Interview

ICYMI: Peter Bergman Looks Back At His Favorite Y&R Memories

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Favorite Y&R Scene? “Nikki had spiraled into an alcoholic mess and Jack was the classic enabler. He was just not good at helping her with her drinking problem. They were in bed one night and she was a drunken mess, and he became so frustrated that he came within an inch of smacking her. Jack then had a scene where he was at work and his father saw that there was something very wrong. John tried to pull out of Jack what happened and he finally admitted, ‘I almost hit her, Dad.’ That scene was so real and Jerry Douglas [ex-John] was so strong, it was a scene that played itself. It was as heartbreaking a scene that I’ve been involved in.”

Favorite Y&R Storyline? “It’s actually a toss-up between two stories. The first story was when Jack returned [in 1989] to win back Jabot. Before Jack left Genoa City on his sabbatical as [previous portrayer] Terry Lester, he had lost control of Jabot, so he came back as me, determined to get the company back and his plan was to use Nikki to do it. He wooed her and succeeded, which Victor was ugly and belligerent about and Jack’s plan was working perfectly. Just as it was time for Jack to say to Victor, ‘Okay, you want me away from Nikki? Let’s make a deal here, you get Nikki and I get Jabot,’ Jack realizes that he has fallen in love with her … but he ends up losing the company anyway. I thought it was delicious because it was well-paced and well-crafted. The second favorite story was Jack wooing Phyllis. She was probably the least likely character you would find Jack with. There was something about her and she was just on the other side of the tracks enough to fascinate Jack. Even though they thought alike, he came from a very different place, but the slow wooing of Phyllis was so much fun.”

Favorite Memory About Y&R? “Breakfast with the Abbotts. When all of us are at the table, I’m a happy guy — it’s a true comfort for me. There’s a lot going on between the muffins and pancakes. Sometimes it could get ugly.”

Most Memorable Thing About Winning Your First Emmy For Outstanding Lead Actor in 1991? “There are actually a few. First of all, I don’t get to thank my wife, Mariellen, very often and I got to do it that night. After you won, you went backstage where there was a battery of press people and live television to greet you. The Lead Actor category was toward the end of the show, so by the time I came out, the room was empty. I was still newish on the show and all of my Y&R friends were gone, but waiting for me patiently were James Mitchell and Gillian Spencer [ex-Palmer and ex-Daisy, ALL MY CHILDREN, where Bergman played Cliff]. That was very sweet and touching. I was staying at the hotel where the Emmy ceremony was held, and I remember going up to my room with Mariellen, and we were so giddy with excitement. When we got to our room, Mariellen went into the bathroom and I set the Emmy on the dresser. I always thought that winning an Emmy would make me truly happy, but when I looked at it, I learned right then that it wasn’t that at all. It wasn’t happiness, just a lovely moment.”

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Most Memorable Thing About Winning A Second Emmy in 1992? “The second time around was a very different vibe. I had been through a very difficult year at YOUNG AND RESTLESS, so winning the Emmy was a bittersweet night. I wish I had it to do over again because I had too much on my mind.”

Most Memorable Thing About Winning Your Third Emmy in 2002? “The third time was a thrill because it was a more fun Emmys in some ways. Susan Walters [ex-Diane] was on the show and I was working with her and Michelle Stafford [ex-Phyllis; Nina, GH] quite a lot, so there was a lot of laughs and we all had a good time. It was a fun night but there’s nothing like the first win.”

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Favorite Thing About Working With Eileen Davidson (ex-Ashley)? “It was the level of trust we have. She did all of the work, so all I had to do was my stuff. She was so completely Ashley that when we were on set, all I had to do was be Jack. I didn’t have to change the tempo of the scene, I only had to be just Jack.”

Favorite Thing About Working With Jason Thompson (Billy)? “Jason is a very good actor. He challenges me and I get rewarded for coming prepared to work with Jason. I always know he’s going to really mix it up with me, and it’s just fantastic.”

Favorite Thing About Working With Beth Maitland (Traci)? “I absolutely adore Beth and I love whenever she comes back for Abbott drama. Beth has a quality that is very much like Traci. They bring out the best in me and Jack. We’re better people because of Beth and Traci.”

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Favorite Thing About Working With Joshua Morrow (Nick)? “Josh and I have a lot of history together and it’s great fun. Jack and Nick have a pretty complex relationship and they’ve been through a lot together. And Josh, too, is a very nice actor.”

Favorite Thing About Having Marla Adams (Dina) Back? “Marla is a love, and she just sends out love. She reminds me to be thankful for my job because she’s so grateful for this work. I thought it was just fantastic when she got her first Emmy nomination this year. Bringing back Dina was genius because this is the first woman who walked out of Jack’s life and certainly not the last. There have been a string of women who have paid for the sins of Dina. There’s something so powerful for me as an actor to have someone standing there, who Jack obviously loves and needs so much from but wants to punish in the worst way, all at the same time. As an actor, that is heaven-sent.”

Favorite Past Character? “I miss Mamie. Jack and Mamie’s relationship was so rich. She saw right through him and never let him off the hook. I miss having her around. I also loved Leanna Love. [Her portrayer] Barbara Crampton just tickled me. There was this playfulness in her that made her a fun scene partner.”

Favorite Set? “Without question, it’s the Abbott living room. They’ve renovated everything on this show — offices, restaurants and homes — except the Abbott living room, and I love that this family doesn’t try to make it bigger and better. Most of the furniture in that living room is inherited. None of the Abbott kids ever went furniture shopping and Jack has no plans to change or upset anything. It’s a beautiful set, full of texture and warmth and old money.”

Favorite Offbeat Episode? “One of the weirdest things was when this story was coming to an absolute head — Jack finds out about Phyllis and Billy. The discovery was so powerful. Jack is in the living room when Phyllis gets home and he confronts her with it, so there’s no escaping it. This was when [Executive Producer/Head Writer] Mal Young was just taking over and he wanted to do something experimental for these scenes — handheld cameras and lots of movement. I thought. ‘Noooo! We’re finally at the peak of the story and I can sell this. Let me do what I can do!’ It was like I was working on another show because everything seemed different. But you know what? It brought out really good stuff. He was right, I was wrong. My favorite part of the whole story and I had to do it like I’ve never done before. It was a real challenge.”

Favorite Thing About Playing A Dad? “It’s the guy I get to play dad with: I am the newest and biggest Michael Mealor [Kyle] fan. He’s a very gifted, clever young actor and he asks the smartest questions. Michael has dazzled all of us with just how good he is. Kyle brings out another side of Jack because he doesn’t want him to make the same mistakes he did. Kyle has no idea how much Jack knows what he’s doing.”

Favorite Time With The Cast? “Among my favorite memories always was when the Emmys were in New York City. They were a pretty big deal, they were well-attended and it was a very elegant time then. We’ve also had Christmas parties with outtake reels that are brilliantly funny, but I have to say that the Emmys in New York were really exciting times.”

Favorite Thing About Working With Eric Braeden (Victor)? “How easy the enmity comes. I’m exceedingly proud of the longest soap rivalry, perhaps the longest in the history of television.”

Favorite Thing About Working With Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki)? “Melody makes it so easy. I have literally decades of history with this character and it holds up because of what I’m able to do with her.”

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