Over the course of his 60-plus-year acting career, Eric Braeden has done it all — film, television, and theater — making him one of the most recognizable actors in the world. And the role that the iconic actor is best known for is that of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Victor Newman, the legendary soap opera character that he has playing for more than four decades. However, during a recent State of Mind interview with another daytime legend, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Maurice Benard (Sonny), Braeden confessed that once upon a time, he hated working on the very show that has practically made him a household name.
Braeden joined the cast of Y&R in 1980, after nearly 20 years of working in the genres of primetime and film. “I had to work really hard at accepting the medium,” Braeden admitted. “When I came in at first, I loathed it.” The intense amount of dialogue and pace at which the soap opera taped was unlike anything Braeden had previously experienced as an actor. “And the lack of respect with which they worked,” he explained.
One of the biggest things that rankled him, Braeden shared, was when a crew member would count down before the performers were to start a scene. “I said, ‘Wait a minute. You look at me before you count down, you got that? I’m on screen, not you. When I’m ready, we go. Is that clear?’”
Braeden added that he had to repeat that to several crew members at Y&R his first two or three years on the soap — but that it was never about him having a lack of respect for the crew. Rather, he felt that the performers weren’t being respected by the countdown. “You look at me, then we shoot. I don’t give a [expletive] about the technical stuff. We are on screen. Our face is on screen. We are being judged — not you.”
Admitting that he was guilty of feeling “a kind of disdain” for soap operas in those early years, Braeden soon realized that working in daytime “is the hardest job for an actor in this town. Period.” Becoming an advocate for the genre, he encouraged his co-stars to be proud of the work they put out. “You’re entertaining millions of people. Have respect for what you do,” he insisted, then pointed between him and Benard. “What you and I do is harder than what anyone who stars in a film does, what anyone who stars in nighttime does. What anyone who stars in the theater does.”
Specifically addressing the stigma surrounding daytime actors being looked down upon, Braeden said that stems from “ignorance on not knowing what we do. I’ve done the other. I started in film, I’ve done nighttime. This is the hardest medium in the business. So, actors, we’re in it, be proud of it.
“Be proud of what you do,” he concluded. “We do a really hard job, and we do it very well very often.”