Y&R’s Joshua Morrow was a guest on Digest’s new podcast, Dishing With Digest, and discussed all of the recent Nick twists, his special relationship with on-screen dad Eric Braeden (Victor) and so much more.
Soap Opera Digest: Nick has been up to a lot lately!
Joshua Morrow: Yeah!
The writers have bestowed a pretty healthy amount of story on me now. I’m very happy. It’s probably the story I’ve been most excited to tell since in, like, forever. I’m very, very, very happy to come to work right now.
Digest: Let’s start with that J.T. reveal. When did you find out and what was your reaction?
Morrow: Mal [Young, executive producer/head writer] had told me, I’m gonna say six months earlier, that that’s what they were gonna be doing, and at first I was like, “What on earth are you talking about?” But he told me it was coming and I was really looking forward to telling a story that would affect so many people. He sat me down and told me what the big, giant plan was. I couldn’t believe it at first, and I just wasn’t sure with how it was gonna play out; like, how am I supposed to pretend to be J.T.? It didn’t make much sense to me what they were telling me initially. I was just like, I don’t know how we could afford to do that, I don’t know how to sell it and make it happen without it seeming ridiculous, but the way it unfolded, I thought, was just incredibly clever. My hat’s off to the writers on that one! The crew worked very hard with the reveal. They had the mask made with CGI and stuff, and it just was an incredibly exciting way to kind of tell the story that we’ve been leading up to. Like I said, I was really, really happy to do it.
Digest: Can you tell us a little bit more about what went into pulling that off?
Morrow: First thing I had to do was I had to go and get fitted for a mask that they ordered. They went through a couple of different options and they had to get it signed off on by the producers and Mal and the network. At that point, I didn’t know that they were gonna be bringing Thad [Luckinbill, ex-J.T.] to pretend to be himself! That sounds weird to say. I was like, “Oh, my God, they’re gonna put this weird mask on me and I’m gonna be running around pretending to be J.T.”, but I actually didn’t do any of that because Thad did it all. It worked out pretty good. And then after that, it was just a matter of meeting with the CGI people and going through all the elements that were involved as far as your movements … I mean, everything mattered down to, like, the inch. You needed to be the exact same height. Thad’s at least an inch taller than me, so I put in some lifts and still that wasn’t enough. Thad had to, like, crouch down and get to my height and I had to turn my head at the exact angles that he did. It was a very technical process. I’ve never done anything like it. The guys in charge of it clearly knew what they were doing. When Mal showed me the finished product shortly after, I honestly could not believe the way it turned out…. It [looked] exactly like Mission Impossible. And that we did it in daytime, it makes me very proud of the work we did and the talent that those people possess. It will blow your mind the way that it looks.
Digest: Had you been honing a Thad Luckinbill impression that you never had the opportunity to take advantage of?
Morrow: Well, what’s interesting is Thad and I grew up about an hour away from each other in Oklahoma, which not many people know. He’s one of my closest friends on this show and we’ve done a lot of things together. He’s been to my wedding and my bachelor parties —
Digest: Multiple bachelor parties?
Morrow: Oh, sorry. Just the one! It felt like a couple! We’re not allowed to talk about that, though. And our deep love for the Sooners that we have works well. I didn’t have to feel like I was impersonating him too much, because initially, like I said, I thought I was gonna be running around pretending to be him in a mask — but he did all of it. The show did a great job of hiding it. Nobody even knew he was here and doing all of it. It was pretty awesome.
Digest: Victor’s played a large role in this story. Your scenes with Eric Braeden [Victor] throughout this entire arc have been truly phenomenal. Tell us about your working relationship with him over the years and in this storyline specifically.
Morrow: Eric and I are extremely close. He is like another dad to me. We have a very deep respect for each other. It’s hard because my relationship with my dad is always extremely special to me. He still lives in Oklahoma. Some of the things in the way I treat Eric really bother me. It’s hard for me to justify a lot of what the way I treat him. Granted, Victor doesn’t make it easy because he’s a bit of a tyrant and a bully and kind of treats everyone like they’re all in his own little personal game. I have such a deep respect for Eric. We always laugh, we don’t want to hate each other, but that’s kind of the way it is. Nick is a very kind of almost overly-righteous, driven dude who is just unwilling to listen to what his dad has to say or to be molded in any way other than what he wants. Victor doesn’t seem to want to allow Nick to be his own man and to kind of do his own thing. They just never seem to agree. Personally, it’s hard for us because we would like it if we could get along more, but it works. I can’t deny that it works. The fans seem to like it and conflict always plays. The scenes lately have just been awesome, I love the way that they’re written, and it’s really given me more to play than I’ve had, frankly, in years. Any scenes I have with Eric are ones I really cannot wait to tell because he is an absolute legend. I mean, we throw that word around a lot, but my respect for him knows no bounds. He’s a true actor and cares so much about this job and his character and everything else. The fact that I get to share a stage with him is a great accomplishment to me. They really trust me with working opposite him, which I really relish.
Digest: It looks like Nick is really embracing his Victor side a little. What do you think about that?
Morrow: It’s awesome! I’ve been waiting for this for years. It got kind of into a stretch where they were like, “Oh, he can’t. That’s just not who he is,” but I’ve always thought one of the coolest elements to the relationship was that Nick was so much more like him than he ever wanted to admit, and that was the constant pull and struggle that he had with Victor. The show really got away from that for almost a 15-year period. When Adam got here, that was kind of the avenue for telling this kind of next-generation of character. I could never be anything close to I think what Victor was. I just don’t think the characters are grounded in that way, but they’re starting to show certain elements toward that. As an actor, I’m just relishing it. I’ve been waiting so, so long for an opportunity to do something like this. Nick is a great dude. If he were real, we’d be really good buds! I like it that the writers now have the confidence, I guess, in me in being able to pull off a story of this magnitude. It’s got such potential. The pull essentially of the dark side, without sounding too much like Star Wars, is a cool element to show in film or TV or in cinema. I cannot wait! I’m so happy. It’s the happiest I’ve been on the show in a long time. I’m really looking forward to it and I cannot wait for the audience to see it either. I really like what the show’s done and that they’ve given me this chance.
Digest: I want to talk about Nick’s love life and all that is going on there. Did you see Nick and Sharon getting back together as an inevitability?
Morrow: Listen, we all know that Nick and Sharon will always find a way to work their ways back toward each other. It’s a story they’ve told before with Victor and Nikki; it never doesn’t work. It’s always like a cute story and the fans love it. Obviously working with Sharon [Case, Sharon] is always an unbelievable experience because she’s one of the best actresses I’ve ever seen in my life. And to relive that history and to touch on those moments that Nick and Sharon have had in the past is always special. I thought it was extremely quick after Chelsea and Nick kind of broke up, if you will.
Digest: Look at you, trying to make it seem mutual!
Morrow [laughs]: Yeah, right? I knew it was coming. The pacing of it is not up to me, but I always look forward to doing it. It’s a great opportunity to work with Sharon Case and like I said, the fans love it. This time around it’s a little different because it’s not necessarily grounded in the kind of the buildup to this relationship. They kind of fell into each other’s arms after Sharon lost Dylan and Nick lost Chelsea. You can bet that it probably won’t last forever, but it will be beautiful while it does! That’s what the soap does. Who knows? I don’t know where it’s going. Frankly, on this one, I didn’t really ask to know. We’ll see. But we are going to do our damndest to tell a great, beautiful story and all the “Shick” fans will hopefully love it and be satisfied.
Digest: Let’s talk about the “Phick” fans for a minute. Nick and Phyllis? Hello! Did you see that twist coming?
Morrow: I did not! I feel like I can predict a lot of things and I did not see that at all.
Digest: Once they were playing video games —
Morrow: Yeah, you get out those controllers, man, and it’s like putting on some Sade and some red wine. You know things are about to get down! I think Nick and Phyllis always had this really incredible relationship. Phyllis saved Nick’s life. He was going down a really dark path and she brought him back to life essentially. There’s always some untold story and history between them. I mean, they’re like electricity when they’re around each other. It obviously started with Michelle Stafford [ex-Phyllis], and is now played beautifully by Gina [Tognoni]. When they told me, I was like, “Wait, what?!” I think it all kind of goes hand in hand with what’s going on with Nick. He’s on a mission and I don’t think he’s really even thinking super-clearly about anything at this point other than crushing his dad. He gets into a bit of a fight with Sharon and assumes that she’s moving on because she leaves the ring, and he journeys over to Phyllis’s house to play some video games and they have a couple drinks and one thing Phyllis and Nick always love to do is take their clothes off and play with each other, so they decide to do it!
Digest: This is very, like in the FRIENDS-esque scheme of it all, “They were on a break.” Is that how Nick’s justifying this to himself after seeing the ring left behind?
Morrow: Without, I think, ever actually uttering that phrase, that is what I’m going to. They were on a break. He assumed that it was over, and Phyllis and Billy were in a fight, as well. Considering what these two characters have done for each other and to each other in the past, it sure made a lot of sense. There’s always a flirty vibe between them that’s kind of simmering. They got caught up and decided to have some sex in the kitchen. Who doesn’t wanna do that once in a while? I wanna have sex in the kitchen right now!
Digest: Nick really manages to come out of all these situations looking like a good guy. What do you think it is about this character?
Morrow: I’ve always wondered that. It is an interesting thing. I truly don’t know! Nick has done some really terrible things, and seems to quite often come out of it looking like roses. I don’t know if that’s the fans’ deep-rooted passion for him. He’s kind of this heroic, big-hearted guy. The fans seem to forgive him really quickly. I do think some of it is due to my good-natured delivery a lot of the time. I truly don’t know. I get a lot of grief from other castmates because I can do some pretty rough stuff and I don’t seem to get held accountable for a lot of things. Maybe they’re just waiting for me to take my shirt off. I don’t know! They keep doing that and I keep going, “Guys, I’m 44! I’m not 24 anymore.”
Digest: The second they ask you to stop taking your shirt off you’re probably gonna cry.
Morrow: You might be right on that.
Digest: Let’s go back to 1994 Josh. Could he ever have seen himself still on the show in 2018?
Morrow: No way! I remember when I got the job, I just couldn’t believe that they wanted this dude who grew up on a lake in Oklahoma to do this. If you would’ve told me I’d be doing it 24 years later, I just never would’ve guessed it. I kind of was always wandering around here like, “When are they gonna figure it out that I’ve been fooling them for so long?” It’s been an incredible ride, and I’m very excited about the prospects and I hope the show goes on forever and ever and ever. I don’t know how long I’ll do it, but I know we work very hard to tell stories that people are still interested in. I’m very, very proud of this show. w
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