Y&R's Melody Thomas Scott on Nikki's Drinking, Working with Sean Young and Writing Her Memoir
The Young and the Restless
The most desperate housewife in soaps — The Young and the Restless' Nikki Newman — has secretly gone off the wagon after years of sobriety. But on October 21 she'll get busted! This vodka-sluggin' mama, played by the blazingly brilliant Melody Thomas Scott, didn't mean to relapse. Blame it on her nogoodnik secretary Meggie (Sean Young) who got Nikki hooked again by quietly spiking her fruit smoothies. Now Meggie, who wants to get her mitts on Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and his moolah, has joined forces with town pariah Deacon (Sean Kanan) to ruin the upcoming Nikki-Victor nuptials. Will they succeed? Will Nikki end up in Deacon's bed? TV Guide Magazine got the scoop from Thomas Scott.
TV Guide Magazine: Best. Storyline. Ever. There's nothing like our Nikki back on the sauce! It's been too long!
Thomas Scott: I was never happy with the way her initial addiction to drinking and pills ended so unrealistically years ago. She just woke up one morning and was fine. I mentioned that to [current Y&R head writer] Maria Bell at lunch one day. The next thing I knew, Nikki was drunk again! And I love, love, love it! I want this story to go on for a year.
TV Guide Magazine: You sure make a mean cocktail. When Nikki first started sneak-drinking, she didn't ease into it with a few sips. She was pouring herself half a tumbler of vodka at a time — enough to put a Clydesdale into a coma. They must throw some damn fine parties over at Mel Scott's house!
Thomas Scott: [Laughs] That wasn't me! I swear! It was in the script that Nikki pours herself that much booze and I questioned that. Actually, the script indicated that she pours herself a full glass, but I cut it back to half. It's really water, of course, but I'm not a water drinker so it was hard for me. I'm gagging it down in those scenes!
TV Guide Magazine: You can't tell. In fact, the way you play Nikki's reaction to that first gulp of vodka of the day is almost orgasmic.
Thomas Scott: Well, thank you. And it all started with those damn smoothies. [Laughs] They were so tasty!
TV Guide Magazine: But how realistic is that trick? Can you really get a recovering alcoholic to go back to drinking that way?
Thomas Scott: It's a soap, baby! Nikki truly doesn't know why she has fallen off the wagon, but I think people can get past it.
TV Guide Magazine: This story reminds me of the way Bill Bell used to write Nikki — as a pampered trophy wife who just sat home all day with her manservant Miguel having terrible problems. Then Bill's successors decided it was anti-feminist and un-PC to have Nikki be a hausfrau so she had to get out of the house and become a CEO. Huge mistake.
Thomas Scott: I hated it when Nikki had to have a job. It's so not her. She's always more interesting when she's frustrated and has no life. Apparently she spends all her time these days working with various charity boards — we just don't ever see it because it would be borrr-ing! — and I have a feeling most of the people she's around are old-biddy women. That's why having Nikki suddenly involved with Deacon — who's in a whole new age group — is so great. There's been a lot of animosity with him because of his history with Victoria, so this is really an unlikely alliance. But Nikki is looking for someone who understands her drinking, even if it's the guy who ruined her daughter's life.
TV Guide Magazine: How does Nikki get busted?
Thomas Scott: She and Meggie trot off to Fenmore's to buy a wedding dress for the elopement. Of course, Jill [Jess Walton] is there skulking. Meggie's up to her tricks and slips some vodka into Nikki's tea. After they leave, Jill smells the vodka in Nikki's cup and goes straight to Victor and tells him.
TV Guide Magazine: Nikki's reaction of utter snootiness and horror when Meggie showed up in Genoa City and moved into the Newman ranch was priceless. But some fans tried to read more into it, thinking you were reacting to Sean Young and her odd — though highly intriguing — acting style. Any truth to that?
Thomas Scott: Not at all! I am loving Sean Young. And I am loving Sean Kanan. I've got my two Seans! Sean Young and I love working together so much that we want to become the next Thelma and Louise. I even e-mailed that idea to Maria Bell. [Laughs] But I don't think it's going to happen.
TV Guide Magazine: Just don't take it to its conclusion with a drive off a cliff.
Thomas Scott: Oh, if we did, we would live. [Laughs] Well, I would live!
TV Guide Magazine: So you're OK with all these "name" actors coming to Y&R?
Thomas Scott: Of course. It's the state of the business. You wouldn't have seen this 10 years ago. It's a cold world out there for actors right now, so they're happy for a job.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's get back to the Mustache. When he finds out Nikki's drinking again does get pissed and cancel the wedding?
Thomas Scott: I can't reveal it, but let's just say it's not a good thing. [Laughs] But it's so good. Wait till you see what happens! Nikki keeps thinking that if she can just get to the wedding that it'll solve her drinking problem. But it's magical thinking, of course. She always thinks that the answer to her problems is to marry Victor.
TV Guide Magazine: Word is, Nikki's drinking drives her into the arms of Deacon.
Thomas Scott: [Slyly] Um...I think there's a great possibility of that. [Kanan] and I have tremendous chemistry — that illusive, weird thing nobody can ever quite figure out. Whatever it is, we've got it!
TV Guide Magazine: Will there eventually be a real romance there — the mutual kind?
Thomas Scott: Ohhhh, I hope so! It would be great if it started out a scam but then Deacon finds that he kinda likes her. Nikki keeps showing up at his seedy motel room and at first she's shocked. "You live here?" she says. I don't think Nikki realizes there are a lot of people living like that on the other side of the tracks. [Laughs] Which is where Nikki comes from! She thinks she has a drinking buddy in Deacon, and that he's getting just as drunk as she is. But he's really drinking water, not gin.
TV Guide Magazine: And, of course, this won't end well. Why do we love to see Nikki suffer?
Thomas Scott: That's her forte! That's when she shines. I don't think the viewers want to see her happy. What character who is happy is interesting? Whenever Nikki, who seemingly has everything anybody could want, is falling, they love it. When you're doing well, people want to tear you down, and that goes for real life, too. I guess that's human instinct. People root for you until you get to the top and then they want to see you crash.
TV Guide Magazine: You were briefly written off Y&R after a contract tiff last year and when you returned you had no storyline for months. Were you being punished?
Thomas Scott: I didn't really look at it that way.
TV Guide Magazine: Well, maybe you didn't look at it that way, but was that what was really going on?
Thomas Scott: I don't know. I have no idea.
TV Guide Magazine: How could you not think something was up? You were treated like an extra.
Thomas Scott: People think I'm obsessed with myself but I'm not. I don't sit and concentrate and focus on my status on the show. I'm a fatalist. I accept what happens with no questions asked.
TV Guide Magazine: You've been working on your memoirs. How's that going?
Thomas Scott: Slow, because I've been working almost every day on Y&R lately. But it's very cathartic. I'll be writing and then I'll get to a certain part of my life and I start to have an anxiety attack, so then I'll jump ahead to another chapter. I can't say that's slowing me down, but it's turning out to be my process.
TV Guide Magazine: On the Lifetime Intimate Portrait that was done on you a few years back, you admitted you were the victim of abuse during your years as a child actress.
Thomas Scott: That's just the tip of the iceberg. I am working on this book with my shrink. She knows my whole story. I've needed support to write this and when you read it you will understand why.
TV Guide Magazine: At least you're more successful at marriage than Nikki is! You and Ed Scott [producer of The Bold and the Beautiful] are celebrating your 25th anniversary. Jeez, that's almost a Hollywood record!
Thomas Scott: I know! October 12 is the date. Of course, I never see the poor guy. We've both been working such crazy hours that we're like ships passing in the night. But how about that? A quarter of a century living with each other. [Laughs] And we're still alive!
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