Friday, May 29, 2009

Interview: Paul Leyden - Workaholic

(Paul Leyden and Sarah Chalke in Maneater. Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Lifetime Networks)

Paul Leyden is perhaps best known to daytime audiences for playing the charming rogue Simon Frasier on As the World Turns from 2002 to ’07. Since leaving the show, he has been working nonstop — acting and writing — and he is thrilled to be so busy.

Paul’s latest project is the Lifetime original miniseries called Maneater, which also stars Sarah Chalke, Judy Greer and Gregory Harrison. Paul plays another character named Simon, and they seem to share similar qualities with one another.

Paul explains: “Simon is a bit of a playboy. But he’s a playboy with a heart of gold. He’s very much in love with Clarissa (Sarah Chalke), but I don’t think he’s able to express his emotions very well, like most Australian men.”

Paul was happy not to play the main “love interest” character. “Simon is more of a foil, so he could get away with more stuff. He could be a bit more cad-ish, but at the same time, he’s lovable. I like to play rogue characters; they are usually the most fun.”

A main draw for Paul’s interest in this latest project was the cast and the script. “The cast they were getting together was so fantastic, and the script was really funny. This is something I would normally not watch myself, but my wife read the first part and she thought it was terrific. It’s very smart, very shrewd and very insightful. I am a writer myself, and I responded to that.”

He has nothing but praise for his cast, especially Sarah Chalke and Judy Greer, who are known for their smart, biting wit. “They are just terrific people and very smart in real life. That kind of razor-sharp wit that they have on screen is who they are in real life. We had a lot of fun. We’d all hang out, and I felt like one of the girls. I was like the fifth girl in Sex and the City or something.”

Most of Paul’s scenes are with Sarah, and her dedication and talent really made it easy for him to excel in his part. “Sarah is a phenomenal actress. Her character is very different from the one she plays in Scrubs. She’s gorgeous, funny, self-deprecating.

“Every time I went on set, she was always smiling. She worked her butt off on this movie. There’s not really a scene that Sarah is not in. When you turn up, and hers is the first smiling face you see, even though you know she worked 20 hours the day before, it just shows she’s a real pro.”

Paul is very grateful to the folks at ATWT for giving him his first acting job here in the States. Paul recalls his time on the show and reveals: “I enjoyed every bit of it. It brought me over from Australia to work in America, and I’ve worked ever since. I’ve been very lucky that every person I’ve had the chance to work with has become really good friends of mine. The folks at ATWT are fantastic actors, true professionals.”

Paul also has a few things in the pipeline, writing-wise. “I am sort of concentrating right now on my writing. I am working on one thing right now, but I can’t really talk about it yet. I have another thing in the mix with Michelle Monaghan, a movie called The Blonde (based on the book of the same name by Duane Swierczynski).” Paul also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Factory, which stars John Cusack and is set for release in October 2010.

Don’t miss Paul in Lifetime Television’s Maneater, airing Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.