Miles Gaston Villanueva plays the role of wealthy Luca Santori on CBS Daytime’s “The Young and the Restless.” After already making a splash on the show in 2013 as Father Martin, the actor returned in a new role this year. Luca definitely is strong-willed, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants…even if that someone is his wife, Marisa (Sofia Pernas). We spoke with Gaston Villanueva about working alongside Pernas, Robert Adamson, and Eric Braeden. Take a look at the interview below:
NaVell J. Lee: When you first came on the show as Luca Santori, I felt that the character smelled of money. I said, “Oh, man…he has GOT to be a rich dude!”
Miles Gaston Villanueva: (laughs) What can I say? It was the creme suit!
NJL: He just walked in like a boss! I liked that!
MGV: I’m glad you are enjoying that sophisticated, wealthy air about him.
NJL: We need that everyone. The fact we have that here on “Y&R” is pretty cool. You don’t see many characters that are like that.
MGV: I think some people have told me that it’s great to be a character on a soap opera that comes from wealth. It offers so many options. There are many places you can go with that. You can buy stuff, and make moves financially. So, it’s interesting. Of course, with the continuation of storylines, anything can happen. Who knows what’s in store for Luca Santori.
NJL: When you first came on the scene, the first words we heard from Luca was, “Hello, Marisa,” played by Sofia Pernas, who is absolutely lovely and gorgeous. You have great scene partners on the show. What is it like working with both Pernas and Robert Adamson?
MGV: You know, I have been asked that question a couple of times, and it’s a good one. I’m grateful to them for being so prepped, prepared, and present. Robert is so seasoned in this TV/soap opera work, that the words are his every time we are on set. I come from a theatre background, mostly. So, I have been very particular on wanting things to be word for word. I have learned from other actors, especially Robert, to just move and be your own. If there’s a little extra here or there, and not exact, that’s OK. As long as it’s alive and in your voice, it’s OK. It’s so great how alive his work is. Also, with taping and interpretation, he forces me to not do something rehearsed. It’s easy to fall into that trap, and I am grateful to him for that. As you said with Sofia, she is so gorgeous and talented. It’s so easy to work off of her. It’s a fun triangle to be a part of right now.
NJL: This is not your first go-around with “Y&R.” We all remembered who you were back in 2013 as Father Martin for those several episodes. It was interesting due to the nature of the story at the time. How did it come into play that you were able to come back as a new character?
MGV: I would say that is because of the generosity of the “Y&R” bosses. I was on before in that first role, and as far as I heard, they remembered me. They were looking for an actor to portray this wealthy man from Spain, and said, “What about the guy who played the priest?” I was brought in, met some of the people, and I read with Sofia. Soon, they gave me the call. That is the very trimmed version of what happened. I just attribute it to the folks who are running the show, and being so on-board on bringing me on with all this confidence in me to play this juicy role.
NJL: Is there anyone on the show that you haven’t worked with yet that you would love to?
MGV: I won’t spill, but I am getting little pockets of work with other actors. Maybe it’s short, or maybe longer, but it’s great that I am making my rounds. I mean, there are so many I would love to work with…Amelia (Heinle), Gina (Tognoni), Christian LeBlanc, Eileen (Davidson)…just so many people! I watch their work on screen, and they are incredible. Their interpretations are so strong, and their presence are so open. I can see that they are having a blast working when I watch them. You crave wanting to work with these people. They are also very dynamic, and it can be hard. You have gotten scripts not too long ago, and they live them and go for it! I just can’t say one person, because there are so many!
NJL: Look, you are able to hold your own with Eric Braeden, so I give you many props for that. He is one of my favorites to watch, and he intimidates ME! The fact that Luca Santori can stand his ground with Victor Newman, that’s huge. So, I commend you for that.
MGV: Thank you! Listen, I am not cool as the wind, or whatever the saying is. I’m not doing those scenes like, “Oh, yea! I got this! I am so relaxed right now, I got Eric and Victor!” I go into those scenes with an idea, but boy, oh boy! He’s so experienced and so grounded! The way he uses time in a scene, whereas I am always going, “No, it has to be this or that,” he will take his time. He will throw you off of whatever you expect to happen. In middle of scenes, I go, “Oh, my gosh, what’s happening?!” However, you have to push forward. You are in a scene with Eric Braeden, and he’s forcing you to do something else, or react differently. It turns into something very electric, unique, and in the moment. This goes for a lot of the actors, and people can see that on-screen. I think it’s awesome that Luca and Victor have these exchanges. It’s fun for the audience, as well as for you.
NJL: You had mentioned you have an extensive theatre background, and have some primetime credits under your belt. One of the plays you did was called, “Come Back, Little Sheba,” and you played Turk. I think his description somewhat resembles Luca in a way. Would you say Turk and Luca seem to be one in the same almost?
MGV: I would say they are the same in the sense that they are both men who love women. Turk is not a businessman, however, and Luca is. Turk is more of an athlete, and perhaps more oblivious. Maybe Luca is oblivious, too. When I think about it, they are different in big ways. Turk is not going to be wearing a fancy creme suit anytime soon. He is going to be in jeans, Converse, and a white tee. Possibly, he could be in some short red shorts for track. That was a great gig to play. The work on the stage and on TV continues as long as I am fortunate.
NJL: We hope to see more of Luca in the coming months, and the fans love what you do. I think most of the tweets that came from your first appearance at the Fan Club event was about your hair! They don’t want you to cut it, and keep it big and poofy!
MGV: (laughs) Hey, let’s send out a message to “Y&R” about my hair! No, I’m kidding! I think it’s great that they like it. I have gone back and forth in my career with it, saying, “Should I cut it short, or go the Justin Hartley look with the fade? Should I wear it longer?” I would get different opinions from friends, family, colleagues, casting directors, managers, agents, and I said, “OK!” The hair was a little longer, curlier, and a little bigger. I even had some scruff when I went in for Luca. I had Jill (Farren Phelps) and others saying, “Even after a couple years, you look different.” So, I think it is a good look. You know, let me just go on about my hair! (laughs) The curls are so unique. Not everyone has the curls. I think it is cool to keep some of that, because it is unique to who I am. What better thing to embrace than one’s uniqueness?
NJL: Absolutely! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. We would love to have you back anytime!
MGV: I love it! Thank you!
Watch Miles Gaston Villanueva as Luca Santori on “The Young and the Restless” weekdays on CBS Daytime, and weeknights on Pop! Also, follow Miles on Twitter at: @MilesGastonV!
Also, if you want to download the full audio podcast with Miles, click on the audio player at the top of the page!