Y&R's Michael Muhney on his character's "game changing" moment
CBS; Getty Images
The Young and the Restless’ Michael Muhney took part in a couple of fan appearances in Toronto this past month and caught up with MSN to discuss his character, Adam, taking a bullet for his father, the infamous Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and what it all means for the Newman family. Muhney also dished on the fan-backed Veronica Mars movie and whether he’d like his character, Sheriff Don Lamb, to be resurrected for the flick.
It seems like everyone was surprised by Adam taking a bullet for Victor. The characters, as well as the audience. What was your take on it?
I knew about it a few months before the scripts were out. That’s always the fun thing about playing Adam Newman is knowing so much more than what the rest of the cast knows about what Adam is up to and where things are going. And of course, knowing even that much more than what the audience knows. I was bursting at the seams, waiting for it to show up in script-form so I could talk about it [with my co-stars]! Once it finally came to pass, I was really excited about the symbolic meaning of what it was that Adam was doing for his father and what that would mean. I’ll just use my head writer’s [Josh Griffith] term, it was a “game changer.” It’s going to shake things up.
We’ve spoken before about how much you’ve enjoyed playing a character that doesn’t have the best relationship with his father or the rest of his family. Joshua Morrow (Nicholas) has told us he also enjoys playing the animosity between the brothers. With this game changer, do you think Adam is that much closer to being invited for Thanksgiving dinner?
I think the way people should sort of understand it is perhaps if Michael Douglas’ character on Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, were invited to a Thanksgiving dinner. He’s still Gordon Gekko going to someone’s Thanksgiving dinner. There’s still chance for that icy-ness and for some shade to be thrown, one way or another.
This opens up doors to a lot more interaction with other characters and I think about what could happen if some of those characters begin to trust Adam and get close to him while others continue to resist – so that’s an interesting catalyst causing tension between those people. To use an example and I’m pulling this out of thin air, if Nicholas’ fiancée, Avery [Jessica Collins], starts to find things about Adam that are acceptable, gets closer to him and has respect for him but Nicholas refuses to, then there’s a story that they have there. They’re not fighting, but one sees something very differently than the other.
That goes back to that old dictum where “character is plot.” Y&R used to be very character-driven and then we were stuck in the dark ages for the past five years. Do you see the show going back to that now with a new head writer in place?
Yes, and to be honest with you, that is what I thought I was originally signing on to do when I joined this show. I thought that there was this amazing wealth of characters on a show that all have so much history with one another, the mythology of four decades worth of a show was enough to mine story for ages and you didn’t need to throw plots in there to blow things up to create story. I was a little taken aback at how plot-driven things were before the regime change in October.
I cannot praise Josh and Jill [Farren Phelps, the new executive producer] enough. Any fault that people are finding with them within the first few years of their tenure will be no fault of their own. I’m talking contracts with particular actors – people who have to be fired or let go – these are things that aren’t even their call. It’s coming from high above – Sony and CBS. What they are doing to service the show is to enrich that sort of character-driven storytelling and I’ve been really impressed.
What I’m seeing today and what I’ve been seeing with their scripts is exactly what I thought I would be seeing when I joined the show. I’m glad I was patient. It gave me an opportunity to muddle through some stuff and figure out the format of the show, how quickly it films and who my character is with regards to others. I was able to build my history, so now we can hit the ground running with scripts that are very character-driven. There’s the occasional plot point (i.e.: getting shot at the wedding), but it’s a quick plot-point which creates a lot of story that is character driven. I can say that I have never had more fun on the show than I am having now.
It seems that Adam’s sister, Victoria (Amelia Heinle), has softened. She even visited him in the hospital.
Yeah, right! Gosh, I was wondering if they were thinking of cutting that from the air. Don’t want to give the audience a heart attack!
She was more human and not that ice queen that she had turned into.
Well, I think in a strange way, what’s happened with Adam and his father can sort of melt down that icy-ness that is around certain characters. They’re having to show some forgiveness to Adam, who has done some awful things. But they too, can’t point the finger because they are guilty of things as well. This shows a human side or willingness to move on – forgive and be closer. I think we’re getting closer to the heart of each character. As time goes on, there is more of an earnest quality about each character that is relatable.
What is that that you think makes Adam still want approval from his father? A man that he didn’t even know was his father five or six years ago.
It’s complicated…it’s really one of those things where he wants and yet he doesn’t want his affection or approval. There’s almost a part of him that feels like he deserves it or that there’s a missing space. Maybe he wants to taste the forbidden fruit? “What does it taste like to have dad appreciate me? But as soon as he appreciates me, will I care that much? Will it be bittersweet? Will it not fill me up the way I thought it would?” So there’s already walls up in even in there wanting to be some warmth [from Victor]. It’s so complex that to me, it mimics real life. Real life isn’t black and white. You don’t have that “I want this and then I’ll be happy and life will be grand.” It’s very complex.
And now Adam might be a father himself with Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) being pregnant.
Well, he’ll be a father, but whether or not she takes it to term or he knows about it, that’s to be discovered later on, I guess.
I never wanted to have a child on the show for the reason that I didn’t want to work with little children. It’s very difficult. They have strange hours. Little kids can only work in short bursts during the day. Nurses or pre-school teachers are around, as well as all sorts of handlers. It’s tough logistically to work with a kid. Now that I’m getting mind around the idea that Adam does need an heir, or multiple heirs, that you have to have that and it doesn’t mean that you are going to be in scenes every day with little kids and that kind of difficulty. I’m great with kids, I’ve got three of my own! I don’t mind it, it’s just that I’d rather work with Eric Braeden (Victor) or Peter Bergman (Jack), let’s put it that way! You’d rather work with a veteran who knows their stuff.
You joked when we last spoke that if there was ever a Veronica Mars movie, it would be called “Veronica Grandmars,” since she’d be really old by the time it would get made. Well, it looks like that movie is finally happening!
I cannot believe it!
Are you surprised that they went the Kickstarter route?
Yeah, I think that Warner Bros. really thought the same thing that I thought about the movie where the only way to make it is twenty or thirty years from now with entirely new actors but still have them be teenagers. The Kickstarter route was the only way they could go. It was a way to wake up Warner Bros. and say, “See, there is still interest. People are putting their money where their mouth is.” I’ve been quietly cheering for it to get to the $5 million mark before the funding closes. I’m so happy for these guys. The actors were quite young when the show was on the air and some haven’t worked very much since. So, I’m excited that they get be a part of this again…this magical storytelling.
Like Lena Dunham said in a tweet, about going opening night with her dad and sitting front row, I’ll be doing the same that weekend. I’m so excited to see how this movie will turn out.
Any chance your character, Sheriff Don Lamb, will be resurrected? Even if they create some new flashbacks? Lamb’s ex, Madison Sinclair, is organizing the Neptune High reunion after all.
After all, they did have an affair! “18 is legal!” Remember that campaign slogan?
In terms of resurrecting Don Lamb, there’s no chance.
Absolutely zero. I’m not going to be a part of the movie and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t want to be. I think that maybe the fans want to see a lot of cameos but I think this movie needs to have enough room in its two hour format to tell a story and you can’t have too many cameos. My character served his purpose for three years. I got to be a big part of the show from the pilot to the very end. 40 episodes and a series regular. Essentially, when I was killed off, that was it! That was my story that I got to tell.
I’m almost more comfortable having zero pressure on me and being an observer. I don’t want the pressure to be a part of something that is going to have to live up to the Kickstarter hype and the six-year anticipation from the cancellation to getting a movie. Some felt that the final season of Veronica Mars was very lackluster. There have been a lot of fans asking me on the street if the Veronica Mars movie is going to be indicative of a season one Veronica Mars or if it’s going to be a season three Veronica Mars because if it’s going to be like season three, they’ll walk out and say, “Glad I saw it but I’m not blown away. Now, I’m moving on with my life and it’s time to grow up. I’m leaving Veronica Mars behind as a fond memory.” But if it’s a season one quality movie, they’re going to say, “OK! When is the sequel coming out?”
So, that’s the big question. I don’t want that kind of pressure! I’ve got enough with my current job. I like being an observer in this situation.
Yes, you've got enough to deal with -- especially on Twitter, where fans monitor who you follow and unfollow. You unfollow your costars and it's the end of the world. "Michael Muhney is leaving Y&R because he unfollowed all of his costars!"
Yeah, can you believe that?
I don’t know what it is. I haven’t figured it out, nor will I ever. Apparently, if I breathe the wrong way, they look into every bit of minutia. Sometimes I feel like I’m held to a different standard on Twitter than the rest of my cast. All I have to do is say something that could possibly be taken several different ways and it goes viral.
It was the beginning of the year… Steve Burton (Dylan) had just joined the show and we were having a conversation in the hair and makeup room. “Tell me your Twitter handle, I want to follow you,” he said. “Don’t follow me because then I’ll have to follow you,” I replied. Now that I’m thinking about it, if I follow you, there’s a lot of my cast that I don’t follow and now I’m starting to feel guilty. I’m from the mindset that you either do it for everyone or do it for no one. Case in point, when I meet with fans and they grab their phone and say “Look, I’m calling my spouse, can you say “hi” to them real fast?” If I say yes, then I have to say yes to everybody. If I say no, then it’s a no across the board.
So, I thought the simplest thing to do since I only followed nine cast members was that I would just tell each of them individually that it’s nothing personal and that I was going to unfollow them later that day. Each of them were so magnanimous and sweet and went “I’m still going to follow you and you do Twitter your way.” So I unfollowed these people and then I was called that evening at my house by journalists, “It’s going viral that you’ve been fired or that you quit or something huge has happened!” I’m like, “What? Where? When? How?” And they said, “Well you unfollowed your cast members. They’re saying that Steve Burton came in and you’re going out and that Jill…” I just had to laugh!
This was in the first week of January and I knew what Adam was going to be doing (i.e. the bullet). I know what this whole year is going to be like, with Victor 2.0 and how the torch is being passed on and I’ve got big shoes to fill. I know where this is going and people on the opposite side of the spectrum are thinking that I’ve been fired or that I’m quitting in a huff just because I’ve unfollowed a few people on Twitter.
That was another reason I was glad I unfollowed because the more I can detach myself from the show and just have a Twitter account that is a Twitter account in and of itself, then there’s less speculation because this stuff is just madness. It’s madness!
The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on CBS and Global. Canadian fans can also keep up to date with Y&R on GlobalTV.com and through On Demand and mobile devices using the Global TV app.