All My Children's Justin Bruening recalls his unorthodox first scenes with Michael E. Knight

Posted Thursday, May 28, 2020 12:10:01 PM

Find out why working with All My Children actor Michael E. Knight (ex-Tad Martin) was "trial by fire" for Justin Bruening (ex-Jamie Martin), why the show almost cast him as J.R., and what his Netflix series, Sweet Magnolias, has in common with soaps.

Fans of All My Children have been living the dream this week, as EW is taking fans on a walk down memory lane by hosting daily online reunions with stars from the show. A lot of big names got in on the fun, including Justin Bruening (ex-Jamie Martin), who stars in the current Netflix series Sweet Magnolias. But the actor is also sharing AMC memories elsewhere, such as in a recent interview where he revealed that working with his Pine Valley dad, Michael E. Knight (ex-Tad Martin), caused him to shake in his boots.

"Working with Michael was trial by fire," the actor shares with TV Insider. "He's very funny. He's awesome. I remember my first day. I was so nerdy. I had my script binder and all my lines were highlighted. Michael and I started rehearsing. [Michael] has no script. He had the first line of the scene [but what he says is] not even remotely close to what's in the script. I could feel the sweat forming."

He continues, "Conal O'Brien was the director. I said to him, 'I think I have the wrong script.' He grinned at me and said, 'Oh, no you don't. Welcome to the world of Michael Knight.' That was the most glorious thing Michael taught me -- freedom. We had so many fun moments as father and son. He was a comfort. Whenever I had scenes with Michael, I was so thrilled, I knew we'd riff off each other. We'd have fun, and the more fun I had, the more fun the audience would have."

Funny enough, during the EW reunion, Bruening revealed that he had originally auditioned for the role of J.R. (which eventually went to Jacob Young), but they thought he was so like Michael Knight, they booked him for Jamie, instead!

"Before Alexa [Havins, Babe Carey] or Jacob started, I got the job of J.R. So, I started out as a completely different character, and then I apparently opened my mouth and spoke, and they were like, 'Oh, it's like the little Michael Knight!'" Bruening said with a laugh. '"Cool, let's put him there. We'll find another person to play his brother.' So, I prepped for like a month and a half for J.R., and then I got a phone call, and they said, 'You're going to play Jamie.' And I'm like, 'Who is Jamie?'"

Speaking of soaps, Bruening sees some parallels between soap operas and his new series, Sweet Magnolias, which stars Jamie Lynn Spears and follows "three South Carolina women, best friends since high school, as they shepherd each other through the complexities of romance, career, and family." But, as Bruening says, the parallels are actually in reverse.

"On soaps, I always felt that the women characters were far more interesting than the men ever were because, generally, they had all the secrets. But this show is set in a small town so everyone knows everything about one another already," he explains. "It's the men who come into town who have the secrets. You get to explore their pasts, which is always very interesting."

For more from Justin Bruening about his time at All My Children and his role in the rom-com Sweet Magnolias, check out TV Insider's interview with the actor here.

What do you think about Justin Bruening's comments regarding working with Michael E. Knight? Have you checked out the actor's Netflix series, Sweet Magnolias? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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