After 33 years of playing the dutiful housemaid of the Chancellor estate, The Young and the Restless' Esther Valentine has struck out on her own and is heading down an entirely new path in Genoa City. Soap Central caught up with the beloved character's longtime portrayer, Kate Linder, to get the scoop on the former maid's new life -- and you won't believe what she told us. Read on to find out what the troublemaking Esther's got up her sleeve, how she'll react to the reveal that Gabriel is really Adam (the murderer of her granddaughter), the brand new wardrobe Esther will be sporting (bye-bye, maid uniform!), and the hot new love interest that could be headed her way. (Hint: he's a bad, bad boy, so Esther better watch out!)
soapcentral.com: What a complete 180 for Esther! She quit her job, moved out of the Chancellor house, and is now working with Dylan [Steve Burton] at Crimson Lights. People were tweeting you left and right when this all went down last week, and it looks like viewers are really happy to see such big changes for the character.
Kate Linder: They were. It made me really happy.
soapcentral.com: What do you think about the writers switching things up and giving her a brand new direction?
Linder: I think they are amazing. Our writers are totally amazing. I could think of this idea, and I could think of that idea, but I never saw this one coming. I would have never thought of it, and I think it's great. It's really fabulous for me, and I'm enjoying it immensely, working with different people. I think you will see a whole new side of Esther, you know, hopefully, that we haven't seen in the last 33 years. She has grown definitely, and I think this gives her even more opportunity to grow.
soapcentral.com: You mentioned working with some new people. How does it feel to act with people you may not have done a lot of acting with before? Is it more exciting or a little bit nerve racking?
Linder: Well, it's both actually [laughs]. It's exciting because new things are coming down the pipe, and then it's also a little nerve racking in the beginning because I know exactly how Jess [Walton, Jill] and Tristan [Rogers, Colin] work. We have our whole thing planned out, we know we run our lines together, we work on stuff, and of course Jeanne [Cooper, ex-Katherine Chancellor] and I and Jess did that for years. We always ran our lines and worked on the material. And everyone works differently, so it's just finding out how different people work and how they want to rehearse their lines and things like that. So, in that case, it is a little nerve racking, until we can get a momentum going and figure it all out.
soapcentral.com: It seems that you and Steve Burton work pretty well together. You've been great on-screen, and like I said, I was checking out Twitter, and people were loving you two together on-screen.
Linder: Oh, that's good. I'm glad. That makes me happy. I mean, I go to work now and say, "Hey, boss!" I call him boss now.
soapcentral.com: What was the experience like of finding your rhythm with him and sharing scenes with Steve?
Linder: Well, that very first day, we had four page scenes, and I think maybe even for him it was a little different, because we've never really worked like that together before. We maybe had a line here or saw each other in casting, as far as the characters. But it was exciting for me, and I enjoyed it, and I'm glad it's translating to screen. I'm glad [people think] that the two characters have a great rapport because I think so, as well. But you never know how it translates on-screen.
soapcentral.com: How do you think the new direction and career opportunities will change Esther? Because, like you said, it's a whole new thing for her after 33 years. That's got to have some sort of impact.
Linder: Well I definitely think there are going to be changes. I just don't know what those changes will be. It's exciting for me. You don't know what's going to happen to you when you get up in the morning. You think you know, but at the end of the day, that particular day, things may have transpired that you didn't expect or even [knew you wanted]. It's much like real life in that case, where I just don't know, and I'm excited to get my scripts and plow through them and see what is going to happen. I'm just wondering myself, too -- I'm excited to see, just like everyone else, what direction they will be taking this and what Esther will be doing and how she responds to all this. Don't forget she's been there in the Chancellor house for 33 years. That's a very long time -- and in real time -- so it's a whole new experience.
soapcentral.com: It is exciting, but with any change, there's bound to be a bit of mourning. Does Esther experience any hesitance or sadness about leaving her old life behind?
Linder: There is mourning there, and that scene that aired on Labor Day, when Esther left the house and was talking to Mrs. Chancellor through the painting, [you saw the mourning]. I know how Esther felt, and I know how I felt playing that, and I also know how I felt looking around at that set and walking out of there after 33 years. It's been the same ever since I've been there. And it was extremely emotional. It was an emotional scene for Esther -- and for me.
soapcentral.com: Hopefully the writers will at least allow her to drop by every once in a while.
Linder: Yeah, you never know what's going to happen. I saw some tweets about the uniform, and people were saying, "Well, wait!" And I thought of that too. I thought, "Oh, my gosh, I'm definitely not going to be wearing that uniform at the coffeehouse!" Unless Esther tries to spruce up the place, I don't know [laughs]. So that's a whole new change, as well, walking into my dressing room. Because my wardrobe was the same. Usually, I would know what I was wearing. Now I don't. That's kind of fun, too, the different things I get to wear.
soapcentral.com: So we'll get to see her develop a whole new sense of style?
Linder: Right. But, of course, it's a coffeehouse, so she won't be all glammed up going to work. But you know, who knows what's going to happen. And I can't wait. Maybe we could revisit this a year down the road, and it will be interesting to see what has transpired.
soapcentral.com: Colin has been a troublemaker since he came to Genoa City, but did you ever think he would ruffle Esther's feathers so much, coming on to her when he's with Jill?
Linder: Well that's really good because you believe Esther. The way they showed that, who knows who's telling the truth, the way that it was played? But I'm playing it that way, that Esther is telling the truth [about Colin coming on to her]. But so was Tristan, playing it that he was telling the truth. Of course, he is a bad guy. But who really knows. It's a "he said, she said" going on.
soapcentral.com: Y&R does that really well. They recently did the Kelly (Cady McClain) versus Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) story, and nobody knew which woman was crazy until the very end.
Linder: I think it's great. It's my job as an actress to bring what our brilliant writers write to life. It's not up to me to write it, it's not what I do. They do that so well, like you said. And the fact that they do this day in and day out, every week, every month, every year, is astounding to me. And the things they can come up with? Like I said, I would never have thought of this in a million years. It's great, and you're right -- they do it so well, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens, and I hope the viewers will respond to it and like it and let them know.
soapcentral.com: Let's just assume she's telling the truth...
Linder: I think she is! I'm not pretending, I think she is.
soapcentral.com: It could go either way, and I think it would be fun to see Esther up to no good and telling lies. But if she is telling the truth, do you think any part of her is actually flattered about getting male attention? I mean, yes, Colin is with Jill, but it's been a long time since Esther experienced flirtation.
Linder: Well, you know, yes. But not from him. And the fact that Jill doesn't believe her [makes it worse]. But there was one line that I found to be really interesting. Esther said, "Well, Jill, maybe your charms aren't what they used to be." That fact that he would be interested in Esther, and her reaction was priceless. Jill was so great. So, yes, I think you're right, in a kind of strange way, sure, she's flattered. But she knows he's no good, and she's been trying to tell Jill all these years that he's no good. And so this is more proof that he's a bad guy, and "Why won't you listen to me? You're going to be sorry. And you're really going to be sorry now, because now you won't have me there to be able to tell you these things." Because Jill and Esther's relationship is really interesting. They kind of have the same kind of thing as Mrs. Chancellor and Esther. Esther protects Mrs. Chancellor, Mrs. C, no matter what, even though she's unfortunately not with us anymore. Esther still protects her. She still protects her name, and she still protects her feelings and how she would feel about things. It's like when Esther walked out of the coffeehouse when she told Jill all about this, and she said, "Mrs. C would be so sad, she would be so upset to see you acting like this." So Jill and Esther have that kind of thing, and I think even though they fight, I think way down deep, Esther does feel something for Jill, because Mrs. Chancellor did. And you see, Esther doesn't really like change. She wants things to remain the same, and they're really not the same now, that's for sure.
soapcentral.com: Which makes me feel that she must be telling the truth, because why would she put herself through so much upheaval? Unless she's really, really trying to prove a point.
Linder: I agree, I agree with you, Kambra. I believe she's telling the truth. Just look at Colin and look at the stuff he says.
soapcentral.com: Now that she's more in a central location, I imagine Esther will be bumping into more characters, which opens up a lot more story potential. Is there anyone that you haven't worked with much that you would really love for Esther to share scenes with?
Linder: I think it would be really interesting with Kristoff [St. John, Neil]. I've had scenes with everybody through the years and for party scenes, that kind of thing. But it's interesting. I wish that Esther, well, some of the intrigue about Esther is that she's really good at messing things up. And maybe Esther can get involved with some of the things that are going on -- either mess it up or actually make it better, which would be unexpected. And I think that would be great, too, because it would be something people really wouldn't see coming, just like this, like this happening. And I love that. Our show is number one and is the best for so many reasons.
soapcentral.com: I think it would be interesting to see Esther interacting with people who were really important in her daughter's life, all of the people that Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) intermixed with, like Adam (Justin Hartley), Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) and Billy (Burgess Jenkins). The storyline with Delia was such an important time in the show's history.
Linder: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You're right. I welcome all of it. I welcome whatever. Like I said, it's my job to bring to life what they so brilliantly put on paper. And I just welcome doing that, whoever they want to put me with. I want it to be good. I love what I do, I love The Young and the Restless, I'm proud of our show, and I love going to work. So whatever they want me to do, I'm going to be happy doing it, as long as I'm doing things. It's great. I'm happy to be there.
soapcentral.com: Eventually the truth about Gabriel and Adam will be coming out, and obviously that's going to create a lot of fireworks. Adam will have to face the town and be punished for Delia's death all over again. Do you think Esther will want to have a say in that situation? Delia was her granddaughter, after all, and since Chloe isn't on the canvas and doesn't have a voice in the situation, will we see Esther being that voice for her?
Linder: Well, I know that Esther would of course love that. She'd love to have some input in whatever is going to happen. Esther will definitely want to be part of it. Chloe is her daughter, and she loves Chloe and loved Delia. That was a whole life change for her, and of course she'd love to have a voice, whatever that voice is. We'll have to see.
soapcentral.com: Did you ever expect to be on Y&R for so long and to become a legacy character like you have?
Linder: Aw, that's so sweet! I love that word. You know what, I was just supposed to be there for one day. When I started, it was April 8, 1982, and I was just hired for one day. So did I expect to be here over 33 years, because in April it was 33? No. I didn't even think about it. I thought I was just going to be hired for that one day. But, oh, my gosh, I think about it, and it's so mind boggling to me. I can't even believe it. I was so honored to get a star on the Walk of Fame, and I have to go there periodically to make sure it's still there. It's so amazing to me and thrilling. I so love it. And no, I didn't [expect this]. I was just happy to be working on the show. My mom and my family had watched The Young and the Restless since day one, so when I got that part for that one day, everyone thought, "Oh, yay! The Young and the Restless." But I didn't know. And then actually, after that first day at work, Ed Scott, who was our producer at the time, followed me out and said, "Are you available tomorrow?" And I said, "Yeah!" And so I came back the next day. And in the beginning, I didn't have a name. Jeanne is really responsible for that, because the scripts would come down, and they would just say, "maid," and one day, we were rehearsing our lines as usual, and when we went to tape, she started calling me Esther. Fortunately, I responded, and then all of the other actors started calling me Esther, and then the writers started writing it. And then we had a national contest for her last name, and several names came in, and [Ed Scott] gave me a choice of which name I wanted, and Valentine was one, and Diamond was one, and I just thought, "Esther Valentine?" I picked that number one because I was married in real life on Valentine's Day, and I thought it fit her, and I thought it would bring me good luck, and it most certainly did that, because here I am 33 years later. I never, never thought that would happen.
soapcentral.com: And now you're embarking on a whole new chapter for Esther, 33 years later.
Linder: Which is great, and it goes back to the whole thing. You should never give up, and you should always keep moving forward, because you never know what's going to happen. You never know what's going to happen in your life. Just like on The Young and the Restless, you just never know what's going to happen. I find that all intriguing and fascinating, and I love all of it. I love playing all of it. We have an incredible cast. It was so much fun working with Sharon [Case, Sharon] the other day. But it seems so natural to me, because I've always worked with her. It was kind of interesting, walking out with her on that day that just recently aired, it was kind of like, "Yes, I'm supposed to be here with you. You're supposed to be showing me around." It was great. And she was so sweet. Actually, I have to say that everybody's response to this has been so nice. All the actors have been going, "Wow, you're working at the coffeehouse?! That's great!" They've all been so kind. That's so gracious of everyone, and I'm so grateful for all of it. Of course, I don't want to never work with Jess again or Tristan, and I hope we still will, because I absolutely love working with them.
soapcentral.com: I'm sure they'll be dropping by the coffeehouse. Like I said before, it's a place where you can have any character come in and anything can happen. It's pretty open.
Linder: That's very true.
soapcentral.com: Your storyline is very open, as well. So is there any soap opera storyline that you've always wanted to play that you maybe could have the chance to play now that Esther is out of the mansion and mingling with everyone in Genoa City?
Linder: Well I thought it would be very interesting to play the bad guy, that maybe there's another side to Esther that people don't know. But I don't want to make her too bad. She has to be redeemable. But I think it would be interesting because Esther is a very loyal and kind and wonderful character, but there might be another side to her that people haven't seen. Everyone has a dark side. And we're all good at not showing it, because that's not what you're supposed to do. But how fun to be able to play that at one time or another, so that might be kind of interesting.
soapcentral.com: Well, if it turns out that she's lying about Colin, then you get your wish!
Linder: Yeah, that's true. Who knows. Like Jill says, Esther is lonely, she's sad. And look, it would be nice to have another relationship. That would be fun to play, and she hasn't had one for so long. Every time she does, she messes that up, too! I've [had a few ideas about who she could be with], and the other day, I thought about Ian [Ray Wise], because there was that great scene with Phyllis and Ian, and I thought, "Wow, Esther would definitely fall for all of his tricks!"
soapcentral.com: Oh, my gosh, that would be hilarious. Ian's such a devil.
Linder: Yeah, I could see her getting caught up in all of that. That might be kind of fun. And [Wise] is so good. He's a great guy.
Are you excited to see Esther start a brand new life? What additional changes would you like to see for the character? Do you think she and Ian would make an entertaining romantic match? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.
To stay up-to-date on the latest soap news, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow @soapcentral on Twitter.