Fans of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS can be forgiven for wondering whether Michael had become a recluse over the last year. After all, he only seemed to pop up to give his fellow Genoa City denizens legal advice or to express his dismay when son Fen changed careers. Yet that low profile changed when Michael was called upon to defend Nikki and Victoria during the recent courtroom battle involving T.J.s murder. “I had been warned repeatedly that there was a lot of stuff coming up,” chuckled Christian LeBlanc to Soaps In Depth. “They were like, ‘Get ready, there’s a lot of work!’ But I loved it! The speeches that they gave Michael — the closing argument — was great. Courtroom scenes are fabulous for an actor, because you can play the theatrical element of it all. You can play it broader, a little wider. You can play Julius Caesar if you want!”
In an era of ever-tighter budgets, LeBlanc said that it was rare and luxurious to have a lengthy trial, including a jury. “A jury is always great because it gives you somebody to play to,” he shared with a smile. “I remember my first trial on the show, and they had a whole 12-person jury! The movie JFK had just come out, and they gave me one of those monologues that you were supposed to get passionate about. It was really fun. This [trial] was another one, because there are so many levels to play when you’ve been on a show for a while. “
“When Michael cross-examines Victoria about something as sensitive as domestic abuse, this is a woman he dated at one point, “ he continued. “And Michael knew J.T. back in the day. The joy of being on a soap for so long is being able to show the amazing history in all those scenes. A witness isn’t just a witness. And the opposing attorney is your ex-fiancee!”
For LeBlanc, another joy to filming courtroom scenes is being able to tap into his alter ego’s edgier self. “Even though Michael can be all gooey with Lauren, he still has a dark side, and we see it in court,” he pointed out. “He has a razor-sharp intellect that he’s not afraid to weaponize in the courtroom. He can be kind of a jackass. He doesn’t suffer fools. I received a lot of comments online about how crazy my reaction was when Michael found out that the women had thrown a bag over Tessa’s head and kidnapped her. It was like, ’Really? You didn’t tell me about this, too?’
“Twenty years ago, I thought the core of Michael was a man who considers himself the smartest person in a really stupid town sometimes,” continued the actor. “It still works today. He’s had to deal with people lying to him, and now you have the added emotion that those people lying are his friends. During the trial, he felt constantly betrayed. ‘Why are you treating me like just a lawyer?’—that was his thought. And that’s what made it so interesting.”
While LeBlanc is eager to sink his teeth into any storyline with his alter ego, he hasn’t exactly been twiddling his thumbs in his downtime. “I’m really busy because I have an art show coming up,” he revealed. “I had to drop that because of the courtroom stuff, and once you get out of it, you have to fight your way back into the vibe. I started [working on it] recently again, but I’ve had guests in town, and the dogs… life gets crazy!”
And if that isn’t hectic enough, the Emmy winner has completed the children’s book he’s been working on — “I just need to go in and do rewrites for myself” — and will be teaming up with Sean Carrigan (ex-Stitch) for a few improv nights. The juggling “makes me a better actor,” he insisted. “Or a happier human being certainly. I’m just amazed I have all these things that I can focus on that I enjoy. Acting is my primary thing, but the other stuff feeds into acting. It’s a wonderful synergy!”
For more on your favorite Y&R stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.