The chemistry between The Young and the Restless' Sharon (Sharon Case) and Rey (Jordi Vilasuso) came on like a freight train, knocking the wind out of viewers and lighting up the screen with the intensity of a neon sign in a sex shop window. It was an explosion with a major BOOM!
When the characters first met, Sharon was holding in the secret that she was involved in the cover-up of J.T. Hellstrom's (Thad Luckinbill) death, while by-the-book detective Rey was investigating the crime and realizing that he was falling for Sharon -- all of which created a super steamy forbidden element. Sadly, the pair's fireworks began flickering out when Adam (Mark Grossman) came to town. But even with Sharon's troublemaking ex now out of the picture, it's been tough for Shey to recover. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? And not just light, but the same hot, neon sign kind of light that made Y&R viewers go, "Shey, what?!"
With Sharon and Rey on the brink of a possible reconciliation, Soap Central spoke with Jordi Vilasuso about what's on the horizon for the popular couple, what makes the pairing so special, and how he's been dealing with the intense interest from fans. Plus, he opens up about how his real-life wife of seven years, Katilin Riley, deals with all those super sexy Shey scenes. Hint: it's the same thing Vilasuso credits for his happy marriage.
Soap Central: I can't believe this is the first time I've spoken with you since you were playing Dario Hernandez on Days of our Lives! And now, here you are, causing trouble at The Young and the Restless! How are you liking the character of Rey? Is he a fun one to play?
Jordi Vilasuso: Oh, yeah, I love working here, and I love Rey. He is such a chivalrous character, and he's been through a lot of stuff already on the show. It's been a lot of fun. Everyone here has been just great. It's a great collaboration, great stories, and I'm having a great time.
Soap Central: It's fun to see you playing a detective. Do you pull inspiration from any fictional detectives that you try to bring into the role?
Vilasuso: Yeah, it's funny -- for whatever reason, when I started at Y&R, I began watching the first season of NYDP Blue. I had worked with [David] Caruso before, but I was just really interested in why this guy was such a big deal, and his work on the show is just amazing. I loved the conflict that he had to deal with, still trying to be by the book, but then there was that thing that he just couldn't make peace with, which was in a lot in a ways parallel to Rey's journey in terms of his relationship with Sharon and having to arrest her and really doing things by the book, being a man of character, but at the same time being in love with a woman who [was in trouble]. It was a predicament that I was interested in watching. But really, I get inspiration from everything. A lot of actors use this term, that they "steal from other actors," which I take more as being inspired by other performances and the tonality of those performances. I love playing a cop. I played cops before on other shows, but this was, of course, super interesting because I get to play a cop almost every day, and it's a lot of fun. When I was little, when we played make-believe, we played cops and robbers. So, this is like my dream! If I'm not going to play the cop, though, then I better get to play the robber!
Soap Central: Sometimes on soaps, the cops just come in for certain storylines, but it's cool that Rey has a whole life outside of just being cop, including a big romance! Did you have any idea that there was going to be so much chemistry between you and Sharon Case, or did that sneak up on you guys?
Vilasuso: [Laughs] Well, I give a lot of credit to Sharon for that, because she is just a consummate professional, and it was just easy. She was invested, as well. I remember her telling me to watch a show called The Killing that she was taking inspiration from, and I had never seen it, but it was a great show on AMC and on Netflix. But just working with her and seeing how invested she was after being on the show for 25 years. You never really know [how actors will be], but Sharon is fully invested in this show, so I do credit a lot of our chemistry to her, even though we kind of knew when I tested that it was all there. So, it's easy, and I'm really in that place where I like to dig in and I like to run lines and talk about scripts, and she's all for it. I think our work behind the scenes gives over to that.
Soap Central: What was The Killing about, and why did she suggest that you watch that for inspiration?
Vilasuso: I think it was because the characters had a lot going on that wasn't spoken about when they were actually doing detective work, and when Sharon and I were at the police station, we kind of shared this kind of Mulder and Scully thing from X-Files, this partnership. We do miss that, because we had a lot of fun in the police station. There was always something to play with, because here I was trying to figure out if this girl was shooting straight or if she was keeping something from me, and there was always that kind of undercurrent of, "Well, do I believe her or do I not? And God, she's pulling on my heartstrings." So, all of that stuff going on underneath was a lot to play with. It gave us a certain depth and a dynamic that we could play with and change up. Sharon actually has opened my eyes. There have been times when I would have trouble with something [in the script], and I'll tell Sharon, "I don't get this," and she's like, "Well, why don't you just play it like this," and I'm like, "Uh, thank you!" She'll just give me this little pearl, and I'll run with it. So, there's that, and when you have all that stuff going on, the work can kind of go below the surface, and you can dig in and find some stuff to play with that is interesting.
Soap Central: At the moment, they're playing with whether or not to get back together, and I know you can't say whether or not that will happen, but what are the chances that Sharon and Rey could make another go of it?
Vilasuso: You know, there's such an appeal for Rey with Sharon, and what happened with Adam, I mean, talk about Rey being chivalrous and being an understanding person! He tried to come from an understanding place in the beginning, and I think he realized that there is a history there. He is very forgiving. I mean, his wife cheated on him, and he has this history of being the better person. There is an attractiveness -- beyond physically attraction -- about who Sharon is as a person, what she's been through, how she has opened up to him, and that really captures him. So, there is definite hope that they will get back together and get into some trouble, hopefully.
Soap Central: What are your thoughts on breakups and makeups in real life? Do you ever think that giving a broken relationship a second chance is a good thing?
Vilasuso: I think if you're serious and there is marriage talk, and you guys are really digging in, then you need to have a therapist. I'm a huge believer in the idea that we don't have all the tools. For instance, in my marriage, the first year was probably the hardest, and that's when we got a therapist, and we've been with the same woman on and off for seven years. I think that is fundamental to keeping a marriage strong and alive, because you can only see so much, and the other person can only see so much, and it's really about understanding that if you both want to make it work, that's why you're in therapy, so you have to be like, "Hey, we're on the same team, how do we see this?" And I think couples need a coach. That has worked really well for my marriage, and I think it's true across the board. I'm a huge advocate of therapy for individuals, as well as couples... You're a human being at the end of the day, and especially if you have other things like children, you need to dig in before you're going to give up on somebody. That's where I stand with it.
Soap Central: It can be helpful to get outside perspective, and therapists are trained to ask the right questions to get you to ask the right questions of yourself.
Vilasuso: Yes, because you get caught up in your stuff. You get all emotional, and you have your pride and ego, all of that stuff, that comes into play. But you've got to strip all of that stuff away if you're going to make a marriage work. The craziest thing I've ever done in my life is to raise children with my wife in this career, which brings up all of these questions, like "How am I going to make this work?" with the consistency, the life of an artist. But the story that is written for us is so beautiful, and it wouldn't have been written if we hadn't gone through the shit. You have to go through that, and I think you get so much closer in your relationship. And you also get to actually understand yourself even better, and you ask, "Okay, what kind of person do I want to be, ultimately?" That's what has translated for me with therapy and being a father.
Soap Central: If Rey and Sharon sat down for a therapy session, what do you think Rey would want to talk about?
Vilasuso: I think that would be really interesting. Sharon is a psychologist now, and not only have I always found that interesting, but Rey is also into that, because there is a lot of psychology that takes place [in law enforcement]. Now with her doing it, it would be interesting for them to go to therapy together. There's a show called In Treatment that was on HBO, starring Gabriel Byrne as a therapist, and he had these meetings, and then you would see him go to his therapist and deal with his problems. Just because you're a therapist doesn't mean you have all the answers! I think it's interesting to see the therapist going through therapy with someone else and kind of sifting through, "Why am I not seeing this? What are my blind spots here?"
Soap Central: I think it would be hard to date a therapist, like Rey is with Sharon. They have a certain way of looking at things, and I think I'd feel like I'm on the couch all the time, you know what I mean?
Vilasuso: It's funny, I've never dated a therapist, so I don't know! A very good friend of mine is getting married to a therapist, and they seem great. It's crazy, though, because being a therapist, or a good therapist, you have to have this open-mindedness and the ability to think, "This is a human being with a history." There is a process to therapy, at least in my experience. It's the questions and the growing and if you figure something out, then what's the next step? "Okay, now I know this; oh, wait, I took two steps back, now I have to deal with that again." It's a journey, man. And for me in particular, if you want to get married and you want to make it work, then have a therapist on speed dial! That's my advice to people.
Soap Central: Sharon and Rey have received so much attention and love from fans -- have you ever experienced this amount of attention as part of a soap couple?
Vilasuso: Noooooo! You know how my thing was on DAYS; I was trying to strong-arm a girl into marrying me and falling in love with me, so that was never really going to work. But on this show, I'm with freaking Sharon Case! She's one of the stars of Y&R and has a huge following. And it's funny, because the character I played on Guiding Light [Tony Santos], there's a lot of rollover from those fans. I guess it's true that if you're a fan of a network, you stick with that network. I had a great character on Guiding Light, and there was a lot of love for that character, and a lot of that rolled over. But I have never been in the soap magazines' top five couples or on magazine covers. I had never been on a cover! I was like, "Why am I not on the covers?!" Not even when I was on All My Children [as Griffin Castillo]. And then, with this show, it was like, BOOM! I've gotten some covers, and it's like, holy cow! I've had friends texting me from the grocery store, and it's been really cool.
Soap Central: Yes, and it also sort of helps publicize the multicultural aspect of the relationship, which is cool to see.
Vilasuso: I'm so grateful that he's a Hispanic character. Y&R has a diverse cast, and that's a beautiful thing to be celebrated. I also really love working with Sasha Calle [Lola Rosales], and we're able to share that and bring some of the Hispanic flair into the show, which is a lot of fun. It's funny because when they're in a scene together, I'll see in the script, "Rey kisses her goodbye." I don't know if they write that kind of thing for the Abbotts or the Newmans [laughs], but it's so natural for us to always kiss and hug each other; we're very affectionate people, so I think that has bled into the storylines, as well.
Soap Central: How detailed are the directions in your script, actually? For example, if there's a really emotional scene, do they say, "And now you need to cry?"
Vilasuso: [Laughs] Yeah, they do! And what's really great is you'll have a director saying, "If you feel it, do it. But don't force it." And that's really cool. I think writers write [those kinds of directions] to give more of a direction emotionally. I don't think you have to emote anything. All of the actors here, you have to go through a process to get on this show, and I think when you're on this show, you show up, and you know your stuff, and thankfully for me, this is the fourth soap opera that I've been on, so I kind of know the territory. So, what I feel now in my career is that there is a certain freedom that I didn't necessarily understand when I was younger, when I was shooting from the hip. Now I'm more like, "Okay, what's going on here? How do I keep this exciting for myself?" And that's something that I'm always kind of looking for. Sometimes you'll try something, and it could be the opposite -- you could laugh instead of cry, and that could be what you felt was happening, and they're like, "That was great!" And sometimes you'll get caught up in the idea of it and think, "No, I'm supposed to cry here," and more often than not, it's the surprise that is the bigger payoff for both the actor and the audience, because you can't really fake that. They call that a happy accident. So, you're looking for that in terms of where you're getting in direction. But you do try to stay true [to the script] and you talk it over with your director and producers, and if they say, "Yeah, have at it," then you try what you can.
Soap Central: How important is the director in terms of you giving your best performance? For example, do certain directors do things that make you feel intimidated while others do things that make you feel more supported?
Vilasuso: The biggest hurdle on this show is time, and we're trying to get these 35 scenes into a seven-hour timetable. What I really appreciate specifically is if the directors have the time and come out of the booth and talk to me about the scenes. They don't usually have time, though, so they have to say it over the loudspeaker, which was new to me! But with this gig, time is of the essence, and I know what I'm doing, so it's not really that big of a deal. Today, I had Steven Williford, who was just brought onto the show as a director this year, but I've known Steven for so long. He has worked on every show with me since I was 19 years old! It's been close to 20 years that I've worked with Steven. He worked in theater in New York, he's done movies, and he speaks to me in a way that [I appreciate]. You're on a team, and you always have to remind yourself of that. They're not directing you because you're doing something wrong; they're directing you to make the collaboration better. It's not, "You did this wrong. You've got to be better." It's more like, "Let's massage this, let's find the subtlety and what's really going on here in the story." If you look at it that way, there's less of the "Oh, I'm so scared," or the "Don't tell me what to do."
Soap Central: There's a stigma against guys being emotional and crying, and I know that it's less and less so these days, but there is still an essence of it that prevails. Given that, do you ever feel embarrassed to be totally emotional and vulnerable and just let yourself go?
Vilasuso: No! I'm actually very emotional, and even just last night, we were talking about our children, and my wife and I just started tearing up. That's part of [being an actor]; we're supposed to be in touch in a certain way, and as an actor, you work on that so [emotions] are more accessible. I was listening to something the other day, and they were saying how important it is to express your feelings because, if not, you're not releasing stuff that your body needs to release, and if you keep it trapped, you're building stress and you're hurting yourself. You're building disease, almost. So, it's kind of like this idea of, "Let it go." As a young man, I did struggle with that. I had a hard time. I thought, "How am I going to make this work?" instead of trusting that it was all there and that I had those tools. And being vulnerable is what this work is about. You have to be open to discovering things and knowing that there is a net there if you fall, and you'll be fine. But for men, listen, I get it. We were brought up in a time when -- and it is less so now -- but a time when there was an idea of what male masculinity is or was, and there has been a profound shift in men these days. Especially when, listen, I live in L.A., and I'm surrounded by artists, so there is going to be a different thing going on over here.
Soap Central: What does your wife thinks about your ability to express yourself and be so open?
Vilasuso: She thinks I'm a crybaby! She's like, "You just love to go to movies and cry." [Laughs] And I'm like, "Yeah, I do! Sorry, but I enjoy it."
Soap Central: You mentioned crying over your two little girls because you love them so much, but on the other hand, are you just constantly surrounded by unicorns and glitter and Disney princess mayhem?
Vilasuso: Oh, the unicorns and the 'effing glitter are all over the house! Listen, I have a Dust Buster that, funny enough, I introduced my wife to. She's like, "What's a Dust Buster?" [Laughs] And I'm like, "It's this little portable vacuum. I had one growing up." So that gets used on the daily. And talking about emo, my house is just emotional basket cases. Every twenty minutes, there's [a breakdown]. It's so prevalent in my house, it's crazy. I'm like, "What the hell happened?!" [Laughs] So, yes, there's glitter everywhere, from the princess dresses to the glitter for crafts. I hate glitter and confetti. It gets everywhere. So, whenever they take out the craft box, I can feel the heat rising in my body. I'm like, "Okay, I need to just let this go. It's going to get cleaned. It's going to be all right."
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#wewillneverforget ...thank you for your words my love! #Repost @kaitlinvilasuso ・・・ We truly will #neverforget .. not one of us who experienced that day, from near or afar. Without a doubt, the exact moment that we learned about the attacks is forever etched in our mind and our hearts. I knew that. But until today, when Riley came home from school with this craft, I didn't realize that our little ones who were yet to be born will never forget either. We will teach them of the devastating loss, what it looked like when our country came together as one, and what true bravery looks like. Right now, this wind flag means 'something about celebrating heros' to Riley, but one day it will mean so much more, as it does to her momma. Right now, though, I will relish in the innocence and hold them extra tight tonight as I remember all that 9/11 was and is. (And speaking of innocent, how bout the cow Evie made at her school? My heart.) ❤️🇺🇸❤️ #wherewereyou
Soap Central: That's hilarious. Is it just the glitter that bothers you, or are you kind of a neat freak in general?
Vilasuso: Oh, I am a neat freak for sure! Because it's glitter, it's toys, it's the toys that are like, "Why do we still have these toys?" and it's the clothes. There are costume changes when they come home from school. I'm like, "Why do we have to get into five different outfits when you come home?! And if you're going to do that, just put the dress or the pants on the bed, just lay them on the bed -- you don't have to hang them up, but don't throw them on the floor!" I think the clutter is what drives me crazy, and I'm just like, "Uuuhhhhh." But part of our therapy has been me letting that go, so it's gotten easier.
Soap Central: You seem to really, really enjoy being a dad, so I'm guessing you're the type that embraces all the greatness as well as the glitter!
Vilasuso: Yeah, and actually, we just did a Facetime last night with my parents -- they're 3,000 miles away in Florida -- and I'm like, "Wow, it's kind of unfortunate that my kids don't get to spend a lot of time with their grandparents." We spent a lot of time as kids with my grandparents, but they don't have that. But what's interesting is that we are so invested in them as parents, and one of the luxuries of this job is I don't work every day, so I'm able to take [my oldest] to school and pick her up, and I get to hang out with them and do a lot of things that a lot of my friends who are 9-to-5ers, they can't do. I don't lose sight of that, and I don't take that for granted. It's such a privilege to have that. We're really invested in our girls... and we live in Los Angeles, we live in this entertainment business, so there are things that we're seeing now that we're like, "Well, we don't want them affected by that. So, how do we help kind of steer them in the right direction with all of that?"
Soap Central: How have you kind of steered them in terms of the entertainment industry? Would you encourage them to be actors?
Vilasuso: Well, my wife has a podcast called Just Between Us, it's her and her sister, and it's very easy, family-oriented and lifestyle-oriented, and we'll have the kids do an intro or meet someone, and sometimes we'll even do a family thing and we'll talk about something that is compelling to us. We don't know if it's interesting to the audience, but we're like, "This is cool to us!" So, there's that kind of creativity behind it. And the kids go on commercial auditions, too, so they have seen what this world is like. One of the reasons behind that is, for me, looking at this world, there was such an allure, and it was so far away, if that makes sense. It wasn't something that I grew up around, and I think when you grow up around it, it takes away the idea of it being on some kind of throne or pedestal. It's like, "No, this is just a business, it's not a big deal." And that makes it less precious to them, if that makes any sense. I wanted them to understand that it's not that big of a deal. You have people who are able to shine, but they have worked on that for a long time. So, my kids understand that. And listen, if my kids want to be scientists, then God bless them, be a scientist. So, I'm opening them up to everything.
We just dropped a new Ep of @justbetweeenus where @KaitlinVilasuso and I answer some of your questions and talk all things marriage, family life, #yr, and managing this cute chaos that's literally got me wrapped around their lil fingers. https://t.co/IGFdrhlHEs pic.twitter.com/PjbBMemuIb- Jordi Vilasuso (@JordiVilasuso) October 1, 2019
Soap Central: I listened to some of your wife's podcasts, and I was really intrigued by the fact that she opened up and admitted that she has a really tough time accepting your kissing scenes and your love scenes. So, how do you guys handle that?
Vilasuso: That has been a huge part of our process with therapy, accepting that the job is what it is. That was a huge process, whereas, before, I had a hard time empathizing with what she was going through. I've grown up doing this, I've been doing it since I was 19 years old, and I know that these scenes are so technical, and there's nothing that is, "Ooohhh, that is so hot!" There's nothing like that in these scenes. You're really just trying to tell that part of the story, and it is what it is. So, my wife and I have developed certain things that I have to do if [love scenes] are coming up. First of all, she has to be aware of it, and there's affection after work, there's calling her after it happens, and I think all of that stuff has helped the situation. And also, I haven't had a lot of those scenes lately! So, that has helped as well.
Soap Central: But something tells me more love scenes are coming!
Vilasuso: Yeah! But that has been huge for us in terms of therapy, really kind of figuring that out. She's acted before, so she knows what this is. But she says, "It's not necessarily that [I think] you're in love with Sharon or something is happening at work, it's more the fact that it's happening, and for whatever reason, it manifests itself as, 'Ugh, I hate it!'" I've never been on the other side of that, really, so I don't know what that is like, so I've had to really come from a place of like, "Well, she has certain things that I have to understand and empathize with." And through therapy and doing what I was supposed to do, we're able to massage the subject, and we don't really put much talk into it now. We're like, "It happened, we've moving on." But I think... the audience would be interested in understanding, "Well, what the hell is that like?!" So, the fact that she has talked about that has kind of opened up the discussion for other people and people who have just been curious about what that must be like.
What do you think about our interview with Y&R's Jordi Vilasuso? Are you hoping Sharon and Rey get back together? What are your thoughts on couples therapy -- yay or nay? How do you think you would feel if your significant other had to film love scenes? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.