Friday, December 25, 2009

Interview: Life After the Light for Robert Newman


When “Guiding Light” ended its historic 72-year run this past fall, fans were devastated. Robert Newman, who played Joshua Lewis for almost 25 years, is still in New York and is currently starring in the musical “Sessions,” which he began performing in prior to “GL’s” demise. I had the chance to chat with Robert to discuss the end of the “GL” era.

Daytime Dial: What were those last few weeks of filming like on the “GL” set? It must have been a pretty bittersweet time.
Robert Newman: Part of my doing “Sessions” was to give me a distraction from the fact that “Guiding Light” was ending, and it really worked well. My experience of those last few weeks might be different from some of the others, because I was already on this other journey. I almost didn’t have time to digest how heavy this thing was: the ending of a 72-year, 15,672-episode show, of which I spent many years of my life. I did around 3,500-4,000 episodes. The last couple of days, it started to become a bigger thing for me to realize and understand that this really was going to end.


We shot the last scene a few days earlier than the last day of shooting, with Josh and Reva meeting at the lighthouse and riding off in the truck together. That had its own feel to it, because we knew it was going to be the final scene of the show, with “always” being the last word spoken on the show. So that was an emotional day.


The last day we actually shot, a lot of the people who worked on the show came out (on location) to Peapack, N.J., that day. We also had about 200 fans who watched us filming, following us from location to location. As each scene ended, there would be an announcement made that this actor had shot his last scene, and he had been on the show for five years, or 12 years, or 13 years, or whatever it was, and there was a toast and applause, and then we’d shoot the next scene. And, of course, there was a big bash that night.

DD: How has it been since the show ended? What do you miss about it?
RN: Since then, it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, something I didn’t expect or anticipate. I miss the people, I really do. I wasn’t particularly the most social guy on the show, but when you work that intimately and that closely with people, you kind of take it for granted. I will say that I don’t really miss the show — I’m not sure what that’s about, but I don’t. I’ve moved on. It was time to say goodbye to Josh, and I’m OK with that. It was about the people — it was about working with Kim Zimmer, it was about Josh and Reva, it was about being with people on both sides of the camera who are just a hoot to work with.

DD: Are you happy with the ending?
RN: The writers had a wicked task ahead of them. I mean, how do you wrap up 72 years of storytelling? Their sort of bailout of going to a one-year-later scenario worked fine. I think if they had tried to wrap everything up into tidy little packages on the couple of months that we had, I think it would have been sloppy. It was appropriate that the last scenes are with Josh and Reva, and driving off in the truck at the lighthouse. I joked that the truck should all of a sudden explode and then go to a black screen, sort of a “Sopranos”-like ending, but they didn’t go for that. They wanted the happy ending.

DD: What are your plans for the future?
RN: I will probably stay on stage for a while. It feels good to me, and it’s where I want to be. That might mean doing some traveling (to various region theaters), but I’ll probably stay on stage for a bit. That’s my way of taking a break — it gives me a break from the hectic television shooting schedule. Then I’ll figure out some things after that.

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