'Young and the Restless' Actor Peter Bergman, 'The Bold and the Beautiful' Actor John McCook Talk Soap Star Sustainability Amid Emmy Nominations (Exclusive)

The highly anticipated Daytime Emmy Awards will air on Friday, June 24, and soap legends Peter Bergman of The Young and the Restlessand John McCook of The Bold and the Beautifulare battling it out in the same category: Best Lead Actor. Bergman, who has starred as Jack Abbott on the soap since 1999, is not new to the category, having won the coveted award three times in 1991, 1992, and 2002. This year marks Bergman's 23rd Daytime Emmy nomination, making him the most nominated of any performer in Daytime Emmy history. McCook has also had a grand year. In addition to the Emmy nomination, he celebrated his 35th anniversary of playing the show patriarch, Eric Forrester, on March 23 – which is the same date that the show celebrated 35 years of broadcast on CBS. Like his competitor, he also had a stint on The Young and the Restless as Lance Prentiss prior to making the switch. 

Ahead of the award show airing Friday evening, PopCulture.com spoke with the two men about their friendly competition. They discussed what goes into making a daytime soap, their love for the genre, and sustainability. Watch the full interview above and read the interview below.

PC: Congratulations on your nominations for Best Lead Actor. Now as an icebreaker, and to have some fun this morning, out of the two of you, who's taking home the prize?

JM: I am going to win this year and Peter knows it.

PB: Yeah. If I'm going to lose to somebody, I want to lose to John McCook.

So you guys have been in the business for so long. Congratulations on all of your success – John, you for 35 years on The Bold and the Beautiful – Peter, you for 33 years on The Young and the Restless. I used to watch those shows with my cousins and my aunts, and you guys are still standing. Despite the competition within daytime television with talk shows, game shows, and obviously the rise of other genres like reality television, what do you guys think makes soap operas continue to dominate and stand the test of time?

PB: Well, I think what holds it together is the conversations that you and your cousins and your aunts have after watching the show. And everybody loves to do that – talk about what they saw and what they'd like and what they didn't like. And that's been going on for 50 years on our show, 49 years right now, and 35 years from the very first episode John McCook was on there. And everybody's been talking about him for 35 years. 

JM: And it is the fun, that people get to gossip about these characters and be angry with them or be happy for them. And it goes back to 15-minute radio shows before television even existed. And then the shows in New York and all of it. And the blessing for us is that CBS as a network has had the respect for daytime to keep both of our shows on the air, and investing in us and keeping us there. And for them to put the Emmys on this year, and to put us back on after the years we've been off the air is really nice. It means a lot to all of us.

What really goes into making a daytime soap? Because from what I've heard, it is probably like the most difficult acting job. Scripts can change, and lines and dialogue can change basically daily. So can you guys give us a bit of your process, what methods do you use to prepare, and things of that nature?

PB: I think everyone on all of these shows has a slightly different method. My method is to, if I'm pulling into the parking lot, there's a balcony out there, I'm pulling into the parking lot and somebody shouts, "Peter, we're up to you right now, get in here" – I'm ready to go. I'm prepared. I work with people who literally read the script for the first time that morning and then come out and do great work. Everybody is slightly different and we all have to respect how each other works. But you're right, it is more difficult work than most people understand.

JM: And actually, it's interesting that people think that it's the hardest job in show business. It's not the hardest job, but it is different. And a good actor, who's a good actor on stage or a good actor in the movies, would be a good actor in daytime. You have to get used to doing it and you have to understand how we're going to do it today. And it is different, and you're right there's not a lot of preparation. Sometimes you walk in and say, "You're on in 15 minutes" and you haven't been made up yet, you don't have your wardrobe on. And in my case, I sometimes haven't prepared as well as Peter does and I just go, "Holy cow" you know? "I got to get it going." And it's wonderful to get the nerves going every day. It's great. It's really cool.

Now your characters are obviously drama-filled. So can you guys tease any major plot twist coming up with your characters? Whatever you can give the fans to look forward to without giving too much information?

JM: Well, I can't give too much away because I don't know very much. I do know that Eric and Quinn have turned the page on what they've had over the last few years. And Eric is moving on with Donna, Donna Logan. That's all I know. How long are they going to be together? How successful? I don't know. Is she going to move in with me? I hope so, but I don't know. So there you are.

PB: For me, Diane, Susan Walters is back on the show. It's created all kinds of problems for just about everybody in town, and happily, John and I are both the heads of a family and as a head of the family, everyone in the family has their own storylines and it somehow affects us. So we're very grateful for that.

And overall, what's your favorite part about working on a daytime soap?

JM: I like the consistency. I like that I'm getting to go to the same dressing room for the last 35 years. I like that it's comfortable there and that I have enough room for people to come in and sit and rehearse, so we can rehearse in my room. It's big enough for five or six people in a scene, and it's comfortable and all my stuff is around. So I don't feel like I'm going to work, I feel like I'm going from this home to that one, and then coming back here. So, that's what I love about it.


PB: I would say my favorite part is getting to do truly dramatic work, a complex, interesting story. 33 years after I first got here. It's pretty cool that I've gotten to do it time and again. That they continue to trust me and lean on me. And that's a nice thing as an actor.

JM: And they continue to nominate you too, for all that work. So, this is why he has so many nominations is because he's so good at it. Not just because he's had a good story, but because he's able to execute in a really accomplished way. So, that's pretty cool. That's great.