Maura West and Eric Braeden
Maura West won double Emmys playing As the World Turns' Carly Tenney and is one of the most revered women in soaps — so how come she's so nervous about joining The Young and the Restless? TV Guide Magazine caught up with the actress, who hits Genoa City October 8 as the new Diane Jenkins, and found out she's downright starstruck!
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TV Guide Magazine: After your indelible 15 years on ATWT, it's going to be so weird seeing you in a different soap role. Is it weird for you?
West: It is! I'm an easterner through and through — born and bred and worked there all my life — so moving to Los Angeles and suddenly being dependent on your car's navigation system is very weird. But I love it. Just walking into the CBS building makes you feel like you're making a real television show. It's kinda classy, and I have great appreciation and respect for it. It's like a dream. I feel like I've been in junior college and I've just been invited to the Ivy League — this is the big time! My eyes are like saucers when I go on the set because I'm working with the rock stars of the industry — Peter Bergman [Jack], Michelle Stafford [Phyllis], Melody Thomas Scott [Nikki]. My very first scenes were with Eric frickin' Braeden [Victor]! I got very little sleep the night before.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's backtrack. When were you actually offered the Y&R role? There were rumors about you going there long before it was announced.
West: I was hearing those same rumors before I'd ever spoken to anyone at Y&R. I hadn't even spoken to my agent about doing another daytime show. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I kind of liked the idea of having a little bit of freedom and maybe not going to another soap right away. But even friends were calling and saying, "So...Y&R, huh?" And it was all supposition! I think it became like a game of Telephone where somebody mentioned it because they thought it was a good idea and pretty soon people were repeating it as fact. But you know what? Those rumors gave me a great idea. Why not Y&R? I certainly liked the idea of staying at CBS. From my understanding, it was my agent who actually called them. They weren't running around looking for me.
TV Guide Magazine: Did the offer come before or after you won your second Emmy in June?
West: It had been brewing before the Emmys, but there was nothing firm. I was moving [to Los Angeles] anyway. I didn't move out here for this job. Our house in Connecticut had been sold and I was coming with my family anyway. [West is married to former ATWT star Scott DeFreitas and has five children]. The Y&R deal was finished the day before the moving trucks arrived. The kids started their new school August 30 and I started shooting Y&R the next day so we were all going through the same feelings together. We were all in the same boat, having the same nerves and fears.
TV Guide Magazine: New city, new job, new 'do?
West: Yes, I chopped my hair off! I was sick of it and wanted to move from one character to another with some kind of physical change. So I thought, what would Meryl Streep do? [Laughs] She would not show up on a new job without a new hairstyle!
TV Guide Magazine: Scott is much-missed on the soap scene. Will he ever resume his acting career?
West: I certainly hope so because he's a fine actor. There's an incredible element of believability about his work. He's so real as an actor and that can't be overrated. And he's more handsome now than ever. He certainly has a lot to offer.
TV Guide Magazine: Did landing the Y&R gig help soften the blow of ATWT's cancellation?
West: The end of a show like that is very moving. The tradition and the longevity is really quite impressive. However for Maura, as an actress, it was really time to say so long to Carly. I don't mean that to sound bad. It was a terrific experience but it's too long for an actor to play one part. So while I will miss it, and miss my dear friends, it was time. Carly was a gift, a dream of a character who could do anything — and did! She was never mundane. In fact, she was like playing several different characters all rolled into one. She's what made me stay as long as I did. And she was not a nutjob, by the way! [Logan Note: When I broke the story about West moving to Y&R, I referred to Carly as a "nutjob" and caught hell from several outraged fans who seem to think that Carly — a hyper-neurotic, self-destructive mantrap whose history includes fraud, bigamy, theft, drugging people and purposely inducing her own early labor — is apparently rather normal!]
TV Guide Magazine: Diane has a bad rep in Genoa City. Years ago she stole her ex-husband Victor's sperm from a sperm bank and had herself impregnated only to discover that the swimmers actually belonged to Jack. What drew you to this character?
West: She's strong, which I appreciate, and a fighter, and she has intriguing relationships with so many of the characters. And you know what? That sperm belonged to Diane! It was her husband's and she had a right to it! [Victor ended their marriage when he thought Nikki was dying, then refused to return to Diane when Nikki survived.]
TV Guide Magazine: Word is, Diane will come back to town and force herself into Jack's life, insisting that her son Kyle — the result of that sperm screw-up — really needs his father's attention. At that point in the story, Jack will be canoodling with Phyllis. Should we expect a Phyllis-Diane smackdown?
West: [Laughs] Diane will really enjoy tormenting people with her presence — especially Phyllis.
TV Guide Magazine: Were you tempted to look at the work done by the two previous Dianes, Alex Donnelly and Susan Walters?
West: Absolutely not, and that's no disrespect to those women. That would be a mistake for me as an actress. I'm not interested in that. The show did send me a list of big Diane events — the marriages, the sperm, the burning of the pool house, and all those things, but what is really exciting about this character is that there's been no human story for her yet. It's just this list of events. So the writers and I have a chance to create a character together that's really three-dimensional — one that hasn't yet been explored.
TV Guide Magazine: So is this one a nutjob?
West: [Laughs] I don't know. What do you think?
TV Guide Magazine: I'd certainly put her in that category, based on the sperm-snatching incident alone.
West: That's too easy a description, of course. Every motivation on these soaps is somehow about love or greed. Diane was betrayed by Victor. Their marriage had been going very well. She wanted to have his baby and she was so hurt by his betrayal that she became angry. A woman scorned is a scary m-f'ing thing! But underneath all that is a real human being. And I want to find out what she's all about.
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