INTERVIEW: The Young and the Restless' Jason Thompson reacts to his Emmy nomination, shares love of the soap genre

Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2020 9:13:19 AM

Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott, The Young and the Restless; ex-Patrick Drake, General Hospital) opens up about his Daytime Emmy nomination and the upcoming virtual ceremony -- which he jokes he may or not make, depending on how quickly he can boost his non-existent computer skills!

Daytime star Jason Thompson has shown audiences the gamut of emotions as The Young and the Restless' Billy Abbott and General Hospital's Patrick Drake, which has led to five previous Daytime Emmy nominations for the actor and another in the Outstanding Lead Actor category this year for his work on Y&R. He can do anger, he can do sadness, he can do fear, he can do joy, he can do love. He really has proven that he can do it all -- just don't ask him to figure out computers!

In a new interview with Soap Central celebrating his recent nomination, the actor reveals that he is a pen and paper guy through and through. Computers and other technological tools have never been a part of his world, and he jokes that he sometimes spends longer trying to hook up gadgets to do press interviews than he spends doing the interviews themselves. So, when Thompson heard that this year's Emmy ceremony was going to be done virtually, with the actors participating from their computers at home, well... keep reading to get his response!

Soap Central: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination!

Jason Thompson: Thank you! I appreciate it.

Soap Central: So how are you feeling, and what does the nomination mean to you?

Thompson: It feels really nice, to be honest. This is my sixth nomination but my first one as this character and on The Young and the Restless, so I'm really grateful for that. It was a hard year, but in a lot of ways, it was a fantastic year. I had a lot of really great opportunities and a lot of story, and that is really the most important thing to me -- to have the opportunity for story -- and this is a little bit of a cherry on top. But it's one that I'm really, really grateful for.

Soap Central: You are an expert at receiving nominations, so does it feel a lot different this year with everything going on -- the quarantine, not being at work, and all of that?

Thompson: Yeah, it does. There's been a handful of years in between my last nomination [in 2015] and this one, so I somewhat forgot about what it felt like. But it was a nice feeling again. I've been on the other end of the phone when Matt [Kane, our publicist] would call about 45 minutes after the nominations came through, and it was like [sad voice], "Hey, man..." but this one was different; I could hear the excitement in his voice as he said, "You did it!" So that was fun to hear. And yeah, to not go back to work and not know when you're going back to work, it's definitely different -- but what's not different right now! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Who did you share the good news with first?

Thompson: I was on the beach with my wife and our two kids when I got the call, so I got off the phone and said, "Daddy got an Emmy nomination!" My wife was like, "Yay! Congratulations!" And the kids just kept eating their peach or whatever they were doing in that moment. [Laughs] But then my son, Bowie, was like, "What is that? What's an Emmy nomination?" And I didn't really know how to explain it! [Laughs] But I looked, and I saw that there were a couple of his favorite shows that got an Emmy nomination, too, like Dino Dana and Bubble Guppies, so I told him that, and he was like, "What? That's cool!" So, I became cool in his world, because I landed alongside his two favorite shows. [Laughs] And then, of course, I talked to my mom and dad, because they were excited, and then a couple other text messages came through from other cast members and some other friends, so it was really cool.

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♥️ @brianbowensmith #bbsdrivebys My favorite series. Love the perspective. Well done my brother!! ✊🏼

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Soap Central: As we said, this year is different, and you don't have the ability to really go out a lot, but were you able to celebrate receiving your nomination?

Thompson: We had a little cheers while we sat down and had dinner last night, and I would probably say that is going to be the extent of it. Yeah, there's nowhere to go and we're getting pretty used to being home. The last two weeks here, we've been fortunate enough to be able to go the beach. We've been going to the far west side of Malibu and just kind of getting some space. So, the last two weeks, we've probably been out there every two days and we bring the kids home tired and exhausted, which allows us to kind of have a glass of wine at the end of the night and celebrate, so that's kind of what we did last night after a full day. We cheers'ed, and it was nice. Really, really nice. I appreciated the day.

Soap Central: Have you been in contact with any of your fellow Y&R nominees?

Thompson: Yeah, I was actually somewhat floored and kind of emotional about how many people reached out from the current cast and a couple of others from General Hospital, too. Steve [Burton, Jason Morgan, GH] reached out, and I, of course, congratulated him back. I've been in contact with Peter [Bergman, Jack Abbott], and I've been texting with Amelia [Heinle, Victoria Newman] and Eileen Davidson [Ashley Abbott] and that family, the Abbotts, and Michael [Mealor, Kyle Abbott]. And also Doug [Davidson, Paul Williams] reached out, and we had an awesome conversation yesterday. You realize in these times -- and you realized it before, but now more so when you're away a little bit -- how special the people are that you work with and what an amazing opportunity it is to call that a home and be able to do what you love do to. It all becomes very glaringly clear how fortunate I am and just how grateful I am to have the opportunity to call that place home for right now and go and do the job and be asked to do the job. Being trusted with this character and being trusted with storyline, to get the job done, I take it very seriously. So, to be able to have the opportunity and to do the work and to get recognized for it, it's a nice thing. It's a very, very nice thing. Who knows what happens now? I mean, it's kind of irrelevant -- you've come this far, and it would be nice to win and have that sitting on the mantel, but at the same time, it just feels really good to be somewhat acknowledged. But [the nomination] is the gravy, because the best thing about it is just being able to go to work.

Soap Central: Do you miss stepping into Billy's shoes every day?

Thompson: Oh, yeah, I totally miss it. I miss everything about it: I miss the smell of the set, I miss the lights, the people that you see, the energy that you gear yourself up to, and the work, all of it. The collaboration with the other actors, I miss it all.

Soap Central: I can only imagine how difficult the stay-at-home orders are for actors, because you guys love your jobs and are so passionate about being on stage. Not everybody loves their job, you know? But you guys do, which probably makes this break extra tough.

Thompson: I totally understand that and get it, and that's why I feel fortunate to be able to have that in my life. I love my job. There have been very few days where I haven't enjoyed going in to work in the 14, 15 years that I've been in daytime. I respect the genre so much, I respect the people that make it go around so much, the networks, the studios, publicity, writing, hair and makeup, camera, everything. It's an incredible amount of work to pull off, and the way that we do it in the time frame that we do, I just have so much respect, and I'm just happy to be a part of the wheel. It feels important to me, more so now. I always thought it was important work, because I think that people do rely on us at home, and they look for that hour a day to have a little release and to kind of get away. And even if they are frustrated as hell and they put that energy into not liking a character or yelling at a character or whatever [laughs], I think there is value in that. And I am sure I am on the other end of that many times, but I'm okay with that, because it's part of the emotional connection that you have with the show. So, I think it's important, what we do. And we are seeing in these times just how important "real" jobs are -- doctors, nurses, critical workers, all of those jobs that make the world go 'round. It's different for us, of course, than for the people that are keeping us safe right now, and my heart goes out to them -- I would imagine it would be so scary and such a struggle. But I hope that they know that they are appreciated, and I hope they know that feeling of being appreciated, because I do -- I know that feeling, because I get the opportunity to hear it from people, that they appreciate the work that we do. And that means a lot to me; it helps me enjoy my job, and it helps me take it seriously because I owe it to them. There's a lot going on in the world right now, and this is a small little fraction of the American pie, but I think it's an important part of it, what we do in daytime television. And I'm grateful to be a part of it.

Soap Central: Yes, soaps are like a comfort blanket for people, and I'm so happy that they're being talked about and celebrated right now. And also, the Emmys are going to be on TV again, which is great! So how do you feel about that?

Thompson: I think it's great! It's wonderful, and I think they should be [on TV]. I saw that Amazon had a lot of nominations, as did Netflix, and that's also a great thing. I think we need to embrace that... I am really proud to be part of the daytime community but at the same time, I think it's a great opportunity to grow viewership, and I think we should lean into that. So, the fact that CBS has stepped up, and they're going to put it on there, I think it's great for the network. They've got fantastic shows that they get to represent, and there is a lot of room to grow there, with people's viewing habits and the way that they can change with digital and everything else, so I'm glad that they are doing it, especially in a time like this, when there is going to be a lot of people at home and maybe not a lot of places to go. It's smart for them to do it, and I'm happy that it's this network.

Soap Central: How do you feel about the possibility of accepting an award via something like Zoom?

Thompson: Oh, no, I'm going to have to get a computer! [Laughs] I was having a conversation with a friend of mine a couple of days ago because we're working on something together, and I've had to be on the computer more than I ever have in my entire life... I have spent maybe ten hours in the last five months on a computer. It is just not part of my world. I don't use them, I'm not on them. It's just not part of my world. I never had one growing up. I got my first computer probably about four years ago, to be honest. And it's kind of embarrassing, but for the last 16 years, I get [physical] scripts and read them, and I'm just more of a pen and paper guy and always have been. I have my smartphone, and that's enough for me to email and check stuff out, but I'm not very computer savvy, so I'm very fortunate that my wife is! And she's usually the one who helps out. I'm like, "Hey, babe, I've got to do a phone call." [Laughs] I mean, Matt [Kane, our publicist] can probably attest to this. There's been a couple of times that I've had to do interviews, and it has taken 45 minutes to figure out how to do it! So, it'll be interesting! I just hope that I can show up for it. We'll see!

Soap Central: There is a part of me that is so jealous of you, Jason! Obviously as a writer, the computer is a big part of the job, but it would be so nice to step away for an extended amount of time.

Thompson: Oh, I know! I have friends who just laugh at me, and it has become a big joke. They're like, "How many emails did you get today?" And I'm like, "I don't know, about ten since yesterday?" And they're like, "And how many of those do you actually need to look at?" And I'm like, "Probably two?" [Laughs] And they also say it sounds amazing, so I get you.

Soap Central: We got off on a tangent, but I need to ask you what scenes you put on your submission reel!

Thompson: I don't remember exactly, but... the way that I [choose the scenes] -- and I don't know if it helps me or hurts me, and it's kind of irrelevant -- but as the rules have changed over the last couple of years, I really enjoy putting together a tiny story, like a short film of what the character has been through and showing different levels and things. So, I'm pretty sure I started with when Adam [Mark Grossman] came back into town and what that felt like, and then it became part of him starting to lose his frame of mind a little bit and fall into this alter ego and waking up in different locations and being very confused with Victoria [Amelia Heinle] when he came home at night; and then it was the stand-alone episode with Adam and the struggle that he went through with that. So, yeah, I tried to build a little bit of a narrative there and show what the character has been through and where he ended up at the end of the storyline. I can't remember all of the exact scenes, though. It seems like a long time ago now, with everything that we've been through!

Soap Central: That is very true -- nobody can blame you! What do you think about the competition in your category? You're up against some very talented men.

Thompson: Some very talented, handsome, handsome men, yeah! [Laughs] Steve is a buddy of mine and has been for a long time. He's one of the guys who really helped me out back in the day. I remember some things very, very clearly that I still use in my work, so many things that he told me when I first started, and he was one of the first people to text me and say congratulations. I love the guy; he's an amazing guy. Jon [Lindstrom, Kevin Collins, GH] is such an incredible actor. I've watched him on so many other shows, and I really look up to him. I love that he bounces in and out, and I see him showing up on other HBO shows, and I really respect that. Thaao [Penghlis, Andre DiMera, Days of our Lives], I know that he is a legend on Days of our Lives, and I worked with him at General Hospital a number of times [when he played Victor Cassadine]. And Thorsten [Kaye, Ridge Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful], I see him across the hall all the time, and he's such a good dude and always down for a little chuckle and a little story, and I know he's a family man, and we talk coffee. At this point, I've been doing this for so long, and you know a lot of these people pretty well, and yeah, competition, maybe, whatever. I'm stoked to be alongside them. It's a category that I respect; I respect all of them, and I respected it just as much when I had a couple of Supporting Actor nominations. It feels great to see your name up there with people that you know have been doing it for a long time and are veteran actors and that are still producing work that is valid [and deserving] of it. It's really inspiring to me.

What do you think about Jason Thompson receiving an Emmy nomination for his work as Y&R's Billy? Do you think he'll take home the gold in the Outstanding Lead Actor category? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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