He's got a need for speed. Emmy award-winning actor Eric Braeden — a.k.a Victor Newman on CBS's The Young and the Restless — is joining Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan, Olympic sprinter Carmelita Jeter, sci-fi goddess Tricia Helfer and a slew of other cool stars in the 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race. The wildly popular annual event, set for April 12 in Long Beach, California, will benefit "Racing for Kids," a fundraising program that supports children's hospitals throughout the U.S. TV Guide Magazine spoke with the irrepressible Braeden about this fast-and-furious adventure and what he really thinks about everyone in Genoa City being so damn mad at The Mustache. Buckle up!
TV Guide Magazine: Some might think you're kinda crazy to get into a high-speed race. Are you?
Braeden: [Laughs] You do sort of question it! But it's for a very good cause. I don't want to contemplate any potential danger. It's not in my nature. Of course, there are risks. Obviously, s—t happens. But if I had contemplated the risks in coming from Germany to America at the age of 18, I probably wouldn't have done it! I have never looked at life that way unless, of course, the odds are overwhelmingly against me. Then it's just stupidity. But racing is a deep-seated emotional thing for me, something that I cannot explain. I have wanted to be a race-car driver since I was a child. That was my first desire! I learned to drive by the age of 10, on the country roads of northern Germany, right after World War II. Thank God I didn't have enough money as a young man to indulge that sport.
TV Guide Magazine: You're in great company in this race.
Braeden: Well, I'm from a different generation, so I don't know most of those who are taking part. I don't recognize them, other than Adrien Brody, who is a wonderful actor.
TV Guide Magazine: Seriously? Not Corbin Bleu? Brian McKnight? Not even Vanessa Marcil?
TV Guide Magazine: General Hospital? Daytime superstar? Emmy winner?
Braeden: No. But I do know Carmelita Jeter, one of the fastest women in the world, which obviously peaked my interest. She ran the 100 meters in 10.64 which is absolutely extraordinary. It is insane!
Otherwise, I don't know these people.
TV Guide Magazine: You ran this race twice in the past — in 1998 and 1999. Will your age be a factor this time around?
Braeden: Well, we'll soon see. I would have hoped this third race would happen earlier for me, but it didn't. But that's cool. The first time I came in third. The next time I came in second because I did not heed the advice I was given, which is to not hit the painted apex — the middle of a curve — when it has rained because the apex becomes slick as ice. It still it irks me because I could have won that one.
TV Guide Magazine: So this is less about the experience and more about winning?
Braeden: For someone who has been in sports all his life, that's all it is about! My problem right now is that I broke three toes in my right foot just before training started.
TV Guide Magazine: By doing what?
Braeden: I tripped over the f--king telephone wire in my dressing room. I tried to catch myself but hit my foot full blast against an iron coffee table. And let me tell you, I took that phone and threw it against the wall! [Laughs] But it didn't break. Amazing how one takes anger out on inanimate objects. So there is some excruciating pain but it's getting better. The training is very intense. You learn things about driving you'd never learn otherwise, like how to execute sharp right-angle turns and 180s. There's a lot to it. Eventually you absorb it until you internalize it. You just feel it and do it by the seat of your pants. This is not celebrity play time. You get serious very fast because you are driving at the maximum speed possible. You must pay attention, and that's what's exhausting. If you make one mistake or lose concentration for even one moment, it can cost you. It's a wonderful experience, though there are certainly times when you think, "What the f--k am I doing here?" [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Let's talk Victor Newman. He's always up to no good but I can't recall a time when he was in so much potential hot water for so many reasons — from keeping quiet about Adam killing Delia to being investigated by the FDA to hiring Fake Cassie. The writers are really piling it on! What's up with that?
Braeden: I don't know. It may presage a kind of downfall for Victor and then a return from the ashes. I never want to know what's going to happen ahead of time. That's no temptation for me. But I do feel the writers want to knock him off his pedestal. But, in Victor's mind, it's all totally justified. He rationalizes all of it.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you think it's all justified?
Braeden: I would not be as Machiavellian as Victor is. I am much more of an up-front person. I would just tell people to go f--k themselves. But it is what it is. What I don't like is the whole Newman family being against him. Don't like it at all. If that were the case with me in real life I would tell my family to go to hell. But, then, I would never let things get that far.
TV Guide Magazine: March 24 marks Nikki and Victor's first anniversary — of their fourth marriage, that is — yet things are pretty rocky for them right now. Do you think they're heading for yet another divorce? Nikki's really had it with him.
Braeden: And he's had it with her! That's what I resent about popular culture in America! Why is it always the woman who has had it with the guy? There's a tendency in this country — dictated by revenue — to make men look like a------s. They do that in order to sell products to women. Look at most commercials! The men are portrayed as schmucks! As boobs! As doofuses! The kids are smarter than the men. The wives are smarter. It happens in comedy series all the time, too. The man is the idiot and the woman is always raising her eyebrows or rolling her eyes in exasperation. I resent the hell out of that and it ain't gonna happen with me and my character!
TV Guide Magazine: But it kind of is happening. Nikki seems to be getting the last word in a lot of those fight scenes with Victor.
Braeden: It is getting too much! I would not tolerate that in my personal life. I believe in the equality of sexes. I discuss everything with my wife. There's not a major decision I make without consulting with her and vice versa. There must be mutual respect. But for Victor to stand there like a schmuck and let Nikki have the last word? I don't like that. There is this underlying presumption in some of the scripts that the women have the upper hand. No! I resent that!
TV Guide Magazine: Victor doesn't want Nikki to have secrets but he always has his own. Don't you see that as a double standard?
Braeden: Well, you would know more about that than I do. I don't follow the show that closely. Hasn't Nikki been through these periods before, like when she went off and got involved with Jack Abbott? Imagine that! Jack Abbott! Victor and Nikki will always keep it going somehow. That's daytime drama. You get together, then break apart, then get back together again.
TV Guide Magazine: The Victor versus Ian Ward face-off was terrific!
Braeden: Perhaps, but I did not like that they watered down the script for those scenes. I honestly don't know what happened, but we were not allowed to do it the way it was originally written. It was not what it should have been. But Ray Wise is a wonderful actor. What has he done before?
TV Guide Magazine: Most famously, Twin Peaks.
Braeden: Well, he is a very nice man and great to work with. We have so many good actors on our show. So many! This is very difficult work, this daytime thing. One take and almost no rehearsals! Are you kidding me? My God Almighty! I am very proud that we are still No. 1 and I protect it fiercely. Just try bringing in most film or primetime actors and put them on a daytime soap and see what happens. They could not handle it, I assure you! They would absolutely s--t in their pants!