INTERVIEW: Will Devon's next chapter be as heavenly as Hevon? Y&R's Bryton James gives the post-Hilary scoop

Posted Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:36:30 AM

The Young and the Restless' Bryton James opens up about Devon's life post-Hilary, which of Genoa City's leading ladies could be his next love, and the possibility of a Family Matters remake.

They say when one door closes, another one opens. But at the moment, fans of The Young and the Restless' Devon Hamilton couldn't possibly imagine the character moving on in life. The deaths of his love Hilary (Mishael Morgan) and the couple's unborn child have rocked both him and viewers to their cores, and the tears aren't likely to dry anytime soon. However, life will ultimately go on once Devon has a proper chance to grieve. And when it does, the character's portrayer, Bryton James, hopes that he and the future story the Y&R writers have in store for Devon do the audience proud.

Soap Central caught up with the busy actor, who's currently juggling Genoa City happenings with voiceover work for his new series Glitch Techs, to get the scoop on what's to come now that the super soapy pairing of Hevon is officially over. He was more than happy to delve into how the death of Hilary will affect Devon in the months to come, what the character will focus on next, and which leading lady on the canvas could end up being the character's next love -- if there's enough fan support, of course. James was also keen to share some details about his new cartoon series and his thoughts on a possible remake of his first television series, the 1990s sitcom Family Matters.

Soap Central: The last few weeks have been such an emotional roller coaster for fans, who have watched Hilary's very tragic death. What was filming those scenes like for you?

Bryton James: As emotional as it looked on-screen, it was like that in real life, for sure, especially on our last day together for Mishael and I. We filmed those scenes in order, and those were the last times we got to work together. And I remember in between takes, we would hug each other to get ourselves emotionally there for the scenes. But it was a lot of fun, as well, to be honest. It was the first time in a long time that we had some really, really heavy stuff to get into. And I think everybody involved did such a great job. It was fun to come to work every day.

Soap Central: The pairing of Hilary and Devon had such an impact on fans. Everyone really fell in love with Hevon, as the couple became named. What did Hevon come to mean to you personally?

James: It was my second relationship on the show. I had been with Tatyana Ali's Roxanne for like four or five years, and I think the writers did a good job with that, but they never really went far into our love life. And when Mishael got on the show, it all just kind of clicked together, and it really worked. And what that meant for me is that the fans were accepting of us and of myself, and I finally had a real love storyline. I had kind of only had storylines involving losing my hearing or finding family and things like that. None of them were really a relationship storyline, so to have the fans embrace us and appreciate and like what we were doing so much, it meant the world to me. Especially to achieve that on a soap opera, because that's what it's all about.

Soap Central: You guys did a video that was posted on Twitter where you talked about your favorite scenes together, and you mentioned that you didn't have a clue that Hilary and Devon would be together, but the powers that be saw something special between you and decided to go with it. Do you remember whether or not you felt, in your first scenes, a special spark or chemistry? Like, "Whoa, she and I have something here!"

James: I mean, the first scene that we had together, it was very easy to work with her. She was a fantastic actress from day one on the show. And we had already started to build a rapport off-set and hang out a bit, but the more they started putting us together, the more we would spend time together. After scenes and after work days, we would go and get dinners and stuff. She lived right across the street from the set, so I'd walk her back to her place all the time and hang out. She was out here alone for a couple of years -- her husband was back in Toronto -- so we just built a great relationship and friendship, and I think eventually that started coming across on-screen. She was a pleasure to work with from day one, and I definitely felt that part. But I didn't know that it was going to turn into what it did.

Soap Central: Will you and Mishael keep in touch now that she's off the show?

James: Oh, of course! We already have plans to get lunch together. And I have some birthday gifts for her son. Her family has been in Toronto for the last month, and they just got back. So, yes, we will see each other. She lives just right down the street.

Soap Central: Devon was understandably extremely upset with his sister Lily [Christel Khalil] for causing Hilary's death, but then he sort of softened at the last minute. Can you explain his sudden change of heart and his desire to not send her to prison in the end?

James: I think it was just the reality hitting him. He can talk about wanting his sister to pay and be behind bars all he wants, but when he was actually faced with it and actually looking his family in the face, and realizing the fact that her children and her husband and everybody's lives were going to be affected, [he couldn't go through with it]. I think he's a good person at heart who wouldn't genuinely want such a bad situation for everybody he loves in his life. That was the reality, and he couldn't live with himself letting that happen, and I think he knew at the end of the day that it wasn't something that Hilary would have wanted, either... But for years, Devon [asked Lily to give Hilary a second chance], and his sister just refused to, and so she's always been a thorn in the side of his relationship. She went to some crazy lengths to stop Hilary from being a part of Devon's life and to end up that it resulted in her death and the death of our unborn child was, I mean, that's a huge thing. So, it wasn't surprising that he was so angry after that, and it also wasn't a surprise that he had a change of heart. At the end of the day, they're family, and they love each other.

Soap Central: Devon and Lily go way back -- all the way to Devon's first scenes on the show! What do you remember from meeting Christel the first time and having your first scenes together?

James: Well, the first time we met was actually on Family Matters, I think in 1996. She did an episode of Family Matters that was called The Karate Kids or something like that. It was in the eighth season of the show, so I actually remember that. And then I didn't see her again until I got on The Young and the Restless. She was with me for my screen test, and I remember that I had all this dialogue, like five scenes worth of just pages and pages to go through for the test, and she had barely anything to say, but I guess she didn't know she had to memorize it and had to act it out on set in front of the cameras and producers, so she kept messing up during my screen test! So, I always give her crap for that. But she did put in a good word for me to get the part, because we'd known each other before. And it's been incredible. She's my best friend. She's incredibly talented, and I've loved working with her from the get-go.

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Soap Central: Because Mishael left the show and Christel decided to go on recurring status, are you like, "Wait a minute, where are all my women going?!"

James: [Laughs] A little bit, yeah! You know, Mishael going was a bit of a surprise. But I talk so much with Christel off set that I wasn't really shocked by her decision. She's not going too far. She's just allowing herself to have further opportunities, but she's definitely still going to be a part of the show. But with Mishael leaving, which means I'm losing my love interest, I look at it as another challenge to try and bring that around some day. Hopefully I can get fans behind me moving on in life, you know? Moving on with Devon's love life.

Soap Central: He will need some time to grieve, obviously. But once he's ready, is there anyone on the canvas that you can foresee a possible romance with? There are some new characters, which always opens new doors...

James: We do have some new characters, yeah, so that's always a possibility. And I've already had a chance to work with a lot of the new actors and actresses on the show. But I think... I'd love to have an opportunity to try and have a storyline with Victoria [Amelia Heinle] and Devon. That's one that I would like to see. [Amelia] and I have so much fun and get along so well off camera, that I think it would translate well.

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Soap Central: I'd love to see them explore something like that! I guess time will tell, right? He's in a position where once the grief has lessened, it's the start of the new chapter. So, what do you think his next chapter will look like?

James: I don't really know, and I wish I did! But if I could give my best guess, I think that he's probably not going to be looking for love anytime soon. I think he'll be focusing on his family, making sure his family is all right, with his sister being behind bars for the time being. He'll also be making sure he's providing a good home for Shauna [Camryn Hamm]. But yeah, just diving into family and his work with Neil [Kristoff St. John].

Soap Central: When you look back over all the stories you've played, what do you think has been your most exciting or memorable?

James: That would definitely be when Devon lost his hearing. Having to pretend that you've lost a sense is not something that you could ever truly understand unless you went through it, and I was so eager to do a good job and try to make it seem believable. It was the most fun -- the most challenging things are always the most fun! Just having a lot of the Winters family having to learn sign language along with me and just all the elements to the scenes, like people having to get my attention, there was a lot that went into the story. And I think during the time, I was involved in a murder case -- they thought I had killed Carmen Mesta [Marisa Ramirez] -- so that was just an exciting time altogether.

Soap Central: I love that about soaps -- it gets dramatic, and you think it can't get any crazier, and then it does! They always add another layer.

James: Right? They can always go to eleven!

Soap Central: Nostalgia is driving all kinds of television remakes, and I know fans would love to see Family Matters redone. Would you be on board with a new version of the series?

James: I would absolutely love to see the show come back! I think it would be something that the fans would definitely like to see. They would get a great new direction of story for a new generation, and we'd get to still display and share family values and the important messages that the show used to depict. I would definitely be all for it. I hope that the creators and the people who control those strings will make it happen sometime soon. About a year ago, the cast did an Entertainment Weekly spread for our twenty-year reunion after the show ended, and it was like never leaving them. It was like seeing your real family. I mean, I grew up for half my life on that show, and it was great. Everybody was in good health, everyone seemed happy, and I think everyone else is on board to do something if it were to be remade.

Soap Central: Had you kept in contact with anyone over the years before the reunion happened?

James: Only a few of them, actually. I kept in contact with Telma Hopkins, who played my mom, and a bit with Darius McCrary, who actually ended up on The Young and the Restless for like a year, playing Malcolm.

Soap Central: That is so crazy, right? The entertainment world is such a small world.

James: It really is. And my studio teacher on Family Matters from when I was [two years old] to when I was eleven -- she was with me every year and taught me how to ride a bike and all of that -- she ended up being a studio teacher for kids on The Young and the Restless when I got on the show, and I hadn't seen her since Family Matters! So, yes, it's a very small world.

Soap Central: So, which of the recent TV remakes have been your favorite so far? Quite a few have come back, so are there any that you have tuned in to?

James: If I'm being completely honest, I'm pretty sure I haven't watched one episode of a remake! I know it's bad. But it's hard for me to get into watching shows. If I do watch something, I'll usually watch a movie for research, because I write a lot. Or I like to watch comedy. I like stand-up comedy, and I'll watch interviews with comedians. I wish I had a better answer for you.

Soap Central: Well, it's understandable. You're a busy guy -- more so now that you are also working on Glitch Techs. Are you enjoying the new show?

James: Oh, it's been great. We've only done a couple of episodes, but I think an entire season has been picked up, and there will be many more episodes. I wish I had more information about the official release date of it, but what I can share is my character is this guy who had a very, very thick British accent. I've always been very good at doing accents and voices since I was a kid, so I remember when I auditioned for it, I was very confident that I'd get [the role]. But then, when I went in for my first day of recording, everybody else in the cast with me was actually from the exact place in England where they wanted it to be, so it was extremely authentic, and I was the only one putting it on. That got intimidating really quickly! But they said I was doing a good job, which was nice to hear. It's been a lot of fun.

Soap Central: Did you do any formal training for accents? Or is it just something you've picked up?

James: Ah, no, I've just picked it up. Ever since I could start talking, I'd watch movies and imitate voices. I don't know how great I am at it, but it's been fun. And I've been lucky enough to have some longevity in doing voiceover work. Most of the time, though, in voiceover work, it's your own voice but in a variation of ages. A lot of the actors who have been doing voiceovers for a long time, they keep doing it over a period of time. And you rarely get a chance to do crazy accents. But this one came along, and I'm proud of it.

Soap Central: Glitch Techs is very diverse, with many different backgrounds and cultures shown on-screen so every kid sees themselves, in a way. What do you think about that?

James: I think it's extremely important. The more you can show in any medium that diversity is the norm is a positive thing. We show [this diversity to] the new generation, which will be in their foundation. So, I like to support projects that are diverse.

Soap Central: I heard that doing voiceover work is the best job in the industry because it's fun, you don't have to get dressed up, and it's easy. Well not easy, but maybe a little more so than other acting jobs?

James: That's very true, and it actually is quite easy because, yeah, you don't have to get dressed up at all. And all of the actors are just so talented and witty, and they should be comedians themselves. I love to just go and sit back and listen to the banter in between takes. That's the best part, and I wish someone would just record that. And then you get to meet some legends. I did a show for Nickelodeon called Zevo 3, and it was about three teenaged superheroes, and I was the leader of the group. I didn't know who else was in the cast on our first day of recording it, and I show up, and I walked into the kitchen area, and Mark Hamill [from Star Wars] is sitting in there! Luke Skywalker! He was the lead villain in the show, so I got to do an entire season of going one-on-one, toe-to-toe, with Luke Skywalker. That was just insane.

Soap Central: I can't even imagine. He's a legend! Is there anything else that you want to add before I have to let you go?

James: I always love to just give a message to the fans and say how much I appreciate them and their love and support. I hope to make them proud in the future coming up on the show.

What do you think about our interview with Bryton James? Are you still mourning the end of Hevon? Could you see Devon and Victoria (#Victevon? #Dectoria?) as a couple at some point down the line? 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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