Eric Braeden was cast on\u00a0The Young and the Restless 40 years ago and he is celebrating a huge milestone with the show. \u201cTo be honest with you, I was not particularly interested. I really wasn\u2019t. I\u2019m not saying that to play it down, I was very trepidatious about it. I didn\u2019t even know what a soap was,\u201d the 78-year-old actor tells PEOPLE. He has been playing the role of Victor Newman since 1980.\r\n\r\nBraeden reveals fellow actor and friend actor Dabney Coleman suggested he \u201d \u2018Do it. You\u2019ll love it,\u2019 in his typically cryptic fashion.\u201d \u201cI didn\u2019t even know there was television during the day. I really didn\u2019t. It was the farthest thing from my mind. And here I am 40 years later.\u201d\r\nEric Braeden weighs in on his time with the daytime soap opera\r\n\r\n\r\nAt the time Braeden was originally cast back in 1980, he was committed to playing the role for only three months. After having a conversation with Bill Bell, he decided to stick with the soap opera. \u201cI said, \u2018Bill, I\u2019ve played bad guys for so long, I\u2019m empty. It\u2019s too dehumanizing, I can\u2019t do it anymore.\u2019 I\u2019d done it for, you know, 120-hour guest roles on nighttime television for years in films. And lo and behold, he came up with a storyline, I forget how much later. After I played that, I said, \u2018Now I\u2019m staying,\u2019 \u201d the actor recalls.\r\n\r\nRELATED: \u2018The Young And The Restless\u2019 Has Been Renewed For Four More Years\r\n\r\nHe continues, \u201cIt was when Nikki [Newman] asked Victor about his past; she knew nothing about his past \u2026 and he talked about having grown up in an orphanage, where he had been left by his destitute mother since he was 7 years old... Once I played that scene, I saw an enormous amount of emotional possibilities for the actor to play, you know? That\u2019s why I stayed, really. That\u2019s actually the only reason I stayed.\u201d\r\nOn playing the leading role in the show for so long\r\n\r\n\r\nBraeden weighs in more on playing the daytime series' lead role.\u00a0\u00a0\u201cI learned through this medium to really appreciate the symbiotic relationship between what we create on TV and the audience. It\u2019s a deep, deep relationship. You\u2019d be amazed. This medium has taught me to really appreciate the fact that I have been privileged to entertain people, all over the world, by the way. And I listen to the same reactions in Istanbul or Paris or Toronto as in New York or Dallas or Oklahoma, whatever. It\u2019s a phenomenon that most of Hollywood has never really taken that seriously.\u201d\r\n\r\nIt sounds like Young and the Restless has really been a pivotal point in his acting career! Happy 40 years of Y&R to Eric Braeden.