Michael Muhney was gracious enough to take a LOT of time out of his hectic schedule to do an interview with me. We had to do it over several short sessions, but he answered a bunch of your questions and some from me as well. Read and enjoy!
Let me first take the time to commend you on this Y&R blog. I often enjoy your critical thoughts about the show. I’m glad I reached out to you about doing this interview, and I’m proud to be your very first.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I am honored that you find the time to read this blog and I appreciate your kind comments more than you know. You are the reason I watch The Young and The Restless! And I’m not the only one who feels that way
The FAN QUESTIONS:
How did you and your wife select the name Truman for your little guy? I love that name!
Jaime picks the first names, I pick the middle names. But we each have veto power over one another.
Why do you think people get so bent out of shape about some of the things you tweet?
I think, at times, people put far too much value in what I say. Sifting through the minutiae. As a rule of thumb I would generally value anything I say as having no more meaning than a spider farting in a breeze.
What made you decide to become an actor?
Simple. My love for theatre and Hitchcock as a teen.
I am wondering if a fan writes you either positively or negatively via snail mail, do you reply to them? Where is the best address to send you a letter?
I always sign and send autographs (with a little note) to anyone who sends large, Manila, stamped, self-addressed envelopes to me at CBS. However, I do not have the time or man-power to write and respond to all the letters. But I do attempt to read as many as I can, and I always appreciate the overwhelming, wonderful encouragement & support from my fans.
C/O THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
Sony Pictures TV/Bell Dramatic Serial Co.
7800 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
How do you like to spend your time at work when you’re not filming scenes?
I have no real spare time while I am at work. Honestly. I am nearly in a constant state of filming scenes, doing wardrobe changes, in meetings, running lines, and memorizing scenes in my room for about 10-12 hours each day. It would be nice to have a little spare time but generally I’m intensely busy.
Ok…I’m going to be shallow. Why do we NEVER see scenes with you shirtless? Take. It. Off!
There are other people in the show who do the shirtless scenes. They are the ones with model-bodies. I like to think I was hired to tear things up in the acting department. I’ll leave all that sexy/hot stuff to the attractive actors!
Honestly now Michael! Do you really like working with Eric Braeden?
We quite enjoy one another. He and I have a few good chuckles on set. He’s actually very amusing. And he often collaborates with me on our scene choices. I think the character of Victor would lose the most important parts of himself if he didn’t have Adam. And vice-versa. Adam’s character would lose so much motivation and depth without Victor.
Do you and Josh Morrow ever crack up in the middle of trying to do a serious scene?
Nope. I let myself laugh a little in rehearsals, depending on the scene. But when the camera starts rolling, you could not find an actor more serious or focused than I am.
From the outside view, being a soap opera actor appears to be the best way to achieve work / family balance of all the different types of actors (movie, non-soap TV, commercial, theatre). The hours seem regular, work is semi-steady, and little travel. Is my perception correct?
Yes. Primetime hours and location shoots for 11 years made it very hard for me to have any kind of routine in my life. This job, for me, is the best situation for a father with young children.
How do you, after playing Adam for 3 ½ years, distance yourself (other than a break in filming) from the darkness and sadness that comes with this character?
It’s hard. And I tend to carry a lot of his angst and intensity and alienation around with me at times. It is a very intense character to play and takes a great deal of discipline to leave the character at work and just be myself when I leave CBS each day.
Michael, I love the occasional scene that involves physical action, you spring into motion whether it’s a fight or a rescue or jumping into the church at Sharon’s funeral. Do you enjoy these scenes?
Absolutely. Acting is very physical. Trained actors understand their bodies and can use them for expressive & demonstrative situations.
Michael, given what we know about the change in viewer demographics since soap’s early days, the challenge of the present daytime drama and the need to keep viewers interested , titillated and ratings up, what changes would you make to a daytime drama going forward into the next decade?
Embrace the 2 person scenes. Make the casts smaller, rather than larger. It’s easier for audiences to follow and relate to 6 stars on “Friends”, not 46. And in the soap world, I think a cast should be no larger than 25-30. And lastly, a lot of care has to be taken to employ writers & actors who are immensely talented with each having the ability to carry a show on their own.
Do you like playing Adam better when he is doing things that drive Genoa City and its residents crazy or when he is being “good”?
Adam must show all layers and sides to truly be a balanced, realistic character. So it’s crucial to see both ends of the spectrum. But, as an actor, it’s always more fun to play the drama.
If you had the opportunity to write the next storyline for Adam Newman, what would you write?
If you only knew.
Hey Michael, is there any other role on Y & R that you would like to play, if all roles were available?
Nope. I’d be a fool to trade in “Adam” for anyone else’s role.
My question is if you could work with any actor or actress not on a soap who would it be and why?
Ryan Gosling. Like-mindedness. And he’s unflinching in his acting approach and style.
The one thing that is jarring is the Dark Shadows set/house you and the characters have to perform in. Given all the sets going up in flames, any desire to pull down some drapes or knock over some of those giant floral arrangements in that house?
The flowers? Yes. You’d be surprised how much I asked them to remove from that set originally. Things are being stripped down methodically. But I do really like the “haunted” space that Adam inhabits. After all, someone like Dracula would lose so much of his edge if he lived in a white, palatial, pristine mansion. Adam is dark grey in so many ways, and he needs a castle befitting that.
Y&R CRITIC QUESTIONS:
What’s a typical day like for you at CBS Studio City?
Get up around 6am. Breakfast with my kids, if they’re up. Head to work at 7am. Settle into my dressing room, lay out all my scenes for the day. Go to hair & make-up, then return to my room and begin an all-day memorizing process when I’m not on the stage filming. Because I usually have a lot of scenes, I kind of handle my workload with a conveyor belt approach. A steady, constant, even grind. And I’m a perfectionist so I will constantly work and re-work scenes, beats and moments in my mind all day. It is not a glamorous life. I am a workaholic.
I’m persistent and try to avoid distractions. For me it’s simple, I want perfection in my scenes. I want to dissect every little moment, jam-pack each scene with layers, and add nuance and subtlety, and to do that it takes a lot of concentration. But I am passionate about my work, so I know no other way to go about it.
And by the night’s end, around 6pm, 8pm, or 10pm, I’m washing my face in my dressing room, getting changed back into “Michael Muhney’s” wardrobe and head home for the night.
How does the making of a daytime show differ from prime time for you, as an actor?
One very simple way to break it down, primetime shoots one script about every 10 days or so. 8 business days. About 6 to 8 pages of dialogue shoot per day. On Y&R, we shoot about 1 ½ scripts every day. Which equates to about 90 to 100 pages of dialogue a day. The main characters are involved in a majority of those pages and those actors have to be very prepared because, simply put, almost every scene is shot in one take. In primetime, the pace is much slower and you can do dozens & dozens of takes and camera angles. In soaps, there’s very little room for error. If we make an error, or poor acting choices, we generally can’t afford the time to go back and shoot the scene again.
What will your next job be after The Young and the Restless?
I might go back to primetime for a few years, but only if it’s the right role; one where I could stand out to producers & directors of features, thereby making my eventual transition into features much more feasible.
There’s a lot of craziness in Hollywood. How do you keep life “normal” for you and your family?
I was raised well. And I believe that a solid foundation of family makes me a stronger person, and a stronger actor, with more emotion to draw from. Without my family I would be nothing. To hell with all those self-centered, narcissistic, talentless, self-destructive, Hollywood socialite party-types. This town eats folks like them for lunch and shits them out by dinner with nothing to show for their lives. No matter what happens to me, I will always have my family as a source of pride & accomplishment, and I always know they are there to lean on in the hard times.
What was your best job and worst job before Y&R?
Best? Veronica Mars & Boomtown.
Worst? Ha! A little indie film that fortunately nobody has ever seen!
We know you like Twinkies, what’s your favorite dinner?
Pizza. Italian. Sushi. Steak. Chinese. Burgers. Ribs. BBQ. I think you get the point…I LOVE FOOD!
What was your favorite Christmas gift ever?
Two stand out for me:
One night my father had an awful diabetic reaction and almost died. I had just flown back to Texas for the holidays and had fallen asleep in my dad’s bed while staying up late Christmas Eve talking with him. If I hadn’t fallen asleep next to him, the paramedics said it is likely he would’ve died. Christmas morning we would’ve all walked out and discovered my dad had passed away in the night, on the other side of the house, all alone. Where nobody would’ve heard him. But fortunately I was lying next to him and was woken up by his moaning. I called 911 and paramedics rushed over and injected him with a sugar/saline IV. His blood sugar count had dropped to 8! So, needless to say, having my father for Christmas about 11-12 years ago stands out in my memory.
The other favorite Christmas present was my daughter, born just a few days before Christmas five years ago.
What are the songs you are most listening to right now?
Mainly classical. Beethoven. Handel. Rachmaninov. Bach. Mozart. I love symphony orchestras. But then I’ll switch it up and listen to Marvin Gaye or Kanye or Radiohead or Sinatra.
What’s your favorite TV show right now?
Game of Thrones. Best soap on TV. No question. But Breaking Bad and Homeland are amazing. And Walking Dead! Boardwalk Empire. Dexter. Among others.
You’ve lived in Chicago, Dallas and L.A. What’s one thing you love about each place?
Born in Chicago, so I have a fondness for that city. Also went to college there, where I picked up my work ethic. I love the theater community in Chicago. Love Lake Michigan. The museums. The deep dish pizzas. The pubs. The people. The Cubs. The Bulls. The Bears.
Texas? I grew up there. My heart is in Texas, along with a great deal of my family members who relocated there from Chicago over the decades. I love the openness, the lakes and fishing, the BBQ, the intense heat, and The Cowboys & Mavericks.
LA? I love my home in the hills. It’s my dream house. Literally. As a poor college student in Chicago during very cold winters I used to daydream about living in Southern California, in a home in the hills, happily married to a beautiful wife, healthy kids, pets, dream cars, amazing weather, a show that I star in, and a wonderful life. So I guess, to answer your question, I could say the one thing I love about LA is that my dreams came true here. Or am I still dreaming? If I am, I don’t want to wake up.