How did the most angelic woman in soap history give birth to a monster? We might get an answer when Signy Coleman appears on The Young and the Restless August 13 and 16 as blind heroine Hope Wilson. The character, who died in 2008, will return in flashbacks and a dream sequence that will shed some light on her son, Adam, and why he turned into such a conniving psychopath. Since we last saw Coleman, she's been crazy-busy. She's now a contributing writer for the Forbes 500 magazine Commerce, where she has profiled an eclectic array of well-moneyed movers and shakers, including LL Cool J, Huey Lewis, Buddy Valastro the Cake Boss and Y&R chief Maria Arena Bell. Coleman and her sister, Bethany Atherton, have co-authored the sensuous cookbook Love Dish (Anton, Littlewood and Nash), due this winter, and the sibs are also partners in the Sophie Simone Tour Company, which operates out of their family estate in the south of France. On the acting front, Coleman will star in and co-produce the upcoming web soap River Ridge (Guiding Light's Beth Ehlers is also attached to the project). The actress spoke with TV Guide Magazine about her Y&R comeback and what she really thinks about her heinous TV kid.
TV Guide Magazine: Hope died of pancreatic cancer. Did you ever expect to return?
Coleman: I always hoped I'd get that call. [Laughs] You know, old soap-opera girls never die, we just return in flashbacks! Last time I was on the show, I pitched an idea to [Sony exec] Steve Kent and [Y&R co-executive producer] Paul Rauch that Hope's mother had actually given birth to twins — which I realize never happens on a soap opera! — and that she decided to separate them geographical. Hope was left on the doorstep of a church and raised by nuns until she was adopted by an elderly couple who raised her as their own child. I had the other twin, named Faith, being dropped somewhere in Texas, and she did not fare as well. She fell through the cracks of the foster care system, which happens all the time in our country, and as a result she turned out to be damaged goods. She's been there, done that, and she's an emotional wreck who has no idea how to connect with people or how to tell the truth. And, of course, she one day shows up in Genoa City with absolutely no idea who Hope was.
TV Guide Magazine: So you could come back and play the loony-tunes slut version of Hope. Cool idea! What was the response from the boys?
Coleman: Steve and Paul were very nice but they said, "We're not really looking to expand the cast."
TV Guide Magazine: And then they proceeded to hire everybody who was ever famous in the 1980s.
Coleman: It would have been a great way to continue to play the Hope story, in a very different way, and so timely with Adam now on the show.
TV Guide Magazine: That would at least explain where Adam got his twisted DNA. What were your thoughts when you found out he turned evil after Hope's death?
Coleman: I understand the importance of creating conflict but that was very sad to me. And it would have devastated Hope and broken her heart! She was such a standup gal with a strong moral compass. If she had lived she would have been on Adam like white on rice, telling him to straighten up his act and clean up his messes! She'd make him own it!
TV Guide Magazine: The fans would love to have seen that. Come to think of it, why did they kill Hope anyway? They didn't need to do that just to bring Adam onto the canvas.
Coleman: I guess they needed Hope to be on her death bed so that her final wish would be honored — that Adam and his father, Victor, would reunite. But I agree. There might have been another way to do it. But I move forward and I'm grateful for the work. I got to give birth to the character and I got to say goodbye to her and that meant a lot to me.
TV Guide Magazine: Still, it's weird that Hope, the earth angel, gave birth to such a hot mess. Wouldn't she have seen some signals?
Coleman: Sure, I guess so. But you can raise children with the best intentions and they can still be influenced greatly by their peers, by the media, by outside forces. Adam was raised without a father or any male influence.
TV Guide Magazine: Oh, boo hoo. That doesn't create psychos.
Coleman: Absolutely not, but clearly there was a sort of mental disconnect. Some people can't handle their situation and they have a nervous breakdown. I have a friend who worked on Wall Street who suddenly left his wife and three children — he just walked away and left a note, and six months later they finally found him living in a shack on a beach in Mexico. Clearly something had disconnected. With Adam, there may have been other factors involved. How do we know he wasn't sexually abused as a child or horribly tormented in school?
TV Guide Magazine: So we'll finally get some clues to the puzzle?
Coleman: You're going to have a much better understanding of what happened to him. And who knows? The more evil and despicable a character is, the greater the redemption
TV Guide Magazine: You've got a different Adam now than when you played your death scenes. Were you aware of the controversy that went on with that recasting? [Muhney replaced Chris Engen, who exited the show when he became uncomfortable with scenes where his seemingly straight character seduced another man].
Coleman: I knew about it. Chris has remained a friend of mine. All I can say is that I'm very sorry about what happened. Chris is a dynamic actor — no getting around it — and his commitment is 110 percent but we all have to do what makes us happy and what feels right. I was all for him working through it and keeping the job, and I was very disheartened that it turned out the way it did. But Michael is wonderful in the role. I stepped into Cynthia Watros' shoes as Annie Dutton on Guiding Light so I know how hard it is to be a replacement. We had a lot of meaty material and it was great chomping into it with Michael. And he's so handsome! He could be Mark Harmon's brother. I worked with Mark on Chicago Hope and had some very intimate, up close and personal scenes with him so I know what I'm talking about! [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us about this new River Ridge web soap.
Coleman: It's kind of a hyper-drama along the lines of Crash, with all these characters and storylines intersecting one another. It's set in a very beautiful, rural town in Delaware, which is where we're shooting. The creator, Tyler Ford, wants to entertain people as well as educate them, so we'll deal with mental illness, interracial relationships, homosexuality and addiction, and not in a sensationalistic manner. Bottom line, real life is messy. We all have our issues and our problems and our dysfunctions. I play one of the matriarchs of the town, a very artistic earth mother who put her aspirations and dreams on hold to raise her child. We start shooting in September and will launch it at Christmas.
TV Guide Magazine: You so deserved an Emmy during your great Y&R years but never got one. Doesn't it annoy the crap out of you that your ex-husband, Vince Irizarry [All My Children's David], is now running around with one? I kid but...uh, not really.
Coleman: I was really happy that Vincent won an Emmy, I really was. He's worked long and hard and has continued to grow as an actor. It was long overdue. But, damn it, I'll tell you what annoys me. He hasn't aged at all! [Laughs] What does he think he's doing? He's got some nerve!