“The Young and the Restless’” Max Ehrich (Fenmore Baldwin) hasn’t been seen much in Genoa City these days, but the young actor is still very much a part of the CBS family — as computer hacker Hunter on the network’s primetime series, “Under the Dome!” Soap Opera Network caught up with Ehrich shortly after he returned from North Carolina (where “Dome” films) to get the scoop on his new nighttime alter ego and when fans can look forward to seeing him back at “Y&R!”
Anyone who’s been keeping up with season two of the action-packed science-fiction drama “Under the Dome” knows that its one of the most intriguing and entertaining shows on television at the moment — especially now that Ehrich’s Hunter is a part of the ensemble cast. If you’re not up to speed, the series (which is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name) follows a small town in Maine that is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by a transparent, indestructible dome that zaps Internet access, mobile signals and radio communication. As government, military and media on the outside try to break down the dome, a small group of people inside attempt to figure out what the dome is, where it came from, and if it will go away. Ehrich’s Hunter is part of that small group.
“I just really love this character,” the New Jersey native enthuses of the mysterious youngster, who debuted on the Monday, August 18 episode of the show. “It’s a unique role; he’s an out of the box character.”
And, as the actor is excited to explain, he’s also a bit of a hero. “One thing I have to say that really intrigued me about Hunter is that he runs a website called The Hounds of Diana, and it’s created to get the truth out of the origins of the dome and what’s going on inside of it,” he says. “I was so intrigued to hear all about that and to do it, because it really added a whole layer of the character wanting to just discover truth. His whole motive is to really help the people inside the dome, so it was really cool to play the hero or someone who is trying to be a hero.”
But perhaps the best part of his “Under the Dome” experience has been working with such a talented cast and crew — an opportunity he says has been unparalleled. “It’s a really, really talented cast. The caliber was so high that it lit a fire under me to step up my game in all aspects,” he admits of working with stars like Mike Vogel (Dale “Barbie” Barbara), Colin Ford (Joe McAlister) and Mackenzie Lintz (Elinore “Norrie” Calvert-Hill). “In the beginning of the season and toward the end, I’m kind of the sidekick of Barbie, played by Mike Vogel, which is really great, because he’s such an awesome actor. Actually, the first scene I did, he threw me up against a car in the scene; that was literally my introduction to the show, was a scene where I get thrown up against a car, and just like, talking a mile a minute. And he was just really welcoming. He’s very present and intense, and it was cool. But then Mackenzie Lintz and Colin Ford and I kind of became the three musketeers trying to just solve the mystery of the dome.”
From his “Y&R” character, to his “High School Musical” character, to his “iStart A Fan War” character, Ehrich is known for delving deep into the core of the alter egos he’s challenged to play. His process has paid off, earning him the primetime gig as well as an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of “Y&R’s” Fen. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that tackling Hunter was no different for the passionate actor. “I think to really truthfully be able to portray a role, you can’t fake emotion,” he explains of his in-depth process. “You have to find a part of yourself that relates to the character. The character can’t be outside of yourself, so you amplify different parts of yourself that are more like the character, and you kind of put a lid on the parts of you that are not like it. So to start off the process with Hunter… one of the first things I did was I got a character journal and I started just writing as him, stuff like, ‘What is my view on the world? Who are my strongest relationships? Who are the people I look up to? What events would I consider to be the most influential on my life?” And so you really you have to start from that foundation. And even though in the scene that you’re doing, you don’t really bring all of that stuff up, it’s in your subconscious mind, so when you go to play with the other actors, you don’t really have to act. You can just, at that moment, live truthfully under the given circumstances.”
Oddly enough, those given circumstances actually helped make Ehrich’s exploration of the character and his world much easier than it otherwise would have been. “Being in a town where you don’t know anyone except for the cast and stuff allows your imagination to stay there,” he explains. “A lot of times, I would be living in an imagination world, because I’d be thinking over lines or something, and I’d still be in that ‘Dome’ world. I mean, I felt like there was literally a dome over us, in my imagination!”
Which of course got him — and us — thinking about how he’d react if the “Under the Dome” situation happened in real life! “I’d freak out!” he says with a laugh. “I would definitely try and solve it though. I’m not a computer hacker like Hunter is, but I would definitely try and be on the team that’s first off trying to keep the peace inside, because when something like that happens and there’s a lot of chaos, people can bring out a side of themselves that is not the most fun, so I’d really just try and keep the peace and try and solve it. I don’t know how I would sleep. Freaky! It’s just weird. Especially where there’s a dome where acid rain happens and all this other stuff. And pink stars falling. Like, what?! That would be crazy.”
Speaking of crazy, pink stars and acid rain have nothing on the insanity factor happening over in Genoa City, where Ehrich will be appearing sporadically throughout the fall, beginning Wednesday, October 1. “[I just got done] filming two episodes,” he teases, adding: “It’s always extremely high stakes, so I’m excited to be back. Fenmore is always on a slippery slop, so you never know: I feel like he’s always just one step away from falling.”
Which could definitely happen, when he catches wind of Summer’s (Hunter King) marriage to Austin (Matthew Atkinson)! “There’ll be some internal conflict,” the actor teases of Fen’s reaction to the crazy news. “But when you truly love someone, you want to see them happy. If someone is making someone else happy, then you kind of have no choice but to be happy for them. But that doesn’t mean that your love goes away, and I think in the case of Fenmore Baldwin. That’s where that’s at.”
But just where is Ehrich at in regards to “The Young and the Restless?” “Fenmore is still at it. He might not be there all the time, but there’s always the holidays and stuff like that for him to come back for,” the actor explains of being on recurring status. “That’s the great thing about a show like ‘Y&R’: It allows me to do things like ‘Under the Dome’ and other projects and then come back and have an arc and continue. So don’t worry: I don’t want to go anywhere!”
In fact, Ehrich assures that he’s still very much a part of the “Y&R” world. Not only does he keep up with the show (“I watch the show a couple of times a week when I’m at the gym, so I’m definitely up to date with what’s going on,” he says), he also keeps in contact with co-stars like Christian Le Blanc (Michael Baldwin), Tracey Bregman (Lauren Baldwin) and King. “We always check in with each other and see how everything is going,” he shares. “They’re always saying stuff like, ‘We miss you! But we understand. Have fun, but get your [butt] back here as soon as possible!’ They’re really close in my life.”
As are viewers of the show. “The fans of ‘The Young and the Restless’ are really the best fans out there,” he says. “They’re really supportive in their comments and getting the word out there [about my ‘Dome’ gig]. So I’m really appreciate of everything that ‘The Young and the Restless’ has done for me. It’s just a special part of my life.”
Catch Ehrich in his “Under the Dome” gig on Monday nights at 10PM ET/9PM CT on CBS, and on “The Young and the Restless” on Wednesday, October 1, when Fenmore returns to Genoa City for a series of episodes that will air throughout the fall!