Michael Muhney was kind enough to agree to answer some questions about having to act blind and also about his own personal eye problems. Enjoy!
I saw Friday’s Canadian episode, and I won’t give any spoilers for my U.S. readers, but we do get to see Adam take his sunglasses off. There was definitely something different about Adam’s eyes. I’m assuming you’re wearing some kind of contacts?
If at all possible, I prefer to use my entire face to convey emotion & expression. A few months back when I learned of this storyline I was thrilled with the opportunity to go on this emotional journey as an actor, but I was concerned about having my eyes hidden behind sunglasses for a long period of time. I felt it was crucial to go on this journey with the ability to express myself without feeling encumbered.
After I did some research and spoke to some doctors, I realized that there was a unique opportunity to use make-up/special-effects contact lenses. I received enthusiastic support by the make-up department, the producers, and the writers. So, I was sent out to get my eyes tested and fitted for the lenses.
Did the show have those specially made for you?
They were specially ordered & fitted for me, yes.
It was a bit strange, the first day I put them in, as it had been 12 years since I last wore contact lenses. (I had LASIK surgery in 1999) I got used to them rather quickly, and I’ve been wearing them (at work) for about six weeks now.
The change is subtle but it definitely gives a different appearance to your eyes. Can you see through those contacts just like normal, or do they obscure your vision?
When my lenses are in it looks, to me, as if the room is filled with steam. I can make out shapes and objects, but I can’t really see definition unless I get up close and personal.
What’s the biggest challenge about having to act blind?
I feel that an actor, when “acting” blind, tends to lose the animation in their eyes. Their eyes go “dead”, if you will. But I have noticed with real blind people, as with well-trained actors, their eyes are filled with expression and emotion, although their eyes see only blackness. My challenge is to make the performance realistic, and genuine, without falling into the trappings of “acting blind.”
As an actor, I get a wonderful opportunity to become more highly-tuned to my scene partner’s voice, inflections, and emotions, as I no longer have their facial expressions to work off of. It’s an actor’s dream to take on a story like this!
You tweeted about needing eye surgery and how ironic it is that in real life you’re having eye surgery at the same time that your character is blind. Can you talk about that a little?
The procedure that I, personally, am having, is the removal of pterygium from both of my eyes. It is rather common, but a bit unsettling to undergo this kind of procedure.
It is certainly ironic that I am personally going through eye-surgery (hospital, anesthesia, cutting into BOTH my eyes with a knife, skin grafts on my eyeballs, etc.) while my character on screen is wrestling with the issues of losing his sight after damage that had been sustained in an accident.
There are some people who watch the show and have a hard time separating me from the character I play. They don’t know me personally, and don’t know how I speak, and behave, so when they read my interviews and tweets they are reading them in the tone of voice and characteristics of Adam Newman, even though they are aware that they are reading an interview of the actor. I am concerned that for some fans, a line that is already blurry (between actor & character) could become more blurred after news of my eye surgery spreads.
Do you see the blindness as a type of redemption for Adam?
No. I think redemption comes from within. I see the blindness as karma for Adam. I see it as an opportunity for Adam to deal with his lifelong fear of blindness. How will he choose to deal with his condition?
I know you can’t tell us, but I’m hoping they don’t decide to keep Adam blind permanently. I think we’d all like to see Adam back to his normal self.
My character will remain blind permanently, but he will gain the ability to fly & levitate. I feel that’s a fair trade-off.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share the inside scoop with us on Adam Newman’s blindness. And best wishes for a speedy recovery for you, Michael, from your eye surgery!
Thanks for the interest and support you have shown me. I’m glad we could do this!
And thanks to so many of you out there who watch the show and are supportive of my performance as “Adam Newman”. It has been quite impressive to read so many emails, tweets, and comments from “Adam” fans. Y’all are an articulate, intelligent bunch, and I’m proud to put on a compelling performance for you every day.
Adam-fandom ain’t random, it’s organized and intelligent.