He infamously killed Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks and starred as the Devil himself in Reaper. What evil does Ray Wise now have in store for The Young and the Restless? On Wednesday, Jan. 8, war vet Dylan McAvoy heads to Idaho in search of his birth father, Wise's character Ian Ward, who was a notorious cult leader back in the 1970s. But before Dylan can find Ian, Ian will show up in Genoa City! Wise gave TV Guide Magazine the wicked lowdown.
TV Guide Magazine: We've been hearing about your character for months now and the buildup to his arrival has been huge. Ready to meet our expectations?
Wise: [Laughs] God, I hope I can live up to the hype! This guy's got quite a reputation.
TV Guide Magazine: And a lot of nerve. On Jan. 23, he suddenly appears on Nikki Newman's doorstep. There's no way that's a coinkydink, right?
Wise: No, it's all connected. That's Ian! I'll be working on the audience at the same time he's working on the characters to make everybody fall for that old Ian Ward magic. [Laughs] You must disregard all the rumors you've heard about him.
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah, right. Ian sexually abused Nikki back in the New World Commune days and impregnated her with Dylan. Why would she let him in the door, much less back in her life?
Wise: I can't reveal his big secret reason for coming to town — what he really wants — but he certainly hopes to reestablish a relationship with the beautiful Nikki. Once upon a time, she felt a little something for him. He thinks he can override her fears and get that back. He's a very confident fellow.
TV Guide Magazine: So Ian's still in the Svengali business?
Wise: He went to prison for his crimes and has since become a self-help guru and author who's now heading an organization known as The Path. He's very busy passing out business cards and promoting his cause. If you want to find the path you are meant to have, come to one of his seminars!
TV Guide Magazine: Are you going to give self-help gurus a bad name here?
Wise: Uh, probably. [Laughs] It's a great character!
TV Guide Magazine: Of course, once you've played Satan...
Wise: [Laughs] It's all downhill from there! Actually, there's a lot of the Devil in Ian Ward, a charming guy who will be your best friend when you need one most. He can make you feel really good about yourself and, soon, you're believing everything he says. But, it's true. After playing the Big Kahuna, this part's a breeze!
TV Guide Magazine: How long will Ian stay in GC?
Wise: Hard to say. He's finding more and more reasons to stick around. He seems to be operating on his own right now, but it's a good bet he's not. Maybe he'll get an apartment in town. After all, Nikki looks real good. A gorgeous woman!
TV Guide Magazine: With a badass husband you don't want to screw with.
Wise: Ah, yes, Victor. I look forward to tangling with him. You know, Eric Braeden and I played the same character — Robin's father on How I Met Your Mother. How wild is that?
TV Guide Magazine: Ever worry about being typecast as the baddie?
Wise: No. Being bad has been very good to me. Of course, sometimes you don't know what kind of character you're playing. I played the VP on Season 5 of 24 and never knew if I was the bad guy or the good guy. And Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks — who will haunt me to my grave — was a huge surprise. I didn't knew I was Laura's killer until the very last moment. My own daughter! They kept me totally in the dark.
TV Guide Magazine: This Y&R gig has brought you full circle. You started out in the suds, didn't you?
Wise: Back in the '70s I did Love of Life for CBS for nearly seven years as [attorney] Jamie Rollins. Roughly 950 episodes. I thrive on this kind of work. It's so fast and expeditious. You're flying by the seat of your pants, which can be scary but it really opens you up and, pretty soon, you start to groove with it. Any actor who looks down on soap work is being naïve. They don't know what the hell they're talking about!