Jerry Douglas on Being Locked Up

Some daytimers might protest a prison sentence, but THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS’ Jerry Douglas (John) is not filing any appeals.

It wasn’t hard to see trouble looming when Terrible Tom landed in Genoa City, but who could have guessed that he would die at the hands of the Abbott patriarch? Now John is in prison and Douglas is on cloud nine.

“I heard we had a good month with my storyline,” he glows, referring to the show’s ratings. “It made me very proud. It was a great shocker and surprise [to get a story this powerful] at this late stage in life.”

Douglas thanks the show’s new head writer, Lynn Latham, for the success of his recent romp. “She moves stories,” he raves. “Sometimes, I feel soaps carry them on way too long. Ugh, they drag them out and, as an actor, you run out of fuel, because you’re repeating yourself. We did my storyline in literally six weeks, but I worked every day. I’ve been here so long and I’d never done that. There’s an energy and sharpness you get as an actor when you work every day. You suck the material in and it builds. It was a great experience. If I die now, it’s okay. I’ve done it!”

Sure, the intense run landed John in prison and Douglas on the back burner, but the Y&R vet wouldn’t have it any other way. “The show made a mistake with Eric (Braeden, Victor) a few years ago, when Victor was involved in the fraud situation and got off,” Douglas maintains. “The audience isn’t thrilled to see the wealthy get away with things they shouldn’t. John did take the gun and put it in his pocket when he went to confront Tom. The intent was, ‘If I need it, I’ll use it.’ That makes him responsible for it, and it’s admirable that we held him responsible. It showed the integrity of our writers and our show to have the spine to do it. A lot of people cop out.”

Now, Douglas is adjusting to his new on-screen home. “It’s an interesting place to play,” he says of prison. “I’m doing scenes today with Greg (Rikaart, Kevin) in my little visiting cell that’s as big as the bathroom in my dressing room. It’s a little confining, which is fun and different. It’s a nice stretch.”

The wardrobe is also a stretch for John — but not for Douglas. “It looks like what I used to work in when I was a kid in my father’s waste business: jeans and a jean shirt,” he reflects. “It’s a little different than John’s suit and tie, but I’ve played enough heavies in my early life to be comfortable.”

Past experience also prepared him make the most of John’s incarceration, which may bring about the biggest change the character has seen in years. “You can’t do time and stay the same,” Douglas insists. “I’ve had the eye to see what happens to a man in prison. From about 1983-’88, I did a self-esteem program using THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS scripts in an acting class with prisoners in Chino (The California Institution for Men), which is very high-risk. It was a very rewarding experience. You see them change, because the same guys are there for a long time.”

Douglas also references the change in Martha Stewart since her stint in prison. “It’s subtle,” he notes. “She was a very pompous woman in her early years, and became a lot more humble. She became less self-involved, but there’s also an edge to her, like, ‘Don’t mess with me.’ That’s the edge I want to try to bring to my role.”

The longer John stays locked up, the sharper that edge will be, but there is still no word on early parole.