INTERVIEW: Y&R's Hunter King opens up about her cruel, cruel Summer

Posted Thursday, August 09, 2015 10:22:00 AM
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The Young and the Restless' Hunter King (Summer Newman) dishes on her alter ego's very bad behavior and reveals how her real-life mom would react to such troublemaking.

Who's the nasty little hurricane that has blown into Genoa City and stirred up trouble like it's a finely made martini? None other than Summer Newman, who is making this summer one of the craziest in the history of The Young and the Restless.

The once mostly sweet blonde is now a grownup vixen who has her sights set on seducing her own mother's boyfriend, Billy (Jason Thompson) -- a man whom she's already tempted back into gambling addiction. And judging from the way things are playing out, Summer's shenanigans are only set to get a whole lot worse in the weeks ahead.

Soap Central caught up with the character's recently retuned portrayer, Hunter King, to get the scoop on what's to come. Keep reading to find out how the actress feels about playing a bad girl, how far Summer will go to get what she wants, how her real-life mom would react if Hunter started acting like Summer, and how the shocking kiss on today's episode will forever change everyone involved in the super soapy storyline.

Soap Central: I'm so excited to be talking to you about all of the craziness that Summer has been bringing to Genoa City! She is creating trouble left and right!

Hunter King: Oh, my gosh, there is so much craziness happening, that's for sure.

Soap Central: Are you having fun with this kind of material, being a bad girl troublemaker?

King: Yes, definitely! I think it's always fun to play the same character in a different light. Everyone always asks if it's fun playing the bad girl, and it has been fun for sure, just because it is so different than what Summer was before.

Soap Central: A lot of actors who play "bad" characters sometimes have to remind fans, "I am not my character!" Do you find yourself having to do that more and more?

King: [Laughs] Sometimes I want to tweet them, when they're tweeting me and asking me why I did something, I want to say, "I'm not Summer!" So sometimes I feel like I have to remind everybody, just because I don't want them to think that I'm just like her, causing trouble wherever I go.

Soap Central: She truly is pulling out all the stops, successfully puppeteering a lot of powerful people in town, from Phyllis (Gina Tognoni), to Jack (Peter Bergman), to Billy. Did you realize she was so cunning and powerful?

King:I didn't realize she was going to be this conniving, but it is really interesting and fun to play that dynamic because it's something new to Summer. She wasn't really so much that way before. So, it was a surprise. I was warned that she was different, but it's been a really fun adventure to read each script and be like, "Oh, my God, no way! She's going to do that this week?!" So, it's always fun and kind of shocking when I read the scripts, even.

Soap Central: I would love to hear your honest reaction when you opened the script and saw that Summer was going after her mom's boyfriend. What did you think?!

King: [Laughs] I was like, "Summer is so bad!" I was shocked, but I was also like, Summer does everything and anything at this point, so you can almost expect that she's going to do the unexpected. But at the same time, you can't expect it, because it's so unexpected. So, it was a back and forth of, "Wait, for real?!" and, "Well, I should have seen this coming."

Soap Central: Part of the fun is that viewers aren't entirely sure what she's up to. Is she truly attracted to Billy? Is she doing this to hurt her mom? Is it both?

King: I think it's a little bit of both. I think it's mostly that she has issues with her mom, but at the same time, I will read another script, and it's like, "Wait, it seems like there's some depth to this, and she really does want to be with Billy." But then there's all this stuff that they're uncovering from the past between her and her mom, so I think it has to be about her mom. And then you read another script and think something else. So, it's back and forth the whole time, and I'm still trying to figure it out. I think that's fun for the fans to watch and try to figure out themselves, and it's very twisty and turny. One day you think you've figured it out, and then the next day, it changes. I'm still figuring it out along with them.

What ... now this is NUTS 🥜 #yr @myjasonthompson #philly thank you for our treat #yr

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Soap Central: So, let's talk about that kiss! It seemed like it was one-sided, but then again, maybe not -- Jason is doing such a good job of making Billy's feelings pretty unclear, as well. So first of all, what was it like filming that scene, and what do you make of Billy's reaction?

King: I remember filming that scene, and it was weird because we were trying to work on the timing of how he would turn, and we would somehow be lined up, and I had to kiss him, and he couldn't really pull away, but he couldn't really kiss me back, so it was really interesting trying to figure out the timing of everything. But Jason is doing a phenomenal job. Even me, when I was in the scene with him, I was like, "I really couldn't tell what you were feeling!" He's doing such a good job at not letting on if Billy is attracted to Summer and is trying to hide it, or if he's not attracted at all and just wants her to stay away from him. You really can't tell. One minute, you're like, "Oh, I think I saw a little something there!" And the next second, he's telling her to get out of his office, and you're like, "Wait, I don't really know!" He's doing such a good job at playing this in a mysterious way where you're like, "I have so many questions that are unanswered, but I just want to keep watching."

Soap Central: It's interesting because typically in scenes, at least one of the character's motives is really clear. But with these two, you really can't tell with either one of them what's really going on.

King: Yeah, that's true. I didn't think of it that way, but I feel like you're right -- there is usually one side that's pretty clear. But both sides here are unclear, what they both really want and what their motives are. So, I guess that makes it even more interesting that way, trying to figure out what both people are trying to accomplish in these scenes.

Soap Central: Just knowing what you do of the two characters, do you think that if the pieces fall in a way that brings them together, they'd make a good couple? Or do you think it would just be a major train wreck?

King: Personally, I think it would be a total train wreck! But then, you never know: maybe two train wrecks of people combined make a positive? [Laughs] I'm not really sure, but I lean more toward train wreck, because how could you date your mother's boyfriend and have it go over smoothly? Personally, I think it would be absolutely insane. But then again, you never know. Crazier things have happened!

Soap Central: What's it been like working with Jason Thompson?

King: Oh, he is so much fun to work with. We mess around on set, like I'm showing him things on my phone, like stupid Instagram memes, and then we get into this super serious scene, and he's so talented and so good at what he does. You can see that he has so much passion for the work that he does, and he puts so much thought and effort into each scene. He doesn't go in blindly and unprepared; he puts so much thought into each and every scene. And then we joke around and mess around between scenes. He's really fun to work with.

Soap Central: So, how far will Summer go to get what she wants? A little birdie told me that things get even crazier as the week goes on.

King: I think Summer is one of those people who will go to extreme lengths to get what she wants, and she doesn't really care who she hurts in the process as long as she gets what she wants and is happy. She'll go to extreme lengths to accomplish whatever it is that she's trying to do.

Soap Central: Is there anyone she wouldn't hurt to get what she wants?

King: I think the one person she wouldn't want to hurt is her dad. Now, whether or not she wouldn't hurt him, I'm not really sure! At this point, with Summer, I don't really know. But I think that's the last person she would ever want to hurt. Either him or Faith, really.

Soap Central: Something really bad she did recently was she got Billy to start gambling again. Do you think that makes her a bad person? I mean, that was pretty serious, to tempt his addictions like that.

King: It was really serious. It's hard to say, though. I'm biased because I play her, and I don't want her to be a bad person! But as an outsider, I wouldn't think positively of Summer. I think you could say she's incredibly driven and motivated and those other great qualities. But she will really stop at nothing, and she's incredibly selfish. She only cares about what she wants, at least right now in this stage of her life. She's going after what she wants and doesn't care about who she hurts in the process.

Soap Central: It sounds a lot like her mom, actually. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

King: Exactly!! I think I even say that in one of my lines coming up! Something along those lines.

Soap Central: Summer's relationship with her mom is pretty complicated. Do you think that they will always have issues with each other? Or do you think there's a chance for them to eventually get along and be a normal, loving mother/daughter pair?

King: At this point, I think it's not possible, but then, crazier things on the show have happened -- like Nick (Joshua Morrow) and Sharon (Sharon Case) getting back together after it seemed there was absolutely no way that they ever could. So, I'm going to say that I have hope, because I love my mom in real life. My mom is my best friend, so I'm like, "How could someone be without their mom?!" You just can't. You need your mom! So, I'm going to hope for them that there is a possibility in the future that they can rekindle and have a healthier relationship. But it's really hard to predict on these shows. You just really never know. It's like either the craziest thing will happen, or something even crazier will happen! So, I don't know.

Soap Central: What does your real mom say about Summer's bad girl behavior?

King: Oh, my gosh, my mom does not approve! My mom came to set the other day to visit me, and I had some scenes, and I just remember looking over at her, and she was just shaking her head in disapproval of Summer. And then after the scenes, she was like, "I cannot believe you speak to your mother that way!" She does not approve of Summer's behavior at all.

Soap Central: How do you think she would handle you if you did the things that Summer is doing?

King: Oh, my God, she would disown me! [Laughs] She would seriously disown me. I don't think I would have a chance in hell at any of this stuff, because my mom is a badass. I think I would get a slap across the face or something like that!

Happy Mother's Day Momma! You are the most amazing mom on this planet and I'm SO lucky that you're mine. You work so hard for all of us and you deserve the world! I love you more than you could ever know❤️ And happy Mother's day to the sweetest, most generous Grandma ever. I love you to infinity and beyond!✨💕 @masterkingmom @redsfarrar

A post shared by Hunter King (@hunterking) on

Soap Central: I wonder in real life how many daughters have stolen their mom's boyfriends. Does this really happen out there?

King: I know! That's what I wonder, as well. It's had to have happened at some point. I'm sure it has happened, and I wonder what the relationships are now. We should do some digging, maybe find a Dr. Phil episode. [Laughs]

Soap Central: What about your real-life boyfriend, Nico? Does he have an opinion on all of Summer's shenanigans?

King: Oh, my gosh, I think he just laughs! And whenever I have him go over lines with me, he's like, "Oh, my God, what the heck is going on?!" He used to work on The Young and the Restless as a boom operator, so he knows all the ins and outs of the show. And he would come home after work, and he'd be like, "So, Devon and Hilary..." and he'd tell me stories about them. And people must have thought we were crazy, like if we were in a public place, talking about this, he would be going on about the craziest scenario, and if they didn't know that it was a show, they would be like, "Who the heck are these people?!" [Laughs] So, he understands that it's crazy, but when I tell him stories, he's like, "What the heck? How does Phyllis deal with this?"

Soap Central: It's nice that he knows the situation. I think it could be difficult if you're dating someone who doesn't know anything about soap operas and they're like, "Wait, what? You're getting frisky on camera again?"

King: This is so true! He was actually on set the day that I had to kiss Jason... and I remember telling him, "Please don't watch this scene!" And he was like, "It's fine!" And I was like, "No, you're not allowed to watch this scene!" So, I made some of our friends on set make sure that he wasn't watching the monitor. But he's very understanding, and I'm very lucky. He knows and is super understanding, but even so, I was like, "No, this is where I draw the line! You're not allowed to watch this."

Your love is like magic. It makes me feel safe, it makes me feel whole, and it just makes everything make sense. I think the reason I can't sleep at night is because any day with you is better than anything I could possibly dream. You are what my soul was looking for. You amaze me in every way Nico and I can't believe I'm lucky enough to be loved by you. I love you! 2 years sure goes by fast when I got your cute butt to look at😉 @neekotto

A post shared by Hunter King (@hunterking) on

Soap Central: I actually get more nervous if my friends and family are around to see me perform or speak in public. Do you also get more nervous if your loved ones are there, or do you feel less nervous because they're there to support you?

King: Oh, my gosh, more nervous! Any time my mom or my boyfriend or my sister or whoever is there watching, all of a sudden, I mess up all my lines. I forget them, I say the wrong line at the wrong time, I get so nervous. I wish that they wouldn't come -- but then I love that they come! So, I'm like, "I hope you know all of my scenes are going to take twice as long because you're making me nervous by sitting there and watching me!" [Laughs] I love that they're supportive, but I'm also like, "Just go home!"

Soap Central: It's a double-edged sword!

King: It is!

Soap Central: But it's so nice that the show allows you to have visitors. You mentioned both your mom and your boyfriend dropping by to see your scenes, which is great.

King: Oh, I love it! The show is so sweet, and any time that my mom or my sister or whoever comes to set, they're always so excited, the castmembers. Joshua Morrow and my sister have this love/hate relationship, so he always gets so excited when she comes to set. Everybody is so amazing there. It really is like a little family. So, when I bring my family, it's kind of fun combining the two.

Soap Central: I have to say your fans are so ecstatic that you're back on the show. But your other show, Life in Pieces, was renewed. So, what does this mean? Will you be doing both shows at the same time?

King: Yes! I am planning on it, so we'll see how that goes. That schedule is a little less hectic than the Y&R schedule, so I'm hoping that the two will blend nicely and that we can make it work. I love both shows, and I just want to do everything and anything, so I'm hoping we can make it work. And they're both on CBS, so it really works out well.

Season 2 finale of #LifeInPieces calls for an awkward family photo right? 😂 #tinyhouseliving #AFamilyThatCuddlesTogetherStaysTogether

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Soap Central: How did your return to Y&R happen then? Did they reach out to you?

King: Well, I heard that they were wanting to bring Summer back. My boyfriend was still working on The Young and the Restless at the time, and he was saying, "Yeah, they're bringing up Summer's name a lot." So, I reached out to Angelica [McDaniel, SVP and Head of Daytime at CBS] and was like, "Hey, I know you guys are probably bringing back Summer. I don't know what your plans are, but I'm free if you guys want to bring me back. But no pressure." And we kind of chatted, and it all worked itself out.

Soap Central: That just goes to show that it's good to just ask for what you want and not be afraid. Good for you!

King: Right? I was so nervous to call her, but then I thought, "Well, what's to lose? If they don't want to bring me back, then I can't stop that." So, I decided to just call and let her know that I was interested. And it worked out really well.

Soap Central: Before you took on the role of Summer, journalists in the past criticized the character for being vapid, and it was hard to get behind her. But then you came on, and you were really able to transform her into this really compelling character. Even though she does immature things that make people angry, the fans somehow still seem to love you. When you took over the role, did you have conversations with the powers that be about how to make her more relatable? Or did you do that character work on your own?

King: I think it's a collaborative effort and whether or not the writers and producers have a sit-down with you and tell you what they're looking for. Like our current producer Mal Young, he is so good at that. If he is looking for something or if he is wanting scenes or a storyline to go a certain way, he'll come to you before and summarize the whole story and give you what he's hoping for so the audience gets what they want. He's really good at that. And when I was first starting out, it was so long ago, and it's hard to remember, but I feel like it's always a collaborative effort of your bosses telling you what they're looking for combined with what you think the character should be like. And Summer then was so different from what Summer is now. At that time, she was more relatable and more sensitive and sweet. So now, when I came back, our producer Mal was good at telling me how he wants the character to be a lot different and just how she has changed while she was gone and grown up and become a whole new woman. He made that transition definitely a lot easier.

Soap Central: Your sister Joey King is also an actress. How much would you love for her to come onto Y&R and have scenes with you?

King: Oh, my God! We joke about that all the time, whenever she comes to set. I have always wanted to go in the back and give her my wardrobe and have her come in and do a rehearsal as me, because everyone always says we look so much alike. So, we'd love to pull a prank like that. Hopefully Joshua doesn't read this interview because maybe one day we'll do that with Joshua! But yes, I would really love to work with her, and we always say that. So, one day, maybe we'll make it happen.

Is twinstinct a thing even if your not twins? #Repost @joeyking ・・・ We're like related or whatever 💋

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Soap Central: Which one of you two probably has the craziest Hollywood stories? You or Joey?

King: Oh, for sure her! For sure her! She has some crazy ones. But sometimes we get fan mail, and I have gotten fan mail from jail. I don't know if that's a crazy story or not, but probably my craziest.

Soap Central: It's actually pretty common, I've heard. I think the shows are often on inside the prison's common areas, so the inmates become fans.

King: Is it common? I had no idea. I feel like I have to go visit them and bring the cast of Y&R! [Laughs] That could be my crazy story, just rounding up The Young and the Restless cast to visit the jail!

Soap Central: Oh, yeah -- field trip! Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?

King: I'm just super excited for everybody to see what's coming up. Storyline wise, there are crazy things that happen, unexpected twists and turns. And there are also some really fun things that are going to happen -- some fun and interesting ways that they've chosen to go with this storyline that I'm super excited for everyone to see.

What do you think about our interview with Hunter King? How do you feel about Summer trying to seduce Billy? Why do you think Summer has become such a vixen? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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