Friday, December 12, 2008

Interview Y&R: Eric Braeden Is Righting Wrongs

Eric Braeden has played the debonair billionaire Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless for nearly three decades. Now he also has taken on the role of executive producer and star of the feature film The Man Who Came Back, which was released on DVD this past Tuesday.

In the movie, Eric plays Reese Paxton, a Civil War hero who returns to the South after the war, only to discover that grave injustices are still happening toward the recently released slaves. His compassion for the ex-slaves leads to devastation in his family life.

Eric tells me: “When I first read the story, I liked it. What I liked was the revenge part of it. That is what attracted me to the story in the first place, but I wanted to give it some historical context. I wanted to deal with the race relations of that period and the relationship between plantation owners and those who worked for them. Then we found out about a labor strike in the South in 1887, and we went from there.”

Eric can personally relate to Reese on many levels. He confesses: “Personally, I have a deep-seated anger for someone who uses his power arbitrarily. When I see injustices committed, I just get angry. I have an innate feeling against bullies. I’ll fight them. I want to right those wrongs. And that stems from my childhood: I got into a lot of fights as a kid. My father died early on, so my upbringing was rough in that way. And we had teachers who came back from the Second World War, and they had dark eyes.

“So, you know, Reese was wizened by his experiences in the war. He had seen too much killing. He worked behind the scenes as an assassin, and he had seen too much of it. There are two ways to come out of an experience like that: You become worse, or you become better.”

Working on such a powerful story was bound to grab the attention of first-rate actors, and Eric considers himself lucky for the company he got to keep on this film. “It attracted a lot of good actors who were wonderful. They did me an enormous favor by working with me, from George Kennedy to Billy Zane, Armand Assante, Sean Young, Carol Alt and James Patrick Stuart. I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoyed doing this film.”

As executive producer, Eric had the final say in casting, music, editing — everything. “And I would do this again only under those circumstances,” Eric explains. “I’ve been in the business too long, and one knows too much about it. And I don’t want to be told by the people anymore, you know?

“But I love the whole process, and the people were so kind and so generous, the people I worked with down in Texas. I was impressed by the hospitality there. It was a labor of love, really. The director worked his ass off. A lot of passion went into this film. I’ve enormous respect for filmmakers. The whole post-production part was just as tough, from editing to sound design, music — just everything.”

So, when you rent or buy this movie, Eric has only one request: “I just want you to be entertained. Be entertained and maybe have some thoughts afterward. I want whoever sees this to be emotionally involved and moved. If they learn something, fine, but I want them to be moved.”


dixie said...

The movie "The Man who came Back" starring Eric Braeden is terrible. Poorly acted by ALL. Would have been a great story and was, but the acting was trerrible and they should have left out the sex. Didn't enjoy watching the nudity and all the sex. This one will go in trash, as I don't want my kids to watch. We are a mixed race family had had hoped this would be one we would let them see and learn. Glad we watched it first.

Anonymous said...

Eric's acting wasn't any worse (or better) than on YR.I thought everyone else did great, especially George Kennedy and Billy Zane. The sex and nudity is mentioned in the rating, so I wasn't surprised by it. I can see not wanting to show it to children, but I found it to be entertaining for what it was.