Thad Luckinbill played teenage bad boy turned nice guy detective J.T. Hellstrom on “The Young & the Restless” for eleven years. J.T.’s relationship with the teenage Colleen, played by Lyndsy Fonseca was one of the show’s most popular love stories. Fonseca left the show in 2005, going on to a longterm role on “Desperate Housewives,” and roles in films like “Kick-Ass” before starring on “Nikita” as the rookie Division agent Alex. Thursday night, Luckinbill joins the cast of “Nikita” in the recurring role Nathan, Alex’s new love interest. Luckinbill reveals why he opted to leave Y&R, what it’s like recreating the Joleen chemistry on a new show, and why the new and improved “Nikita” is must watch television.
Tell me about the character that you are playing on “Nikita,” Nathan.
He’s a nice guy who [Alex] meets right away. There’s definitely some intrigue on both sides. You know he’s trying to figure her out and they’re interested in each other. Nathan’s a nice, normal guy. He’s an average dude with a cool job.
What’s his job?
He’s a DJ.
This is a reunion for you and Lyndsy Fonseca, or as soap fans think of you, the original J.T. and Colleen. Did the producers of “Nikita” know that you worked together before? Did Lyndsy help you get the role?
My understanding is that it went down to the wire with me and a couple of people and then I kind of filled in the producers on it. There may have been a little knowledge right at the end, maybe Lyndsy told somebody, but I’m not sure. We definitely filled them in when we got there. It was funny for everybody to hear the story.
What is it like working together again after so many years, especially now that she’s an adult?
It’s great. You remember what it was like for us, how great that went, so we picked up like time had not passed. It is really fun to work with her now. She’s got this great character. She’s older.
Alex is pretty much the exact opposite of Colleen. She’s so tough and has had a terrible life so far. Is Nathan going to bring out her softer side?
I think he will. There’s a friendship you see in the first episode that really blossoms, definitely with the possibility of more. The tough Division chick is out in this new world and it’s all new to her. There’s almost a little bit of naivete in the way she’s first introduced to the world, and the way she’s perceived in it. That’s fun to watch because it’s a little similar to Colleen. Alex is a really well written, fun character.
You were with Y&R for eleven years. A lot of talented young actors do three years and then leave at the end of their contract. Why did you stay so long?
I stayed so long, first of all, because I got the job when I was 22. I was a kid. I started off as a recurring character. I did two pilots while I was a recurring character then I signed one contract and I still had a pilot out, so I was still able to go out and do pilots and nighttime work. They let me out. It was hard for me [to leave] because I had so many friends there. I was still able to do all this nighttime work so for me, I just enjoyed it. To be perfectly honest, I’m not the kind of guy who cares about the “right” way to do things versus the wrong way to do things. I just go with what feels right and I was happy there. It was a great situation for me. The second part of that answer is that throughout my tenure there I wasn’t so heavy with storyline that I was overworked.
Why did you choose to leave last fall?
My contract was up. I booked this movie that I wanted to do. Honestly, the story was pretty dried up at that point. Had they [been writing more for] the character, I might not have left. Then it may have been a better situation to stay. I don’t know. It just all came together at once.
See Luckinbill In Thursday’s Episode:
Given that everyone on “Nikita” has secrets, does Nathan have a hidden agenda?
There’s a scene in the next episode with Michael and Alex and Nathan. He doesn’t know what’s going on. I think that’s kind of the fun part, the mystery of who Alex is. But there’s a really awkward scene between them. I think Nathan, even if he doesn’t learn everything, he learns a lot. That’s the fun part about this relationship is him trying to figure her out. He’s really interested in her but he doesn’t know who she is.
Do you know how many episodes Nathan is going to be on?
Hopefully a long time. Who knows?
Has he crossed paths with Nikita [Maggie Q] yet?
I just shot a scene with Nikita which was really fun.
Are you going to get to do any fight sequences?
There’s a possibility. I can just say that. There’s a possibility there’s going to be a little bit of action. I can’t say it’s going to be huge, but maybe.
The big news about “Nikita” is that the second half of the season is going to be a little bit of a reboot. How will the show change?
It seems to really move now. There’s a lot going on with each character so it really feels like it flies. It’s always been a pretty show and it’s still a beautiful show. The way they light and shoot it is just gorgeous. The other thing you’re going to see is relationships.
You are one of several daytime actors who has recently booked a major primetime gig. Do you think producers and casting directors are finally realizing that daytime actors will work hard and show up with all their lines memorized?
Yes. I tell you, I had a huge compliment from a CBS exec when I was doing my last pilot. She came up and said that she loved daytime actors because they’re always so prepared. It’s true. It’s the nature of the beast. You have to memorize thirty pages a day and you don’t have multiple takes. Everybody has to get it out together in one or two takes. That’s a lot of pressure so when you hire that group it’s almost like being thrown in a war zone every day. You’re battle ready so it’s fun. Honestly, it feels light moving on into primetime. It’s a longer time commitment per day but it’s a lighter amount of work, so it is a little easier to tackle.