Shemar Moore and Kristoff St. John may have played brothers on-screen, but their sibling-like bond was even stronger when the cameras stopped rolling.
Nearly three months after St. John, who starred as Neil Winters on The Young and the Restless since 1991, died at the age of 52, his castmates remembered the profound impact the late actor had on both their professional and personal lives.
“Kristoff, what I believe, he carried me through this career. You know, I had to earn my way to develop this career, but he really got me started and embraced me and rooted for me and told me that anything was possible,” Moore, who played Neil’s half-brother Malcolm Winters on Y&R, said on The Talk Friday.
Moore, 49, went on to share an inside joke that the pair laughed about, which later turned into a public display of humorous affection.
“And so because he carried me, our running joke was whenever we did public appearances, our entrance would always be me carrying him on my shoulders. And he would say, ‘Let me carry you.’ I’m like, ‘Nah, nah, nah. Your punk butt might drop me.’ This picture is from the last time that we appeared on this show,” he said about the photo of himself holding St. John on his shoulders during a previous appearance on The Talk. “That’s me and Kristoff. That’s on our entrance out here and I’m carrying him.”
Sitting alongside castmates Victoria Rowell, Christel Khalil and Bryton James, Moore shared the significance of the highlighted and framed Y&R script that he brought to the stage, which accompanied the smiling photo of the pair.
“I put this together and this hangs in my office in my home and these words here are the actual script, the actual eulogy of The Young & the Restless. And so I just thought it was so beautiful. And I have to give kudos to the head writer of The Young and the Restless, Josh Griffith. I met him on the day that we were shooting the tribute and I said, ‘I don’t know who actually wrote this, but you must have been hiding in my house or my closet’ — and I’m not just saying nice things on TV — word for word it was eerie because it was as if I wrote it. Every word was something I would say to Kristoff,” he said about the Y&R eulogy written for St. John’s character, Neil.
While St. John had a significant impact on Moore’s life, he also greatly touched the lives of Rowell, who played his TV wife Drucilla Winters, and Khalil and James, who played his on-camera children Lili Winters and Devon Hamilton, respectively.
“My dad in real life, we don’t have much of a relationship, so Kristoff definitely kind of filled that role. I mean, every birthday he always gave me something. He was at my actual wedding I had,” Khalil, 31, said as she held back tears. “I thought I was done crying. He’s been like a real father figure.”
Added James, “He was like a half father, half brother to me because I could say things and stuff and share things maybe I couldn’t with my dad — I wouldn’t want to, vice versa. He was there for the biggest parts of our lives — our lives especially,” he said, referencing himself and Khalil. “Because we were kids. We were literally kids when we came on this show. Talk about being here reunited with family for the first time, we literally wouldn’t be here without these people, without Kristoff.”
“I mean, she wanted to bring a foster care storyline to The Young and the Restless and that’s why Devon exists,” James, 32. said about Rowell, who noted that “May is national foster care awareness month.”
“And just to finish up, we experienced some of the biggest moments of our lives, like getting married, divorced, having, you know, your child,” James said, referencing Khalil. “Losing my real father a few years back. Through everything [Kristoff] had gone through, he was a rock for me every time coming to work.”
Last month, PEOPLE confirmed that St. John died because of heart disease, which was exacerbated by alcohol use. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office listed his cause of death of “hypertrophic heart disease … and effects of ethanol.” His death was officially ruled an accident.
In early March, he was laid to rest next to the grave of his son Julian St. John, who died by suicide in 2014. Friends and family gathered at the Calvary Community Church in Westlake, California, where he was buried, to celebrate his life.
On Wednesday’s episode of the long-running soap, viewers learned of Neil’s cause of death. “From everything I’ve seen and heard, it sounds like a massive stroke,” Dr. Hastings told Neil’s daughter, Lili. “It’s possible he had high blood pressure and never even knew. That’s why they call it the silent killer.”
PEOPLE previously announced that during an upcoming episode of Y&R, the characters will gather to remember one of their own after Neil died unexpectedly. Neil’s family and friends will come from near and far to pay their respects and remember their beloved father, colleague, brother and friend.
Moore is reprising his role for two episodes, airing Thursday and Friday.
Next week, Y&R will air a special tribute episode for St. John on Monday that will include cast members sharing memories of their dear friend and colleague, along with favorite Neil Winters clips spanning his 27 years on the show. Moore and Rowell will participate.
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