Eric Braeden, The Young and the Restless
Outspoken Young and the Restless superstar Eric Braeden made no secret of his displeasure with Victor Newman's story line — or lack thereof — during the past year. But it's 2006, and the Daytime Emmy winner is tentatively optimistic that his sidelined character could become a titan with teeth once again. In this exclusive interview with TVGuide.com, Braeden frankly shares his current feelings about the role he's played for 25 years. But read carefully, suds fans: It's what this gentleman says between the lines that's most telling!

TVGuide.com: Last year, you expressed unhappiness with your Y&R role in the soap press. Have the show's producers talked with you about this?
Eric Braeden:
Not really. They're working on things, as far as I know. What can I tell you? I'm sure it will right itself again.

TVGuide.com: From what I know of upcoming plotlines, Victor's story prospects are looking up.
Braeden:
Yes. It's high time! I simply felt that the character had become marginalized and deconstructed, as it were.

TVGuide.com: It bothers me that Victor is still allowing his kids to run his empire. Does it bother you?
Braeden:
Well, it is all in how it is done. If you have this powerful character looming in the background, watching everyone, and then you have the audience anticipate that he may pull out the rug from under them, that's good. But if he simply stands by, watches and does nothing, then that's very unexciting. That is neutering the character. I do not think that the audience wants a neutered Victor.

TVGuide.com: Victor is financially backing Nikki and Phyllis in their new day-spa venture. That means Victor will be pitted against his rival, Jack, again.
Braeden:
Eventually, exactly. [The late Y&R creator] Bill Bell understood that the power lies with one man. He understood that beautifully. He symbolized that and he lived that himself. That's why he invested that in the Victor character. Enough said.

TVGuide.com: It'd be fun to see Vic and Jack do battle.
Braeden:
We'll see what happens. The enormously interesting scenes in the past with Peter Bergman (Jack) were great. He's a wonderful actor. Those were riveting scenes and riveting story lines about some real issues.

TVGuide.com: Victor and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) have been somewhat back-burnered since that Mafia story. Is the tide turning for them storywise?
Braeden: But you see, in the past, it used to be — and one forgets — that Victor went solo. He did things on his own. He didn't need Nikki at his side to do anything. But she suffered from the consequences of his actions. That's not happening right now. In other words, why is there this notion that Victor and Nikki have to do things together? It's a ludicrous notion. In the old times, there used to always be a conflict between them and that is what was interesting drama.

TVGuide.com: So you're not thrilled with Victor and Nikki just happily hanging around the Newman ranch.
Braeden:
No, it has not been to my liking. Having said that, I think a lot of the other story lines have been very exciting. No question about it. But as far as my specific character is concerned, I have not been happy.

TVGuide.com: Don't you have another couple of years left on your contract?
Braeden:
I'm gonna have to check that soon.

TVGuide.com: When the time comes, do you think you'll decide to stay on Y&R if you're happy with your story?
Braeden:
I am enormously loyal to the show and very possessive of my character. I don't want to make any projections. I stopped prognosticating in this business 30 years ago. I just don't know, and I don't want to speculate.

For more exclusive dish from Eric Braeden — including his plans to hit the big screen again — come back and read Wednesday's fresh Soaps News!