'Y&R's Jess Walton Previews Jill's Response to Katherine's Will Being Challenged

Michael Maloney
Q&A Photo Courtesy: Lesley Bohm

As regular viewers of Young and the Restless have seen, Mishael Morgan is back on the canvas as attorney Amanda Sinclair, a Hilary lookalike, in the story that’s challenging the late Katherine Chancellor’s (the late Jeanne Cooper) will. This may be bad news for Devon Hamilton (Bryton James) but it’s great news for Y&R fans because it’s meant more screen-time for fan favorite Jess Walton (Jill Abbott)!

The original Young and the Restless character is supporting Devon, the primary recipient of Kay’s gazillions of dollars, and is set to come face-to-face with Amanda in the September 30 episode as this monetary mystery unfolds.

TV Insider sat down with the two-time Emmy-winning Walton to talk about this current tale, the status of her upcoming memoir, who Jill actually had more ill will towards than even Katherine, and more!

What did you think about this story in which Kay’s will is being challenged?

Jess Walton: As Jill, I wasn’t so much shocked but there was disbelief. Jill’s very fond of Devon; after getting over that she didn’t get [the majority of] Katherine’s fortune, Jill realized she’s very fond of Devon. She wants to do anything she can to help him. She still doesn’t believe it’s [her grandson] Chance – she thinks this is all Amanda.

(Sonja Flemming/CBS)

You worked some with Mishael when she first joined the show.

I remember her walking up to Cane (Daniel Goddard) and Jill in the park and we had some kind of fight. Jill thought Hilary was going to come in between Cane and Lily (Christel Khalil). She put Jill’s nose out of joint. Now, Jill’s supporting Devon. She doesn’t believe that this is all real. She thinks it’s a big fake-out. She’s being protective of Devon and she’s outraged that Chance’s name is involved. Jill’s irritated that it’s even a consideration that Kay’s will is being challenged.

Devon talking about Neil (Kristoff St. John), Dru (Victoria Rowell), Katherine, and (so he thought) Victor (Eric Braeden) all being in the afterlife together is reflective of real life.

Oh, totally. I was thinking of the same thing [when we did that scene]. At my age, so many of my friends, old boyfriends… they’ve all died. I’ve been saying to people after the last one [passed away] – he was the reason I was in Hollywood – I don’t feel bad because I feel that they’re all waiting. As I get older – and I’m not thinking [imminently] – but I feel like someday we’ll all be together. That scene meant a lot to me because of that.

 

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We had so much fun playing dress up in the eighties. #throwbackthursday #tbt #jeannecooper

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You have a new grandchild?

A boy. Yes, I already had two grandsons, ages 7 and 5, a granddaughter, 2, and now another grandson, who’s seven weeks old. It’s great. It’s so great. They’re so precious.

Have you gone ahead with your memoir?

I’ve been thinking about updating it. When I finished it, I only had one grandchild and there wasn’t a lot in there about my coming back to the show. I need to update it. People always say you can do a second one, but I want to do this one [just once] for the fans, my family, my kids, my grandchildren. This will be a nice, reasonably priced, autobiography of my life, my life at [Y&R] and my family life. I’m going to get on it. Maybe this winter.

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You worked as an actress in Hollywood under the old studio system?

Yes. I was under contract at Universal, maybe one of their last contract players. Everything changes. You do yearn for the old ways. You think things were better and, in some ways, they were, but the truth is nothing can stay the same. Everything’s always in flux. [Laughs] You better get used to that!

In addition to Jill’s feud with Kay, one of soap’s longest running stories, there was Jill’s other big rivalry on the show with Mamie (Veronica Redd) after she’d fallen in love with John (Jerry Douglas).

Jill despised Mamie. I once said to Jeanne that I [play] more hate in my scenes with Mamie than with Katherine. I think the reason was that the story with Mamie happened when I was playing Jill. The [original] backstory with Jeanne happened before I got there.

 

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#throwbackthursday #tbt #yr

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What else is keeping you busy in addition to the show and grandchildren?

I have a 10-acre ranch and a big log cabin [to take care of]. I got back last week and there was a list of things that I had to take care of! I got a car to lease for when I’m in Los Angeles. I adore it! But my big 90-lb. dog that’s part Great Dane….tore off the front bumper and we had just gotten it up here! She was trying to get to a squirrel. The bumper’s not all the way off. It’s dangling.  [Laughs] I have another car that has the grandkids’ car seats and she did the same thing to it! We’ve got thousands of dollars in repairs! She’s going after squirrels. We’re dealing with two cars and their bumpers are all screwed up. We adore the dog…she’s an angel in every other way.

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It was great when the show added a portrait of Katherine to the living room and you had this wonderful scene where Jill talked to the portrait. It’s so effective because it keeps Kay alive as a character.

Yes. When they changed the [Chancellor] living room, I was very upset about it.

(Tony Esparza/CBS)

So were the fans!

There was this little picture of Katherine, but it was in the hallway facing the stairway. At one point, when we kind of all re-thought that, and putting her picture up there was genius. She’s such a huge part of the show, still. She’s mentioned all the time. Jill mentions her — to Jill, she’s almost alive.

That’s another interesting point. The scripts will call for me to call her ‘the old bat,’ which I did in our scenes when Jeanne was alive. But it’s very uncomfortable for me to call her that unless she’s face-to-face with me. I used to call her that to insult her and have fun with her. Since she’s been gone…it’s harder to do that. I can call her that if Jill is currently angry with her over something. I think it was around the time with the ring that Jill was so mad at her. When I talk about her in ordinary conversation, I just have to change the [derogatory] words to ‘Katherine.’

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When you two would go at it, it truly was the most fun part of the show.

I can only [speak poorly of Kay] when I think she’s done something wrong to me. When people you love pass, you still have arguments. I don’t know if Jill has ever gotten over the fact that she thought Katherine was her mother. That colors how Jill feels about her.

That just changed one day. An off-camera DNA test and just like that, Kay and Jill weren’t related anymore. That was a big shift.  

It was a shift. Who knows whether it is was good, bad or whatever. Jeanne hated [Kay and Jill being mother and daughter].  I thought it might deepen everything. In our effort to bring back the antagonism, we did the story where Kay thought she’d gotten drunk and switched Jill’s baby and that’s how we got Cane. That was pretty good. Everything happens the way it’s supposed to in the end.

Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS