Y&R’s Sharon Case (Sharon) and Jordi Vilasuso (Rey) share why their Y&R pairing works
Soap Opera Digest: Did you two ever meet before Jordi came to Y&R?
Sharon Case: No, we didn’t.
Jordi Vilasuso: Well, I did.
Case: What? Oh, you did?
Vilasuso: Yeah. I met you. I don’t think you remember me. Maybe it wasn’t that memorable, but I remember meeting Sharon Case very briefly years ago at a party.
Case: Oh, my goodness! So we had met before. Well, it must’ve been, “Hi, bye,” I guess.
Vilasuso: Yeah, it was something like that.
Digest: Jordi, when you auditioned, did Sharon read with you?
Vilasuso: The first time, Sharon wasn’t available for the chemistry read, so they actually brought in Tracey Bregman [Lauren]. She was very generous and very helpful, which I really appreciated. The screen test was the first time Sharon and I were properly introduced.
Case: I do remember Tracey filling in for me. I can’t remember why I couldn’t be there, if it was scheduling or something else. I try to be there any time Casting asks me, even if it’s for a character my character has nothing to do with.
Digest: How did that screen test with Sharon go?
Vilasuso: Sharon was super-cool and present and let me do my thing. I asked her, “Do you mind if I grab your face?” and she was totally cool with it. Of course, I made sure that I washed my hands before I did that.
Case: (laughs): Yeah, I was totally fine with that. You know, I’m nervous at these things, too, because I’m nervous for the person who’s reading. I just am so concerned with messing up because if I mess up, I worry I’m gonna mess them up. Everything is on the line for them, so I try to be my best.
Digest: Sharon, when did you learn that your character would be getting a new man?
Case: Before the screen test. [Then-Executive Producer/Head Writer] Mal Young told me that they’d be casting a new love interest for me. He told me that a few weeks before the screen tests started happening.
Digest: What’s your general reaction to the news of a new on-screen romance?
Case: I’m really excited. That’s always great news. You get to meet and work with someone new. Playing Sharon falling in love is a nice break from the drama. It’s fun to tell love stories.
Digest: Jordi, were you told anything about how Rey and Sharon’s love story would play out?
Vilasuso: I found out I got the role on Tuesday and they asked me to come in on Wednesday to meet with Mal in Wardrobe and he was so generous and passionate. He sat down with me for like an hour, maybe even longer, and broke down my whole character, the history and the direction he saw it going in. That was really the first time I had an experience like that with a producer. I really appreciated it. He was creating [the Rosales] family, so of course, he was very into it and engaged.
Case: I think it’s great that Mal spent that much time talking to you. I love that he let me know, as well, about what was going on. It’s really helpful when the writer sits down with you and helps you so you can interpret the scripts properly. I’ve worked at Y&R for a long time but you can only try your best if you don’t have the whole breakdown of what’s coming out. Even after working here for 25 years, I’m always excited to start a new story and put as much into it as I can. Then Jordi and I talked about what kind of vibe we thought our characters would have together in the police station.
Digest: How do you learn lines for scenes you are in together?
Case: I like to lock mine down during rehearsal. I don’t like to know them for days in advance. I mean, maybe it is from doing it for a very long time that at this point, if you know your dialogue for days in advance, you just start to get kind of numb when you want to feel on your toes, so knowing them at the last minute keeps it a little more fresh.
Vilasuso: I like to know where the story’s going, so once I get a script I read it because that’s just how I work. Usually, if we have scenes that have heavy dialogue we’ll either run them during blocking or go into a dressing room and run them there. I definitely like the idea more and more of being on your toes.
Digest: Adam was thrown into the mix, which broke up Sharon and Rey for a while. How do you like working with Mark Grossman (Adam)?
Case: Love him! He’s great to work with.
Vilasuso: Sharon and I had spoken at length about this character of Adam and how important he is because I didn’t really understand their history. She told me what an intricate part of the show Adam is. I think Mark has done such a terrific job with it. I really do. I actually really enjoyed that storyline because I like the whole concept of Adam.
Case: When Adam suddenly came back to town and he was living on the ranch, there were all these encounters with the three characters; I thought that was really great. We had a scene that aired just recently in the coffeehouse where Sharon and Adam are talking and Rey’s in the background. Your expression, Jordi, was hilarious.
Vilasuso: Thank you. And God, Rey is very chivalrous and understanding. He’s so empathetic to the situation of Sharon’s history with this guy, but Rey doesn’t trust him. It’s complicated.
Digest: What do you like about Rey and Sharon’s relationship?
Case: In a short period of time it’s come a long way from meeting as strangers to working in the police station and him reporting Sharon and the girls [for J.T.’s murder], which was a huge betrayal. At that point it looked like they would probably never speak again, but over a period of time, they managed to trust each other again. And then what was perfect was Adam coming right at that time to destroy it. In a short period of time, this relationship has gone through a lot.
Vilasuso: I think he’s just so impressed with Sharon. She’s got this beautiful life and she’s just so evolved as opposed to someone like Mia, who was a bit immature when it came to certain things. The maturity that Sharon has, and the way that in the midst of all these challenges she constantly steps up and overcomes them, is really attractive to Rey and it kind of pulls at him. There’s almost like a fascination.
Digest: Do you think Sharon and Rey are a good match?
Case: Yeah, they’ve been a great match for each other, if you can overcome him sending her to prison for murder.
Digest: But he busted her out.
Case: That’s true. All’s forgiven!
Vilasuso: Yeah. Lost my job, but busted you out. I think Sharon provides a certain grounded quality that Rey really relates to and wants in his life. I think he needs somewhat of an equal, someone who’s been through a lot of challenges. Rey’s had his share of challenges and I think he needs someone who can help him, as well. He wants to take care of people. That’s what really serves him and what he’s passionate about. Personally, I’m fascinated by psychology and the fact that Sharon has got her master’s. I love that because it speaks to her intelligence. They’re a good match, I believe.
Case: Rey is a calming influence for Sharon. She has a tendency to walk on the wild side, so she needs grounded people in her life to pull her back sometimes.
Digest: There were pictures of you on Instagram at some chili cook-off. What was that about?
Vilasuso: That was presented to us by Mike Dobson, who is one of the music supervisors here. I had no idea what we were getting into. Sharon told me she was going, too. I think it was just Sharon, Mark and myself.
Case: I love this local charity that Mike Dobson’s doing. It’s such a terrific program for kids. It was at a cute little animal farm and I thought what a great day that would be, a chili cook-off and kids. We entered and Jordi won both trophies for Best Chili! There was a vote by the judges and a vote by the crowd and both voted him No. 1. He got two trophies that day.
Digest: What was the secret ingredient?
Vilasuso: It was rendered bacon fat, pancetta. You put half a cup of that in your chili, I think you’ll be all right.
Case: Mark was assisting me and it’s quite a project to cook that much chili and haul it over there and get it set up and serve everyone. You definitely need help. I’ve tasted all the chilis and I agreed that Jordi’s was the best. Mine was No. 3 and I think that was very fair. I think the voting was absolutely spot-on.
Vilasuso: I’m doing it again next year.
Case: I’m gonna win next year, Jordi. Rendered bacon fat … you’re on!
Vilasuso: Oh, man.
Digest: Was that the first time you met Jordi’s family?
Case: No, we’ve met before.
Vilasuso: Yeah, at parties and stuff like that.
Digest: What’s your impression of his wife, Kaitlin?
Case: Oh, she’s beautiful and so sweet and she’s really fun. She’s got a very bubbly personality. And his daughters are absolutely gorgeous.
Digest: What would you like to see happen for Rey and Sharon?
Vilasuso: For me, I want to go back to the police station with Sharon.
Case: I don’t know if Sharon should be in the police station. I think it was fun for a while, but I like to move the story along and just do different things. If stories didn’t change, the police station would’ve never come along. I like when stuff like that happens and next year it’s something else. I mean, I don’t really know what should be next.
Digest: It’d be fun to see them work on a case together.
Vilasuso: Like if there was murder suspect or a serial killer on the run in Genoa City and Rey is hitting the wall, Sharon could be like the profiler helping Rey figure this out.
Case: But not at the police station.
Vilasuso: Of course.