Y&R star Eric Braeden speaks out about Phyllis Summers casting debate "Michelle Stafford vs. Gina Tognoni"

Caption : Michelle Stafford vs. Gina Tognoni

The executive producers and chief writers at The Young and the Restless took a controversial step last year by replacing Gina Tognoni with Michelle Stafford in the role of Phyllis Summers, a staple character on the show. The replacement surely had several viewers ecstatically happy to see their favorite star return to the soap after 5 years but many viewers were highly disappointed by the decision. 

It has been nearly a year since the controversial casting shake-up took place in Y&R but whenever people get started on it, it still turns into a pretty heated topic. And recently, Eric Braeden joined the argument on Twitter, where he spoke out on “Gina Tognoni vs. Michelle Stafford as Phyllis Summers” topic. 

Casting History of Phyllis Summers in The Young and the Restless

The role of Phyllis Summers was originated in 1994 by the current portrayer, Michelle Stafford. Her stint on the soap was supposed to be a short-term role. However, the producers decided to place her on contract ass she did an impressive job. 

Stafford left the role in February of 1997 citing the interest to pursue other career opportunities as the reason. So actress Sandra Nelson filled in the role of Phyllis. However, in July 2000, Stafford returned to Y&R but 13 years later, she once again exited the soap.

sandra nelson

This time, she confessed in an interview that she was completely done with the soap opera. “They may, as a courtesy, ask if I wanted to come back; I don't know, they may not. It's okay with me. It doesn't matter because I am done. I'm completely done. And I'm not upset if they recast, I totally would understand," she said in the interview with Soap Opera Digest (2013).

In the interview, Stafford also opened up about some personal reasons for departing the series. She said, "They may, as a courtesy, ask if I wanted to come back; I don't know, they may not. It's okay with me. It doesn't matter because I am done. I'm completely done. And I'm not upset if they recast, I totally would understand."

Next, Stafford joined the General Hospital cast in the role of Nina Clay in May 2014, following which Y&R hired the former One Life to Live star Gina Tognoni in the role of Phyllis Summers. Gina was let go from Y&R in March 2019 and she made her final appearance on June 7, 2019.

Michelle Stafford vs. Gina Tognoni Debate

When Gina Tognoni first joined the Y&R cast, many viewers weren’t on board. But with time, she settled well in the role and she went on to create a fan base of her own, which is why Y&R’s decision to bring back Stafford in place of Tognoni outraged many viewers. The sudden casting shake-up kind of created a war between the Tognoni fans and the Stafford fans. 

The viewers who loved watching Tognoni’s version of Phyllis still support the idea that the firing was totally unfair. Then there also loyal Stafford fans who aren’t shy about speaking their minds.

Recently, on January 25, 2020, a Gina Tognoni fan page on Twitter called “#1 Fan of Gina Tognoni” shared a picture of Eric Braeden with Gina Tognoni and Melody Thomas Scott. 

The post started an argument between the Tognoni and Stafford fans. Eric also shared his opinion in the comment section as “MICHELLE originated that part! She should never have been let go, PERIOD! Gina is a great actress, loved working with her, but MICHELLE should NEVER have left the show! That’s the mistake some cocky new EPs make!! It’s annoying as hell!!”

That same day, Braeden had also replied to a now-deleted tweet related to Phyllis Summers casting. He tweeted, “Don‘t know as who! She‘s a damned good actress! But Michelle created that part! So, it‘s a conundrum created totally unnecessarily by some EP who thought they could change things around!! DON’T effing fix something the WASN’T BROKE!! I can’t stand these egos who think they know!” 

Eric’s both tweets seem to be in support of Michelle but the first one gives a strong message that Y&R should have never let Stafford slip away in the first place. Had Stafford never left, Tognoni would never have to face the unfair firing from Y&R. 

Well, it is also true that Stafford leaving Y&R back in 2013 was completely her choice. Perhaps Braeden meant that Y&R should have done more to convince her to stay in the first place than to re-hire her after Tognoni had settled well with the role.

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