It’s out with the old and in with the new on January 13, when Jason Thompson debuts as Billy Abbott on “The Young and the Restless.” Thompson replaces Burgess Jenkins, who joined the soap in June 2014 replacing David Tom. But let’s face it, he’ll be judged by whether or not he measures up to Billy Miller‘s portrayal of the popular character.
In order the Thompson’s version of Billy to be a success and “Y&R” fans to accept him, 4 things need to happen.
The chemistry between Amelia Heinle (Victoria) and Billy Miller was off the charts and reproducing it is nearly impossible. Despite their best efforts, Tom and Jenkins never came close. Thompson, however, has a major edge. He’s already been part of a daytime supercouple with Kimberly McCullough (ex-Robin) on “GH.” He knows the drill and the intricacies that go into creating one. Of course, he’ll also have to connect strongly with Heinle and that remains the intangible, if their Victoria and Billy is going to work.
As one of Genoa City’s core families, the Abbotts are a mix of high profile characters with intricate relationships. First and foremost, Thompson’s Billy will have to connect with Peter Bergman‘s Jack, the big brother he’s always looking up to and whose approval is paramount to him. He’ll also have to tap into Billy’s vulnerable side with Eileen Davidson‘s Ashley, the one sibling who’s always been able to reach him, even in his darkest hours. Lastly, there’s that all important bond he’ll need to master with Jess Walton‘s Jill as he navigates their push-pull dynamic. Their unconventional mother/son attachment is one of daytime’s most unique and intriguing.
Shaking Dr. Drake
A big part of Thompson’s success will be depend on whether or not daytime fans can accept him as someone other than GH neurosurgeon Patrick Drake. He played the part for a decade and, in many ways, became synonymous with him. Heck, just seeing Thompson out of a lab coat and into a suit on a daily basis is going to be odd. Fortunately, Thompson is a consummate actor. He earned five daytime Emmy nominations during his tenure in Port Charles — three as Outstanding Lead Actor and two as Outstanding Supporting Actor. So if anyone can master the switch – even one as radical as transforming from a serious super doc to a lovable screwup – it’s Thompson.
Vitriol and Victor
The only thing as important as the rapport Billy shares with the people who know and love him in Genoa City, is the animosity between him and Eric Braeden‘s Victor. Their vitriolic relationship is like none other in soaps. There’s an undercurrent in every scene between them – Victor forever hating Billy for the love spell he’s cast upon his daughter Victoria, and Billy forever loathing Victor for his condescending arrogance. It will be crucial that Thompson keep that undercurrent alive any time the two characters cross paths, because it is a pivotal part of who Billy is.