Eighty Years Young: Eric Braeden Talks 41 Years at ‘The Young and the Restless’

Eric Braeden, The Young and the Restless
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“The Young and the Restless” star Eric Braeden (born Hans-Jörg Gudegast) will soon celebrate his 80th birthday, and to help celebrate the German native recently sat down with PEOPLE to discuss his 41 years at daytime’s number one drama series as the dashing Victor Newman and that pesky question of when, or if, he plans to retire from the soap.

First things first: “I feel very loyal to ‘The Young and the Restless,’ very beholden to Victor and very beholden to the audience who has supported us for all those years,” Braeden told the publication in its latest issue, on newsstands now. “I intend to stay as long as I can,” Braeden added as he made it as clear as possible, saying, “I love my life. I love my colleagues. I love my family and friends. So do I see myself retiring anytime soon? Hell no! My life has been enriched by having been introduced to so many things.” Braeden joined the cast of “Y&R” as Victor Newman in January 1980 but didn’t make his on-air debut until the following month.

Over his four decades on the soap, Braeden shares that he’s grown quite fond of some of the people he’s worked with, particularly co-star Melody Thomas Scott who plays his character’s long-time lady love, Nikki Newman. “I adore her, love her. She has put up with me and I sometimes am not the easiest guy to get along with, sometimes,” he says of his scene partner.

Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braeden ("The Young and the Restless")
Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braeden (“The Young and the Restless”)
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As for his upcoming birthday on Saturday, April 3, Braeden notes he’s not afraid of hitting the big 8-0. Besides staying fit and healthy, “I learned from early on, what you do in the last mile is what you are judged by,” he says to PEOPLE. “So, I’ve got to keep on plugging, keep on fighting, keep on working and never give up. I think one of the worst things to do is to sit down and contemplate my navel. The old saying is so true: If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

For more from Braeden on his storied career, love of life, family and much more pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, featuring Jennifer Garner on the cover, on newsstands now.