A funny thing happened when The Young and the Restless introduced Ryder, the latest member of the soap's ever-expanding Fisher-Baldwin clan. For once I didn't flinch. In fact, I had quite the opposite reaction. Instead of bitching about "another Fisher-Baldwin", I found myself intrigued by one Wilson Bethel, the intense, young actor playing the role of Kevin's (Greg Rikaart) nefarious half brother.
Recently I spoke with Bethel, who gave his breakout performance as Cpl. Evan "Q-Tip" Stafford in the Emmy-winning 2008 HBO miniseries Generation Kill. We chatted about what it's been like making the jump from primetime to daytime. We also talked about his artistic family, including author mom Joyce Maynard, and his love for a little soul.
Daytime Confidential: I have to admit, when I usually hear about a new Fisher-Baldwin coming to The Young and the Restless, I am less than enthused, but I have loved Ryder from day one! How did the role come about?
Wilson Bethel: I came in for the role of Chance, but I wasn't right for the part. I had a prior relationship with Camille, who does the casting for Y&R, and I guess through some random course of events I ended up playing Ryder.
DC: You were in the critically acclaimed HBO min series Generation Kill. I bet that was a vastly different experience from doing a daytime soap?
WB: Oh yeah, it was very, very different. Both fun, but in different ways. I spent seven months in Africa in 2007 for Generation Kill. With soap operas, it was leaping into the unknown. A lot of my friends told me "man, soaps are totally different. They're like nothing you've done before." I was incredibly nervous. The pace moves so much faster in daytime, and it demands a lot more memorization, but at the end of the day, it's still jumping inside someone else's shoes and trying to tell their story. I'm still finding out who exactly Ryder is.
DC: On Y&R, you are primarily working with Sean Kanan and Greg Rikaart; what's it like working with those chaps?
WB:Oh, amazing on both fronts. Both are really talented cats. They have different styles, and keep me on my toes. Basically Ryder is very two-faced with Deacon and Kevin, so I get to play different things with both guys. I can't say that I really followed soap stars before joining Y&R, but I know Sean is like a huge soap star and a cool, cool cat. Greg is also a great guy. We've become a lot closer in real life, which lends itself to the strong, fraternal chemistry you see in the emotional scenes between Ryder and Kevin.
DC: Your mom is popular novelist Joyce Maynard. She actually broke the news of your joining Y&R on her website,right?
WB: Yeah my mom is my biggest fan! [Laughs] Both of my parents are artists. My mother is a terrific writer. Dad is a painter. That's the kind of environment I grew up in. All of my brothers and sisters have a strong connection to the arts. My brother is a musician and my sister is an artist, who does beautiful work.
DC: I see from your Facebook page, you are really into music, and always promoting some club event! What kind of tunes are you into?
WB: I am an avid record collector, and yes, I do DJ [laughs]. I have an outrageous, unwieldy collection of music. I love old soul music, the Motown era. I also like some obscure jazz, rock, reggae, Latin, Brazillian. Music is a really good creative parallel to acting. I always have my iPood with me on the set. If I need to spark my creative energies, I can usually get what I need for Ryder from the right song.
Photo by PR Photos