Fans of The Young and the Restless are super happy to have Michael Damian back as Danny Romalotti, and his return is about to get even better: the Tuesday, December 27, episode will feature classic flashbacks from Danny's epic love story with Christine (Lauralee Bell). The nostalgic scenes will then be followed by a current-day reunion between Danny and Christine (who went by the name of Cricket back in the day), which will happen on Tuesday, January 3.
In celebration of the anticipated reunion to come, Soap Central spoke with Lauralee Bell to get her thoughts and feelings about having Damian back on the canvas. We also asked her how she feels about the possible re-exploration of the passionate, messy, unforgettable love triangle that played out between Danny, Christine, and Phyllis (Michelle Stafford), or the re-exploration of the equally complicated dynamic between Danny, Christine, and the very-much-missed Paul [Doug Davidson].
Soap Central: You must be so excited to have Michael Damian back at Y&R!
Lauralee Bell: It was so fun, and the good thing is he's definitely open to doing more. So, we just hope that everyone will tune in and there will be a huge response, because things like that just always make it more possible -- if it's received well, then the talk of it happening again happens almost immediately. So, my hope is that people will tune in to see it and [let us know if they want to see more]!
Soap Central: There is such a rich history between Christine and Danny, whose connection goes back to the early 80s. Will viewers get a sense of that, even though Michael's return at this point is short?
Bell: Yes, and it's fun because they do give us a little backstory, so it works for the people who watched it in the 80s who will want to see it again and for those viewers who are new; they put it together in such a great way, showing how we first met, which was silly because I was truly just a little girl, and then they show how the relationship evolved and then how Phyllis became an issue, and you see the love, hurt, and anger come into play. So, you kind of get a feeling of all these emotions that the two of them had together right before they see each other. The scenes are intense. They're casual, in the coffeehouse, but there's this underlying pot of feelings that are all stirred up as they see each other, and then he's gone, he leaves again. And so, it's a kind of situation where it's, 'Will he be back?' We sort of make a comment that he will have a concert coming up in a few months, so, hopefully that will actually happen.
Soap Central: Will the flashback scenes fill the audience in as to the history of their relationship, or is that done in the current-day scenes?
Bell: On the 27th, Christine finds out that Danny's in town through social media, and then she just flashbacks to a whole bunch of memories, and you're left wondering, "Will she even want to see him? And will they cross paths?" And then, when we are in the scene together, I have to go into another area of the set to help Sharon [Sharon Case] and Mariah [Camryn Grimes] and Tessa [Cait Fairbanks] with something, so, Danny goes into a whole bunch of flashbacks, just our complete story: how we started, where we went to, all of that. So, you see all of that, and then I come in and sit down and talk with him. So, it was a smart way to do it. You'll get a lot of knowledge about the relationship in a very short amount of time.
Soap Central: Fans love watching the flashback scenes. How do you feel about watching some of that very early material?
Bell: The cuteness of me being very young and having a high-pitched, helium-like voice and really being clearly new at this is a little agonizing for me, but four clips later, I have now gotten a backbone, and I'm grilling him about Phyllis, so, the only thing that's probably sweet about that for me is that you can definitely see how I evolved and grew up and became stronger as a performer and a person in real life, to be able to switch like that. As I say, the young days are a little bit hard for me, but if we're going to tell a story, then it's necessary. The funny thing is, when you see us at first, you think, "How are this little girl and this man going to equal out?" And then you go six years later, and you do realize that 18 and 20-something isn't that big of an age gap, but when you see the initial image, it seems a little weird. But that's why my father [Y&R creator William Bell] was very good at growing things slowly in real time; it would have to be that way, otherwise it wouldn't feel right.
Soap Central: Christine and Danny have been on-again, off-again throughout the years. What do you think Danny means to her now? And where does Paul fit into that?
Bell: Danny makes a comment like, "What if Phyllis never came into our lives?" And it is such a profound comment, because their interaction changed, as did the trajectory of all their lives, because of Phyllis. She also says things are great with Paul [Doug Davison], which, you know, I'm glad that they are, but I think for anybody, whether they've moved on and have been married for many years to a new person, your first love is just something that is always in the back of your head, and it's still very raw, and I'm sure a lot of people always wonder what if, and I'm sure a lot of people also think, "Thank God it wasn't that person!" [Laughs] But I think for Cricket, Danny was her world, so I don't think she is necessarily thinking about going back, but you can definitely tell, or at least I wanted to play it like, even after all of these years, there's still a lot of hurt, and at the same time, "I wish you well. Are you seeing anyone? And good for you that you're still a rock star. It's really not the life I would have wanted, so, I'm happy I'm with Paul and I'm happy that I have a legal job that fulfills my excitement." So, it could go either way.
Soap Central: As you said, a big problem of theirs has always been that he wanted this rock-and-roll lifestyle, and she wanted a legal career -- it wasn't all Phyllis.
Bell: Exactly! She did not want to drop everything and go touring. It would take a certain type of person to do that, and business was so important to her that it really cost her and Paul even having children -- it was work first. So, yeah, it wasn't going to work out. But we'll see!
Soap Central: Do you have any fun memories from playing the catfight scenes with Michelle Stafford?
Bell: We were just talking about it! Michelle is cute -- she's having this issue with a lot of women, but there is definitely something unique about the Phyllis/Cricket rivalry. I really irk her. I know Diane [Susan Walters] does, and other people do, too, but when she and I are in the same room as characters, it's like something is just off in the universe. [Laughs] We love nothing more than those scenes, and I've heard that there is a possibility that that will be coming up. We would love nothing more. And I don't know that that will happen, but those were really fun days for us. We're pretty good buddies, and you just forget all of that -- we would be almost nose to nose in a calm rage, and the minute it was over, we'd just smile and be like, "That was fun." And it's really the only person that my character would get away with talking to like that. Like, it's just not in her DNA, but Phyllis is the one exception.
Soap Central: That's the funny thing, because Christine seems rather mature, and it's hard to imagine her losing it with Phyllis now.
Bell: Right?! Like going down to her level? But it's weird. You know how there are just these people in your world that rub you the wrong way -- and thankfully, I don't have many in real life -- but there are people where it's like, as soon as you're in the same space, there's just a different energy, and I think if Phyllis were on the other side of the room, we could maybe just cross paths, but the minute she comes in with one of her jabs, it's like, game on! I would love that. I really would. We will hope for that in 2023. We'll see!
Soap Central: Would you want to re-explore the whole Christine/Danny/Phyllis dynamic? Or the Danny/Christine/Paul dynamic?
Bell: Yes! I am super, super close with all of them, and especially with Doug Davidson, and I am always hoping we'll see him again. So, I always say never say never, and I have hopes for 2023 for that. That triangle that would make Phyllis flip out more than anything, as would me becoming closer to Daniel [Michael Graziadei]. So, anything like that would be so much fun. It's all already there, already built in. The bones of that hatred are so there, so, yes, nothing would be more fun than to explore that triangle or group of people, and to revisit those old feelings, because I think they'll always be right there at the surface. So, it's now in the writers' hands!
Soap Central: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the upcoming Cricket and Danny reunion?
Bell: I really, really hope that people will tune in to these days. So many people say, "We miss the old group," and here's our chance! The week after Christmas and the first week of January, it really is a lot of nostalgia, so we hope everyone tunes in! We all realize that we would not still be on and making the 50 years happen without the fans. We are forever grateful and hopefully it will be another however many years to come! I don't want to say numbers, but we liked making it to 50, so, why not 60? Why not 75?! [Laughs]
What do you think about our interview with Lauralee Bell? Are you excited to see Cricket and Danny together again? Do you hope Michael Damian returns to Y&R on a more full-time basis so the writers can delve into the history between Danny, Christine, and Phyllis? What are your favorite memories from that former love triangle? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.