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I remember I was posting at Soap Opera Central at the time, and there were quite a few of us there feeling battle worn from the influx of models that were being cast on this show (Ryan, Raquel #1, Kit Fisher). So when yet another model was cast in a role named "Leo" (AMC was trend-happy back then, also opening SOS to follow the "Latin Explosion" trend of 1999 as well as naming "Leo duPres" coincidentally during Leo DiCaprio's thrust into A-list status), I remember being not thrilled. At all. Then, I remember his scenes with Derek in the hospital exam room after this shooting and was amazed at how natural he was. I was expecting the typical, wooden "Whew! Thank GOD I'm remembering these lines" delivery most (if not all) these models give their first few months (or, in Denise Vasi's case -- YEARS) on a soap.

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I felt the same way at the time, and he was being put into that mess with Forbes March Scott and Becca and so on and I wasn't exactly thrilled with their casting choices for most of their roles. He clicked right off the bat, and had such an easy chemistry with everyone.

I also remember laughing at Vanessa saying, when he staggered in, "Oh, my God, what is my SON doing here?" right on time for Palmer to take the bullet. Not exactly subtle writing there...

The early Vanessa/Leo/David stuff was great.

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Thanks for posting! What a treat.

I would love to learn more about the show post 1975 when the original stories (Chuck/Tara/Phil, Erica leaving PV to become a model, Joe/Ruth's Love story, Phoebe/Charles/Mona, the trials and tribulations of Anne Tyler) were coming to a conclusion, an the show was transforming from the "small town world" stories, to a bigger scale stories (specifically with the introductions of the Cortlandts and more Center City-centric stories).

I wonder if viewers really felt the change in tone. The ratings really began to shoot-up at this point, but it also lead to the trend of relaying more on big plot events (like the Cortlandt Masquerade) and not the characters for storyline.

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Well.the move to an hour was the first change which allowed/required extra characters that were not part of the core that had sustained the show sincew the debut..That was when Devon and Ellen were introduced etc. Then when the Cortlandts came along, the decision was made to write out Tara,Phil, Ann,Paul,Jeff,Linc and Kelly so the Tylers and Martins were severely depleted .

Cliff Warner was originally a recast for Jeff Martin so iy would have been Jeff/Nina and the Martins would have been part of this.

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I'm not 100% sure on some of the actors but the original characters were basically:

Joe Martin

Kate Martin

Jeff Martin

Tara Martin

Bobby Martin

Ruth Brent

Ted Brent

Phil Brent

Charles Tyler

Phoebe Tyler

Chuck Tyler

Lincoln Tyler

Amy Tyler

Anne Tyler (though I'm not sure if she was there at the beginning)

Nick Davis (same; he and Anne might have been introduced later on)

Mona Kane

Erica Kane

I know some sites list some other random characters who were probably recurring characters at the hospital or with the high school crowd.

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Julia Barr (Brooke): "I Just Sorta Fumbled into all of this..."

Afternoon TV - May 1977

Julia had no plans to become an actress -- or a wife -- until she got to Buffalo and became both!

Julia Barr's West Side apartment smells of freshly brewed coffee. Her two cats, Ours and Leonard, are jumping on the tables and climbing up to the loft area above the kitchen. Julia is in the kitchen, explaining why her husband, Richard, has been away at Princeton. "He's stage-managing 'Major Barbara' at Macarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey. He's a stage manager, but he's done some associate administration work. He's done some off-Broadway, but this is his first professional, getting-paid-for-with-a-contract kind of work." She smiles proudly.

Julia looks like a boardwalk Kewpie Doll. One that you press in the stomach and the eyes roll and the mouth gurgles with a smile. Or a cheerleader out of the plains of the Midwest. A blonde cheerleader fed on wheat and cow's milk. In fact, she is from the Midwest -- Fort Wayne, Indiana, a suburb some 30 miles from Chicago. But, " I wasn't the cheerleader type at all. As a matter of fact, I was in community theater - in a play - on the night of my high school prom, and I liked it that way."

Blue blue eyes, she has and corn-colored hair keeps falling in her eyes, and the little hands brush them away. She is petite, and girlish, and there is nothing in her teen-age appearance that shows her 27 years - except maybe when she talks about Richard.

"This is the first separation we've had in three years of marriage for professional reasons," Julia sighs. "Well, actually, we've had separations where he's had to stay home, but that's different." She laughs mischievously, her Indiana twang becoming more evident. "You know, it's always the person who's staying home, who's doing the same things, who gets bored and lonely, rather than someone who goes away and is doing something different."

The Barrs have been separated for two weeks, and though Julia is happy that her husband is working, her loneliness is apparent. "It's the first time I've been here alone."

Julia met her husband after she quit college and went to Buffalo, New York. "I went to Buffalo to be with a guy I met in summer stock." She sets down some plates and cups, all meticulously arranged, then laughs and says in a comic voice, " I forgot the coffee."

"Anyway, this guy went to Buffalo to be in a show and I met his best friend -- who was Richard. "

"We're still good friends with the guy, which is nice. He gave us that sculpture for our wedding." She pointed to a massive gold and silver colored painting/sculpture above the mantle.

I admired her apartment, a brownstone with real fireplace and beautiful wood floors. "All the woodwork was here like this when we moved in," she admits modestly. Then we get back to Julia's early experiences with acting. Her first daytime TV role, as all of you may remember, was Reenie Zabo on "Ryan's Hope. "But I guess I've been interested in theater since I was about nine. I did a lot of acting while I was in college and I thought it was a lot of fun. But I didn't have any real plans to be an actress. I didn't say when I left college that I was going to New York. I just sorta fumbled into all of this." She laughs a bit sheepishly.

"I went to college for a while when I lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There was a regional campus there and I just studied theater. Purdue sponsored some of the theater. It was a small campus but it was a very good school. After about two and a half years, I decided that I didn't want to go to school anymore. I wanted to go out into the real world. I did some summer stock, and then I went to Buffalo, to be with my boyfriend."

But leaving Fort Wayne was not easy. "It was hard getting out of the house. I'm an only child. I was pretty close to my parents. I still am. They were not happy about her leaving college and attempting to be an actress. "Oh, yeah," she says lazily, "they thought I should get an education. But I bumbled a long up there in Buffalo. I worked the box office, and in an imported cheese place, and as a waitress, all of those struggling jobs. I wasn't even trying for a career there, so you couldn't call me a struggling actress. I was just trying to make a living. And then by the time I came to New York, I was married, and I don't think my career struggles are nearly as hard when you have someone you're married to or are living with."

"Sometimes I wonder a lot what it is like for girls and guys who are living alone -- what it's like to live alone in the city. I'm sure it can be very lonely."

"If I hadn't been married, I don't know if I would have been here, yet. I don't have a real strong drive. It's just not my personality. I'll work hard, but I'm not somebody who'll go down and beat on my agents door, making contacts. I've just never been like that."

After they first started sending me out, I got a small part in an NBC religious special. It was something called 'A gathering of One'. It read very intelligently, but on screen, it was very boring, and I doubt that

"Anyway, being in Buffalo, we met a lot of people, and we became very good friends with some folks who lived here in New York. One of the people introduced me to his agent, so that's how I started getting sent out. But I also went to casting calls and auditions on my own."

After they first started sending me out, I got a small part in an NBC religious special. It was something called 'A gathering of One'. It read very intelligently, but on screen, it was very boring, and I doubt that anyone understood it." She laughed self-consciously, the dolly eyes moving as if they were a separate entity. "That was about two years ago, and then I got the part of Reenie Zabo on Ryan's Hope."

"That was very exciting, it was very new, and it was very strange. I kept thinking 'how long will it be before I get another job?' instead of thinking 'I finally have security'." At the time, her husband was working as a clerk for Celebrity Service, an organization that gives out information about celebrities, and he did a few shows at the Manhattan Theater Club. During the summer, though, when Julia was working as Brooke English on All My Children, Richard was out of work. Was it depressing?

Julia answered quickly. "Yes." Was it a strain on her? "You mean as far as being the woman and bringing home the money? I don't know, maybe a little bit, but I think Richard was also glad that I was working. I mean it certainly wasn't anything that was big in our relationship. My career was forging ahead and his had sort of reached a plateau. And you know, in this business, that's the way it is sometimes, even if you are in different areas. But you start to think, when one's career is ahead and the others is at a standstill, oh, your not as good, or...you know... whatever -- so I'm glad he's working again." Both Leonard and Ours rubbing up against my lap at this point. Ours rubbing her face against my chair. "I've had Ours for about five years and Leonard for about two. I'd like to have a dog but not in the city, not alone. I got Leonard for Ours because she was getting a little crazy being alone."

"You know," says Julia, looking very pleased with herself. " I did a commercial for Kodak, and Daren (Kelly) and I play husband and wife." Daren plays Dan Kennicott on All My Children , and it is obvious that Julia is proud of this work they did together despite the fact that's she's not driven. But for all that lack of drive Julia is truly interested in her career and where it is going. " I don't want to do soaps forever. It's nice for now, and I can enjoy doing for a couple of years. I would like to have more money, which I haven't been able to -- but I also want to do other things on the side -- like theater. I did an off-Broadway show in December. My schedule on AMC was such that I was only on once or twice a week, and the people at the showcase knew I worked, so they arranged things around me, and doing two things at once wasn't that hard."

Actually, Julia does a lot more than two things at once. "I'm taking an acting class one night a week and I spend time looking at scripts and I take dance lessons." With all that, we wondered how or if or when Julia thought about starting a family.

"I don't not want to have children," Julia says, " but no little voices come along to me and saying time to have children. I don't want to have children yet, I still have some things to do before that. I don't know if I would be a working mother. It's important for the parents to be around when a child is very young. But I wouldn't want to deny myself something I really wanted to do."

Julia's own mother never worked, and as Julia got older, she thought it might have been beneficial her mother to work. "I don't think she found being a housewife particularly fulfilling."

And how had that affected Julia in the long run - like is she happy?

She pushed some of her hair out of her doll face. "Oh, that's very hard to answer. It's an ongoing thing. I'm probably a lot less moody than I used to be because I understand myself better. For a lot of reason. Coming to this city, dealing with a career, dealing with being married, growing up, it all contributes. So, I may not always be up, but I'm able to realize when I'm depressed and why." Does acting help her when she is feeling down? "Sometimes it doesn't. Performing when I'm anxious about a particular problem is very hard because I have to get up and be on and when I'm depressed, I just want to go home. And home is a haven for Julia. To relax, she sews and does needlepoint.

"I enjoy cooking, too. Every once in a while, we'll have people over and I'll make a whole meal. We get Gourmet magazine, and I'll make a dinner from that. I enjoy making food and having people over."

Relaxation is important no matter what business you're in says Julia -- and maybe the formula for success isn't so different for all businesses, either.

Take for example, the advice Julia would give to any striving young actor. "The potential to make it is always here. Make contacts. One minute you're on the unemployment line, the next minute you have a job. You never know what's going to happen. One day, the time and the place come together. You have to trust yourself a lot -- same as in any business. You have to have an inherent feeling about yourself. You can't let other people be a barometer of your worth. Have your craft under your belt."

Some of that advice Julia came by the hard way. Making connections. learning her own worth and believing in it -- all that took a bit of growing -- and Julia has certainly grown a lot since she started out from Fort Wayne.

"I see myself as being independent, certainly more so than I used to be. I used to think that I couldn't function at all by myself, but I don't think that's true anymore." There's still a bit of loneliness -- an unsureness -- that mingles with the fresh, secure, attractive-young actress image. But maybe that's mostly because Richard isn't there.

Meredith Brown

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