With a slew of soap weddings under her belt, a run at playing “crazy” and nearly a decade of daytime experience between “The Young and the Restless” and “All My Children,” a back-from-the-dead storyline is no big thang for “Y&R’s” Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea Lawson). Except for when the back-from-the-dead character happens to be her alter ego’s kid-killing husband, and that same guy’s real-life recast happens to be one of the most talked about soap events of the year! So just how is Egan taking in all of the madness surrounding Adam’s big return from the “dead,” including the fact that the character is now being played by Justin Hartley? Soap Opera Network caught up with the actress to find out!
Fans have been buzzing about Adam’s grand return to Genoa City for months, but it seems that nobody is more excited that Hartley will be in the character’s shoes than Egan. And she has good reason: The former “Revenge” actor just happens to be the real-life boyfriend of her real-life best friend, Chrishell Stause (Jordan Ridgeway, “Days of our Lives;” ex-Amanda Dillon, “All My Children”)! “They’ve been dating for over a year, and [my husband] Matt [Katrosar] and Justin and Chrishell and I double date all the time; we’re always hanging out,” she shares, adding that she’s super excited that Hartley will now be her co-star. “He’s just the best, so I was thrilled when I heard the news. We are so lucky to have him.”
And, if she’s going to be making out with someone, it may as well be her best friend’s boyfriend, right?! “We’ve been getting that question a lot, and it’s so funny,” Egan says with a laugh about the fact that Chelsea and Adam have a romantic past, so it’s likely that she and Hartley will have to play love scenes together. “It actually works out perfectly: I’ve always wanted Chrishell’s body, so now, since Justin’s her real-life boyfriend, I can just hire her as my body double for love scenes. Everybody wins!”
In reality though, the actress isn’t sure whether or not Chelsea will even let Adam near her, let alone near her lips or other areas. “If you recall, 10 months ago, when Adam supposedly died, after that is when she found out about [his involvement in the hit-and-run that killed] Delia,” she points out. “Who knows how Adam is going to come back — that’s a mystery and I can’t say — but let’s say Chelsea realizes that it’s Adam down the road. I don’t think she’s going to be very happy with him. So I’m not really sure [if they’ll have romantic scenes]. We haven’t really thought about that stuff yet. But at the same time, when you’ve been doing soaps for almost a decade, I mean, I’ve had nine weddings, I’ve made out with like a hundred people, so it’s really, really become just another day at the office. It’s weird how not weird it is that you’re making out with strangers all day!
“If anything, it’s great, because I adore Justin,” she continues. “He’s a close friend of mine, he’s close friends with my husband, so it’s fine. It’s just another day at the office, as strange as that sounds. And in a way, it’s nice that it’s someone that you’re comfortable with, that you trust, who’s a great person. So what’s a little kiss amongst friends, right? [laughs] So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, because right now, I don’t even know potentially what the story is going to be. I don’t really know if Chelsea will just walk right back into Adam’s arms, because they still have a lot of stuff to work through since he left… on such bad terms after their wedding.”
In fact, Egan teases that though some parts of the upcoming story might seem obvious, a lot of it is not what people might be assuming. “I can’t give anything away, really, but you’ll see it’s not necessarily what everybody thinks. There are a lot of elements to it; it’s not as simple as ‘Adam comes back, and how are Adam and Chelsea?’ It’s a little more complicated than that.”
First of all, there’ll be the shock that Adam is in fact alive. As fans may recall, Chelsea really held onto the belief that her husband wasn’t really dead for quite some time. “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for that moment!” the actress says of the big reveal. “I’m so excited to see what the writers [have come up with], how she’s going to find out, and what she’s going to find out, because she really, really thought he was alive, and finally, when Victor [Eric Braeden] said Adam [was dead], he had dental records, that’s when it finally hit her, and she was so devastated by it, but she forced herself to move on. So yeah, I can’t wait. I feel like that’s going to be such a shocker, such an explosive thing, and then, on top of it, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, you’re alive,’ but then, ‘Oh my God, you lied to me, you killed this little girl and didn’t tell me about it, and then you let me remarry you?!’ There are so many elements to the story, so I’m so excited to see what happens.”
However, though Chelsea has a right to be upset with Adam for how he left town, one could argue that he’ll have an equally sound reason to be upset with her due to the fact that she moved on romantically with Billy (Burgess Jenkins), of all people! “She and Billy are getting super serious now, so that’s going to be a huge, huge element to it too, now that she’s finally learning to move on, he’s back in town, what’s going to happen,” Egan muses of the situation, adding that her alter ego has really fallen for the Jabot Cosmetics exec. “She went through such heartache last year and was so obsessed with the idea that Adam was alive, and when she found out he was actually dead, at least, that’s what she was told, she had to force herself to move on. And she and Billy have had a tumultuous relationship since she came to Genoa City. Obviously, when she came to town three years ago, it was on much worse terms, and she was really trying to mess with Victoria (Amelia Heinle) and extort them; she was not a good person. But I feel like after she became a nice person again, [she and Billy] had a really nice friendship, and then that’s fallen into a deeper passion, and that passion fell into love. So I think that they’re definitely falling in love with each other in a way that started with friendship. She really needed somebody, and he’s been there for her, and she’s been there for him. So there are a lot of layers to their relationship right now, so that’s going to be hard to break, too, when Adam does come back to town.”
Although, that’s not to say that her connection with Adam isn’t just as strong — if not stronger — despite his bad deeds and the strange situation they’ll be in with him returning from the “dead.” “Adam and Chelsea’s love is intense. It’s a deep love and passion for each other,” says the actress. “She didn’t want to allow herself to believe that he was really dead, because she couldn’t handle the thought of that. But when they [showed her proof that] he was dead, she had no choice but to move on for her son’s sake. But that was the worst thing that’s ever happened to her, and they have such a deep, deep profound love, so as mad as she could ever be at Adam, he always has her heart. So that’s why I can’t wait to see where it goes, because it’s going to be really intense.”
No matter what plays out onscreen, the dynamic of Adam and Chelsea will undoubtedly be different — both because of the recent storyline events that have transpired, and because Adam is now being played by a new actor. “No matter who was playing Adam right now, their relationship would be a lot different because of everything that’s happened over the past year,” she explains, adding that she’s intrigued by what element Hartley will bring to the couple’s onscreen dynamic. “Every time you work with a new actor, especially in any kind of love connection, it’s exciting to see where it goes and where the chemistry is. I started having all my scenes with Billy Miller’s Billy, and then Chelsea fell for [Michael Muhney‘s] Adam and then Steve Burton came on the show [as Dylan], and he and I had a sex scene like two days after we met, because remember Chelsea and Dylan had that one night stand, so you get thrown all these great hunks, and you’re like, ‘Great!’ You just juggle them and figure out the different dynamics and all this different chemistry, and it’s fun. It’s a really fun thing, working with every new person.”
And luckily, Egan is confident that her new co-star can bring it — despite the uphill battle he faces as a recast for the very popular Muhney. “I know he’ll be fabulous. He’s been doing so much other great work for so many years, so I’m excited to see [what he can do]. Everybody kind of, especially when you’re taking over a role, you make it your own, especially on a soap opera,” she says, adding that she wasn’t sure how the fans would react to the recast. “There is so much fan love for Michael, which is great, and with any recast, there’s always a little bit of backlash. But I wasn’t surprised that the fans were so excited about Justin. He’s super cute! All the fans love that. And I just think that fans were pleasantly surprised at what a great recast they could find.
“That’s not to take away from the fan love for Michael, because that will always be there,” she adds. “But Justin is such a huge talent, and he’s been in many primetime shows. He’s so good on top of being so handsome, so I think there was really nothing to argue. There was really nothing to fight about. [The fans] went, ‘Oh, ok, sure!’ But again, it doesn’t take away from the love that they’ll always have for Michael, because he was such an amazing Adam. But these are new beginnings, and I think Justin is a perfect fit. There couldn’t have been a better recast.”