Although technically, Christian LeBlanc made his first appearance on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS as Michael Baldwin on Nov. 26, 1991, the soap will be celebrating his 30th anniversary with a very special episode airing on Monday, Jan. 10. “I think the viewers are gonna love it,” LeBlanc told Soaps In Depth of the anniversary show. “Because it surprised me. There is some stuff that I’m excited about that happens. They used this show to pivot the character.”
During the episode, fans can expect to see plenty of flashbacks from Michael’s history in Genoa City. “I asked for those snippets to be played,” LeBlanc revealed of how they taped that day. “The scenes that they were using.” Unfortunately, that led to some difficulty shooting. “But eventually, there were crowds around the monitor,” he added with a chuckle. “It really was good stuff. I wasn’t crying in my own scenes, but close! It’s just the memories, you know? 30 years is a long time. It just goes by in a snap like you hear people say in every book ever made ever.”
Adding to the emotion of the day was that after filming had concluded on Michael’s anniversary show, it was time for LeBlanc’s anniversary party! “I thought I was getting cupcakes but they did the whole party and everything with people coming in on their off days,” he said. “It was just really wonderful. And really emotional, I have to say.”
Of course, when LeBlanc first took on the role of Michael back in 1991, he was a dastardly villain sexually harassing poor, innocent Christine, played by Lauralee Bell. “I wasn’t supposed to be around for a very long time,” the Emmy winner admitted. “When you know you’re coming in to harass the ingenue, they don’t refer to you by your character name but by, ‘Oh, there he is, Sexual Harassment Storyline.’”
But even after Michael was sent to prison and written off the soap in 1993, that turned out not to be the end! “They let me go for three years,” LeBlanc reminded. “And Bill [Bell, Y&R’s creator and headwriter at the time], to his credit as a storyteller, knew that fans would not accept me unless I had paid for the crime. So I was gone for three years.
“And I was one of the few people he called,” he continued. “And I got to say no once. Because I was in a play with Julie Harris. You don’t turn that down. And then he called again afterwards, and I said yes. He brought me back and he made me work. As Michael, work to get his law license back. Nothing happened automatically and it made the character.”
Over the following decades, LeBlanc found his television family growing with the addition of Greg Rikaart as his brother, Kevin, and Joan Van Ark followed by Judith Chapman in the role of their mother, Gloria, followed by his marriage to Tracey E. Bregman’s Lauren. “You don’t always get that team that kind of meshes together so seamlessly,” LeBlanc marveled. “I’ve gotta say, we are a family of misfits, but what a crazy gang. It’s a joy.”
And while LeBlanc is grateful for the gifts that Y&R has given him as an actor over the past 30 years — including three Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor — he can’t wait to see what’s next for Michael. “I’ve gotten lots of chances, I’ve gotten lots of opportunities, but I want more,” he smiled. “We’re a greedy bunch, actors.”
So stay tuned to find out what happens in the future!