“A wonderful journey,” is how Mark Grossman sums up his experience of playing Victor Newman’s outcast son, Adam, a role he took on nearly two years ago, in May 2019. Not surprisingly, the actor finds himself in a much better position than when he debuted. “Definitely in the beginning, it was really hard to get used to everything,” he admits. “It wasn’t until maybe four, five months in that I felt there was some form of normalcy. I got to know everybody, and along with finally understanding the lay of the land, getting accustomed to the sets, the pace and retaining so much dialogue were the first hurdles I got over.”
Which is not to say that Grossman feels completely at ease on the job. “To be honest, I still don’t feel totally comfortable,” he says. “There are so many things at play because the storylines are always fluid, so you don’t know where they’re necessarily going. I feel I’m constantly trying to figure out my character and a lot depends on the storyline, as well. There are times when you feel either more connected or less connected and that’s just how it goes with me.” Grossman is grateful for the support of his co-stars, which helped him feel at home in the Y&R family even before the role of Adam was his. “At the audition, I screen-tested with Sharon [Case, Sharon] and I got to talk with her when we had some downtime,” he recalls. “She’s really the first one I built any rapport with and, of course, I asked her about 7,000 questions. When I found out that I got the job, I had a month before I started, so I continued to pick her brain on everything Genoa City. I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of her.”
If he did, she didn’t let it show — and other Y&R veterans were likewise generous with their moral support. “Peter [Bergman, Jack] came up to me on my first day and he couldn’t [have been] nicer,” Grossman smiles. “He gave me advice and words of encouragement. It didn’t take me long to see the professional he is and that he comes to the set always prepared. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with a script in his hand and he’s always word-perfect with his lines. And Eric [Braeden, Victor] has been wonderful to me, too. I can come to him with any question and he’s always very helpful. I was the new guy walking into their world, and both of them were really kind and they still are, so I look to them because they set the standard.”
Grossman was coming up on his first Genoa City anniversary when the pandemic forced Y&R to shut down production last year. Suddenly finding himself quarantined at home “was a shock, as I’m sure it was for a lot of people,” he notes. “It didn’t take long before I was going a little stir-crazy. I’m the kind of person who likes to be out doing things, so it was kind of difficult at first, but you adapt and it becomes the new normal.”
Now that the show is up and running again, Grossman regrets not taking advantage of the extended free time. “I did nothing productive,” he declares. “I wanted to learn how to play the drums and that would’ve been the perfect time to start, but I didn’t do that. I ate a lot and got really fat. I probably put on 20 pounds. I also went home [to Arizona] for about a month and hung out with the family, not doing anything but sitting around.”
There was one bright spot during Grossman’s period of inactivity, which was his Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor. “That was really nice,” he acknowledges. “It really meant a lot to me because this role was done by some very talented actors, so to get a nomination in my first year, when so much was thrown onto my lap, was incredible. Since there was only a live ceremony with just the presenters announcing the winners, a lot of us from Y&R did a Zoom thing and watched together. It didn’t even matter that I didn’t win. Just being nominated was amazing enough to me.”
When the No. 1 soap resumed production in mid-July of 2020, Grossman got to work shedding those extra pounds (“It’s all diet and working out for me”) and was thrilled to reunite with the show’s cast and crew. “Everybody meshes well together and there’s an ease with working with them,” he observes of his colleagues. “All of us have a great working relationship. We work there week in, week out, and you just need to keep it light and have fun. We take our jobs seriously, but we also want to have a little fun. I feel like we’re so lucky; so many of the other shows, and people in general, aren’t able to work.”
And though Grossman says that at his core, he’s still the same guy he was when he started on Y&R (“I’m still a homebody”), he does feel that the experience he’s gained has influenced him as a performer. “I’ve definitely grown,” he declares. “Just the sheer fact that I’m acting this much, week in and week out, really taps into my soul. On top of that, I get to learn from all these amazing people who have been doing this for a long time. It’s been a real treat and I feel so grateful.”
On screen, Grossman’s Adam is coping with the fallout from lady love Chelsea’s recent stroke — and behind the scenes, the actor is also having to adjust to the new storyline reality. “I was recently telling Missy [Claire Egan, Chelsea], ‘You’d think this would be easier for me but it’s actually really hard,’ ” he recounts. “Since she’s sitting in the chair and can’t talk, I don’t have anyone with dialogue to bounce off of. I find it really challenging. And now I’m learning even more lines because it’s me doing all of the talking in these scenes. I’m still trying to figure it out, and it’s different; it’s something I’ve never had to do before. I keep asking, ‘Am I doing okay? Am I coming off creepy?’ ”
Grossman has been impressed with the depth of Egan’s performance now that she’s been stripped of dialogue and movement. “I’m so wowed with what she provides for our scenes,” he marvels. “She has to stay extremely still while Chelsea has all these thoughts and emotions going on, and Missy conveys all that with her eyes, so it’s really challenging for her, too, and she’s knocking it out of the park. We were doing a scene the other day and on cue, she dropped a single tear out of one eye. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, how did you do that?’ ”
Despite the heavy melodrama, the actors still manage to have a good time on set. “This stuff with Adam and Chelsea is very serious, so we haven’t joked around too much, but there are times when we just have to laugh. We did that the other day because Missy has to blink for yes and no and something really set us off — there are times when we have to really try and hold back from break- ing up.”
Just The Facts
Birthday: February 3
Here & There: Born in Columbia, MD, raised in Cave Creek, AZ.
Face Value: Suspects he’s prone to being cast as a bad guy because of what he calls his “jerk face”.
Wactor Factor: Grossman is buddies with Johnny Wactor (Brando, GH). “I don’t remember how we first met, most likely at the same audition, but we discovered that we have the same manager. After that, we kept bumping into each other at auditions and I’m super-excited that he landed on GH. I’ve talked to him a couple of times since then and I like to go on YouTube and watch clips of him.”
Laugh Track: “Eric [Braeden, Victor] is friggin’ hilarious. I get the giggles because of him and sometimes I can’t stop. I think there’s a blooper reel online of us breaking up.”
Best Buy: “The only thing I splurged on in the last year is a pair of shoes exactly like the ones Adam wears. I really like them so I bought a pair for myself. I didn’t buy a house or a new car and I’m not a watch guy.”
Work Policies: Before he began acting, Grossman spent five years as an insurance salesman; after getting into showbiz, he was a cater waiter in between auditions.