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Considered an icon and leading man of the soap opera genre, Braeden's distinct performance of Victor has garnered widespread praise from critics, who have described him as legendary and "enthralling".Victor is famously characterized for his power-hungry ways and low-toned voice.She also noted that he's been jailed, thrown in a psychiatric ward and shot, had amnesia, epilepsy among other events, but "like all villains worth their salt, he's survived it all and inspired respect, if not adoration".Braeden describes the character as "the villain" and as "defensive and always self-protective", stating that he's "not here to win a popularity contest".Finding a new leading man that you have chemistry with is like finding gold." In a 1994 interview with The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper reported that Victor's relationship with Nikki had "registered an enduring appeal among viewers", with Braeden replying that, "Arguably, it's the idea of this incredibly powerful, wealthy man taking a woman who comes from the wrong side of the tracks into his life, and shaping her and forming her more to his liking.But, of course, no one can shape or form anyone, she remains who she is, has retained her strength, and that causes conflict." Discussing Victor and Nikki's union, former As the World Turns actress Martha Byrne stated: "Young and Restless' Victor and Nikki are the perfect example of a couple who they can tear apart and put back together how many times?
However, after Bell saw Braeden's performance, he decided to sign the actor onto a contract.
Bell stated in 1997, "[Victor] would last between eight to twelve weeks, at which time he was to be shot by his wife." However, once he saw Braeden's performance, he thought "the voice, the power, the inner strength", and knew he didn't want to lose the actor; "The first thing was to get Eric under contract, but he didn't want to go under contract", he said.
However, Braeden was uneasy about the daytime soap opera genre, admitting years later he thought it was "too confining"; The soap opera's official website notes: "Victor is loving and protective toward family and loved ones, but if crossed, or if Victor feels that one is not living up to one's full potential; then he can more than live up to the adjective that many have used to describe him ruthless." Although he is often considered malicious, Braeden stated that "Bill Bell was a very wise man" and that "he created someone in Victor who is a very lonely man yet also a man who can be affectionate and loving and forgiving". If these are the adjectives that pad the resume of a first-class villain, then there has never been a better candidate for the job, at least of the fictional variety, than Victor Newman.
My God almighty, that's something else that I, Eric Braeden, would never do. But when that doesn't work for Victor, he gets out his wallet [...] If you are abusive to him, he will be abusive to you. I will not allow anyone to cross that line with the character." In June 2011, Michael Logan of TV Guide felt that Victor was "pushing it with the fans", stating: "The megalomaniacal patriarch earned considerable viewer backlash last month when he threw his ex-wife [Diane] from the back of an ambulance and left her bruised and bloodied." In an interview with Logan, Braeden stated that Victor "doesn't give a shit" and "he doesn't take any shit", saying that is "the whole point of the character".
The actor also stated he does not like women defeating Victor, admitting that he wasn't pleased in a 2003 scene where his daughter Victoria (portrayed by Heather Tom) slaps him.