I’m Not A Lawyer But I Play One On TV: Christian J. LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R)

Do you have a favorite TV lawyer? “Mine was Perry Mason. I grew up with that show. It came back to TV as a movie of the week and I got to work on one called THE CASE OF THE KILLER KISS. That was done in Denver and I played a sheriff. I could not even approach Raymond Burr [Perry Mason] because he was really wheelchair-bound then and he died not long after that. I think for a show lawyer he was a brilliant actor.”

What was your most challenging courtroom scene? “My first case on the show was a massive case, because we had to prove Michael was brilliant. I had these long speeches and pages of dialogue. They gave me these JFK speeches and it was amazing. I remember the jury crying. They were good actors, too.”

What was the most unethical thing that Michael has done in his capacity as a lawyer? “This was not too long ago where Michael was helping Phyllis get revenge on Victor. Michael was representing him and tried to make it look like Victor was guilty. Victor hired a drug dealer to pretend he was Jack, and Phyllis called it rape because they had sex. That was pretty bad for Michael because Victor has always been a friend.”

What’s the best thing about working on the courtroom set? “People who play a lawyer, especially in a daytime situation, very few like the cross-examination [scenes] and I love them. You get to unleash yourself a little bit more because you’re trying to impress that jury, so you get to press all these buttons. For a lawyer, the writers up your vocabulary. They put beautiful language in there. I like that as a person and an actor. It can get very Shakespearean. And that’s the other great thing about it, is you’re in the middle of these massive sets sometimes with all these people listening to you and it can be more theatrical than you would want to do on camera.”

What is the worst thing about working on the courtroom set? “At the same time, the downside would be the fact that if you are playing a wonderful lawyer, that means all those words have to be effortless and you have to know what you’re saying. Deceptively, I find for me some of the simplest sentences are more difficult. It shouldn’t be about the volume. I had a great teacher who said, ‘You’re not memorizing, you’re remember- ing,’ so you have to create a life for your character.”

Do you have any fun behind-the-scenes memories from various trials? “Lauralee [Bell, Christine] will say she hates courtroom scenes because of all the dialogue that has to be committed to memory. I like to irritate her by going, ‘This time we’re going to have fun!’ and she just moans. Then she goes up there and does her scene in one take! Gordon Thomson [ex-Patrick] and I once taped our noses up. We would annoy everybody because we were pig lawyers. I said, ‘Gordon, tape your nose up.’ I don’t know where that came from. I’m assuming it was me because Gordon would never be so unprofessional.”

Who has been Michael’s most problematic client? “All the Newmans have been problematic. Michael consistently is asking his clients just to shut up and let him do the talking — but not Victor. He will go his own way and be like, ‘I’m not going to plead guilty,’ even though he did it, or ‘I was framed.’ He just won’t keep his mouth shut. In the court case where Nikki, Victoria and Sharon were being tried for J.T.s death, Michael was always being caught off-guard because they lied to him over and over again to cover up for Nikki. At a certain point, Michael asked, ‘Who am I to you?’ ”

If you needed a lawyer, would you hire one like Michael to represent you? “I think so. I’ve never had to hire a lawyer, but a good lawyer is the calmest person in the room, not necessarily the court- room, but when he’s talking to clients. They make you feel calm so that you can do this thing with eyes open and take the emotion out of it. That’s different when a lawyer goes into a courtroom and performs. It’s interesting. I don’t know if Michael would be as calm as I would like. I also know Michael would not stop until he gets what he wants out of the case.”

Do you think you’d make a good lawyer? “I actually think I would…. Well, you know, I have to think about that because there is the thing of everybody deserves a fair trial, whether your client is guilty or not. See, I always wonder about that, defending what you know to be a guilty person. That’s a tough one. That’s a hard moral tightrope to walk. Medicine is a skill and you are alleviating the pain. You can do that as a lawyer, but not all the time. You will have to do a lot of things. You take an oath as a doctor to do no harm. It would be interesting.”

Comments