Soaps are known to bring back familiar faces for big weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings — like Thanksgiving! But Michael Graziadei, who returns to The Young and the Restless today, isn’t just coming back for turkey and a slice of pie. The actor, who first joined the show in 2004, is making his stay a more permanent one.
During his eight-year-run in Genoa City, Daniel worked as a photographer, got caught surfing the web for porn at work (oops!), and had brief marriages to both Lily Winters (Christel Khalil) and Amber Moore (Adrienne Frantz). Perhaps “Graz” (as he’s affectionately known by cast and crew) is most remembered for the storyline in which Daniel played an indirect role in the death of beloved Cassie Newman (Camryn Grimes).
Originally, it was believed that an inebriated Daniel was behind the wheel of the car crash that claimed Cassie’s life. However, Christine Williams (Lauralee Bell) convincingly argued in court that Daniel was passed out in the backseat and that Cassie was behind the wheel even though the young teen didn’t even have a learner’s permit.
Check out TV Insider’s “welcome back to soaps” chat with Graziadei.
How did your return come about?
Michael Graziadei: Bryton [James, who plays Devon Hamilton] had a huge hand in this. He and Christel came over to visit the boys. While they were there, Bryton asked if I’d ever come back to the show. I figured they would have asked if they wanted me, but Bryton said he was going to make this happen. The next thing I knew, the show was calling my manager. I was very grateful and humbled and honored that I’d apparently created so much good will during my time there.
Will we see Daniel’s daughter Lucy?
I don’t know if I can say.
We’ll stay tuned.
I can say that I’ll be seeing [TV parents] Michael [Damian, Danny Romalotti] and Michelle [Stafford, Phyllis Summers].
What did you learn as a young actor working with those two?
Everything. They were gracious and kind enough to welcome me with open arms. This was my first big job in L.A. I’d done some co-stars and guest stars. Then, this ended up happening. It was the best place I could have landed. It was trial by fire. I remember coming in and having to reshoot scenes they did with another actor [who’d been cast in the role]. I was almost in tears because I had about 50 pages of dialogue in one day. I made it through. It made me stronger.
You are indeed “Daniel III.” But I recall people raving that you were handling a colossal amount of work like a pro from the beginning.
Thank you. I do take my job quite seriously. I get paid to do that and make everyone else’s job easier. The crew is here hours before us and they leave hours after we do. All I have to do is learn lines and say them.
Daniel has lots of relationships in Genoa City he can revisit.
[Laughs] I’m being reminded of that on a regular basis.
There was Lily … and also Amber Moore although she’s not on the canvas right now.
You’d drop by in the past for weddings and celebrations for actors hitting milestone anniversaries.
Those were always great. One time, I was in the middle of filming another show, hence the incredible facial hair [I was sporting]. It’s nice to be remembered and be thought of fondly. My feeling has always been of course, if I’m available, I’d love to drop by. This is like my family. I was so young when I booked this. I spent eight and a half years here. It became like family. We’ve remained friends. It feels like I’m picking up right where I left off.
You have worked regularly since — and even before — leaving Y&R. There was one especially impressive role you took on in 2008: Steven Fitzgerald on Criminal Minds. He was a serial killer who assumed the personalities of the people he was killing. It was fascinating and, of course, also, terrifying.
Yeah, he affected their accents and all that kind of stuff. He tried to live in their skins.
Why did you leave Y&R in 2013?
I think, at the time, it just felt right to take a break. It’s not that I was unhappy [at Y&R]. I wanted to try and pursue every opportunity that was presented to me. I know from when I was working here before you can get caught up in what’s going on … they can say you have “outs” but you don’t know if you’ll [actually] get out [if your story is heavy]. It was time to step back from Daniel for a moment and go and explore other characters, which has been immensely gratifying.
What was your role on The Lincoln Lawyer?
Jeff Golantz. He was the adversarial prosecuting attorney for the major case in the first season. I had a great experience. It was nice to go onto a show that already has a following because of the books. Michael Connelly [who authored the books upon which the series is based] is a phenomenal writer. Manuel [Garcia-Rulfo, who plays Mickey Haller] was so much fun to work with … everyone was. I had never worked with Becki Newton [who plays Lorna] before, but I’d met her because I’d worked with her husband Chris [Diamantopoulos] on Good Girls Revolt. That show was fun. It’s a whole different beast with all the legalese. Talk about making an actor’s head explode!
The Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS