On Young and the Restless, Ashland Locke (played by Richard Burgi) now knows about his wife Tara’s (Elizabeth Leiner) affair with Kyle (Michael Mealor). As we’ve already seen, the media mogul is not one to be crossed. Even if it turns out that Kyle is not the father of little Harrison (Kellen Enriquez), Ashland still will likely seek major revenge on the Abbott heir.
TV Insider chatted with Burgi about returning to the soap opera genre (he started his acting career on New York-based serials in the 1980s), the superhero role that got away, and just how far Ashland may go now that knows about his wife’s infidelity.
All soaps need a good antagonist. You and Ashland have been a shot in the arm to Y&R.
Richard Burgi: It’s a good group of people. You appear larger if you stand on the shoulders of giants. It’s a good cast.
What’s your take on Ashland? It was interesting that in one of his early appearances he put Kyle right on the spot asking him if he slept with Tara.
Ashland is one of the older bucks and Kyle’s a young buck who has come around to challenge [Ashland] and test him. Ashland sensed something might be awry [before Tara confirmed it].
And we don’t know for sure who Harrison’s father is even though there’s speculation Kyle’s the dad.
We don’t know yet.
How dangerous might Ashland get? How much revenge might he seek on Kyle or anyone?
A lot like a woman scorned, I think, men, when they get angry, will go past the part that keeps them in check and keeps them from doing heinous things. He wants people to hurt as much as he is hurting.
Ashland knowing about the affair raises the stakes.
Yes. It’s very confusing to find something out [for sure] that you’ve had a hunch about. It brings a different reality. You have time to temper your response. It doesn’t always make it easy. At this stage of his life, Ashland’s been through a lot. I love the nuances [my character has]. There are various tones, human emotion, and behaviors. Ashland wants to see if he can learn and grow from his mistakes. We’ve shot some great scenes [that are coming up]. You see somebody at their end of having patience.
Your first daytime credit was Chad Rollo on Another World, correct?
Actually, it was on Ryan’s Hope. I did a few episodes there. I had a recurring role on Guiding Light before I got my first contract role on Another World.
It’s still surreal to think that all the New York-based daytime serials are gone.
It’s a travesty. I remember being able to work on soap operas during the day, doing theater at night, and, schedules permitted, you could get out for commercials. It was a lovely, lovely time.
Y&R fans have been googling “Cyaxeres,” the media company Ashland’s been shopping around to Genoa City power players.
Everybody’s botched that name at least once. (Chuckles) The writers relish in the verbal gymnastics.
How have you found the pace at Y&R? Shows seem to be shooting faster than ever. Plus, there are COVID-19 safety protocols to follow.
I’ve always liked working in daytime drama. I love the crucible of having to do so much. When you come out of this medium, you’re so prepared. I find the pace as insane as always and I love it.
We weren’t sure if Ashland was going to be around after that heart attack episode?
[Wryly] Do you think I overdid it?
Oddly enough, Eric Braeden’s (Victor) father passed away from a heart attack. He and I talked about that. I’d rather err on the side of giving the audience more rather than have them think that it was indigestion.
I checked out your lengthy list of credits. Nothing really from the superhero world.
I played an antihero on [the original] The Flash TV series. I had tested for the lead role in 1990. The part went to a wonderful actor, John Wesley Shipp (who plays Jay Garrick on the modern Flash series). Producers called me after I moved out to Los Angeles from New York to do an episode. I played the part of ‘Deadly Nightshade.’ I remember they put me in an Acura NSX that had just come out. I as driving it at a super-fast speed on the Warner Bros. lot. I had this suit. It was a groovy character.
Back then there weren’t any special effects as we know them today or green screens. If something blew up, it had to…blow up!
Yes. It was tons of fun shooting that episode. I also did a series called The Sentinel where we had to blow up stuff all the time. I’ve gotten singed from fires. Those were live-time explosions. Afterward, they moved to the green screen.
Are you in touch with any daytime pals?
Missy Hughes (ex-Sara) and Hank Cheyne (ex-Scott) from Another World are still very dear friends. Also, Brian Fitzpatrick (ex-Mitch, All My Children), who played my brother on a series I did called One West Waikiki. We were in class together back in the 1980s. I’ve lost a couple of friends. A gal I dated on Another World, Sally Spencer (ex-M.J.), passed away. I keep in touch with Jeff Parise (ex-Carlo/ex-Joe), who was on General Hospital [where I played Paul]. I see Christopher Rich (ex-Sandy, AW) at charity events. We’ve become pals. I also did a series (Point Pleasant) with Susan Walters (Kyle’s late mother Diane on Y&R). We’re all oddly connected.
Can Y&R convince you to stick around?
They’ve extended me probably through the summer. After that, we’ll see. It was supposed to be a short run. I’d read for the role of Mike the plumber on Desperate Housewives [which went to James Denton]. Later, I went back and got the role of Karl. I never knew if I were coming back or if I’d be regular on that show. I don’t ask. I’ve spent my whole career like that. I’ve been very blessed.
Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS