Jess Walton Returns to ‘The Young and the Restless’ Ready to Play Cupid

Young and the Restless
Howard Wise/
Young and the Restless

Don’t mess with Mama. Emmy-winning fan fave Jess Walton makes one of her rare returns to The Young and the Restless July 11 as Jill Abbott, who is plenty pissed that her son Billy (Jason Thompson)—an incorrigible boozer and screw-up—has made a mess of his life. He’s also neglecting Brash & Sassy, the cosmetics firm he took from his ex-wife, Victoria (Amelia Heinle, right, with Thompson and Walton). Jill’s solution? Steal the company! Walton gave us the dish on her character’s sneaky plan.

What’s going on in Jill’s mad mind?
She’s in Chicago and starts to hear rumors that Brash & Sassy isn’t doing well. [Laughs] Apparently, she has a lot of spies roaming the halls over there! She suspects something’s up with Billy, but she’s not sure what. First she wants to bring her two boys, Billy and Cane (Daniel Goddard), together. She knows they both have a competitive edge and thinks Cane will be a good influence on Billy and that Billy will get his act together and try to prove himself if Cane’s around. Jill [also] thinks that if she gets hold of Brash & Sassy, she can make Billy and Victoria work on it together. And then nature will take its course. They’ve always loved each other. They just need a little push in the right direction. Jill believes Victoria would come back to Billy in a heartbeat. And you know what? I think it’s true.

So then Jill doesn’t know Victoria has been getting it on with a hot bartender and Billy is happily shtupping his brother’s wife?
She has no idea any of that’s happening. Even if she did, it wouldn’t matter. Jill’s a meddler!

Are you working from experience here? What kind of mom are you in real life?
Very hands off. I’m not stupid!

Does Jill have a Plan B if nature fails to take its course?
No. She doesn’t think that far ahead. Jill is a simple woman. Simple but forceful. Billy has gone off the rails, and she knows Victoria is the one who can straighten him out. [Laughs] It’s so nice to play someone who always knows better.

And it’s made Jill so popular in Genoa City!
She’s on bad terms with everybody. Whenever we’d have new directors and there was a big party scene, they’d always ask me, “Who should Jill be talking to? Who should she stand with?” And I’d say, “No one! Jill has no friends. She should be over in the corner. Eating.”

The last time Jill was in town she was giving Billy hell for his ghastly re-do of the Chancellor mansion. A lot of fans hated the new look and felt it trashed Mrs. C’s memory. Did the writers purposely make Jill a voice of the people?
Gee, I don’t know. They might have done that. If so, it was very smart. I love speaking for the audience and being cantankerous and telling it like it is. In real life, Jill would never get away with this.

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You fled Y&R several years ago and now live an idyllic life in Oregon. What got into you?
I was fully intending to retire when I made the move. Frankly, I was not feeling appreciated at Y&R. I didn’t want to be standing on a soundstage all day long being nothing but filler. But when Jill Farren Phelps took over [as executive producer] she said, “I would love to have you back.”

Were you hoping for that call?
No, because I’m basically pretty lazy. I’ve never been an ambitious person. I never went to the right parties. There was never a casting couch in my background. I just hung out and had a good time. I don’t have any of that actor angst you hear about, though I remember being in the shower one day—about 15 years ago—and I had just read an interview with Kevin Bacon who said he thought he’d die if he had to play the same character all the time. And suddenly I thought, “Oh, my God, that’s me! I play the same person every day and that’s all I do! How did this happen?” So I had a moment of panic. But it was just a moment. I believe in giving my intentions up to the universe, and my ultimate intention in this life is to be comfortable, to be at ease. No fear, no regrets. Now when I return [to Y&R] for a visit, I feel wanted. I’m relaxed, free, spontaneous. I have nothing to prove. You know that old saying “Follow your bliss”? Well, I followed mine, and it has led me to a very good place.