Robert Newman has no hard feelings about The Young and the Restless having his character Ashland Locke take a dirt nap. Newman is actually grateful for the exit. In an interview with Soap Opera Digest, Newman explains why he was fine with departing the show and what he was proud of with the character.
Soap Opera Digest: You told me when you first joined Y&R that it was for a certain amount of time with the possibility that it might go on further. At what point did it become clear to you that extending your stay wasn’t in the cards?
Robert Newman: I don’t know that I really thought of it that way; it was really more when the producer told me that they had decided to stick with the original plan, which was to kill off the character. I know that the minute he told me that, I felt a sense of relief, because even to extend for the second six-month cycle of the contract, which we’d put in as a possibility kind of thing … Another six months in L.A., I think, would have really, really taken its toll on me. So I almost immediately breathed a sigh of relief because I don’t even know that I realized what a toll [being separated from my family] was taking on me. And then shortly after that, Kendal came out to L.A. for a week; right after she left, I just felt a deep sense of … I just went down, you know? I think depression is too harsh to say, but I just sort of felt my whole self start to fall down. I just don’t think I realized how much it meant to me to have her there for the week, so once I wrapped my brain around leaving the show, which was one thing, leaving L.A. was a whole other thing. There are two bottom-line truths about L.A. One is that I don’t live there; I live 3,000 miles away. And the other is — and this is maybe going to offend people who live there — I don’t want to live there! I just don’t. I was born and raised there, I spent the first 22 years of my life there. When I left there to join GUIDING LIGHT and moved to New York City, I’ve never looked back. I’ve never thought to myself, “Gee, I really want to go back and live in L.A. again.” The six months there really cemented that for me and for Britt. So, if there was a soap here in New York, I think it would be a no-brainer for me, but the added caveat of having to be so far away from my family and live in a city that I don’t care for … There was a lot going on there.
No harm, no foul. Newman also told the magazine some of the things he liked about Ashland and Y&R.
Digest: When you look back at the now-completed run, what were the highlights for you?
Newman: I really liked playing the character. I worked really hard to keep him from being a one-trick pony bad guy, you know? When I approach a character, I am looking for the human being inside that character; whether it’s a good guy or a bad guy, I’m looking for the guy who is dealing with the same things that you deal with and I deal with every day, with hopes and fears and strengths and weaknesses. I do think that good people are capable of doing bad things and with Ashland Locke, I was really fascinated with the story of a man who’s done these terrible things in his life and is now trying to reform himself and seek redemption. I was very interested in that story. The problem in Genoa City is, even if Locke finds his redemption and turns himself around, why would you stay in a town where everybody hates you so much, you know? Even I could see that as a problem for the character. He’s not really connected to any family there — he’s not a Newman or an Abbott, except through Victoria [Amelia Heinle], and by the time we finish with Victoria, he’s done with her, he’s been conned twice by her. I just didn’t see any reason for him to exist any further in that town. But I really liked playing the character and I want to shout-out the directors — and the writers, too — because they gave me a lot of freedom to really try to find the nuances of this man’s personality and what made him tick. And I also would do a shout-out to the crew. They are just top-notch. Soap opera, by its nature, is just flat-out too much work and not enough time, and sometimes not enough money, and they really work hard to keep that schedule going a thousand miles an hour. And of course, I worked with some fine actors, as well. I felt very well-supported by everybody on both sides of the camera.