Every soap fan knows the extreme thrill that comes from intense "I can't believe that just happened!" cliffhangers. The inhalation, dropped jaw, increased heartrate, holy cow "WHY IS THIS EPISODE OVER!" moment that guarantees you'll be tuning in to tomorrow's episode. So, we couldn't help but wonder, do the stars that play these action-packed moments feel the same intensity when they read cliffhanger moments in their scripts?
Jason Thompson, who's known for his current role as The Young and the Restless' Billy Abbott and his former role as General Hospital's Patrick Drake, says he definitely feels the power of cliffhanger moments when he receives his scripts. And he reveals that those moments can be extremely difficult to play.
"There's a lot that you have to take in when [you receive a script that has a major cliffhanger moment]. It's like, 'Okay, I know what they're trying to allude to,' so you kind of have to play a little bit of that without going too far," he explains to Soap Central, adding that not knowing what comes next is a huge part of making the moments feel real.
"There's a lot that goes into that not knowing. Truthfully, we don't know what comes next [in our real lives]. We can have a pretty good idea in our daily life: anybody can have a pretty good idea what their day is going to consist of later on, or maybe even the next day or next week. But truthfully, we don't know. So, there is a real moment there," he says. "Sometimes it's easier to capture, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's hard to not go too far into the cliffhanger moment and stay true to who you are in that moment."
Difficult as cliffhanger scenes may be, Thompson says they're a necessary part of the genre. One of the best, even.
"When it does work, I feel like it's a very valuable tool. We want people to come back, and we want people to be excited. Not just on Friday, but on Mondays and Tuesdays and everything else," he says. "It is an exhausting job for everybody involved, from the stage hands to producers and writers and actors, everyone."
But, as the actor points out, the exhaustion is worth it.
"We feel fortune that we get to do what we do. There's no doubt about that," he says. "I feel very fortunate that I get to come to work every day and play this type of character with this group of people. And my job is to try and make it feel real and entertain people. I do not take that lightly. And along with that, everybody gets to have an opinion about whether they like it or not. I just hope that people stay tuned and [enjoy the longer stories], because that is the unraveling of a human being, to a certain extent."
How do you feel about soap opera cliffhanger moments? Are they one of your favorite parts of the genre, or one of your least favorite parts? Do you think cliffhangers have a place in today's entertainment landscape? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.