Soap Actors Come Clean on Character Names

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What do their character names mean to them?

Y&R's Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren), Don Diamont (Brad) and Peter Bergman (Jack) with headwriter, Lynn Marie LathamSoap opera writers pull out the stops when it comes to naming the characters.  [That's Young and the Restless former headwriter, Lynn Marie Latham, pictured at right with Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren), Don Diamont (Brad) and Peter Bergman (Jack)]. It’s rare you’ll find a Bob or a Sue living in a fictional soap opera town.  More likely you’ll encounter someone named Fancy, Nash, Thorne, Durant or Spike.

Imagine being the actors who must breathe life into their characters.  Does the character name inspire or deter them from doing the best they can with the role?

Some actors luck out!  Their characters share their own real names like Aiden Turner who played Aidan on All My Children, for example, or Austin Peck who played Austin on Days of our Lives.  But for almost everyone else, the name of the character could play a very important part in how they perceive that character, which in turn affects the way they portray it.

How do some of our most popular soap opera actors -- past and present -- feel about the names of the fictional people they played or play on the soaps?  Read on…

Justin Bruening (Jamie, AMC)

“It’s interesting. I never met a guy named Jamie before.  Now that he’s become a little older, we’re trying to change it to James because that’s his real name.  It’s James Edward Martin, his full name.  But Jamie kind of fits my character because he’s light-hearted and he’s kind of comedic and he’s very charming.  I’m not, he is. He can seduce some women.  He can, again, I can’t.  It fits my character very well.”

Marie Wilson (Meg, ATWT)Marie Wilson (Meg, ATWT)

“The big practical joke on the show was, before we were going to tape I was new on the show and everyone was telling who’s been on the show and who’s very successful right now and one of them was Meg Ryan and I didn’t know she was here.  They called action and I was supposed to say ‘Hi, I’m Meg Snyder,’ instead I said, ‘Hi, I’m Meg Ryan.’”

Linda Dano (Felicia, Another World; Gretel/Ray, OLTL, AMC, GH)

“Felicia always to me meant strength, friendship, tenacity, honesty, and unbelievable loyalty.  There was something about the name, about her, about the clothes, all of the outside elements went inside because inside she was Fannie O’Grady.  Gretel became Ray, but I’m not so sure why.  I think that was the problem in playing her.  I really didn’t know who she was, really.”

Darin Brooks (Max, DOOL)

“He’s just a wild child.  It’s a cool little name, a little more edgy than Darin Brooks.”

Michael Graziadei (Daniel, Y&R)

“I think it’s a good strong name.  It brings strength and integrity to my character.  I hope.”

John Ingle (Edward, GH)

“Obviously, it’s money centered.  Everything about him is money centered. Any member of the family who doesn’t contribute to the money is out of it as far as I’m concerned.”

Jacob Young (JR, AMC)

“Complicated. Savvy.”

Ty Treadway (Host, Soaptalk; Troy/Colin, OLTL)

“Colin meant evil doctor.  And, Troy meant, slightly more evil doctor. Colin for me always had an edge to him. I always tried to play Colin with a little more edge and not as much of a conscience.  And, Troy, it sounds like a guy who’s trying to do well.  He’s trying to be a good guy. The writers didn’t necessarily see it that way and that’s why I was always walking around with a syringe and kidnapping some body.  Not necessarily my fault.”

Tyler Christopher (Nikolas Cassadine, GH)

“The name, Nikolas Cassadine means nothing to me personally.”

Michael Park (Jack, ATWT)

“Jack Snyder means a long line of tradition in the Snyder family. It means kindness and warmth and unfortunately, he’s a little judgmental, I guess.”

Maura West (Carly, ATWT)

“When I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts I was born Maura Jo Snyder.  For me I cannot answer the Carla Tenney thing, but for me as Snyder, I was born a Snyder and when...


...I grew older I took my Mother’s maiden name, which is West.  And my Dad always said, ‘You see, you started a Snyder and you’re still a Snyder, now.’”

Bryton McClure (Devon, Y&R)Bryton McClure (Devon,Y&R)

“His name is Devon Hamilton.  His name means to me someone who has experienced more than any kid growing up should.  Being a foster child and going through what he went through as a kid, is very important to me. Not only his name, but what he stands for and what he’s gone through.  It’s a very important story line and I take a lot of pride in being able to try and portray it, to get the messages and feelings across that kids in his situation have gone through.”

Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC)

“Erica means hot stuff and look out!”  (She laughed a lot at her response!)

Renee Elise Goldsberry (Evangeline, OLTL)

“Evangeline has got to be the longest name ever.  It’s 4 or 5 syllables so it probably has a lot of meanings, but right in the center of it is angel, which I really love, and evangelical and all these words that very much describe this woman, who is larger than life.  The grace that she has and the strength and the vulnerability and how loving she is.  I kind of aspire to be as wonderful as Evangeline.  I love that Angel is right in the center of her name.”

Alec Musser (Del, AMC)

“There’s a nickname I have on the show, Delbert.  I don’t think that’s his real name. It sort of eludes me, actually. Del is not as dumb as people think he is.  He is a sharp guy and he’s not going to be left out in the cold.”

Matthew Ashford (Jack, DOOL)

“He’s got two names actually. His full name is actually Billy Jack Johnson Devereaux.  Jack Devereaux is his upscale name and the one with the money and the power and the form of prestige, but Billy Johnson is what he was born with and he’s kind of like a white trash, blue-collar kid. So, I think he always has this dual battle between who he really is and who he tries to be.  And he always has kind of a façade going on. When it came to be revealed that he had this secret past, that even he didn’t know about, that helped me to key in to his character.”

Paul Leyden (Simon, ATWT)

“A scamming, con-artist, brooding, prig!  But I don’t relate to the character in any way, take all that stuff off, but take prig off the end and that’s me!!!”

John Loprieno (Cord, OLTL)

“It literally means to me, a good time, family, being with family on One Life.  Whenever I hear...

...somebody say, “Hey Cord,” it’s always a big compliment to me. People have good memories.”

Adrian Bellini (Miguel, Passions)Adrian Bellini (Miguel, Passions)

“It’s a Hispanic name and me being Hispanic I really try and bring a Latin spice to the role.”

Alexa Havins (Babe, AMC)

“The name Babe means to me; feisty, strong, independent! She’s now a woman and I can say that.  At first you hear the name Babe and kind of a negative thought comes to mind, but in real life it’s actually my mother’s nickname for me.  She calls me Babe. To me it’s a term of endearment, too. It’s Crystal’s term of endearment for Babe, too. (As for the character), her real name is Babe, and I thought this is a lot of pressure, you gotta be a Babe! My Mom still calls me that and says, ‘Hey Babe,’ not as in Babe the show, but real life.”   

Judi Evans (Adrienne/Bonnie, DOOL; Paulina, AW)

“I think Bon-bon says it all.  And sweet to eat!”

Michelle Ray Smith (Ava, GL)

“When I heard the name Ava, I thought, she’s strong.  It reminds me of Ava Gardener, beautiful and strong and sexy and feminine, but with a real backbone.”

Julie Berman (LuLu, GH)

“It would be someone who never gives up. Someone who’s persistent and strong-willed.”

Ron Raines (Alan, GL)

“One word.  Alan Spaulding means one thing, money!  And, dysfunctional!”

Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R)

“Family, determination, and lust.”

Forbes March (Nash, OLTL)

“I don’t know what it means, but it gave me the whole inspiration for this kind of --  (he kind of shuffles off to Buffalo) – as soon as I heard that I just kind of had that view for how this guy was gonna move.  Come on, you got a name like Nash!”  

Robert Newman, (Josh, GL)

“Joshua seems like a very solid, strong, dependable kind...

....of person.  And that’s kind of the way I see him.”

Vincent Irizarry (David, AMC)Vincent Irizarry (David, AMC)

“He’s a go-getter. He likes to define his own rules.   The end justifies the means.  He’ll go to the death defending people he loves and cares about.”

Robin Strasser ((Dorian, OLTL)

“Now, that I’ve been playing the part on and off for 27 years it means that maybe there’s a portrait in the closet , but I hope it never gets discovered.”

Jerry Ver Dorn (Clint, OLTL)

“It means a lot because I remember seeing the original Clint a long time ago and I knew he was part of the Buchanan family, one of the tent pole families on the show.  Both names Clint and Buchanan mean a lot to me, because it’s history.”

Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor, Y&R)

“Katherine Chancellor represents power. What I love about it is that the name has become a brand name.  And that’s why I like it so much. I’ve done it for so long, they don’t call me Jeanne or Miss Cooper.  It’s fine because I know who they’re talking about.”

Joe Mascolo (Massimo, B&B)

“It means 13 letters. And that’s lucky, because my name has 13 letters.  The character I played on Days had 13 letters.  And when I came on this show, Brad Bell invented the name and he created the role with me in mind, so I said, ‘Let’s get 13 letters in there.’ And he came up with Massimo and I came up with Marone.  I said, ‘Okay now we got it, 13 letters.’”

Kate Linder (Esther, Y&R)

“The character’s name is very interesting because in the very beginning I didn’t have a name.  One day as we were rehearsing, Jeanne called me Esther.  I fortunately responded.  Some of the other characters/actors started calling me that and then the writers started writing it and so I became Esther, but I didn’t have a last name.  We had a national contest for the last name and Bill Bell went through all the entries and came to me and said, ‘You’ve got 2 choices.’ It was Valentine or Diamond.  And, I thought that Valentine just fit her better.  I was married on Valentine’s Day and I thought it would bring me good luck. And, it most certainly did because here we are 24 years later.”

Eric Martsolf (Ethan, Passioins)Eric Martsolf (Ethan, Passions)

“Ethan Winthrop is to me, my bread and butter. Without Ethan I can’t support my twins or my family so he’s one of the most important people in the world to me right now.  It’s more of what the position and the character stands for in my life, that’s the significance of it.”

Dylan Fergus (Noah, Passions)

“Noah being such a biblical name, what does it mean that Noah is basically the one who saved this and how do you kind of play with that in reference to what’s going on.  Noah has a tendency to stumble and save people.  I think his name is very apropos for what’s going on. The name gives the character a little more righteousness.  I think Noah is the kind of a character that is really trying to do the right thing.  And really is trying to find a sense of honor and truth and all those big wonderful things that you can really only deal with in soap operas.  My name was originally Ned. When we met Noah Bennett on the show his name was Ned.  No offense against anyone named Ned, but I like Noah a little better.”

Amelia Heinle (Victoria, Y&R)

“Victoria, I think it means victorious. She tries to be victorious with everything that she does and being number one at everything that she does.  And, I like how the family is Victor, Victoria, Nikki and Nicholas.  It cracks me up. I know a family that did that with their kids, it’s just an extension of the love, I guess.”

Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R)

“I think he’s a Kevin, meaning that the name fits him well.  Not that I know any grandiose significance about the name. I find the name fitting. And it’s made for some nice nicknames on set.  A lot of people call me fish...

....stick because they think it goes nicely with my character’s name. It’s a fun little nickname.  I’m not much of a meat eater, no carnivore.  I eat a lot of fish. So, maybe that’s where it comes from.”

Windsor Harmon (Thorne, B&B)

“He’s always in somebody’s side.”

Ronn Moss (Ridge, B&B)Ronn Moss (Ridge, B&B)

“Just other than being the archetypical name for a show like this, it’s actually a name from our producer’s neighbor. They grew up in Chicago and one of their next door neighbors had a son named Ridge, so I was named after him. I met him a couple of times, actually.”

Lorenzo Lamas (Hector, B&B)

“Hector’s kind of a strong name.  I saw that movie ‘Troy.’ He was really good in it.  I like that name now.  I believe that in the Iliad he was a warrior of unmatchable strength and cunning. I like the fact that it’s not common.”

Hunter Tylo (Taylor, B&B)

“I always thought it was a play on words.  Being a dress designer’s wife and her name is Tay – lor!  I kind of thought that was the joke.”

Ashley Jones (Bridget, B&B)

“She was kind of the moral compass of the show for a while.  In a way it means innocence, however, now she’s coming of age and she’s made so many mistakes and she’s trying so hard to do what’s right and follow her heart, but she’s constantly falling in the mud. I think it’s a very strong name and it’s an empowering name.”

Kamar de los Reyes (Antonio, OLTL)

“Antonio is a very common Latino name.  I have got nephews and cousins that are named Antonio.  The character is very close to my heart. I originated that character and I helped create that character.  Whether the powers that be admit it or not.  I guess that’s about it. I relate to him very closely.  I relate to his passion and his loyalty and yeah he’s very close to my heart.

Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth, GH)Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth, GH)
On the evolution from Liz to Elizabeth

“Well, her sister used to call her Lizzie, but Lucky has always called her Elizabeth. That’s something from when Jonathan Jackson was on the show, always, always called her Elizabeth and we kept that a tradition with every Lucky that’s been on the show.  But you know my grandmother called her Liz and to most people, it’s Liz.

What do you relate to more?

“Elizabeth.  I think just because it’s what’s Lucky calls her. It’s definitely a more mature name.  Lizzie is when she was being a little punk.”

Galen Gering (Luis, Passions)

“A lot of times we have one stage manager who inadvertently will call me Louise.  I don’t know, he has some sort of speech impediment.  So that happens a lot, so I think of that.  Obviously Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald is a pretty funny name in and of it self. In fact, Entertainment Weekly voted it worst name in daytime.  So yeah I guess it conjures up a few things.  You know when I think of it, I think of a lot of great years with a lot of great people.  That’s kind of the bottom line and since I’ve had some time off it’s more pleasant you know?”  

Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus, GL)

“There’s a huge part of me that’s Gus all week long, for hours on end.  When they call us on the speakers at work they use our character names.  If someone screamed Gus, I’d probably look over my shoulder as quickly as I’d look over my shoulder for Ricky.  It’s like a nickname.  To me it kind of means a little sloppy.  It means a little bit bigger picture when it comes to anything -- the way he dresses, the way he shaves, the way that he tries to creep around the law, use the law to benefit something that’s more important.  Let me put it this way.  If he was to come to play Wheel of Fortune, he’d probably steal the money from the rich Wheel of Fortune people and give it to the needy people.”  

Corbin Bernsen (Durant, GH)

“I like that – Durant.  It’s strong, like a tractor. I’m a steel wall baby; you’re lucky if you’re still standing.”

Michael E. Knight (Tad, AMC)

“The name Tad always reminded me of some kind of snack cracker.  Onion dip with tads anyone?”

Antonio Sabato, Jr. (Dante, B&B)

“Dante -- It’s a very popular name in Italy. We all know about it. We picked it together – myself and the producers. We like it.   They asked me about the names and I liked it right away.  Dante is very much an Italian name. It’s strong and short enough that you’ll remember very quickly. I like it.”