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Eric Braeden / Actor

September 28, 1997|Steve Hochman

Eric Braeden's pre-soap career included movie roles alongside Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner and Bette Davis as well as starring in TV's "Rat Patrol." But playing the world's richest man (John Jacob Astor) in reportedly the most expensive movie ever ("Titanic") isn't enough to get the 56-year-old German-born actor to end his 17-year run as the suave Victor Newman of CBS-TV's "The Young and the Restless."

DAY JOB: "It literally turned out that we would film at night on 'Titanic,' and then I would get in the car at Rosarito Beach in Baja, where we filmed, at 5 a.m. and arrive in L.A. to start work at 7."

THE NATURAL: "['Titanic' star] Leonardo DiCaprio, when you watch him on the set, he's probably one of the most naturally gifted actors I've seen in a long time. Just a God-given talent and an ease that is unbelievable."

CONTRASTS: "Rosarito Beach wasn't the nicest of environs, and it was a strange juxtaposition of supposedly being at the pinnacle of wealth at the turn of the century, and there in the background was this stark poverty."

HAIL TO THE CHIEF: "Jim Cameron is this mixture of blue-jeans easygoing-ness and . . . this sort of impatience of a brilliant man who is already 10 steps ahead of everyone else. The only other person who ever made a similar impression on me--though he's totally different--is Marlon Brando. You just know you're in the presence of someone larger than life."

THE SOAP LIFE: "I have an enormous allegiance to what I do and have done for 17 years. I love it because I get to do it every day. I need to work every day--get utterly impatient if I have two or three days off. So for an actor, this is something wonderful."

SURPRISE ENCOUNTERS: "My series plays in something like 40 countries. I found myself in a back street of Istanbul and a veiled woman stared at me and said, 'Victor!' It's staggering--that pervasiveness of Hollywood is enormous."

CAUSE CELEBRE: "German-Jewish dialogue is close to my heart. Some friends and I started the German American Cultural Society years ago. It is a dialogue fraught with deep emotions--angry at those members of the older generation who started that Nazi [expletive] and at the same time angry at the incessant and cliched anti-German remarks one hears in the media."

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