Jason Thompson on the 'Y&R' Storyline That Won Him a Daytime Emmy
It was mystifying that Jason Thompson never won a Daytime Emmy for his compelling and sensitive performances as single dad Dr. Patrick Drake on General Hospital. Now, the actor’s peers have recognized him for his current role as Billy Abbott on Young and the Restless with the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Last year, Billy readdressed his grief over losing his daughter, Delia, to hit-and-run driver Adam Newman (Mark Grossman). The journey brought both literal and virtual gold for Thompson as the 47th Annual Daytime Emmys was a pre-taped ceremony.
TV Insider chatted with Thompson after his win to get his thoughts on his victory, the format of the awards, and how he’d like to see Billy interact with his other children, Johnny and Katie, once the show resumes production. (It’s been on hiatus for months due to the coronavirus.) Read on to get the scoop from the Emmy-winning actor!
Congratulations! This is long overdue!
Jason Thompson: Yeah! I feel really good, relieved to a certain extent and certainly honored. I’m grateful to be a part of a team that supports its actors and that I could get this storyline this year. It felt right and I felt connected to it. It feels nice to win. It feels nice to know that that part is done. I can put the trophy on my parents’ mantle now.
Due to production constraints, you and others taped acceptance speeches in advance of knowing whether or not you’d win. Was that surreal?
Yeah, but what isn’t [surreal] right now? It’s all a little surreal. If this telecast goes down in history of as the first one that we’ve done from home, I feel that I’m a part of history. It was all interesting and kind of weird. I knew it was going to be an experience. Our publicity team, Matt Kane and everyone, has been great throughout the whole process. I will never forget this night or this year.
How did you watch the show?
The show set up a virtual viewing party for everyone to watch together. What was also nice was that the night before, Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) organized a Zoom Social with the cast. She’s great about that stuff. My family was with me on the big night. It was incredible.
Your children, Bowie and Rome, were adorable in your pre-taped speech.
I think that was the only reason I could get them to sit on my lap. I said, ‘You might be on TV.’ To me, having my family there was everything. I couldn’t imagine not having them be a part of it. My life is dedicated to them. It’s no surprise that I think my work took a turn when I met my wife [Paloma]. Hopefully, I can continue to do what I love to do and put food on the table for these little ones. That’s my goal.
What was on your reel?
I put on it the scene when I woke up in the Chancellor living room not knowing how I got there and then going back to Victoria (Amelia Heinle) and Billy’s room where I tell her I’m scared. There were scenes with Mark Grossman (Adam) in them. He was such a big part of it for me. There were pivotal scenes with him. I included scenes with Billy’s therapist Dr. Clay (Sandra Thigpen) where we talked about Billy’s journey. I’m just fortunate to work with the people that I did.
How would you describe how Billy came out the other end of this journey, readdressing his daughter’s death?
There’s a certain depth he keeps trying to find in himself. He’s trying to understand what makes him tick in a way. It’s knowing that there’s always going to be a little bit of explosiveness in him. He’s trying to understand his place in the world. He’s trying to look at his life and take stock in it. It’s about evolving. It’s what I love about daytime. I try to show how the character might evolve. If I’m not evolving personally, then I’m not doing justice to what Billy is going through. Billy got to a deeper level.
Billy has two other children — Katie and Johnny — but we don’t seem them much at all. Would you like to see Billy interacting with the two of them?
Yes. Very much so. It’s a way to tell story that is unique…I got to work with Brooklyn [Rae Silzer who played my daughter Emma on GH] for many years. That brought so much vitality to the story. Her ability is amazing. That’s a great opportunity to tell story.
Do you feel this honor you’ve received is partially a tribute to you entire daytime career?
I can’t see how it’s not. I really can’t. It’s all helped me get to [this] place where I try and pay tribute to the work. Nothing is owed to you. You have to earn the trust of the writers, producers, directors, network, your co-stars…you have to earn the time it takes to learn the craft. If you think you’re ever done learning, you’re missing the point. I’m always trying to do the work justice, making sure I earn my place. I’m honored to be on the same team as so many of my colleagues.
A long time ago, Susan Flannery (ex-Stephanie, Bold and the Beautiful) began a tradition of the Lead Actress nominees getting together for a brunch around the time of the awards. Are you up for gathering together the Lead Actor noms?
I think that’d be amazing, 100%. Especially now. Who doesn’t want to get together with all your friends, hang out and have a drink? Mark my words — that’s something I want to be able to try and pull off.
Last year’s winner picks up the tab!
It’s the least I could do. Especially [for] Steve [Burton, Jason, GH]. He was one of those guys who never let me pay for a thing when I first started at GH and he’d take me out to lunch.
Was there anyone else you’d like to thank now that your win is a reality?
Yes. I want to thank CBS, Sony Picture Television, Tony [Morina, executive producer], who has been so supportive…Josh [Griffith, head writer/co-executive producer] and his writing team. Josh came to me and said, ‘This is what’s going to happen.’ And I said, ‘I’m in. I’m going there.’
Also, Kimberly [McCullough, ex-Robin, GH] and [former executive producer] Jill Phelps who hired me at GH and Y&R, changing my life, twice. My managers, agents that no longer with work, including Troy Nankin and Marnie Sparer, but have been pivotal in helping me get to this place. My family and my friends. I’m blessed with a crew of people who love and support me. The list is long. Also, the fans who have been so supportive of me. I’m lucky to be a part of two shows that will go down in history. Lucky me.
The Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS