By Naomi Rabinowitz Posted: Mar 23, 2009
Getting to Know James Michael Gregary (Clint, Y&R)
No one was more surprised than James Michael Gregary when he was invited back to Y&R to reprise Katherine's kidnapper, Clint (he was originally on the show from 1989-90). The actor, who recently finished taping (Clint died on March 18), tells Digest how he'd thought he'd put daytime behind him — and who reeled him back in.Soap Opera Digest: Hi, James! It was great seeing you back on Y&R.
James Michael Gregary: It was good to be back. It was kind of surreal and familiar and strange all at the same time.
Digest: What did you think when Y&R first called and said that they'd be revisiting the kidnapping storyline?
Gregary: Around the time when Jeanne [Cooper, Kay/ex-Marge] began the whole double thing, I'd gone up to visit. I always go and see her outside of the studio. I was in Jeanne's dressing room and [Associate Producer] Josh O'Connell was also there. Jeanne suggested I go talk to [Head Writer] Maria Bell, so I did. Maria was just trying to brainstorm about what had happened with Kay and Marge. She remembered most of the story, but wanted to get all of the details. We sat and talked for a few minutes and had a great chat. We talked about Clint and Gina and Clint and Marge, but I just thought it was a brainstorming session. I knew that Jeanne was lobbying for me to return because she's been so for years. But I never gave it serious thought. I came back home and then Josh called me. I was shocked, but it was a wonderful surprise. I started doing it and it turned out to be a great ride.Digest: Before returning to Y&R, were you still acting?
Gregary: After Y&R, I did a play. I'd also done some episodes of B&B [as Dr. Fontana in 1995], and was pursuing my career. But then in 1995, some really bad things started to happen in my family. There were a lot of tragic illnesses and I became the caretaker. I basically left the business and I figured this was where I needed to be. I'd never seriously considered going back to it. At my age, I figured the time had passed, but it was nice to revisit it. Clint had changed so much, though!
Digest: He was a lot creepier this time around.
Gregary: He really was. When I left the last time, Clint had saved Brock's life and loved Gina. He gave himself up for her and then went to prison. He was sort of on the brink of being redeemed, so I had to make sense of the storyline in my head this time. I figured that no one ever visited him in jail, nobody called. They let him rot in there for years, so I guessed he was full of rage [laughs]. I used that in the storyline to propel it.
Digest: They didn't have him interact with Gina. All they had was that one scene where she saw him talking to Amber at the bar.
Gregary: I know, which surprised me. There was just that one scene where she supplied background story. I guess they didn't want to go back to that. I missed working with Patty [Weaver, Gina], but I still had a great time. Digest: I know that you and Jeanne are close friends.
Gregary: Yes, she's a dear friend and we've stayed in touch all these years. When I was dealing with everything with my family, Jeanne was always there for me. She was always calling me to check in. She's a terrific person.
Digest: How was it working with David [Leisure, ex-Roger] and Marcia [Wallace, ex-Annie]?
Gregary: It was a blast. We're all peculiar in our own ways and they're so funny. Marcia is bizarre and I mean that in the best sense of the word. David is a true comic, but he's full of love and joy and is always trying to make someone smile. I just adored Marcia, too. She loved doing a soap. It was a challenge for her; she was shocked by the pace. But she did a great job. Maria really created a fantastic storyline for all of us.
Digest: It's interesting how they brought Kevin into it. The scenes where Clint was tormenting him and pretending to be Kevin's abusive father were frightening. I had trouble watching!
Gregary: I had some reservations, too. The first time I read the script, it creeped me out and I said, “It's great that it's spawning off into this storyline, but it's making me itch." I had Kevin calling Clint "Daddy" and I was a little freaked. But it gave Kevin some dynamite storyline. Greg [Rikaart, Kevin] is a true talent. He's so dedicated to what he's doing.
Digest: Did you and Greg talk about doing some of the more intense scenes before you acted them out?
Gregary: Yes. Greg always came to my dressing room beforehand so we could discuss it. He wanted to be very clear about how he was progressing in the storyline, where Kevin was mentally. I was impressed like hell by him. Judith Chapman [Gloria] also filled me in on Kevin and Terrible Tom since Clint was supposed to be sort of channeling Tom.
Digest: What surprised you the most about the storyline?
Gregary: Seeing the flashbacks when Kay kicked Clint in the crotch! I looked so young [laughs].
Digest: Now that you've done this, are you planning to get back into acting?
Gregary: I truly enjoyed the experience and it was nice to revisit a passion that I once had. It's definitely put the idea into my head.