Friday, April 26, 2013

Interview: Brooke Burns Exacts Her Revenge

You might be used to seeing Brooke Burns cast as, in her words, “the apple-pie, blond-haired, blue-eyed, all-American girl.” Her various roles on TV shows and movies like “Baywatch,” “Shallow Hal,” “Miss Guided” and “Pepper Dennis” showcased her sweetness; the more recent “Melrose Place” incarnation allowed her to explore her dark side. Well, get ready for a whole lotta dark-side exploration on Saturday, April 26 at 8 pm ET/PT, when Brooke’s new movie, “A Sister’s Revenge,” premieres on Lifetime. I caught up with Brooke recently, and she told me all about her fierce new role as a woman (named Suzanne Dell) seeking revenge on the man she feels is responsible for her sister’s suicide.

Daytime Dial: Since we are used to you as “the nice girl,” it was a shock to see you in this kind of role. Was that a big reason you wanted to do this movie?

Brooke Burns: There were a couple of things. Obviously, the longer you’re in this industry, certain roles start to recirculate through your life. And then certain ones are new and fresh, and it’s always fun to kind of sink your teeth into something a little more diverse than what you’re used to.

I love the thriller aspect of this movie, and at the same time, it’s always fun, especially in a bad-guy role, to find justification for a character. And I loved the fact that she has this deep love for her sister; I found a lot of truth in feeling sort of like her champion and being able to justify her being in a very dark place in the film. With a bad-guy role, you have to be able to find empathy for the character as well. She’s driven to madness because of the love that she has for her sister and feeling like somehow that her sister’s death will be avenged if she can pull this off.

DD: Obviously you aren’t a homicidal maniac, but in what ways can you relate to Suzanne?

BB: Her fierce loyalty to family. She lost her parents, and her sister is the only person that she has, that she feels connected to. My family is my most important thing, so I can’t even imagine if that were the last family member and she were taken from me in that kind of way. How those feelings of anger and sadness would be very potent, and could probably drive a person to some level of insanity — if you allow yourself to go there.

DD: Tell me about the filming process: Where did you film, and how was the cast to work with?

BB: We shot in Ottawa, Canada, which has some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. And the cast was fantastic. I worked mostly with Tim (Rozon) and Ashley (Jones), and we had a ball. Tim is such a gentleman, and he actually owns a couple of restaurants in Montreal. And Ashley and I have seen each other in passing through different stuff out here, but we had never actually worked together before. And we just had a great time.

DD: You’ve done dramas, comedies, hosting duties, etc. Is there a certain genre you prefer, or are you happy to dabble in lots of things to keep it interesting?

BB: I just like to work. I think from growing up as a ballerina, I have some incredible discipline and work ethic that was deeply ingrained in me, so whether it’s acting or hosting, I’m happy. I enjoy acting because you get to dip your toe into the fantasy of a role like Suzanne in “A Sister’s Revenge.” And I enjoy the hosting because I love people, and that’s a natural kind of medium for me that I enjoy as well. I don’t really have a preference. It’s never boring; it’s not a nine-to-five job.

DD: Lately I’ve seen you in a lot of dramas, but I love you in comedies too, especially that comedy series “Miss Guided” from a few years back. Would you like to get back to comedy?

BB: Oh, yeah. Comedy’s awesome. When you get to go to work and have fun and play and laugh, there’s nothing better. It’s some of the hardest work to do, but it’s also the most rewarding. It really depends on the people you are with, and what your chemistry is with them. I would say that “Miss Guided” and “Pepper Dennis” were my two favorite comedic roles that I’ve gotten to do, for sure.

DD: What else do you have in the pipeline that you can talk about with me?

BB: I just shot a pilot for the Game Show Network. It’s a dating show called “Where Have You Been All My Life?” It’s kind of a 2013 version of “The Dating Game,” which I was obsessed with. It is super fun, and they’re using a lot of social media as research, and using it in an onscreen format. It’s been a blast, and we’re waiting to see if it gets picked up. I really hope it does, because it’s just perfect. It fits my lifestyle because it’s in LA. It’s close to home. I get to be with my family. I like that stuff.

So that’s pretty much what’s going on right now, except for I’m planning my wedding. So that’s exciting. It’s a summertime wedding. And I’m trying to get my kids out of seventh grade with honors. I love little things in life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Interview: Linda Gray

The second season of TNT’s reboot of “Dallas” (which airs Monday nights at 9/8c) has started with a bang. While the new season will be bittersweet — with the recent death of series star and legendary actor Larry Hagman — the cast is eager for fans to see what the Ewings are up to now. I recently spoke with longtime “Dallas” star Linda Gray, and she can’t wait for viewers to experience the new season.

Daytime Dial: First and foremost, I must tell you how sorry I am about the passing of your dear friend and castmate Larry Hagman. What will you remember most about him, and about working with him?

Linda Gray: Thank you very much. From day one, he was magic to work with, and it never stopped being magic. He was a joy to watch, and looking into those baby-blue eyes and going, “You little rat, what are you doing now?” When Larry and I worked together, it was really like a Ping-Pong game. It wasn’t a tennis game; it was faster, like Ping-Pong.

He was a great, generous actor. I remember in 1978, I was coming at him (in a scene between Sue Ellen and J.R.) and just yelling at him or something, and he gently took my shoulders and moved me; I didn’t realize it, but I had gotten out of my light. Another actor would have thought: “Let her bury herself. She’ll be in the dark; I’ll be in the light. Perfect.” But he wasn’t like that. He was gentle like that. It was an unspoken chemistry that happens so rarely in life, and I was blessed to know him.

DD: When TNT first approached you about the resurrection of “Dallas,” what did you think about coming back to the show, and to the character of Sue Ellen Ewing?

LG: That was just beyond fabulous. It was a big surprise for Patrick (Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing), Larry and I. We called each other immediately, shouting: “Oh my God! We get to work together in the same characters that we love.” And that wouldn’t have happened before, because we are too recognizable. We never, ever get to work together in anything (other than “Dallas”), so this was a win-win situation. I am loving every second of it.

DD: How has Sue Ellen changed in the 20-year interim between the series?

LG: I really did some wonderful homework for this. That’s the fun part of being an actor. She was born and raised in Texas. She was Miss Texas. She knew everybody in Texas. She knew all the oil deals that J.R. had done — good, bad or indifferent. She knew all those politicians; she knew all the oil men; she knew everything and everybody.

It’s 20 years later, and she’s now sober. Lots of things went on in her life prior to coming back. She’s no longer the victim; she’s a survivor. Life is different for her. I didn’t want her to be the same. She couldn’t have been the same. Bobby could still be the good guy, J.R. could still be the bad guy — but adored by fans with that cute little smile — but Sue Ellen had to be different.

DD: I am bummed that she lost the election to become Texas’ new governor.

LG: This is a little tidbit that I like to tell people: The governor lives in Austin, so if she had won, she would have had to live in Austin. The show’s called “Dallas,” so we didn’t need that. (Laughs.) We need her in Dallas. It’s OK she lost. She can move on to what’s next. This is the fun part, the absolute joy. You don’t ever know where Sue Ellen is going. That’s why I love this character.

DD: Can you give me any clues as to what the rest of the season has in store for us?

LG: Not a clue. You have to stay tuned. I can’t tell you anything, and I won’t, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you. It’s a surprise for us each week when we get our scripts, so for me to take away that surprise for you would be very bad for me to do.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Interview: Greg Vaughan's New Role on Days

Eric Brady, Sami’s twin brother, hasn’t been on the Salem scene for more than a decade — until now, that is. Daytime veteran Greg Vaughan stepped into the role, and into a clerical collar, a few months ago, with a story line that was unexpected to Greg and his fans. I spoke with “Father” Greg a few weeks back about taking on this new role and how he’s adjusting to the “Days of our Lives” set.

Daytime Dial: In order to prepare for the role of Eric Brady, did you read the backstory, watch some old episodes, etc., or did you decide to do none of this to come in with a fresh take on the character?

Greg Vaughan: I did want a fresh take, but I have history with the show from the outside looking in because I dated a young lady who was once on the show. And then I knew a lot of the cast, and one of them being Jensen (Ackles, who played Eric from 1997 to 2000). And so in portraying the role and the character itself, I was familiar with everything up and to that point. But it’s been more than 10 years, and so much has changed, and I just felt like he had definitely come into his own as a man. I wanted to use my own pallet of colors on the character, if you will. I wanted to create my own vision, and what better way to do that — especially when I was informed that he was going to be a priest?

DD: I think a lot of us were surprised by that turn of events!

GV: For me, it was more of a deer-in-the-headlights kind of shock, like: “Wow! Now THAT is going to be a challenge!” I was thinking he’d be more of a Jason Bourne type of guy. But then when I heard he’d be a priest, I explored into that and my personal life journeys, and then I’m like, “You know, this could be kind of interesting.” And it will be challenging, because I’ll be out of my element. What better way as an actor to challenge yourself than getting out of your comfort zone?

DD: How much have you filmed? I know Christmastime always plays a big part in Salem.

GV: We film very far in advance, and that’s very much out of my box. We’re shooting like three months ahead of time, so half of the stuff I’ve already done I don’t even recall. I think our Christmas scenes were filmed before Halloween. But as I recall, there’s going to be a lot of good quality and a nice, really spiritual family time, and I think everybody is going to be taken by it.

DD: How were your first few days on the set? Were you excited, nervous?

GV: There was a lot of excitement, like Christmas Day or something, because I knew a lot of the cast previously. There was just an overall feeling of “this is going to be fun.” Everybody has graciously welcomed me. I was a little bit overwhelmed because the pace is so fast. It was not something I was used to. Alison Sweeney and I were doing a movie a little while back, and she said: “Things have changed quite a bit. Not just with the genre, but each show.”

DD: How has that changed you as an actor?

GV: It definitely made me step up my game. It’s like, you’re being given a great opportunity, so take the bull by the horns, do your work and come in here and perform. You get a lot of people who are used to the stage and a lot of people who are used to prime time, and they can’t keep up with the pace. It’s so fast — you have to digest it, regurgitate it, spit it out, and then start over and move on to the next scene. Out of the gate, I didn’t eat for like the first two weeks. Not by choice; it was just I was being pulled in so many different directions because I was in so many different scenes. I was interacting with so many new faces, and I was trying to get some sense of rapport and history and education about where and who I was. But now I finally feel like it’s a nice, steady flow. I’ve gotten into a good rhythm.

DD: Can you tell me anything about Eric’s future in Salem?

GV: In Eric’s journey, he’s definitely had his own issues and battles to deal with. There are a lot of layers that are going to be revealed along the way, and we’re going to communicate that. Where he’s going, what his temptations are and reuniting with past relationships — whether it’s with Nicole and the temptation of that, and the struggle against the family and his sister, and the butting of heads with the DiMeras.

Eric is coming from a whole new perspective that’s nonjudgmental. And that’s hard. Especially when you want to stand up and fight for somebody. It’s definitely been an exciting journey so far, and I’m always looking forward to what kind of ride I’ll be taken on. I’m just glad to be working with a great cast and to be a part of such a historically great show. From the younger cast members to the veterans, there’s not one person I haven’t been taken in by or drawn in by what they’re doing.