'Y&R's Jason Thompson Talks Billy's Renewed Grief Over Losing Daughter Delia

Michael Maloney
Q&A CBS

The Young and the Restless' Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) lost his daughter, Delia, almost six years ago after Adam (Mark Grossman) accidentally fatally struck her with his car on a darkened road one night.

Adam’s recent resurrection has sent Billy into an emotional and psychological tailspin. He’s reliving all the anguish, hearing Delia’s voice and is dangerously close to separating from reality.

TV Insider spoke with Thompson about this tale, where he sees it going, and which two characters he’d like to share more screen time with to fully explore Billy’s psyche.

This is some heavy stuff! What were your thoughts when you found out the show was going to delve into Billy’s feelings for Delia coming more to the forefront?

Jason Thompson: Part of why I was definitely intrigued and excited about it is because, I, as Jason, haven’t been able to portray any sort of bigger storyline as far as Delia and dealing with her loss goes. The trauma doesn’t go away. He’s trying to ‘unpack’ his emotional and mental state related to all this.

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I’m coming up on four years on the show in November. I haven’t had a lot to play on that aspect, which is one of the most profound moments of his life. I was excited to see more of what it meant for Billy and try to understand this storyline. It’s new and challenging and still is. Anytime you get to do that it’s always fun.

On paper, it’s easy to blame Adam. He was behind the wheel. But how much of guilt does Billy feel for leaving Delia in the car when he went in for the ice cream?

There’s all of that. It’s combination of his own guilt. He’s had moments where he’s acknowledged that. That doesn’t mean the switch is hit emotionally. You never get away from something this tragic. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. It’s this thing inside him that Billy has not gotten a handle on in a healthy way. He holds Adam responsible. Is that right or wrong? It doesn’t matter. Billy’s not caring what’s right or wrong these days. He holds Adam accountable.

He’s dealt with this for year abut now the trigger of Adam coming back has made all that go away. It was a terrible tragic accident. I can say that logically. It doesn’t mean Billy can. He can’t come to terms with it. That’s where he finds himself.

Billy has said to Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) "I’m fine," but people who say that often aren’t. How deep down the well might he go?

Very deep. He’s dealing with amnesia at some point which is what can happen with this kind of [condition]. There’s potential to go really far. Circumstances might dictate how far he goes, but he feels like he’s ready to go all the way. What that means is something Billy doesn’t know. There’s no stopping him. There’s no talking him out of it.

The moment where Billy hugged Bella (Martie Blair), who’s probably around the same age Delia was when she died, was very emotional. How do you help explain to a co-star that young what the scene is about?

I try to be as honest as possible. Her parents are there and we’re all going to do everything we can to make sure she’s comfortable. It’s going to get a little intense. It’s a fine line. The scenes are dramatic and they get heavy. I worked with Brooklyn [Rae Silzer, Emma, General Hospital] at my last job [as Patrick Drake] for many years and we had a great relationship. A lot of that came from being honest with each other as acting partners and friends. We’d take care of each other during the motional moments. Being able to be open to talk about everything. As adult actors, we have different ways of acting. Younger actors do, too. Sometimes they get a little more personally connected. It’s not the same with everyone.

(CBS)

With Brooklyn, I’m guessing you worked together for a while before really heavy stuff came up.

Yes. Story-wise, [the moment with Bella] was interesting. You could see that he’s clearly trying to connect with her. Clearly, he wasn’t able to help [Delia] once. Now, he feels he wants to do everything he can to help her. He’s going to try to do everything to try to make up for his potential blame. The walls are starting to come in on him a little bit. Billy’s trying to show not how broken he is inside.

How is it working with Mark Grossman?

Mark’s been doing a fantastic job. He’s doing great. He’s finding this character. I know how difficult that is. There’s a massive sense of responsibly to the character, to the show, to the network, to the producers…to everything. I think he’s just come in and worked really hard. He’s trusting himself. As far as Billy and Adam go, I really like working with him. He has a lot to give. He comes across as quite honest to me. It’s fun working with him. I appreciate that and his work ethic and how seriously he’s taking this. That’s the only way to try to make it feel real to the viewers.

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

It wasn’t that long ago [when I joined the show] that I was thinking you just want to try to please people. He’s trying to make it real for himself. Replicating doesn’t feel organic and natural. You hope the audience relates to what’s going on. I ask myself how is this all going to work in terms of the storyline. You want to try to give it some concrete real base to it. Who knows what it is? But it has to feel real for Billy. I know where the story goes in the next couple of weeks and it’s very, very [confrontational].

How much do you want to know? Is hearing Delia’s voice something supernatural, Billy’s imagination, or gas-lighting, even. How much do you like to know?

As much as possible. I like to be able to gauge the rising and falling of moments and figure out what’s going on in the lives of the characters. They don’t tell us everything. You don’t know how it’s going to [unfold exactly]. I like to plan things out, but it still feels new every time I read a script. I don’t know what the voice was going to be like. I asked to hear it. Those are things that I like to kind of know so I can understand more.

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Do they play "Delia's" voice on stage for you to hear?  

I think they played it once on set. I got a recording of it. I’ve heard it and the music. The post production guys were super cool. They gave me a sneak peek at to what the music will sound like. There’s different music for [Billy’s] splintered personalities. It was great. It felt more collaborative. That’s the best part of the job where you can collaborate with other people.

People don’t “move on” when they’ve lost someone as Billy has Delia – they more continue on. Billy has two other children, Johnny and Katie. Are we seeing, either on-screen or off, his dynamic with them? They can’t —nor should they — replace Delia, but these are two children in their formative years who need their father’s love and attention.

We don’t have Johnny and Katie in story very often. It’s not written that much therefore it’s hard to play at that stuff. At the same time, he’s got two kids. You are right in that nothing can replace [Delia], but they do deserve their father. We’re finding him here he has this realization where he has to see his life for what it is and how dangerous it can be and how drastic things will change. They’re part of his emotional heart and his place.

(CBS)

I hope we get to play that. I’m really fond of working with kids. They can be very, very honest. You don’t know what’s going to come out of their mouths next, which is a goldmine for an actor. It makes you sit there and really listen. Those two characters are part of his world and he needs to figure himself out for them more than anybody else, realistically.

It was nice seeing Billy this week at the Chancellor mansion, which is the oldest set on the show.

I love it. There’s so much history in there. There’s always somewhere to look where you’ve had a moment or another moment’s taken place in that set. At the window or by the fireplace. I’ve had a lot of fun storylines there. Any time Jess [Walton, Jill] and I have scenes there it feels grounded and real. I have amazing respect for work she’s done in that living room. It makes it feel alive to me. The feeling is — let’s keep adding to it!

Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS