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Y&R's Jess Walton (Jill): Then And Now

Jess Walton
Jess Walton "The Young and the Restless" Set Celebrating Jess Walton 30th Year on the Show CBS television City Los Angeles 08/18/17 © Howard Wise/ 310-657-9661 Credit: JPI

then: “I don’t have the soap look. I don’t think I’m traditionally that good- looking. I think the reason Bill [Bell, co-creator] hired me was because he liked the way I handled my character on CAPITOL [ex-Kelly]. Brenda Dickson had been fired [as Jill], they had to find someone who could shoot the next day and my tape happened to be on his desk. I guess he was impressed with my acting because I’m not his usual [physical ] type at all.” — 9/28/93

now: “I feel exactly that way still. I look at old pictures of myself and they’re pretty glam and soapy, but on the whole, I don’t think I have the traditional soap look. My looks change anyway, as I’m getting older, so it’s a fluid thing, isn’t it?”


then: “If it says in the script I’m supposed to cry, it’s the biggest turnoff to me. Usually, I’ll cry really unexpectedly during a scene and I’ll beg them to leave it in because I don’t know when they’re going to be able to get tears out of me!” — 10/28/97

now: “I was at a party with Bill Bell, and I asked him, ‘Do I have to cry when it says to cry?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely not.’ So, I told Ed Scott, who was the executive producer at the time, ‘Bill said I don’t have to cry,’ and Ed said, ‘Damn that man [laughs].’ If it doesn’t feel real to me, the tears still don’t come.”


then: “I became so awestruck by these amazing people at the top of their fields that I fell into the trap of comparing their success with mine — which was nowhere … I got really depressed and went through a few years feeling pretty lost. Now, in hindsight, I view it as an incredible life lesson because I learned the danger of comparison.” — 12/7/99

now: “That was back when I first came to Hollywood and I used to hang out with Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash and all these really famous people. At first, it was a thrill to be around them, but I had come down from Canada where I was very successful and here, my accomplishments felt like nothing. I look at that as an incredibly important life lesson and it still stands in good stead today.”

then: “I felt on the outside of Hollywood looking in. I had a lot of fun in my personal life, but professionally, I was always wanting, wanting, wanting.” — 12/7/99

now: “About 15 years ago, I watched an interview with Kevin Bacon and he said he loved the variety of his movie roles and that he’d die if he had to play the same character all of the time. I thought, ‘Oh, my God, what am I doing? I’m playing the same character every day,’ but then I realized, this is what I wanted. First and foremost, I wanted a family and then enough money to be comfortable and I had accomplished those most important goals. I wouldn’t have the relationship with my husband and my children that I have today if I was prancing off to another location shoot. So, in the long run, I got exactly what was best for me and I haven’t cared for a long time that I was a Hollywood outsider.”


then: “I choose to believe that there will be a place for me at every age, like there is for a lot of actors and actresses as they age. People dwell on how there are very few roles, but there are always roles. I just try to stay positive that there are actors who work throughout the ages.” — 10/9/01

now: “Well, I just got a wonderful call from one of my producers who said, ‘I want you to work as much or as little as possible because we love you and we want to make you happy.’ That’s pretty remarkable at my age, so I feel really fortunate. That’s not to say I wouldn’t once in a while like the roles that Judi Dench and Helen Mirren get, but on the whole I couldn’t ask for more.”

then: “I remember stopping Terry Lester [ex-Jack] in the hall and I said to him, ‘Give me a hint of what I might be missing.’ And he said, ‘You’re not having enough fun with how bad Jill is.’ ” — 2/2/15

now: “Terry always had a twinkle in his eye. It took me a while, but I really tried to follow his advice. Over the years, Jill would be written really bad for quite a long time and then they wrote her not so bad, so I would always try to find a balance. When she was being bad for too long, I would try to stick in loving scenes with her children whenever I could. And when she was too soft, I’d try to make her a little bitchy. The fun with Jill is that she goes insane and I’ve tried to throw that in more lately.”