The custody battle over The Young and the Restless' Christian goes into full swing this week, with Victor (Eric Braeden) and Nick (Joshua Morrow) going head to head over who will end up raising the tiny tot. Tensions are sure to run high during the arbitration sessions, and guess which lucky girl is set to be smack dab in the middle? Lauren Woodland, who is reprising her role as Genoa City attorney Brittany Hodges.
The actress, who studied law and became a real-life lawyer following her 2000-2005 run on the CBS soap opera, first returned for the show's anniversary earlier this year. And when the powers that be recently realized that they needed to cast an actor to play an attorney for the scenes this week, Woodland was an obvious choice.
"The way I heard it, they were writing some scenes where there was going to be a lawyer needed, and because I had just been on the show, and everybody knew I'm an attorney, they were like, 'Hey, why don't we have Lauren do it?'' she shares. "So that was very flattering and sweet. It made me very happy that they thought of me and wanted me to come back."
Storyline details are being kept under wraps -- outside of a juicy tease that Brittany questions J.T.'s disappearance and ruffles a few feathers while she's in town -- but the actress was more than happy to delve deep into what it was like to be back in Genoa City with real-life law experience under her belt. Check out Soap Central's interview with the actress below, and let us know what you think about Brittany's return and which man -- Victor or Nick -- should be raising Christian.
Soap Central: Welcome back to Y&R! What a blast from the past this all must be for you!
Lauren Woodland: Yes! When I came for the anniversary, I hadn't been acting for a really long time, so it was really joyful [to return], and it was really fun. I knew that a lot of time had passed, but when you go back into that studio and you walk onto those sets, and all the same actors are there, and the crew, it's kind of like no time has passed at all.
Soap Central: So much has changed in your life as well as Brittany's since you last played her. Did it even feel like playing the same character?
Woodland: Well, my scenes didn't really explore a whole lot about Brittany's personal life, so I don't know how I would play scenes like that. But for me, the way I approached it was, I'm playing the same character, Brittany, just thirteen years later. We all grow, and we all mature -- hopefully! Some of us do, and some of us don't, I guess. I didn't change the character at all. I think so much of that character is me, anyway -- more so than any other character I've ever played. In these scenes, I was playing an attorney, and that's exactly what I've done with my life since I left The Young and the Restless; I became an attorney. So, the story that I was playing for Brittany wasn't very different from my own real life.
Soap Central: Does playing a lawyer on TV feel anything like being a lawyer in real life?
Woodland: [Laughs] Sort of! It's funny, I had thought that I would approach these scenes as realistically as possible, since I actually know how these legal things unfold, and then I realized that would be really boring! [Laughs] I would be so boring if I played it clinically. I needed to put some real heart and soul into it and make the stakes high for me, because that's what makes the audience care about what's going on in the scene. I probably played it more emotionally involved than I would have been in real life. I played it as if the things that were happening to my client were happening to me. Brittany has a personal relationship with Nick [Joshua Morrow] and Sharon [Sharon Case]. In real life, I'm really good friends with Sharon Case, and I've always been on friendly terms with Joshua, though we've never had scenes together. Actually, I don't think we did a single scene together when I was on the show years ago.
Soap Central: Really? That's unbelievable!
Woodland: I know! So, because Brittany really likes those people, and she actually has personal relationships with them, I put that into the scene. So, hopefully the audience gets that it's more than just a case for Brittany; there's a personal connection there that is really important to her. But yeah, actually, it was totally fun to be able to come back and play a lawyer when I actually am a lawyer, and then to be on The Young and the Restless; it was just perfect. If you could say, 'What's your dream come true?' it would be to play a lawyer on TV, especially on The Young and the Restless! It was perfect for me. And what was so cool about it, too, was that I was in a room with all these actors, with Sharon, Nick, Victor, and Michael Baldwin [Christian LeBlanc], and these are all the people that I've always wanted to work with on the show, and I don't think I ever had a single scene with any of them when I was on the show. Sharon and I met at a party once in a scene, and that was it. So, I had always wanted to work with the Newmans, always. I was doing backflips when I got the script! I was like, 'Finally, my dream has come true! I'm not in a scene with just one Newman; I've got all of them here!' [Laughs]
Soap Central: How did they react to you being a lawyer in real life? I can imagine that could have felt a little strange!
Woodland: A few actors didn't know I was a lawyer, and they found out through talking with me, and I think they thought it was really cool, but they were also very surprised by it. They only know me as an actor, so it was sort of weird to come back and say, 'Hey, guys, I'm a lawyer!' I actually talked a lot with Christian LeBlanc, because he plays Michael Baldwin, the big lawyer in Genoa City, and we talked a lot about my experience as a lawyer, and we rehearsed the scene some before filming, which was fun. And Sharon and I worked very heavily on the scenes together before I filmed. It's really phenomenal that these actors were available and open to do that, because soaps move so quickly. They're always working and don't have a lot of free time, but the thing with these scenes, which you'll see, is there are a lot of people in them, and they're very intense, and there's a lot of dialogue, so it was really important for me to be totally prepared so that when we got in and we actually shot the scenes, not only could we do it quickly, we would get really high-quality stuff. And we had fun, which you can't do unless you're really prepared.
Soap Central: Seeing as how you're an expert in the law, have you or would you ever volunteer information to make a court scene more authentic or make changes to the dialogue to make it more accurate?
Woodland: Well, this scene is an arbitration, so I wasn't too concerned with accuracy. Arbitration is a whole world of its own; it has its own rules, and it's very different than if we were in a public court. We were in a private proceeding, a private arbitration, so I wasn't too concerned with accuracy there. And, also, I realized that if I started really making changes, if I started getting really technical, it would kind of just snowball, and it might even change the scene. It really wouldn't be helpful, and it wasn't necessary. I think if we did a courtroom scene, and something was inaccurate, I would be happy to chime in, but I thought they did a really great job. They made the scenes so emotional and dramatic and high stakes, so I didn't want to interject. I think that the term artistic license [applies here]. I think it's perfectly fine in drama to not be one hundred percent accurate to real life. I think if you get too accurate, you're not going to have a scene that people really want to watch. It would probably be completely boring!
Soap Central: How have your law colleagues reacted to you being back on a soap opera? Are they totally surprised?
Woodland: You know, I think most of them think it's really cool. Most of my colleagues have been really supportive and excited about it. It's also very odd to them, too. I mean, it's very rare that anyone in a law firm leaves to go be an actor on a soap opera for a few days! No lawyer ever gets to do that, so I feel very, very lucky.
Soap Central: Did you have to have a conversation with a boss? Like, "So, this might sound awkward, but can I have some time off to go do a soap opera?"
Woodland: I used my vacation time! [Laughs] But I've got to tell you, it's a no-brainer for me. Seriously, any time The Young and the Restless wants me to shoot an episode, I'm leaving the office, and I'm going to shoot that episode! I don't even have to think about it, and I don't have to ask anyone's permission. It's just done! I can't say no to The Young and the Restless, or to Brittany! I love that character, and I had a great time being back. I loved the whole experience, and it's always a real joy to return. I hope the audience enjoys the storyline, and I hope they like Brittany as a lawyer. I am very grateful to the fans for continuing to be excited about Brittany and supporting her coming back to the show. It's very touching that people remember her and people are excited. So, thank you!
For more from Woodland on her life as a lawyer and her unexpected return to Y&R, check out Soap Central's recent Daytime Emmy Red Carpet coverage with the actress below.
How do you feel about Lauren Woodland returning as Brittany, who's now a hot-shot lawyer? Are you happy to see the character back on-screen? Would you like her to make future appearances? And who do you think should raise Christian: Victor or Nick? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.