Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Michael Baldwin on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” for the fifth time, Christian Jules Le Blanc, a native of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, goes into tonight’s ceremony with a career total of nine nominations under his belt (the aforementioned five for lead actor and four for supporting actor) with three wins in 2005, 2007 and 2009 in the lead category.
While he had plenty of material he could’ve chosen from during calendar year 2013 for his reel, ultimately he chose scenes that included on screen love interest and scene partner Tracey E. Bregman, where her character, Lauren Fenmore, was lying to Michael. “Just bold faced lies,” corrects Le Blanc with a smirk. “It was great. Tracey did amazing work, where it’s one of those ones where you just can’t, well, you don’t see that side of Lauren a lot, but she was just lying like a rug.” But how did that showcase Michael? “Well, I’m calling [Tracey] on it. It’s all that great wonderful stuff that [the writers] came up with. It was so believable and the dialogue was so painful. And I think we talked about this before, where it’s like, we rehearsed in the room and we’d be so upset, because it’s like being an old married couple after awhile. We’ve all known each other for so long, it’s like, ‘Oh god.’ You think you’ve heard it all before, but then they try this whole new, it’s like flexing a whole different muscle. We’d be crying in the dressing room going, ‘This is inappropriate for the scene! Why are we doing this? Let’s get it all out now.'”
How did he eventually narrow it down, one may ask? “It was hard to choose, because really, they did give us such great stuff. And it got down to if the scene made sense. It really was sort of an embarrassment of riches because there was so much great stuff, and so you just finally had to bite the bullet and pick. I was really proud of the simplicity I was trying for and Tracey was so clean in it and honest. The scene was beautiful, and it was directed great. I mean, it was just one of those things where it was what you’re looking for.
“Michelle Stafford [ex-Phyllis Summers] used to put it the best: In your reel, there should be this ‘ah ha’ moment, where someone watches it and goes, ‘Oh,’ and I just felt, when I was doing it, there was not an ‘ah ha’ moment for the Emmys, but an ‘ah ha’ moment of like, it was effortless. It’s a rare thing for me. Acting is hard. Acting is really hard work — harder than I ever thought it would be. I go back to class and am reminded of how much progress I need to make, but it’s one of those ones where I kind of think it came together and I was proud of it. And there was that moment. I thought there was that moment where Tracey and I were a real married couple there. And all this painful, beautiful dialogue. There were several moments in the scene they gave us where it’s like, ‘He knows what you look like in bed.’ And oh my god! I mean, it was real stuff. And it was adult. And it was people who’ve known each other and know life. It wasn’t two ingénues talking to each other. They gave them dialogue that was so appropriate for someone who’d been married awhile. Because with Fenmore [Max Ehrich], obviously, it’s been 18 years that we’ve been married. So it was an interesting, very subtle shift. Before they aged Fenmore, it was five years. So you’re a couple who’s been together for that long, and you have to deal with this ugly thing, and she’s keeping a secret, and the whole setup with Fenmore and me going after Fenmore and trying to keep from being the person I was, it just pulled in so much history that when you walked into these scenes, it’s done for you. The work is done for you. You walk in with all of that history that the writers included. Everything from his attitude towards Kevin and wanting to save people and his dark days and not wanting his son to be like him. All of that got pulled into this and reached to this very believable kind of moment where she didn’t do it for love, she did it to get even. Or to find somebody who listened to her. For whatever you do those reasons, and they were believable. It was a smart woman who made a dumb mistake. But it’s certainly understandable. Especially in love. So it was great. And it was in this scene I really appreciated Tracy fighting back. Even though she was dead wrong, and the audience knows she’s wrong, the character knows she’s wrong, but you’re not going to let him have the satisfaction. And it’s such a great, nobody is a hero in this scene, and that’s the best. I think any real argument between a couple, nobody is. Nobody can be. It’s never black and white. It’s that wonderful gray area that gave us this wonderful argument that you could root for either side at any moment.”
Did he end up getting anybody’s opinion to help him choose his reel? “Oh we’re always grabbing each other and forcing each other to watch our stuff, ad nauseum. Anybody who walks by! Jessica Collins [Avery Bailey Clark], all of them. Even Michelle. I have people, but they’re all, even in the same category, we all go up there and look at our stuff. Now it’s a much quicker process because so many people are in, and now you can look at them at home. It used to be that you had to be in the studio looking at your reels, all your shows, so you’d see each other. You’d all be hanging out in the same room. But now it’s harder, so you’re like, Jessica stopped by, Bryton [James; Devon Hamilton]. I got a few. But you don’t want to get too many, because it’s confusing. And at the end, I’ve submitted stuff on other people’s opinion, and you learn that way that you want to win or lose on your own terms. And I’m proud of my opinion. I’m proud of what I’m proud of. Now, they have kept me from submitting stuff where I’m like, ‘I opened that door brilliantly! Look at that!’ And they’re like, ‘Uh, no.’ And they’ll talk me out of it. There were so many moments, and this was a whole show where Lauren and Michael are just going at it and bringing it all up. It’s got layers and I was just proud of it. I was proud of the work and I was proud that it was an ensemble piece. I was proud that I was against, and it is against, you’re up there using all your colors — nasty, good, it’s the people you love, but you’re just despicable, too. At the end of the day, I thought, ‘This is what I’m proud of, and this is what I’ll stick with.’”
While Le Blanc finds himself competing with several of his “Y&R” co-stars, ultimately The Daytime Emmys are a cause for celebration. “It’s Hollywood. This is awards given by actors to actors. We get to pat ourselves on the back after the monumental amounts of rejection. We all, this business is hard. Life is hard. Why not take a moment and have a party? I’m from New Orleans. We will celebrate anything. We’ll celebrate it, eat it, and it will be a festival. And that’s how life should be. You should grab every moment to celebrate what you do, and that is really what it is. I’m there with Peter [Bergman; Jack Abbott] and Doug [Davidson; Paul Williams] and Billy Miller [ex-Billy Abbott].”
Which is great because they’ve all won an Emmy before, so Le Blanc can be in this for himself and not feel guilty about smashing the competition. “You know what, five minutes before they call your name, you’ll walk over their dead bodies. I’m not even kidding. Any illusion you have of sportsmanship five minutes before, and it’s always five minutes. I’m mouth kissing people 10 minutes before. 5 minutes before… No. Though they did catch me one time, I was taking a drink or something like that or making a joke and I was like, ‘Who, what?’ I remember someone caught that on camera. And I’m like, ‘What was I thinking?’ Usually I’m like already halfway to the stage. And I’m trying to body block anyone is trying to prevent me from going. But no, I just have the most fun there. Max is nominated and Daniel Palo [ex-Jamie Vernon], which is so lovely. But we’re missing Tracey. I had hoped that it would happen this year, but she was the first one after Jimmy [Freeman; ‘Y&R’s’ publicist] who called me. I looked – she was a minute off. I don’t know where she gets her news from, but she’s always the first one. Like I said, I wouldn’t be there without her. I’m a big supporter of the Baldwin family. Judith Chapman [Gloria Fisher] and [Ted] Shackelford [Jeffrey Bardwell] should just be bowed to, because they add so much to the show. But again, Missy Egan [Chelsea Newman] did amazing work. Steve Burton [Dylan McAvoy], I helped look at his stuff, and he had lovely stuff that I was like, ‘Steve, you’re good!’ I was looking. I was like, ‘I will not compliment you, because I hate giving compliments to actors, because then there’s less for me.’ Actually giving compliments robs you of stuff. So I try not to do that [Laughs]. Missy comes and confronts him, but Missy Egan, I just can’t say enough about her.”