“It was for the best, because this role feels good,” notes O’Brien. “It’s like a puzzle piece. I feel so comfortable because Gwen is so colorful, and there’s so much room to play.”
The actress initially read for the role of Sarah Horton back in 2018. “I went in three times and screen-tested with Greg Vaughan [Eric], but I wasn’t right for that. They just envisioned somebody different,” recounts O’Brien. “A year later my agent called and said, ‘Will you go in and read for this other role?’ I remember going in and it was very ominous in the room. [Casting Director] Marnie Saitta and [Co-Executive Producer] Albert Alarr said, ‘Well, we’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that you’re not going to be playing this role, but there’s a new role that we want to mold around you.’ That’s when the character of Gwen was born. She’s British. She’s wonderfully unpredictable and volatile and she’s completely fearless. She lives on the edge and with complete passion.”
O’Brien, who portrayed Y&R’s Jana from 2006-11, never envisioned returning to day time. “And guess what? That was 10 years ago,” she points out. “When I started on the show, I was 20, and that went on until 25. And when I left, I thought, ‘Yeah, okay. That was a good run.’ ”
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