It’s official: General Hospital star Jason Thompson is The Young and the Restless’ new Billy Abbott.
“I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with Jason again. He’s an exceptional actor and a wonderful human being,” said executive producer Jill Farren Phelps. “He will bring so much to the character and we’re thrilled to welcome him to The Young and Restless family.”
Thompson’s move to Y&R reunites him with Phelps, who gave the popular actor his start in daytime on GH in 2005.
Angelica McDaniel, head of CBS Daytime, had warm words about Thompson’s casting. “Jason Thompson is an incredibly gifted actor and we are thrilled to welcome him. Playing the pivotal role of Billy Abbott, Jason joins the talented cast of The Young and the Restless as the show celebrates an unprecedented 27 consecutive years as daytime’s No. 1 drama.”
Thompson shocked the soap world at the end of October when he announced he would be leaving General Hospital after a decade on the show. “I have made the difficult decision to bid farewell to a character I’ve loved playing for over 10 years. It was not an easy decision but I feel like it’s time to hang up Dr. Patrick Drake’s white coat and scrubs.”
Rumors of Jason Thompson jumping to The Young and the Restless when Burgess Jenkins, who’s played Billy Abbott since 2014, announced less than a week later that he was quitting the show, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. He is the third actor since Billy Miller (now General Hospital’s Jason Morgan) vacated the role at the end of 2013.
“There are a lot of guys who have played this character and one of them did it for a number of years, Billy [Miller, now GH’s Jason],” said Thompson in an interview with Soap Opera Digest, on sale next week. “I’ve become really friendly with Billy and we’ve had a couple conversations about it and he was nothing but gracious to me… It’s going to be hard to fill his shoes.”
EW reports Jason Thompson will air January 2016. Congrats on the new gig, Jason!
My Take: I think this is a major win across the board for Y&R and Thompson.
It was around this time 10 years ago when popular starlet made a big jump to a rival soap and never looked back – Laura Wright. Thompson leaving GH for Y&R is very much like Wright leaving Guiding Light for General Hospital. While popular as GL’s Cassie, taking on the iconic role of Carly instantly cemented her status as a leading lady and acting force. Patrick is a popular character but was never written as the leading character fans and critics know Thompson’s talent commands. By accepting the role of Billy, Thompson becomes the leading man we all know him to be, and fills a void desperately needed on the show since the departure of Billy Miller.
For those worried about him a miscast, try to ease your mind. The charm and swagger needed to effectively play Billy are just two of many, many tools Thompson comes with readily equipped. Hopefully Y&R takes the character in a different direction after senselessly plugging the prior two recasts into pre-configured slots. Might a return to Billy’s playboy days be just the thing needed to allow Thompson the opportunity to stretch his legs? Hopefully.
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