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

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

Photo by Kristina Scheetz Rible/NJ.com

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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.  

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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...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with The Young and the Restless’ Elizabeth Hendrickson

By Damon L. Jacobs 

Combine the beauty of Jennifer Garner and the comic timing of Debra Messing and what do you get?  The hysterically entertaining and insightful Elizabeth Hendrickson!  Elizabeth HendricksonDuring SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” we talked about her experiences and life lessons learned from mistakes on All My Children and her current run on The Young and the Restless.

D:  What part of yourself are you bringing to Chloe in Y&R these days?
E:  Humor.  I’d say 98% of her humor comes from me.  When I was on All My Children I got really bored with myself.  I came into this job (as Chloe) as literally a blank canvas.  They had absolutely no idea.  They had seen me in something on stage and brought me in to read and they just created this character for me.  So I knew from being on AMC that  when I started Maggie, I didn’t really take control . I didn’t realize that whatever you bring, they use.  Like if you start to eye roll all the time you’ll see “Maggie eye rolls.”  That’s how I found they would write my character, and I didn’t take advantage of that.  So when I came on as Chloe I said, “The world is my oyster.  I’m going to [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with All My Children’s Bobbie Eakes

Thinking Bobans (Bobbie fans) on Ms. Eakes: Says renee, “I’ve become a Boban because of her insightfulness” … and DSO816, “She’s an unheralded and spirited actress” … and Dana Webb, “She is so down to earth and balanced” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Damon L. Jacobs

Before meeting Bobbie Eakes on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” I knew she had talent, I knew she had beauty, I knew she had an amazing singing voice.  Bobbie EakesWhat I didn’t know was how much humor, intelligence, and self-awareness had contributed to her portrayal of Krystal on All My Children.  In our talk at sea, she she shared life lessons, reflections on a 20-year career in soaps, and why Krystal’s recent behavior makes perfect sense.

D:  So Krystal has had a very hard past year losing her daughter Babe.  How have you approached this as an actress?
B:  Well, at the point she lost Babe I really had not lost anyone that close to me.  But since then I have.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law died within ten days of each other, that was after Babe died.  We were really close to them … I was really close to them.  Loss of a close family member can be so devastating.  I don’t have any children.  So, as an actor you just have to imagine what that would be like to lose a daughter.  People say having a child is the most amazing experience and if you lose a child it’s the worst thing in the world.  So I go on what people tell me.  You put yourself in a state where you imagine what it’s like to go through that.

D:  It seemed like Krystal was trying to numb herself out with pills so she wouldn’t have to go through that.  
B:  Well, that wasn’t her intention, but David Hayward came along and [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck With As the World Turns’ Van Hansis

Thinking Van Fans on Mr. Hansis’ sea-going chat: Morgan D. enthuses, “Van is amazing, but we all knew that. But look how much brighter he shines when he is asked INTELLIGENT questions” … Mary says, “It’s always nice to hear an actor be able to really understand his character” … while Tom confirms, “As someone who has met, and talked to, Van at several fan events, I can say that this interview captures his personality beautifully” … and more more. See Comments below.  

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By Damon L. Jacobs

As the World Turns‘ Van Hansis (Luke Snyder) is definitely one of the more outspoken and risk-taking actors working on daytime today. The pairing of Luke and Noah (Jake Silberman), who are gay, has been one of the most popular soap couples ever.  Van HansisHe has taken on the challenge of lending integrity to a role that is controversial, symbolic, and the center of many political debates. During our chat on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” Hansis talked about finding out what it is like to make a social impact in the world, about Luke’s legacy as a Grimaldi, and the truth behind Luke’s REAL feelings for Brian (his amorous step grandfather, played by Laurence Lau): 

D:  Luke has been going through some serious stuff these past six months. 
V:  Yes, definitely.  It’s been fun to play. 

D:  What’s been the best part for you recently?
V:  I like that they’re giving Luke more layers than he had before.  He’s still a very good guy, but he’s conflicted and has a lot more issues now, a lot of which he has brought on himself.  It all started with him trying to steal the election and it’s all built upon that.  The character is now [Read more...]

Grief Counseling from the Soap Shrink: How To Cope When the Light Goes Out

Thinking Fans mourn:  Matthew J. Cormier says, “I can’t even begin to know how Guiding Light fans are dealing with the loss right now. I was such a wreck when Loving, The City and Port Charles were cancelled and they didn’t run nearly as long as Guiding Light” … while Blake reflects, “It’s really going to hit me some time, but right now I just feel sad every time I see an article about GL being cancelled” … and more. See Comments below. 

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Guiding LightBy Damon L. Jacobs

Fans of CBS’ Guiding Light, as well any one who cares about the future of the daytime soap opera genre, have had reason to grieve this past week.  Even if the cancellation wasn’t a complete shock, it was nevertheless a cruel jolt to lose this beloved institution, and it deserves to be mourned as such.  My “cyber step brother” Patrick Erwin is eloquently sharing his emotional journey of coping by using Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages Of Grief at A Thousand Other Worlds . It is my hope that as a community we can work through this tragic death together and help each other reach and stay at the “acceptance” phase.  Here are some tools that can help:

1.  Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up around GL‘s cancellation.  You may feel angry, disappointed, exasperated, depressed, maybe [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with One Life to Live’s Kathy Brier

Thinking Fans salute Ms. Brier: John says, “It’s sort of depressing thinking how daytime has actually gone downhill in the time since Kathy Brier came on to OLTL, when at the time she was a breath of fresh air in a medium that was already pretty moribund” … while Jake says, “Brier’s acting chops stand out on a show that is showcasing some really questionable performances these days” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Damon L. Jacobs

Kathy Brier’s fiery portrayal of Marcie McBain on One Life to Live has had a profound impact on me personally, as well as on millions of soap viewers.  Unfortunately, news of her firing from the show came days after this interview took place on Soapnet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise.” Kathy BrierThe ABC publicist has declined to make Ms. Brier available for follow-up comment about the contents of this interview, pending the conclusion of her storyline. 

So we’re left to wonder: Did she know she was leaving?  Some have speculated she did, but I leave it to you the Thinking Fan to decide for yourself. Please read on to learn how she has dealt with weight issues, Nathaniel Marston’s absence, and what profession she truly wants to enter. (HINT: The answer thrilled the Soap Shrink!) 

D:  Marcie started off as a three day part?
K:  Yes, three days.

D:  My first memory of Marcie was in the diner, after Joey Buchanan rebuffed her, and she went straight for the sundae.
K:  Oh yes.  I made that up. I added that, it was not in there. [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with The Young and the Restless’ Greg Rikaart

By Damon L. Jacobs

The Young and the Restless‘ Greg Rikaart took the time on the SoapNet “Rock the Soap Cruise” to speak to The Soap Shrink not just once, but twice!  I found him gracious, intelligent, and very polite in correcting my mispronunciation of his last name (FYI, it’s RICK-art!).  We talked about his Y&R character Kevin Fisher, compassion, and how his understanding of psychology made a two-week character evolve into an Emmy-winning role.

D:  A lot has changed since the Soap Shrink analyzed Kevin last summer . Can you tell us what’s going on? 
G:  He put himself in a situation.  Kevin felt guilty about choices he had made in regard to Katherine Chancellor. He was trying to make amends, trying to be the knight in shining armor.  He goes to the hotel, sees this guy Clint, and confronts him.  So he goes into the hotel, he gets drugged and thrown into the trunk.  But he made the decision to put himself in a precarious situation.  It wasn’t safe. I’m sure his instincts were going against the decision.  But we don’t always follow our instincts. 

D:  Now he’s having a flashbacks …
G:  Well, yeah. I have to wonder how much of this would be happening if Kevin had really conquered [Read more...]