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YOUNG AND RESTLESS Exclusive: J. Eddie Peck On A Possible Cole/Victoria Reunion

J. Eddie Peck, Amelia Heinle

Howard Wise/

Back To The Future: Might Cole and Victoria’s (Amelia Heinle) Claire connection lead to a rekindled romance?

Pairing Cole and Victoria was not in Y&R’s initial plans when J. Eddie Peck came aboard the show back in 1993.

The possibility that Victor was Cole’s father (via his long-ago affair with his former secretary, Eve Howard) — and therefore that Cole and Victoria were biological half siblings — had been floating in the Y&R ether for years. Cole was unaware of this when, in the form of Peck, he moved to Genoa City and accepted Victor’s offer to work on the Newman ranch and live in the tack house. Shortly thereafter, Victor was presumed killed in a fiery car crash. Cole offered comfort to the grieving lady of the manor, Nikki, and their closeness resulted in a red-hot affair. Recalls Peck, “Cole was really isolated [on the ranch], I want to say, for three or four months, so I was just working with Melody [Thomas Scott, Nikki]. Then Mel went on vacation, so Y&R decided, ‘Let’s bring [Heather Tom, then-Victoria] in.’ One day, Victoria came into the tack room and Cole thought, ‘She’s really cute,’ and he just started talking with her. The producer came out and he gave me a note that said, ‘J. Eddie what are you doing? You’re flirting with her.’ And I said, ‘Yes, she’s a very cute girl. Cole hasn’t seen another female and he’s just kind of having fun with her.’ But he said, ‘She’s his sister. He can’t be flirting with her.’ I said, ‘Cole has no idea she’s his sister and he’s mesmerized with her.’ ”

Peck kept that vibe going in his performance for the next couple of days — even though he was repeatedly asked to tone down his flirtatiousness. By the third day, Peck’s instinct proved to be on the mark when he got a call from then-Head Writer William J. Bell. Explains Peck, “It was 7:00 in the evening and Bill said, ‘I just want to let you know I’m watching what you’re doing with you and the kid’ — and when he said ‘the kid’, of course, he meant Heather. He said, ‘I love what you’re doing. Keep it up! Of course, she’s your half sister, but you let me deal with that.’ ” Bell then scripted the taboo story of Cole and Victoria falling in love, all while a “dead” Victor — who could have exposed their possible bio ties — was living on a farm in Kansas and despite his sexual involvement with her mother. Cole and Victoria eloped and consummated their marriage, but when Victor returned to town and revealed that the newlyweds were brother and sister, they annulled their union. A DNA test ultimately proved that the duo was not, in fact, related, and they remarried, but eventually split before Peck left the show in 1999.

SOD cover peck heinle scott

Three Of Hearts: The scandalous love triangle of Victor (then-Heather Tom, l.), Cole and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) made Digest‘s cover in 1993.

The following year, the actor was cast as ALL MY CHILDREN’s Jake Martin, and in 2001, Amelia Heinle, who plays Victoria, became his castmate as Mia Saunders. Their storyline paths rarely crossed at first. “I really had only met Amelia once or twice, in passing, like maybe in makeup, and she at first worked with Cameron [Mathison, ex-Ryan; now Drew, GH],” Peck notes. “Then they decided to put Mia and Jake together. That first time [we worked together] was on a Friday afternoon and we were the last actors up for the last scenes at the end of the week. The director told us, ‘Hey, listen, we don’t have time to rehearse.’ Basically, this was Mia and Jake having a moment together dancing. He walks her back to her apartment, she invites him in and they have a moment around a kitten, of all things. There’s a beautiful vulnerability that Amelia possesses as an actress and that particular day was some of my most favorite work that I ever did in daytime. We didn’t know each other, but Amelia has such a wonderful quality as an actor.”

J. Eddie Peck, Amelia Heinle

Virginia Sherwood/ABC

In Another Life: Peck and Amelia Heinle (Victoria; ex-Mia, ALL MY CHILDREN) in their Pine Valley days.

Jake and Mia became engaged, but Peck exited Pine Valley before the characters walked down the aisle, and Heinle left a year later. Peck, who was still an avid Y&R watcher, was surprised when Heinle popped up in 2005 as the new Victoria, two years after Tom departed. “That was a great move for the show,” he enthuses. “I’m so glad that they didn’t recast that role right away. They waited and ended up with Amelia, and she was the perfect fit. Amelia just resonates so well as Victoria. I thought at that time [that bringing back Cole] would be great because Cole has a history with Victoria, and I have a history with Amelia and I know that would be wonderful chemistry, but it didn’t happen,” he shrugs.

Indeed, almost two decades past before Y&R asked him to reprise Cole — but to hear Peck tell it, it was worth the wait. Reuniting on the Y&R set with his former AMC co-star was “amazing,” he smiles. “She still has that great sense of humor I always loved. She has such a wonderful quality and so much of that comes from her just being a wonderful person, mother, and wife in real life. She’s just a truly remarkable person. Everyone on Y&R loves and adores her. I think Amelia is the most charming, endearing actresses that I’ve ever played opposite.”

The actor has no idea if a romantic spark will reignite between Cole and Victoria, who are currently focused on helping troubled Claire, the adult daughter they believed died shortly after her 1997 birth and with whom they recently reunited. “Their overall objective and goal is getting Claire strong by giving her the support she needs,” Peck says. “Cole has such respect for Victoria and he doesn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable in any way. Obviously, Cole sees this wonderful nurturing quality that Victoria has and then you add this commonality between them of having this child together and who knows what could happen? For now, Cole won’t overstep that boundary. He is not going to offend Victoria in any way, but if she gives him that look in her eye,” the actor winks, “he is going to be all over it!”