Q Is there any way Billy and Phyllis’s relationship can be salvaged and these two characters can find their way back to each other?
A I think in soap operas you can always make things happen, so I would say yes to these two characters finding their way back. It might not be on the timeline that you want, but I think that they have something special. I personally feel that Gina [Tognoni, Phyllis] and I work well together, which a lot of times you need in these kind of situations. I’d take any opportunity to work with Gina. She’s fantastic, she’s wonderful to work with, she’s beautiful to look at and it just works for us. It’s always a great combination when you’re working opposite somebody like that.
Q One of my favorite things about you and Gina Tognoni are the little details in your scenes that make Billy and Phyllis feel like a real couple. I’m curious if those special touches are planned or do they happen naturally?
A I would say more naturally than not. We’re very comfortable with each other; we give each other the space to be free within the scene. If anything is not necessarily rehearsed or talked about but something happens in the scene, it’s because we have a lot of trust in each other. It’s safe for us to just be in it and that’s always fun.
Q I am still a fan of “Villy” (Victoria and Billy). Do you think these two have a shot at being a couple again?
A I think that story could be told really well, in my opinion. I think it needs to be very well thought out and take its time to tell that story and really get to the heart of what these two people mean to each other. I love working with Amelia [Heinle, Victoria], but I do think the “Villy” story would need to be well thought out. I feel you can’t just put “Villy” back together and expect them to just then raise their kids. There’s too much that has gone on. I haven’t been around for too many years, but I think it’s interesting that they have gone through a lot apart and together, and to find this couple in a more mature place would be an interesting story, for sure.
Q You and Gina were the one reason I tune in daily and now that they’re done, I am tempted to tune out. Is it worth it to still watch?
A Here’s the way I look at it: Billy and Phyllis were never really meant to happen in the first place, but I think the writers found something in [Gina and me] and we made it work. Then, of course, you involve Peter Bergman [Jack] and the story takes off. I think when the actors are working hard and they trust the writers and they trust the production team and the network and everything else, that’s when we do our best work. Then we can acknowledge that something is working and push it and put more energy into it. And that can always be surprising. Storylines happen all over the place when they sometimes didn’t plan it, and when I look at “Philly”, I think that’s what I’m most impressed with, is just how something can almost come out of nothing and two years later we’re talking about it like this big love story that is missed — and that’s a beautiful thing. That’s what we try to do all the time. I don’t think the story ever ends, it continues.
Q What is your favorite thing about working with Gina Tognoni?
A Her work ethic and the way that we work together. She likes to prepare, which is the way I like to work. We really break down scenes quite well and we kind of help each other out here and there when it’s confusing for one or the other. We’re open to each other to giving suggestions like, “Hey, let’s try it like this,” or “I think this might be fun.”
Q Who inspired you to become an actor?
A There wasn’t one person that I remember being inspired by. There were definitely moments in my life that I remember. My drama teacher in high school was fantastic with me. It was one of the classes I felt connected to, and safe to feel and think outside the box in a lot of ways. I was the most stay-within-the-curriculum kind of kid, so this was a place that I could be more free and comfortable. And then I remember when the movie Legends of the Fall was being filmed in a region of Canada where I’m from. For the majority of my life, it felt like I was way too far away from this world and then, in an instant, when I read in the newspaper that they were filming this movie, it hit me that it’s not as far as I thought it was. Those moments set me on a different path and I slowly but surely started to figure out if I could do this and how do I go about doing it.
Q Did you have trouble justifying Billy sleeping with Summer?
Jacqueline, via email
A No, I don’t really think that I had trouble justifying it. I was a little bit taken aback when I was told that we were going there, but I didn’t have a problem justifying anything, to be honest. I can always find a reason why Billy does the things that he does.
Q What have you learned from Patrick Drake and Billy Abbott ?
A Playing Patrick, I learned a lot about being a father, which I honestly look back at a lot of times. And having the moments that I had with Brooklyn [Rae Silzer], who played Emma, were some real, honest moments that we had. Being there for her as a young actress and helping her grow into an actor that could not only hold a storyline, but steal scenes, was really fun to be a part of. As far as Billy, he’s got a reckless kind of abandon to him and somewhat of an easiness and a “Screw it, let’s throw caution to the wind and see what happens,” that I somewhat admire. Does it get him into trouble? Yeah, but there’s something I admire about the way that he kind of just goes for it.
Q Have you met Kimberly McCullough’s (Robin, GH) son, Otis?
A Yes, he’s a lovely little boy. A very sweet boy. Everything you would expect. We’ve hung out a couple of times.
Q You have beautiful children. Do you and your wife plan to have any more?
A I don’t know. Possibly. I don’t think either one of us would say that we’re done, but at the same time, I don’t know if that means we’ll have more or not.
Q I love the chemistry between you and Sharon Case (Sharon). Would you like to work with her more? And what do you think about a Billy/Sharon pairing?
A It’s been fun working with Sharon. I never really worked one-on-one with her I. I think Billy’s the kind of guy who would say, “Screw it, let’s play a little bit.” He’s always down for that, so I think they could work.
Q Are you in touch with anyone from GH?
A Dominic [Zamprogna, ex-Dante] and I talk frequently about a lot of things. Also, Kelly [Monaco, Sam], Finola [Hughes, Anna], Kimberly [McCullough], and even Frank [Valentini, executive producer] always reaches out for my birthday.
Q You were absolutely mesmerizing with
Billy’s gambling addiction. How did you like playing that?
A I loved it. I was really up for the challenge. It was something I hadn’t been through before but I know that the Billy character had and how important it was for the audience to see my version of this in order to understand and accept me going forward as this character. I think it was a pivotal point for me as the Billy Abbott character. I accepted the responsibility and just tried to do it justice and go for it. I had a lot of help with that from Mal [Young, executive producer/head writer]. I thought the whole story was written really well. And then, of course, Gina was a champion through it all. There were some tough moments because I wanted to make sure it was good and was well-received and that people understood the character more through it. It’s that good, nervous energy that makes you work hard.
Q I love when Billy and his mother are in scenes together. What’s your favorite thing about working with Jess Walton (Jill)?
A Everything. Her laugh, her rhythm, her vulnerability, her ability to make me better and stay connected throughout scenes. She’s such a professional. We had a scene last week and we were hugging for like four minutes, just because we started doing the scene and then they broke but we just kept on hugging. It was very comfortable. It’s, like, that way with Jess. I feel very connected with her.
Q Which co-star would you like to share a storyline with?
A I’ve always liked what Bryton [James, Devon] does as an actor. I always find interesting moments with him. He feels very real to me in a lot of ways. I haven’t really worked a lot with Eric [Braeden, Victor], but we have worked some stuff and I always find it fun and interesting because you’re not quite sure what you’re gonna get and I think that’s a good thing. But across the board, I really do trust our cast, so that’s a nice
feeling. I’m looking forward to
Q Who do you get recognized for most, Billy or Patrick?
A It depends on the city. When I go to New York, I still get Patrick and when I’m at airports, it’s both of them. In Canada, it’s Billy because Y&R is so big up in Canada, so it varies.
Q How do you like working with Peter Bergman?
A I love working with Peter because he’s just a professional. I really enjoy the relationship that [our characters] have. I don’t know too much about the Billys of the past, but I think Jack and Billy are at an interesting place, from my side of things anyway. They’ve been through a lot, for sure. I think the thing I admire most about Peter is that he knows his character so, so well that it’s all there all the time.