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Up Close and Personal with 'Y&R''s Michael Muhney

Muhney talks about why Adam Newman is the best role to play.


Michael Muhney
Jason Kempin / Staff / Getty Images

Michael Muhney has been playing the role of Adam Newman, on The Young and the Restless since June 2009, and this year was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for his portrayal of one of daytime's best villains.

Adam, whose birth name is Victor Adam Newman Jr., grew up not knowing his father as his mother Hope, took him out of Genoa City to Kansas when he was just 2 years old. Now that he is back, he has done some dark deeds and has a very interesting relationship with his father, Victor Newman.

In this interview, Muhney talks about why playing Adam is a gift, why his real-life father, who is an accomplished businessman, wanted him to have a backup plan, the best advice he ever got, and more.

What do you like about playing Adam? You are an actor, not a businessman, does that part of it appeal to you?

It is funny that you say I am not a businessman. The interesting thing is I have a businessman mind because of my father, so apropos to your question, to play the character of Adam, and to play a pun on your word businessman, it is the best character to play if you want to stay in business as an actor.

You want to play a catalytic character. You know a troublemaker is good business. You know someone who doesn't swim with the fishes, who swims upstream in the other direction, is someone who is going to cause friction and turbulence in storyline with other characters. I have been told by many of my cast members that the role to play is Adam. They say, "If I were to have a choice, the character I would want to play is your role, Adam."

It is because of how he mixes it up. I guess there is no other way to describe it but being a catalytic character. It is nicer when you can be in the center of the hub of the wheel where the spokes all meet, so I have a lot of spokes sticking out from my character that takes him in a lot of directions. It makes it interesting. It is not just a paycheck.

You said your father is a businessman. What does he do? What do you take from him?

My father is most famous for inventing a computer program called -- of all things -- ACT! CRM software. He invented the CRM category of software, which is customer relations marketing. He now goes around speaking internationally. He is retired and sold one of his companies and sits on the board of a few others. He recently invented a new APP that is based on that. My father is in the software world and has been for 30 years, so he is an entrepreneur.

How does he feel about you being an actor?

He is proud of me. He is a father, so he is proud of me.

Did he want you to have a day job?

I had a conversation with my father. I excelled in the world of academia. My family is all intelligent, educated doctors and lawyers. When I said I had fallen in love with acting, I had won a state championship in high school for a UIL [University Interscholastic League] one-act play in the state of Texas. When I said, "For two years, I have been so dedicated to theater that I want to pursue it as a career," I remember my dad said to me, "First you are going to go to an extremely reputable college and you're going to get a degree. Then you can revisit this notion of being a professional actor when you're 21 and you've graduated, so you have that to fall back on. But pick a place that you can get that kind of skill and education as well."

So, I ended up going to the top conservatory in the United States and, when I graduated, I was a month out of school and I started my very first series, a primetime show for CBS that only went one season in 1999. It was called "Turks," and William Devane played my dad. I was thrown in. I had never worked in front of a camera. I was a kid graduating college.

The cool thing is my dad was right. I had a degree, which is something I always know that I did. I have tried to do my best to balance my life in both the artistic, fluid, irresponsible actor world and then the responsible, pragmatic businessman world.

Do you think having this degree, you might want to explore the business side of show business, like maybe directing or producing projects for yourself?

I will direct. I have already produced and written some. There will be some down the line. I definitely want to direct. You notice on a lot of these shows, after so many seasons, members of the cast will work it into their contract to get an episode to direct. That is probably how I would bridge that. Eventually, on a show that I am doing, I will get to direct a few episodes. But certainly, I love in front of the camera and behind the camera. The industry itself is an amazing one and there is not just one aspect that I am attracted to.

So you don't plan to stay on The Young and the Restless forever?

No, I am not a lifer. It is not my mentality.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

I have been give a lot of advice, and a lot of it has been great advice, some of the best advice I got relative to this industry was from Laurence Fishburne when I was just graduating college. He talked about how small the industry is and the concept of having a reputation in the industry with the behind-the-scenes people and making friends and keeping friends in a small world. I think the advice to simplify it is: Be good to people. They will remember.

What inspires you these days?

I would say three words: The Human Condition. That inspires me. I think that is general enough to cover a lot.

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