Brian Kerwin: Marlena Interviews One Life To Live’s Sole Daytime Emmy Nominee and Broadway Star

By Marlena De Lacroix

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Kerwin (Charlie Banks, One Life to Live) for the Broadway theater site, Theater Mania.  I talked to him both about his Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor (OLTL‘s only acting nomination this year) and his very contrasting, on-going role as a pervert who tries to seduce a 15-year-old girl in the Broadway hit August: Osage County.  Osage, already a Pulitzer Prize winner, is nominated for ten Tony Awards (the awards broadcast is Sunday, June 15, at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS).

Despite his hectic schedule — I met with Kerwin on a Wednesday matinee day between shows — I found him to be relaxed, soft-spoken, funny, a total pro. What a doll!   It’s easy to see why Erika Slezak (and everyone backstage at OLTL) likes to work with him.  Complete with remarks from Erika herself, a discussion of his 30-year career in stage, movies and TV (his first role was Greg Foster on Young and the Restless in the 70s), and a bit about his family life, my interview (under the name of my alter ego, Connie Passalacqua Hayman) with Kerwin appears here.

Comments

  1. Fabobug says:

    What a great interview! I have loved seeing Mr. Kerwin since Torch Song Trilogy 20 years ago, then Roseanne, and Desperate Housewives. It’s great to see him get some recognition. But if he thinks a popular interest of Viki’s can’t be killed off by a mysterious disease then please don’t say the name “Roy Thinnes” anywhere near him.

    And I had to LOL at Erika Slezak’s comments about the men of OLTL. Once again, she articulated so much of my annoyance and frustration with this show into a witty concise sentence.

    Thank you Marlena for this great article.

  2. DS0816 says:

    Thank you, Connie/Marlena, for letting us know about your interview ["Theater Mania," Monday, June 9, 2008] interview with “One Life to Live’s” Brian Kerwin, who is currently among the 2007-08 supporting-actor nominees for this year’s Daytime Emmy awards (ABC, Friday, June 20, 8 pm ET).

    I am hoping Kerwin, and no one else, respectfully, prevails in his race.

    I have appreciated the natural and pure talent of his acting. Kerwin never seems forced, nor does have try to “affect” his scenes; he’s free and flexible. I like his directness, his honest approach—and I often think of humane and funny, even scene-stealing, character work as Sally Field’s ex-husband in “Murphy’s Romance.” This was the 1985 romantic-comedy—directed by Martin Ritt (who guided Field to her first best-actress Academy Award for 1979′s “Norma Rae”)—about a divorcee making a new life for her and her son (Corey Haim) in a small town, contemplating romance with a classy and older, tell-it-like-it-is gentleman played by James Garner (in his Oscar-nominated performance). Remember Garner and Kerwin fighting for Fields’ affections, settling their differences by taking it out, hand-in-hand, on a dance floor? (Great stuff!)

    At awards expert Tom O’Neil’s The Envolope, I participate with GoldDerby Forums posters in the Daytime Emmys section (using my “Name”). Prior to the nominations, it seemed like most were dismissive about including Kerwin on their list of ideal nominees. Well, I very much included him on mine. The only thing is, I didn’t make any serious bets on what the complexion of this year’s list would look like; I simply decided to have low expectations. But sometimes we do get one that pops in—and pops—out among the crowd. In other words, Kerwin’s nomination is the one, out of the 30 acting slots, I appreciate most. Kerwin is a fresh breath of air to the erratic and unstable soap world, and “OLTL” is lucky to have him. He’s a winner whether he actually does win [on Emmy night]!

    Thank you, again, Connie/Marlena!

    —DS0816

    Marlena says: What a great letter, DSO! I value and respect my Thinking Fans because so many of you are knowledgeable not just in soaps but in all entertainment genres! DSO, your remarks here on Murphy’s Romance make me want to go out and rent it! Also, I’m so glad you really appreciate Kerwin’s talents.

    As I wrote decades ago in the mags for the first time, the problem with the Daytime Emmys is that voters seem to recognize only the extra melodramatic — a.k.a. “soapy” performances, not real acting quality. Today’s young audiences tend to love the histrionics and gimmicky acting needed for stunt or flashy plots. That’s not Kerwin’s Charlie — who is a very down to earth character. I suspect that the real actors who vote the Emmys, however, can recognize the more subtle quality of his work.

    I too think Kerwin is a breath of fresh air in soap land, a mature actor really delivering on craft in every situation. Kerwin hasn’t been out of work a day in 30 years of movies, tv and theater! Actually, its too bad Emmy voters can’t see Kerwin in Osage — he plays a child molester who is equal parts charm and skeeviness. The character is very showy — AND it’s really a masterful performance. Go see August: Osage County if you are in New York City! It’s a well-written, soapy show, and Kerwin plays one of thirteen characters in a family who are … out there!

  3. MD says:

    An enjoyable read, Marlena! Not until I did a little IMDb research did I realize that I knew Brian Kerwin from the sitcom “Roseanne”. He played Gary, “the man that got away” from Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). At the time, I had no idea of their Steppenwolf connection.

    I especially appreciate Erika Slezak’s comments. She is absolutely right, and this problem isn’t unique to OLTL. So many male soap actors (and I use that term liberally) act with clenched jaws and fists. They don’t play all of their colors, denying themselves and the audience of potentially unforgettable emotional experiences. Too many men peacocking around, trying so very hard to flex and impress rather than live truthfully and connect on a deeper level. But when in an industry that would rather hire MWM (Models Who Memorize) than trained actors, who really is to blame?

    I’m seeing “August” in August… looking forward to it! And just today I got an email about a play called “Three on a Couch” starring Mark Pinter. Folks in New York should also check that one out.

    Marlena says: Thanks MD. Brian did mention playing against Laurie Metcalfe on Roseanne when we were talking about Steppenwolf, but it didn’t make it into the final copy. Moose and I have been talking about the practicalities and possibilities of reviewing soap actors’ appearances in the New York theater for a long time for this blog. If you like to see that here, please tell us.

    I agree with you about MWM’s (whoever invented that acronym?). I was never a big fan of J.P. Lavosier when he first came on to OLTL as sexy Rex-y. For one thing, the soap press immediately seemed to like him a little too much. But wow, has he matured as an actor! Bob Woods (whose Bo regularly shares scenes with little buddy Rex) must have had a big effect on helping him get serious about his craft. Today, Rex actually broke down in tears when he and Adriana broke up for good. And I was greatly moved!

    MD You’ll love Osage!

  4. esther says:

    He seems like such a prince. What a love! Great job!

  5. MD says:

    Thanks Marlena! I would love to read more about soap actors appearing in theatre. It’s too bad that it doesn’t happen as often as it used to.

    Funny that you mention Lavoisier, I was thinking about him (in a positive way) as I wrote my response. Although Rex has in many ways reverted to his original snarky self, I remember being won over by his truly moving scenes when Jen died.

    I remember feeling the way you did about JPL when Tom Pelphrey hit the scene. The soap press acted like he was the soapy second coming. It was such a “duh!” situation to me because for once a show had hired a very talented young actor who’d spent the last four years learning his craft in a well-regarded acting program.

    p.s. “MWM” is of my own invention. ;-D

  6. Mary says:

    Dear Marlena,

    What a great surprise upon visiting your site and seeing an article on my new favorite actor! Brian Kerwin’s acting draws you in precisely for the reasons you and others have given- his incredible sensitivity and subtlety. I also think he is that rare actor who can elevate the performance of whomever he is in a scene with. He sounds like a really nice guy too which only adds to his appeal. However I do have to point out one omission if you don’t mind. In the article, it talks about his children, Finn and Mathilde. I believe he also has another son named Brennan. I only know this because he was featured in this week’s Soap Opera Digest about fathers. I’ve been seriously considering buying the magazine just for that. Thank you again for the article.

    Marlena says: Thanks for writing, Mary. I orginally wrote Brian had three kids, but somewhere in the editing process the names disappeared and one child was omitted. Sorry!

  7. BL says:

    I’d love to read articles about actors in theatre roles (whether they are currently on soaps or not). So put me in the yes, please to those kind of columns.

    MWM is a good term, and I agree there are too many of them in the business. I think in regards to his Emmy reel that what Brian Kerwin submitted was very different than most of the nominees in the category so it really stood out by comparison in a good way.

  8. SoapDope says:

    Marlena,

    Love Brian Kerwin and your article. I insist that you and Moose broaden your soap coverage. Write about actors in movies, theater, even commercials. Tell us about books written by (or about) soap scribes and legends. You’d do all of us a service . . . the fans would adore hearing about their faves, and those of us in (or formerly in) the business could use the press.

    And speaking of those formerly in the business: I just caught your lengthy and quite informative interview of Agnes Nixon as part of the Archive of American Television. I’ll leave it to you to post the link . . . Very interesting to see how much the business has changed since that taping just a few years ago.

    And while I have your ear, have you been watching Army Wives? It’s the closest thing to “real” soap opera I’ve seen in a long, long time. Love to hear your opinion.

    To be continued . . . .

    SoapDope

    Marlena says: Thanks SD. If you were are or were in the soap business, please tell us who you really are. We’d all like to know. You looked me up to view the Agnes interview, which is very nice of you. That was done in 1997 or 1998 I remember by the dress I was wearing. What a honor it was to be asked to do this! I also did one in 2003 with David Canary, which I don’t think is on line right now. These 6 hour marathons (I’m not complaining) were done for the Archive of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which is a special collection of interviews with the founders of television done late in their careers with everyone from Agnes to Mary Tyler Moore to Sid Caesar. The Academy is located in Los Angeles for those interested in further research.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or contacts to write about anything but soaps and theater right now. I will tune in Army Wives, because I heard it had a premier audience of 4.5 million viewers! Wow!

  9. Cherry Ames says:

    I’m just thrilled that Viki and her alter ego, Erika Slezak, has a leading man and that he is: handsome, a versatile actor and a worthy acting partner to the 6 time Emmy Award winning actress. Ooh la la. Those blue eyes and that charming grin. Charlie’s basic goodness with those few character flaws (he is a recovering alcoholic and he just can’t say no-like to Roxie when she begged him to lie to Rex about his parentage) makes it all the more unforgiveable and just plain evil that Dorian poured alcohol all over and in him! I never before considered Dorian evil-just more misunderstood and lonely and insecure. Now I’m just not so sure. But all of the amazing actors ie. ES, BK and RS certainly keep me watching. OLTL is rocking and the show -despite a few flaws-is almost as good as it gets in soap land.

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