For nearly five years, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Bryton James has played one half of the wildly popular supercouple Devon and Hilary. So it wasn’t surprising that the Emmy winner had mixed emotions when his co-star, Mishael Morgan, pulled him aside to tell him that she was leaving the show. “It was sad, not only because we work together so well, but she’s become a personal friend,” James shared with Soaps In Depth. “But I understand. It was just a time of her life when she had a plan and was prepared to move on. She wanted to do other things, go after different projects in her life. We were both wondering what would happen, if the show would recast, or how the storyline would go.”
As everyone now knows, the character died tragically as a result of a car accident that occurred while she was fighting with her longtime nemesis, Lily. James admitted that the last week was difficult. “It was so emotional shooting those scenes,” he reflected quietly. “What everyone saw on screen was very real, because we all love Mishael. It’s been nothing but joy in the last five years to share the screen with her, to build this couple that the show created and people have responded to... When we were coming down to her last day, it was like, ‘Now we only have three days left… now two… now this is the last one.’ The very last scenes we filmed together, we would just hug each other in between takes.”
James confessed that in real life, he’s not the kind of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. “It’s hard for me to get too emotional in real life, but doing those scenes in the hospital, it wasn’t difficult to tap into those feelings, because it really was the last time that we were going to share the stage together — at least on this show,” he confided. “So it all became very real. You have two people who really do care about each other. Mishael and I developed a great relationship outside of work. When she first got here, her husband was back in Canada and I had just moved up to L.A. We would spend literally every single day after work together. She has become one of my closest friends and one of the most special people that I have ever met. It made it easy to bring that emotion across.”
Given the enormous fan base that the Devon/Hilary pairing has generated, is James nervous about what might happen with his alter ego post-Hilary? “Nervousness is the wrong word — but there is a sadness that their story won’t continue,” he allowed. “I honestly can tell you that I don’t know where my character would be right now without Mishael coming on and the fans responding the way that they have... It’s been an amazing thing.”
That said, James is confident that life will go on for Devon. “I have been on the show for 14, going on 15 years, and my character has survived quite a bit,” the actor said with a laugh. “I’m excited for the challenge of what’s ahead.” Still, fans can breathe a sigh of relief that Devon won’t be moving on too quickly. “It doesn’t look like Devon is going to get over Hilary’s death anytime soon,” James admitted. “He needs to grieve, but people deal with these things in different ways. There are times when it looks like people have moved on, but it’s a coping mechanism.”
For his part, James is open to playing a slightly different Devon. “He has always had a quick temper and a chip-on-his-shoulder attitude, but over the years, I’ve probably developed the character to be more like myself, which is easygoing,” he reflected. “But this is a big thing that’s happening in his life. It would be fun to change him, to have him approach situations more aggressively, show a darker side. I trust the writers. I hope fans will continue to watch and see where the show takes us all in the future. And I’m just so grateful for this amazing ride that I’ve been on for the last five years!”
For more on your favorite Y&R stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine!