'Y&R's Jordi Vilasuso on Rey Helping Sharon Fight Cancer & a 'Guiding Light' Reunion
On Young and the Restless, Rey Rosales, played by Emmy-winner Jordi Vilasuso, is providing love interest Sharon (Sharon Case) with unconditional support and love as she battles cancer. Off-screen, Vilasuso did the same after he and his family — wife Kaitlin and their daughters Riley, 7, and Everly, 3 — battled coronavirus.
In his first interview since beating the virus, Vilasuso is talking about why he went public with his family’s ordeal. He also gave insight into Rey’s love for Sharon, missing former co-stars Noemi Gonzales (ex-Mia) and Jason Canela (ex-Arturo), and doing a reunion on YouTube with former Guiding Light co-stars.
You decided to reveal that you battled coronavirus to help people.
Jordi Vilasuso: Yes. I’ve had my reservations about social media. I was on the fence about sharing this. I asked myself are we going to put this out there? [My wife, Kaitlin, and I] decided if we were going to do it, we were going to do it together. We wanted to share that we had a small case of this virus and we were able to get through it. We needed to say something because people are going through this.
View this post on Instagram
Repost @kaitlinvilasuso .. So it happened, friends.. Our family got covid-19. We debated sharing this, but finally decided to in the hope of possibly being a source of information or comfort to someone who might be in a similar situation. 🙏🏻 Please watch the full video. From the bottom of our hearts thank you to every single person on the frontlines risking their lives to keep us safe.. thank YOU for letting us share a part of our life and our family with you. We are beyond grateful that, even in isolation, we all have each other. Stay safe our friends and #stayhomstayhomestayhome 🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻 #saferathome
How are you and your family feeling now?
We’re great, thank you. No more symptoms. All my girls are great. The kids had a very mild case with fevers and anosmia, which is where you can’t smell. Fortunately, they had none of the lethargy that my wife and I had. She had the worst case of the virus. She had trouble breathing.
The thing that I want to dig into a little bit is the psychological aspect. You don’t know if you’re going to get worse. That’s where you start to get into your head. Thank God, my father and brother are doctors. They are always there for us. I learned it was all about staying calm and keeping an eye on what was going on. The doctors we spoke to were all great with us. They didn’t want us coming in. They had us stay home as it was a mild case and we kept an eye on things.
Kaitlin kept a very detailed journal as to what she was going through. The symptoms are filled with peaks and valleys. One day, you’ll be down in the dumps and the next day you think it’s all gone. Then, it comes back. We didn’t know how this presents itself. You keep an eye on your breathing.
My wife got an inhaler to help with her breathing, but you really need to know how to use it. My father is a cancer survivor and he’s had pneumonia many times. Sleep is also so important. When my wife had tough days, I’d close the bedroom door, take care of the kids, and then check in on her.
When did you see light at the end of the tunnel?
I had a day and a half of a low-grade fever. I was a day and a half behind [Kaitlin]. She said she couldn’t taste or smell anything. It’s so weird. You can breathe in air, but you can’t smell or taste. For five or six days after I recovered, I didn’t do anything physical.
How has the self-quarantining been going?
We had literally moved to our [new] house three weeks before this all began and it has a backyard. So, the kids can play outside and that’s great. Riley had spring break when this started. Kaitlin put on a great game face with them. She’s the epitome of kindness and love. The kids didn’t know a lot [initially], but there’s a YouTube video [that explains the coronavirus] that Riley, who’s 7, watches. There are episodes here and there. They feel badly they can’t see their friends.
How’s the home-schooling going?
We’re in our second week of that. They’re using Google Classroom. I’m so proud of Riley. She loves to learn. She’s on it. She’s very comfortable. We find ways to split our time with them. I’m trying to look at the glass as half full. I’m giving my daughters even more attention right now. I’m able to give them more of my time.
I want to, hopefully, get an antibodies test. I want to not just be a victim here. I want to do something. If I can give my blood to a hospital [for tests] that’d be great. It’d feel great to take action against this.
Your family came together to fight this just as Sharon’s family is coming together to support her through her cancer ordeal. What has Sharon’s diagnosis done for her and Rey’s relationship.
Rey and Sharon aren’t married, but the way I feel about my wife is the way Rey feels about Sharon. This guy is willing to make the real tough choices to put her as a priority. That’s where I come from. I’m fortunate enough to have found someone I feel that way about in my own life so that’s what I bring to Rey. There are parallels. I have had some history with cancer.
After we got married, we found out that my dad had this horrible, aggressive cancer. The mortality rate for the kind he had was 60 percent. It was scary. We left LA and moved to Miami so I could be there for my dad. The way our industry goes I was able to take the time. You learn about mood swings and what the chemo does to you. Cancer’s a terrible, terrible disease. But there are treatments for it, which gave us a lot of hope.
View this post on Instagram
Wrapping up our last day of shooting before the holiday break on @youngandrestlesscbs with my bro @jasoncanela . The friendships and work that I’ve experienced with such a talented cast on this legendary show has already been one of most pleasurable and fulfilling gigs of my career! Here’s to finishing the year 💪 and to a great 2019! 🙏 #yr
You’re still in touch with TV brother Jason Canela (ex-Arturo).
Oh, yeah! That’s my ‘brother from another mother.’ I love that kid. He’s going to do some great stuff. You’ll see. I’m grateful to have met him. When I went in to read for the role the first time, he walked in and talked to the [Y&R] casting director…she introduced me to him. When he walked out, he said, ‘I could see that guy playing my brother.’
Before Mia and Arturo left town, the writers revealed that he was the father of her unborn baby – although, that could always change. As sad it was to see them go, were you glad that there was some closure given?
You always want more time. We had maybe five months working together. I felt so connected to both Noemi and Jason. I know a lot of people have their opinions about how [quickly] Mia was introduced, which I completely understand. But I loved the story. I know how connected I was to Jason and Noemi. It was bittersweet. I respect what Josh [Griffith, head writer/co-executive producer] and Tony [Morina, executive producer] put together. They put a bow on it. One of the saving graces is I still have Sasha [Calle, Lola] as my sister. She’s part of my family. I check in with her once a week.
View this post on Instagram
Feel blessed to have had @jasoncanela and @iamnoemigonzalez become like family to me. My heart broke today as they filmed their last scenes and are moving along in their journey. They have inspired me beyond belief and I’m SO GRATEFUL to not only have worked with them but also to have grown with them. Here’s to my Rosales familia! 🙏❤️💪 . . . @youngandrestlesscbs @cbsdaytime #yr
Alan Locher, former Guiding Light and As the World Turns publicist, has been organizing some cast reunions on YouTube where fans can ask questions. Are you up for a Santos family reunion?
Yes, We’re doing it. Alan’s putting it together. From what I understand it’s Saundra [Santiago, ex-Carmen], Joy Lenz [ex-Michelle], George Alvarez [Father Ray], Paul Anthony Stewart [ex-Danny], and me. I watch those episodes and thought we did it! The Santos family came on when The Sopranos had hit. We didn’t pull punches. We were in it. We were the ‘Santos crime family’ and it was so much fun.
I was so thrilled when Alan called me about this. I remember telling him that I took myself way too seriously when I got the role. I was 19 and was going to be the next Robert De Niro! We were in a restaurant in New York and he told me about the magazines that cover the soap opera world. I said, ‘I don’t do press.’ Two weeks later, I was doing a photo shoot on a shag carpet with my shirt off and my hair was all blown out … (Laughs) That whole idea of me taking myself too seriously didn’t last long! Being on Guiding Light was a magical time in my career. What a great group of folks.
Last December, it looked like the writers might be pairing Rey and Victoria (Amelia Heinle) after the two were in a blackout in Victor’s (Eric Braeden) office.
That was awesome. People were pushing for that after that one show we did together. I think they were just testing the waters. I hope we [all] get back to work soon. I miss it. I was really touched by so many people reaching out with well-wishes. Everyone at CBS and at the show – Sharon, Jason Thompson (Billy), Josh Morrow (Nicholas)…it’s really a great, grounded group.
Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS
Guiding Light Reunion, Wednesday, May 6, 3 pm ET, YouTube