Y&R's Mark Grossman On Playing A Villain

Had you played bad guy/villain roles before Y&R? “Yeah, and in fact, I feel I’ve kind of gotten typecast as one. With my dark, recessed eyes, maybe I look like a jerk. I’ve played the a–hole boyfriend and the psycho, and I always liked playing the darker characters. I think Adam is a great character because he’s not a bad guy through and through. He’s just prone to doing shady things but he has a lot of redeeming qualities, even though many people would still consider him a villain. There’s that fine line of, he’s got a good heart but he’s done some really bad things.”

When the role of Adam was described to you, did you see him as a bad guy? “They didn’t give a lot of information when I was auditioning and the character had a code name. The breakdown I was given was pretty gnarly, about a guy who was worldly and a master manipulator. As soon as I found out it was Adam, I did my own research and could understand why he did all the bad stuff. He’s obviously the most villainous of his siblings. He does have a dark side, for sure.”

As an actor, what do you find fun and/or interesting about playing a character who is morally gray? “There are usually conflicted emotions involved, so you can be many things. You’re given a whole range of things to play. You can be passionate or a real son of a bitch. You can go overboard but you can come back and apologize. One day I can be in a psych ward and the next day I can be tearing up over my kid or giving up a kidney.”

As you were getting into the role, how did you justify the bad things Adam was doing? “With Adam, deep down it comes from a place of wanting to be loved and then acting out when he feels he’s not getting that. It just seems his bad side is ingrained in who he is, and on top of that, not being loved and accepted by his family. There’s also the element of having this father who’s a huge business titan and wanting to impress him and gain his love. Still, sometimes it’s hard to justify his actions.”

Adam has a long list of sins. Was there any particular act from his past that surprised you? “I did my first scene with Eileen Davidson [Ashley] the other day and we were talking about what Adam did to her character. Aside from him gaslighting Ashley and causing her to fall down the stairs and miscarry, the most messed-up thing he did was steal Sharon’s newborn daughter and give her to Ashley to raise. The fact that he killed a man when he was 11 wasn’t the worst to me since he was defending his mother. To me, that’s justifiable.”

What do you see as Adam’s redeeming qualities? “He loves his kid and he does value family. Adam not only wants to be in his son’s life, he wants to also be a great father to Connor. And even though he’s been conflicted over Chelsea and Sharon, it’s never coming from a disingenuous place. He loves these women and he’s not this sleazy guy trying to play them. He has a big heart and can really care.”

What would you say is the most villainous thing you’ve had to do thus far as Adam? “Well, he had Chelsea kidnapped but he had a good reason for that because he was in a pickle and needed to keep her quiet. No, it wasn’t nice that he screwed around with his father’s medication but that was just to knock Victor off his game. There was never an intention to kill him. However, when Adam wanted to blow up Newman Towers while his family was inside, it was a little much. That to me was crazy.”

When you finish shooting a day of Adam being particularly wicked, how do you decompress? “I try to just let go of it and focus on the next day. But it’s also about having a great environment on set. Everybody I work with likes to keep things light and try not to take it too seriously. So after intense scenes, we’ll come off set joking and laughing. Going to the gym also helps me with releasing some energy but I’m pretty good at flipping the off switch and leaving the stress at the studio.”

Do you ever voice your concern to the writers that Adam may be too evil? “I’m not one to talk to the writers much. I just assume they have a plan and when things get messy, I just go, ‘Well, I hope this isn’t the storyline that gets me fired.’ I just put my faith in what they’re doing.”

Adam has been keeping company with bad girl Sally. Do you think he sees her as a kindred spirit? “Absolutely, 100 percent. They’re both pariahs. That’s really the reason why he took a chance on hiring her and even taking her to Victoria’s wedding. I think they’re very similar and relate on a lot of levels, including being outcasts. I think it makes a lot of sense that they’re drawn to each other. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming up for them. I think it can be a good relationship for both of them.”

Adam has been trying to turn over a new leaf. Do you think he could ever truly become an upstanding citizen? “I do. Remember, Victor was a pretty bad dude when he first came on the show and he’s become very respected, not only in Genoa City, but globally. I do believe Adam has the same potential.”