Exclusive: Peter Bergman Dishes That Crazy Reveal on The Young and the Restless

Peter Bergman
John Paschal/JPI Studios
Peter Bergman

SPOILER ALERT!: If you have not seen the April 14 episode of CBS’s The Young and The Restless, read no further!

Peter Bergman has done 35 years in the daytime drama biz—10 as Cliff Warner on All My Children and the last 25 as Jack Abbott on The Young and the Restless—and so far he has three Emmys and a record 19 nominations to show for it. But it’s taken him this long to become a real soap star. He’s finally playing an evil twin! Y&R fans just learned that Jack’s gal Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) has wedded and bedded a Jack Abbott lookalike, and the real Jack is being held captive by the supposedly dead Kelly (Cady McClain). Here is Bergman’s take on these crazy-ass developments.

How are you feeling about this evil-twin thing? On one hand, we soap fans are suckers for this stuff. On the other, it’s been done to death.
I don’t know that I would have invited this, but I’m having a ball now that it’s here. The challenge is to make it entertaining and the best way to do that is to make a lot of it funny, and we do. One of the things I worried about was that we’d have to take this too, too seriously. It’s all in the tone. It’s really good writing and the whole thing has been a joy to play.

So what is Fake Jack exactly? An identical twin? A plastic-surgery lookalike?
I do not suspect that he’s an identical twin, though I don’t know for sure. I think he is quite literally a doppelgänger, that lookalike we all supposedly have walking around on the planet somewhere. We’re going to find out that he’s been in a lot of trouble and is kind of a loose cannon. He was found in a prison in Peru.

Victor Newman has quite a talent for locating lookalikes just when he needs one. First Mariah, now this guy. How does he do it?
He clearly shops at Doppelgängers R Us. [Laughs] It’s amazing that he could pull this off twice, isn’t it?

Will we learn this guy’s real name?

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Fake Jack has done his homework and knows everything about the real Jack?
He is extremely well prepared to drop right into Jack’s life and take over seamlessly, but there are things he could not know…things that will trip him up here and there. On top of that, he’s reckless. Can you imagine what it feels like to get out of jail and suddenly be Jack Abbott? Life with the beautiful Phyllis. The luxury. The expendable cash. It’s a candy store! And he can’t get enough of it fast enough. And unlike Jack, who is the ultimate in restraint when it comes to clothes, this guy likes things loud. He likes to wear bright stuff. [Laughs] I’ve been having a ball with the people in the wardrobe department! Fake Jack has a very large appetite for life. He’s very careless, but even when he makes a mistake, he’s confident he can fix it.

Sounds like he might go rogue at some point. Will he? That could be a major nightmare for The Mustache.
[Laughs] The best-laid plans! When you bring in somebody this unpredictable, unpredictable things happen, and Victor will find that he cannot control this guy. This new Jack is fascinated with Phyllis but he’s also going to find himself very taken with Ashley.

You mean, romantically? Jack and Ash are half-sibs.
And he thinks she’s quite something! I don’t know how far the writers will dare take that, but we’re definitely having some fun there.

Looking back, can we now assume that was Fake Jack who had red-hot monkey sex in the broom closet with Kelly?
Exactly. There have been a couple of incidents where Jack was behaving uncharacteristically and those will now start to make sense to the audience. The writers have been very thorough in delineating the differences in the two fellows. For example, we’ve established for a long time that Jack Abbott is a bit of a hot head. His fuse is a little too short. And Fake Jack is the antithesis of that. Nothing throws him.

How did the execs approach you about this plot? Warily?
Well, Chuck Pratt, our new head writer who is very well liked around here, had contacted me, through his assistant. “Could you please come up and meet with Chuck? He has some story-related things he wants to tell you about.” Well, you know me. My least favorite thing to do in this world is to sit down with head writers and talk about Jack Abbott—especially those who want to tell me all about him. I avoid it like the plague. I’m, like, “Just leave the scripts in my dressing room. I promise I will make it as good as I possibly can.” I started in soaps with [AMC creator] Agnes Nixon, and then went on to [Y&R creator] Bill Bell—both of them legends who wanted to know very little about what actors thought of their characters. And I have always respected that. I cut my teeth that way and that’s how I prefer to work. So I didn’t respond to Chuck’s assistant. Then there was a follow-up email, and then a third which said, “Chuck is starting to take this personally, Peter. Could you maybe make it upstairs?” So I went upstairs, met with Chuck, and found out that he had been wanting to warn me that certain things were about to start appearing in scripts that would make no sense unless I knew that Jack had a double.

And your gut response to that was what?
“Yikes!” Because it was pretty damn daunting. Could I make this interesting? Am I a good enough actor to make it work? We ask a lot of an audience when we do these types of stories, and it takes very clever people to make it successful. I didn’t know if I was clever enough.

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We’re kind of forgetting about Original Jack here. How does he handle being held hostage my Krackpot Kelly?
We thought we knew Kelly, but, wow, it turns out we don’t! Don’t forget, Jack still believes she committed suicide, so the fact that she didn’t is just the first of the crazy shocks. Kelly’s explanation of how Jack wound up, gagged and shackled to a bed on this unknown island is all the more explosive. As the information unfolds, there’s no good news in there anywhere for him. So while Fake Jack is living it up in Genoa City, Original Jack has a story of his own. He’ll be having some tough days —and then they will get even tougher.