You do not want to mess with this guy. Two-time Emmy-winning suds icon Darnell Williams — yep, All My Children's Jesse! — will hit The Young and the Restless February 20 as a badass physical therapist called Sarge. He's there to help heal Jack (Peter Bergman) who is paralyzed after being shot by a wacko at his own wedding. But Williams has a two-year deal with Y&R so, clearly, there's more in store for him. Will he re-team with his former AMC love Debbi Morgan? Williams delivered the scoop to TV Guide Magazine.
TV Guide Magazine: You've gone from playing cool cop in Pine Valley to hot-head screamer in Genoa City. What's eating Sarge?
Williams: He's like an ex-Marine drill sergeant who bullies his patients into getting better. We'll be chipping away the layers to find out why. There's something pretty big lurking beneath the surface, though I don't yet know what that is. [Laughs] I don't even know Sarge's real name but I do know he's an a--hole.
TV Guide Magazine: So is Jack sometimes. Yet this is a good match?
Williams: At first Jack sees Sarge berating one of his [disabled] clients at the hospital and confronts him. He's like, "You don't have to be such a d---, dude!" And Sarge is all, you know, "Shut the f--- up and let me do my job!" But Sarge has a great track record with his patients and, by the end of the day, Jack asks him to be his physical therapist. He knows he needs that kind of pushing and prodding. Tough love!
TV Guide Magazine: This is technically a reunion for you and Bergman, right?
Williams: We were on AMC at the same time right before I left but only very, very briefly. I can't even remember if we had scenes together. But I sure remember Peter.
TV Guide Magazine: Once Jack is in the pink, what happens to Sarge? Please don't tell me he goes to work for Restless Style Magazine! Will lightning strike twice for you and Debbi Morgan [now Y&R's Harmony]? Or would it be a mistake to try to recapture the Angie-Jesse magic?
Williams: I'm not really sure how they'll spread me throughout the canvas beyond the story with Peter. I did ask about [being paired with Morgan] and they said, "That's not why we hired you. We want to stay away from that, though we might tease it a little bit." I kind of hope they'll keep us apart for a while. I love Debbi, but it seems too easy to go that route.
TV Guide Magazine: How did you feel when Debbi left AMC for Y&R and it still looked like AMC was going to the Internet? Were you worried about your job?
Williams: Not really. I was more like, "Oh, okay, I guess JR's mysterious bullet was meant for Angie!" I figured Jesse would be wifeless and carry on from there.
TV Guide Magazine: You two were so terrific in the final year of the show. I fell for that crazy baby-switch plot hook, line and sinker.
Williams: It shocked me in the beginning when I found out Jesse was taking that turn and pulling a scam on his blind wife. I wasn't sure about it. I was about to say something to the producers but then decided, "Aw, Darnell, shut up!" And I just played it. It was such a difficult shift to digest, but it turned out to be really good stuff. I'm surprised they kept Angie blind for so long. I thought she'd be blind for a week and then we'd move on.
TV Guide Magazine: Why aren't you up for an Image Award? You won the damn thing last year. This year you're not even nominated! Neither was Debbi. What gives?
Williams: [Laughs] I didn't even know I was nominated last year. AMC submitted me. I found out when somebody said, "Congratulations."
TV Guide Magazine: Were you maybe not submitted this year because the show shut down?
Williams: Don't know. No clue.
TV Guide Magazine: How come Lindsay Hartley [AMC's Cara] took it upon herself to tweet the announcement that you had signed a deal to continue with AMC on the Internet? That was a bit weird.
Williams: There was no actual deal. We had come to an agreement but there was no contract per se. I was just so glad the Y&R offer came along. I had just purchased a house in the [California] desert which I've given myself a year to make habitable. I have this inner interior designer trying to get out! I feel blessed to be working, especially in today's economy.
TV Guide Magazine: So you've given up on New York?
Williams: Not at all. I bought the house in case everything goes south for me and I need a place to live. You never know. I signed with Y&R for two years but, as most soaps do, they have the option to kick you out after 13 weeks. [Laughs] We'll see how the chips fall! But home is still New York. And it always will be.
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