Soaps are in a constant state of change with their intricate, fast-paced storylines, pairings and love triangles, but if there is one touchstone in daytime, it is the loyalty of fans. With more than four decades under his belt, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Doug Davidson was already aware of that loyalty, but admits that he was still taken aback by the love he received from viewers when his alter ego, Paul, went MIA from Genoa City. “I think the amount of enthusiasm was remarkable and humbling,” he confessed to Soaps In Depth, clearly touched by the groundswell of support he received regarding his absence, with people reaching out to him via social media. “Most of my career has been rather low-key by choice. I didn’t do a lot of grandstanding. It was really nice to be part of a family, a group, so when it ended, it shocked me, and perhaps it shocked [the fans] even more.
“I forget where it is, but there is a passage in the Bible that talks about being grateful for the rough spots, because in retrospect, those rough spots can be the most life-changing,” he added quietly. “If this hadn’t happened, it would’ve been another day at the office. I would never have realized the depths of their devotion and enjoyment of what I did. Because it’s me in the car, on stage, having dinner, learning my lines. It’s not like the theater where people stand up and applaud. But this was life-changing. The fan reaction made the sun come up in the morning for me!”
Davidson is quick to credit much of that reaction to the uniqueness of the soap genre itself. “The idea of our show is really to open up the souls of our characters. It’s a continuing human drama, where you get to know these characters like your neighbors or your family,” reflected the Daytime Emmy winner. “So viewers go through intimate moments with you when two characters are falling in love, having children… the highs and the lows. When you have a 41-year relationship with the audience, those moments are much more impactful. It goes beyond just watching and enjoying a scene. You become concerned about Victoria, or you feel for Nikki.
“They’ve been with me for Paul’s history, when he was a gas station attendant and got April pregnant, and turned into a good guy when he tried to get his dad free of the Mob or accidentally fell in love with another man’s wife,” he continued. “No other show that I am aware of except for soap operas can take you back 40 years in time and use actual clips with the same actors. It’s almost like life in real time!”
While Davidson might not know what the future holds for his alter ego, he is ready for the ride. And now he knows that he won’t be going on that ride alone, either — his fans will be right there with him! “I’m just so incredibly grateful, because there was a time when I didn’t think I would be coming back,” he confessed softly. “To have people — and it was thousands of people — taking time out of their day to write comments, to say, ‘Hey, you really changed my life… ’ It was like being at your own funeral, where you hear the nicest things — and the bonus is I was still alive and could hear it all firsthand! I was like, ‘If I have to hang it up, they have made me feel really good about the time I have spent there!’ Then they heard that I was coming back, and it was another flood, with them going, ‘Our prayers have been answered.’ Well, my prayers were answered, too. It just makes you go, ‘Oh, my gosh, they are so kind!’ And I will be forever grateful!”
For more on your favorite Y&R stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.