*Actor Darius McCrary began his role as Malcom Winters on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” earlier this week, stepping into the very popular role that – depending on how you look at it – made Shemar Moore famous or that Moore made famous.

McCrary is now starring on the long-running daytime show as the sexy Winters, a bit of a change from his first television role as Eddie Winslow on “Family Matters.”

McCrary starred on the show for all nine seasons [1989-1998] as the lovable teen, Eddie Winslow, the eldest of the sitcom family that was often visited by their lovelorn neighbor Steve Urkel. But that was then. Now the star, who has since launched a music career, starred in “15 Minutes” with Robert DeNiro, and lent his voice as Jazz for “Transformers,” hopes to make the new role his own and perhaps so much that he’ll now be referred to by fans as his new moniker.

“I’ve come to realize that that’s something that people will never let go,” he said of constantly being hailed as his “Family Matters” character. “But the beautiful thing about a character like [Eddie Winslow] is that people have a certain endearment. It’s like family’ it’s love, and love is a beautiful thing.”

Ironically, McCrary himself is guilty of projecting television character names and personas on actors, particularly, he said, with his new cast, quite a common occurrence for soap stars.

“There are certain people on this cast on this show that I keep referring to as their character,” he said. “I can honestly relate.”

McCrary sat down with EUR’s Lee Bailey to discuss the new role and how excited he is to be taking on the famed character on one of the most popular daytime dramas ever.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” he said. “It’s a great group to work with; it’s a quality show; and it’s something new for me.”

The young actor confessed that he’s always up to a challenge, whether it be jumping into theater for the first time or a challenging role in a feature film, but he considers the soap opera world a true challenge.

“I don’t think you ever really get the hang of it,” he said of starring every day in a new soap saga. “Just like live theater, it’s something that you do on a constant basis. With theater – you’re doing the same thing every night when you go out on stage so you can get the hang of that, but this is like theater and it grows. The story line grows every day.”

McCrary also confessed that he had always wanted to star in a soap opera. In addition to considering the opportunity challenging, he said that it is steady work that is a perfect fit for his career. This is quite contrary to the advice he’d been given earlier in his career about becoming a soap star.

“I’ve always wanted to do daytime television, but former agents and former representation had steered me away from it because they said that this is generally where people looking to break into the business go. You start with soaps and then you do primetime TV. My representation would ask me, ‘Why would you want to go backwards?’”

However, for McCrary this is hardly a step backwards.

“I’ve always thought it was a great gig. I always wanted to do it. So when my (new) manager approached me and mentioned ‘Young & the Restless’ I thought, ‘Wow. That’s hot.’”

Being on one of the most-loved and most-watched daytime dramas was already a plus for the star. “The Young and the Restless” is currently the highest rated daytime drama. However, once it was explained that he would star as Malcolm Winters, one of the most loved and most watched characters on the show – that was icing on the cake, and a number of friends and family who were fans of the show and the character, filled him in on the character and the history of the storyline… and of course their love for Moore in the role.

However, McCrary wasn’t and isn’t that concerned with the actor who was Malcolm in the past, he just knew he had a job to do.

“The responsibility I have is to be the best performer that I can be. Hopefully if I’m delivering solid performances and I’m really good as an actor, none of that will even matter,” he said. “I hope that everybody loves me in this role just as much as they loved [Moore], but I hope they love me just a little more,” McCrary said with a smile.

Look for part two of our visit with Darius McCrary on his new role on “The Young and the Restless” and why he considers daytime TV as big as blockbuster films. Oh yeah, we inquired about him and Karine Steffans, too. In the meantime, catch him as Malcolm Winters on CBS daytime, evenings on SOAPnet Channel, or info at www.theyoungandtherestless.com.


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