A Soap Shrink Interview: James DePaiva’s Ultra Candid Look Back at One Life to Live — and His Own Life

PART TWO OF TWO PARTS

In Part Two, James DePaiva talks about being Max, then not being Max; about the joys of family life; about being angry for a long time, and about dealing with those destructive “shoulds.” 

By Damon L. Jacobs

D:  Now, you mentioned being terribly shy.  But I remember when Max came back One Life in 1992, the promotional ads that ran during ABC’s prime-time.  It was close-up shots of every part of your body, your shoulders, your butt, all this for your big return.  As a shy person, what was that like for you?  
J:  That was somebody else’s body.  I was unavailable for that campaign.  I was off at a health spa getting in shape, I wanted to look good for when I came back, so I told them I couldn’t do it.  It wasn’t my body.  I came back and Jessica Tuck said, “That’s not James’s body, he doesn’t have hair there.”DePaivas

____________________

James and Kassie at last year’s Hoboken International Film Festival

Photo by Kristina Scheetz Rible/NJ.com

_____________________ 

D:  Would you consider going on the next Rock the Soap Cruise with Kassie (Mrs. DePaiva) or does that just feel like it’s too much proximity to fans?
J:   Well, there’s a reason I’ve never done one.  But, I don’t think now it would be an issue.  I’m over 50 now, I’ve been off the show for at least five years.  Now there would be a couple of people that would remember me and it would be nice and casual.  I might do it. Kassie said next year I should go on the cruise.  

D:  You may enjoy it.
J:   Well, that’s because I’m out of it now, I’m not in it.  And also because my ego’s not in it anymore.  To be Max Holden my ego had to be as big as a truck.  The turning point for Max and whether I enjoyed doing him was when I was realized that Jim DePaiva and his life was bigger than Max’s.  Max’s life in the beginning was so big,

On his last days on One Life:  ”If it wasn’t said outright, it certainly was implied that I was too old and made too much money.  Would I say that it hurt? Absolutely.  But I mean they did absolutely everything they could to diminish the value of the character.  I had to sit there for a long time watching them drive him into the ground.”

there was no way I could ever compete with that.  But the character kept being brought down, brought down.  He was making money, losing fortunes, completely cocksure of himself with any woman in any given situation, then he was completely emasculated.  

D:  How so?  
J:   The girls weren’t picking him.  He was taking little jobs, his dream disappeared.  This is a guy who had seen himself as king of the world, then decided to bartend at Rodi’s.  There’s one point where they said, “We’ll just [Read more...]

A Soap Shrink Interview: James DePaiva’s Ultra Candid Look Back at One Life to Live — and His Own Life

 PART ONE OF TWO PARTS

By Damon L. Jacobs

If there is such a thing as a modern day cowboy in New York City, James DePaiva would be it. He is brutally honest, impossibly handsome, jarringly tough, yet surprisingly sensitive.  And although you are more likely to find him driving his motorcycle around town instead of a riding a horse, you absolutely James DePaivawon’t be able to resist his no-nonsense approach to reviewing the past, acknowledging mistakes, and looking forward to a brighter future.

Please read on, Thinking Fans, to learn how this shy boy from Livermore, California, became the audacious cowboy who rocked One Life To Live in the 80′s and 90′s. (and was perhaps the last quintisentially great soap romantic leading man.)   Then discover the lessons he learned from having to handle disappointment and defeat in the soap world.

I met James at a cafe on Manhattan’s West Side on a gorgeous New York spring day. He came riding up to the restaurant on his motorcycle.  I didn’t recognize him at first because his helmet covered his head, and I didn’t know he drove a motorcycle.  We sat outside on the patio facing the street, where such OLTL actors as Mark Lawson strolled past. James paused every 30 minutes during our lengthy talk to feed quarters into the greedy parking meter. 

D:  How did you get into acting?
J:   Acting started in seventh  grade.   They needed boys to be in the play, and the girl I had a crash on was in it, so I said sure.  I was very shy, but once I got on stage I loved it.  I was a small character actor at the time.  But over the summer I grew eight inches so I became leading man in eighth  grade.  I didn’t know there was any way you could do this for a living, and my father kind of established what I was going to

On the frustrating reality of the actor’s life: “What’s gonna happen is maybe one or two of us are going to fly to New York, we’re gonna go test against everybody else they found throughout the whole country, and then they’re gonna hire an actor that used to be on another show that just got out of rehab!”

be doing.  So I didn’t consider college, I didn’t consider acting.  When I was 15 my father said, “Would you like a car?” and I said, “Sure.”  So he said, “Great, I found you one, and I found the job you’re going to get to pay for it.”  I went to [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with One Life to Live’s Kassie DePaiva

Thinking Fans on KDP: Matthew J. Cormier observes, “Kassie has clearly thought a lot about what makes Blair tick and has put her own life into perspective” … OLTL no more scolds, ”When you have an actress dedicated to giving wonderful performances and staying true to her character, she shouldn’t be used as a prop in favor of ’romantic rapes’ and Johnny-come-latelies” … while “Brava!” is heard from a cheering section manned (actually, womaned) by Kathie, Farrah, Cammie, Melody, Janell and Laura … and more. See Comments below.  

_______________________________________ 

By Damon L. Jacobs

This is the last of the Soap Shrink at Sea series of interviews I enjoyed doing so much on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise.”  I hope they were as fun for you to read as they were for me to write.  I learned so much about the passion, devotion, and resilience that goes into acting on a daytime soap.Kassie Depaiva

In this last interview, One Life to Live‘s Kassie DePaiva shares with us her insights into Blair’s behavior, her thoughts about Blair’s father, and the inner secret that goes through her mind in every scene with Todd.

Thank you so much for reading, and for all your support.

D:  I wrote a very popular column about Blair last year.
K:   Yes, It was great. 

D:  Thank you!  The focus of the column was how Blair is one of the few women on daytime who is truly sexually liberated. 
K:  (Laughs) I laugh because my husband would be goin’, “Believe me, she’s just pretending.”  I come from a southern Baptist background, where everything had to be real proper.  I think in my early 20s I could not have even attempted the part of

“Just remember, it’s a soap, y’all!  You’ve got to get through the things you hate to get to the things that  you love.  You’ve got to see the challenges, you’ve got to see the conflict.  If there were no Martys or Teas to put a thorn in Blair’s side, how boring would that be?”

Blair based on that.  I got the part of Blair when I was 32, and by then I had come into my own as a woman, and I felt that I didn’t have anything to apologize for.  I was struggling in a real life marriage that was crumbling.  Life experience had gotten me to say, “What the heck, I’m not going to get any younger.”  What’s great [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with All My Children’s Melissa Claire Egan

By Damon L. Jacobs

When I interviewed Melissa Claire Egan (Annie Novak Lavery on All My Children) on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” all I kept thinking was, “courage.”  This young woman has the courage to reach inside herself and expose the deepest parts of her soul every dayMelissa Claire Egan in front of her audience and in front of her peers.  She was even brave enough to stand up to the Soap Shrink and my issues with the portrayal of the psychiatric profession on her show!  Please read on to learn how she brings curiosity, depth, and humor to the role we’ve all come to love.

D:  It is such an honor to speak to you!  A few months back, I wrote a column about Annie and what she has been going through over this past year.  As a performer, what is it like for you to portray someone who is severely mentally ill?
M:  It’s been humbling, it’s been exciting, it’s been challenging.  As an actor it’s your ideal.  It’s your dream to be able play something that is difficult or out there.  Luckily the writers did a good job.  They didn’t just suddenly make Annie go crazy.  The way they did it they showed her loss — Ryan leaving her, Ryan falling in love with his ex-wife, Annie miscarrying.  They showed her transition into this craziness, which was helpful for me.  She slowly got worse and worse.  She felt threatened by Greenlee and she felt many things until it

“I’ve learned to believe in myself as an actor.  For any soap it’s such a hard job.  My boyfriend will come home and say, ‘We did six pages today,’ and I’ll say, ‘WE DID FORTY!’ With soaps it’s really easy to be bad, but really hard to be good.”

came into full chaos where she’s stabbing people and showing up delusional and thinking a party is her wedding day.  It’s been great to read a script and say, “How am I going to do this?”  When I read that script with the wedding day dress I said, “Oh no — this can either be ridiculous and laughable or you can watch and say ‘Shoot, she’s messed up, I feel bad for her.’”  A lot of the fan response has been [Read more...]