Nothing makes a soap opera more fun to watch than a really juicy villain, and it's clear that The Young and the Restless knew that when they called Jeffrey Vincent Parise to play the role of bad guy Simon Black last year. The actor, who had already established himself as one hell of a performer in the role of General Hospital mobster Carlos Rivera, swung into Genoa City in full force, wreaking havoc for the characters and causing chaos wherever he went.
Soap Central caught up with Parise shortly after he'd heard that his work as Simon earned him an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Guest Performer category. He spoke about how much the honor means to him and his family, what was so fun about playing such a shady guy, and whether or not fans will see more of Simon in the future.
Soap Central: Congratulations to you on your Emmy nomination!
Jeffrey Vincent Parise: Thank you.
Soap Central: How are you feeling?
Parise: All things considered, I'm doing pretty well.
Soap Central: Oh, I'll bet. It's such an honor.
Parise: Oh, I thought you meant in general! No, I'm feeling pretty great about that! [Laughs] In fact, it was really nice to get any kind of good news during this time, let alone something that is a personal milestone.
Soap Central: How did you find out that you'd been nominated?
Parise: I was on a hike by myself, just enjoying some fresh air and some nature, and I got a call from Matt [Kane, from Y&R's publicity department]. I let out a few tears of joy, and then I did this weird thing where I walked off the trail and into the woods, just sort of wandering way off of the trail. I don't know why [laughs], but I found a place where I could sit down and take in the news. It was really cool, and I wanted to try to get really present with it.
Soap Central: Did you contact any family or friends to share the news?
Parise: I called my mother. I called her right afterward, because the same with them, too -- my parents will take any good news they can get right now.
Soap Central: Have you heard from any of your Y&R costars or have you been in contact with any of the show's other nominees, just to congratulate each other?
Parise: Yeah! The first text I got was actually from Jason Thompson [Billy Abbott, Y&R; ex-Patrick Drake, GH], and I congratulated him at the same time. We go back to General Hospital together and worked together a lot; we were in a love triangle there.
Soap Central: Speaking of other nominees, how do you feel about the other actors in your category and being in competition with them?
Parise: There is a lot of talent in that category, and it feels really good to be included with them.
Soap Central: You had a previous nomination in 2017 for your work on General Hospital. Does this nomination feel different from that one?
Parise: Yes, it does feel different, for sure. I don't even know how to put it into words why it feels different, but I think because I went through it once, so I know what I'm missing now! [Laughs] One of the fun things about the whole process last time was I had invited my parents to come with me, so they made a whole trip out of it. They came out to L.A., and we went to the pre-parties and all the little cocktail parties and the dinners and everything. We really made a whole thing of it, and knowing that that's not going to happen now, it's a little bittersweet. But it's more sweet than it is bitter, that's for sure.
Soap Central: How do you feel about the possibility of maybe having to accept the award online, from home?
Parise: It's great, I won't have to wear pants! [Laughs]
Soap Central: Oh, my gosh, every male I'm interviewing is saying this! I don't know what to expect when this thing airs!
Parise: All right, let me take my answer back! [Laughs] But no, really, we're adjusting, and I think that the fact that we have the technology to be able to do that is really amazing. And I also think that type of technology is really what's getting a lot of people through this, to be able to still see people's faces move when they're talking and still have some sort of connection with their image. So, I think it's great. It would be a lot different if we were doing it over the phone!
Soap Central: That is true. We have to stay thankful for the little things! So, when you first heard about the role of Simon Black, what were your first thoughts, and what made you decide to take the job?
Parise: Well, I had been in for another role earlier, and I felt like the possibility of working on a soap again was exciting, but it wasn't quite the right fit. And then when this came along, as soon as I got the audition material, I felt that it was the right fit, that I could really do something with this role. It was pretty easy to say yes to!
Soap Central: Do you generally gravitate toward villains or bad guy roles?
Parise: Not necessarily that he was a bad guy or a villain, but just that he was dynamic and exciting. There was a lot going on, and that's what I gravitate toward, just dynamic characters that you can really find a lot of different dimensions to -- and that tends usually to be the villain! [Laughs] A lot of times, they're just written a lot more dynamic.
Soap Central: It takes some skill to write a good villain, because there needs to be a lot of levels, and as an actor, you have to be able to bring that to life -- which you've done, obviously, because now you have an Emmy nomination for it!
Parise: Thanks! Yeah, you have to find the justification for why they're doing what they're doing in there. You have to make him human, and somewhere in there, there has to be some vulnerability, and if you're lucky and it's written this way, some sort of likability. It's nice if the audience is rooting for this person a little bit.
Soap Central: Well, I don't know about that with Simon!
Parise: [Laughs] Not with him, no! Not with him. He was a pretty evil bastard.
Soap Central: You got the opportunity to work with some big stars at Y&R, so who were you most excited to share scenes with?
Parise: Well, Melissa [Claire Egan, Chelsea Lawson], for sure, because we had most of our scenes together, and she was great. And Mark [Grossman, Adam Newman], I thought he was really great. We were able to lock horns a couple of times, and he brought it. He really brought that testosterone that it would take for Adam to really protect the people that he loves, if that makes sense.
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Everyday on a soap is like opening night of a play. One take. Creative commitment. And then you move on to the next performance. The instant connection you feel towards your fellow actors is almost unexplainable. Thank you to this lovely cast for making me feel right at home and for their inspired work!! - @missyclaireegan @mgrossman18 @therealstafford @mel_ordway @youngandrestlesscbs #YR #FreeSimonBlack #cbs
Soap Central: It does, yes. Were you pretty familiar with Y&R before you got the job there?
Parise: No, I was not. But when I got that first audition, I started doing my research and, of course, gravitated right toward Jason's scenes, because he's one of my favorite actors. So, I watched what he was doing on the show, and then I went down a Victor Newman [Eric Braeden] rabbit hole and was just blown away. God, what a character throughout the years! And then still, what an iconic figure. That was really exciting.
Soap Central: As it's a soap opera and you just never know what could happen, do you think there's more to explore with Simon? And if so, would you be happy to return to Y&R and step back in his shoes if asked?
Parise: I think there's a lot more to explore with Simon, yeah. Even just the way they left him off, he was alive and well in jail. And it seems like he cut a deal with the Feds, so I think it's possible that his prison term wouldn't be that long. But, yeah, at the beginning, there was this charming side to him, and whether or not that's just sociopathic, I think that could be explored.
Soap Central: Soap opera writers always have surprises up their sleeves, so who knows if they'll say, "Let's get Simon back in here to shake things up!"
Parise: [Laughs] I'm always happy to come shake things up!
What do you think about Jeffrey Vincent Parise receiving an Emmy nomination for his work as Y&R's Simon Black? Do you think he'll take home the gold? 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.