lot of times but I feel like there’s so much value in that. They’re both just a joy to be around. We have friends that come over and they barely even talk to us; they come to hang out with the kids.”