November 19th, 2009  |  Leave a comment

The Michael Park Interview – As The World Turns

Michael-Park-200x300

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

On As the World Turns, it’s finally “Michael’s Turn”. After languishing on the back burner for quite some time, actor Michael Park has gotten the story of his soap opera lifetime. Michael’s endearing and sturdy portrayal of everyman Jack Snyder has made him one of daytime’s most treasured performers. CBS and ATWT heavily promoted and revealed that Brad Snyder (played by Austin Peck) would be killed off, and with that huge payoffs and stories would explode. And they did, and it did not disappoint critics or viewers. If anyone had caught each episode of ATWT since Jack accidentally shot and killed his brother, you have witnessed must see daytime television. But to On-Air On-Soaps, the standout is Park’s heartbreaking star turn as a man racked with guilt for shooting his brother and how it literally spins his whole life out of control.

Now with the shows Never Surrender Tour in full force, which features Jack hitting the road after the tragic event and ATWT visiting cities around the US in a huge promotional boost for the soap, viewers are getting the chance to see a cast of characters that have been off the canvas for quite some time. But of all the returns, the most highly anticipated was that of Carly, played by the returning Maura West. And that means that Carly and Jack, long-time star-crossed lovers, may yet get another chance at love, or will they?

In this On-Air On-Soaps interview Park talks openly about his new storyline, the exit of Austin Peck, ATWT’s cancellation rumors, and re-teaming with Daytime Emmy winner, West.

MICHAEL:

Since the episode where Jack accidentally shot and killed his brother Brad, As the World Turns fans have been watching you give the performance of your career!

MICHAEL PARK:

Let me start this off by saying the performances across the board have been outstanding. Terri Colombino (Katie), and Austin Peck (Brad)…I mean, I don’t think Austin has done better. He has hit every mark perfectly, and I love this ghost story. I think it’s really something else because I think he and Trent Dawson (Henry) work really well off each other. The writing has been spot on and I think Chris Goutman (exec prod ATWT) has come up with a perfect story arc. It is a perfect storm of good soap opera, period.

MICHAEL:

What went through your mind when you found out the show was planning on killing off Brad, and thus Austin would then be leaving the show, which would then propel Jack into major story?

Brad dies.MICHAEL PARK:

I immediately said, “Please tell Austin it was not anything that I wanted. Tell him it was not my fault.” There has been all this hoopla on how the two of us did not get along. I think it was more hype than anything else. Regardless, he has been doing phenomenal work and I was proud of it. I am happy for the show, and the bottom line is people are talking about As the World Turns and that is what we needed, and at that point we did not even have Maura West (Carly) back yet. What a great set-up for her return to the show.

MICHAEL:

Jack’s journey: from the scenes when Brad died and he felt so guilty, to dealing with his family; Janet and Liberty and his son, Parker, of what he had done were such gut-wrenching moments. Were they tough for you to play?

MICHAEL PARK:

You know it’s crazy, I was thinking of that myself. I have an older brother… and keep in mind on ATWT Brad is younger than Jack. But I do have a brother in real life, and I am thinking while Austin is laying there, “If that was my brother…” and the feeling comes up and the subject matter is heavy, and this also meant… Austin is leaving. I drew from a lot of things. I had a sibling that past away. Did I draw from that? Yeah. And looking at Teri crying that alone will get you, and Terri was beside herself and it was just phenomenal.

MICHAEL:

What can you tell us about the reports that Austin was indeed, “fired”?

MICHAEL PARK:

Look, he did not get fired. We needed to facilitate Brad going away to facilitate story and unfortunately he was collateral damage. What a firestorm it started because the fans got very upset. But the story that happened because of that was so gorgeous, and so many people benefited from it. Most of all, I believe the fans did. And it’s not over yet, because the Christmas Eve show will knock your socks off! The Christmas Eve show is one of our most beautiful shows of the year, I think.

MICHAEL

Will we need hankies?

Michael and JanetMICHAEL PARK:

You might keep em’ nearby, for sure.

MICHAEL:

Jack is the everyman that we can all relate to, which is why he is so beloved. Question: Do you want me to pick out your Emmy reels for you now?

MICHAEL PARK:

Stop it! Don’t talk like that!

MICHAEL:

Your scenes with Mick Hazen as your son Parker, and Julie Pinson as Janet, were also poignant during Jack’s torment. How is working with Mick and Julie?

MICHAEL PARK:

Working with Mick is so easy. He is so present with me and we have a wonderful relationship outside the studio. We are very close and Julie Pinson is a pro.

MICHAEL:

You want to know what drove me up a wall? Janet harping to Jack, that he had two beers and had been drinking the night he shot Brad. She wouldn’t stop bringing it up!

ColumbinoMICHAEL PARK:

Look, Julie made it work and again it’s for more collateral damage. She had to do that in order to facilitate Jack feeling so rocked with guilt that he takes off, because no one is forgiving him. Katie is really the only one forgiving him. Katie! She has been giving Jack the gift of forgiveness, and she should be coming down on him the hardest. Jack living in the same house as Liberty, Brad’s daughter, and the fact she hates the sight of Jack at that moment, he just has to get out of there and is overwrought with guilt.

MICHAEL:

How was it going town-to-town on the Never Surrender Tour of Jack’s journey?

MICHAEL PARK:

Bringing the show to the fans was another one of Chris Goutman’s ideas. You know, it was busy! It was a lot of work! I visited those cities a few times in a couple months… first doing publicity there and then coming back to shoot the scenes. It was very taxing on the home life and Maura just had her fifth child in real life, and she is going everywhere with me. I believe out of it came wonderful story, if you put aside Carly teleporting to cities from Oakdale! (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

Jack visited with Mike, played by our favorite Mike, Mark Collier.

CollierMICHAEL PARK:

That was really special. For a couple years there ATWT was writing in characters and recasting them and rewriting the history along with those new characters. For example, with bringing Brad back, you had to rewrite the history of Jack and his mom and dad, too. Austin worked out that his Brad was this off the wall kooky guy. When they brought Mike on he was very serious, and keep in mind the relationship between Jack and Mike, Carly slept with Mike! So there was a lot of history set aside in order to tell story and it was great to see Mark Collier’s Mike. No slight to Jon Prescott. Now Peter Parros (Ben), the man is beautiful number one. He is rock flipping solid! I don’t know how old he is, and I don’t want to know. (Laughs) He is just a masterpiece, and seeing Lesli Kay (Molly) again, well she is another masterpiece, and to top it off, Paul Leyden (Simon) is back.

MICHAEL:

Now in the story, Jack wants Simon to come back to Oakdale. Why?

MICHAEL PARK:

Simon was involved in an art theft and Jack shows up and says, “You are needed by Katie. Now I don’t know why she loved you, but she did love you and now she is in trouble and you need to help her.” Jack has this stuck in his craw that he has to mend this broken heart of Katie. That is why he goes to see Mike, but Mike has a new wife and baby, so Mike steers him towards Simon. Jack is vehemently opposed to being in Simon’s orbit because of the history between Simon and Carly. As reluctant as he is, it may be the only other person that could help Katie and that is why he tracks down Simon. He can’t finish the job though, and thank God. Lo and behold, Carly shows up to help him out, because Carly knows Simon better than anyone (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

Now coming up next week, things get really upsetting around Thanksgiving for Jack.

Simon Jack and CarlyMICHAEL PARK:

Simon is a master of disappearing and that is pretty much what he does. Jack takes it really hard and thinks it’s his last shot at finding Katie any kind of happiness. So he goes on bender a little bit. He hits the bottle.

MICHAEL:

With a recovering alcoholic Carly nearby? What?

MICHAEL PARK:

And it’s really ‘lousey’, too, to get drunk in front of Carly who just got out of rehab. That’s basically what happens. The tease is Janet finally decides to go looking for Jack. There is a moment when Carly may be tempted to drink. There is a moment when Carly and Jack could end up hitting the sheets, and Jack does not remember what happens, and in that same moment Janet shows up.

MICHAEL:

The “super couple”, if you will, of ATWT as anyone knows is Carly and Jack. Why do you think it has clicked for you and Maura and for the fans?

Carly and JackMICHAEL PARK:

You say we are a “super couple”, but we have not been together for years now. No slight to Julie, no slight to Annie Parisse (Ex-Julia Lindsay), no slight to Sarah Brown (Ex- Julia Larrabee)….I have been blessed to work with all of these wonderful actresses and I don’t know why, I really don’t. Jack met Carly in late 1997 and we have garnered these wonderful crazy and fanatical fans, and they kept us going, really. Without a fan base, you don’t have a “super couple”, and it’s magic for me to work with her. We know each other so well and we pick each other up, and it’s been a great working relationship for over a decade.

MICHAEL:

When the two of you see the scripts where it feels like the same ol’ same ol’ of Jack and Carly splitting up and then getting back together again, does it feel like as actors, “Oh God, here we are again… been there, done that?”

MICHAEL PARK:

Isn’t that always the case, you recycle story. This reunion, if there is one, may be more of the same, but I hope it isn’t. There is a lot to overcome. Jack has to remain non-judgmental and has got to change, and he has not the right to judge anyone, says he. He has no right to judge a soul. He has taken a life!

Jack Shoots BradMICHAEL:

Do you think Jack will ever come to terms with what he has done?

MICHAEL PARK:

It’s a question of Jack forgiving himself, it really is. I don’t think it ever will be the same with Jack and Liberty again, and with his actions of what he did to Janet. I think there were some bridges burned between the two of them that I don’t think will ever be mended either. Because of who he is, and Janet being the good catholic girl she is…they try to stick together, and a lot not only happens on the road, but a lot happens back on the home front, too. So she is no angel in all of this.

MICHAEL:

Maura West’s Emmy reel last year, not only featured an outstanding performance by her but by you as well. In those episodes, Carly was trying to lure Jack back into her life and into her bed.

MICHAEL PARK:

In the past four or five years, I have submitted the same four or five reels as Maura. (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

How odd, right? You were excellent, too. Ah, the Emmy game! Maybe this year do not submit a scene with Maura in it or double check with what she is submitting. (Laughs) But the two of you are so good together. Were there a couple moments in the past where you felt that you and Maura rocked and were awesome as Carly and Jack?

MICHAEL PARK:

The break up scene when they broke up four years ago. That was a special time for both of us and the first time we really showed each other a different side of our characters. That is saying something since we have been working together for over a decade and again, I have said this before, the first time they fell in love in the cabin. It’s a special union that Jack and Carly have, and whenever they give each other those special glances and looks, it means something. When it is written really well for the two of us, it’s wonderful!

Maura WestMICHAEL:

So where else will we see Jack and Carly on the road?

MICHAEL PARK:

We have seen New York, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and then Jack and Carly go on a trip to Detroit..dot..dot…dot..

MICHAEL:

ATWT’s has had cancellation rumors swirling that the show is next on the chopping block since the demise of Guiding Light. You must be concerned?

MICHAEL PARK:

To comment on it makes it real. I lost a couple nights sleep there and I am not going to lie to you. What is happening with ABC switching All My Children to Los Angeles, and budgets are being cut across the board and every show is feeling what Guiding Light was feeling, and what As the World Turns and One Life to Live is feeling now. I have kids I have to feed, but I know I will be working, God willing.

MICHAEL:

Now two time Daytime Emmy Winner Tom Pelphrey (Mick) has started on ATWT. Have you even had a chance to work with him?

MICHAEL PARK:

NO!! I would love to work with him. There are other rumors that more people are coming and I love it.

MICHAEL:

Jack has been on the back burner for years now, until this huge, shall I say, shot in the arm. Was it tough just languishing for so long, when Jack is really one of the leads of the show?

Michael ParkMICHAEL PARK:

It was. I felt like for the first time I was working for my guarantee, and it was right around the time those rumors were coming out of the possible cancellation and so it was hard-core.  It was not like I had not been on the back-burner before, but this particular time was pretty stressful.  And everyone needs their turn, and if this is the payoff for being on the back burner, than boy, I am very fortunate and thankful.

MICHAEL:

You are also set to start in Martha Byrne’s new web series Gotham, which premieres next week on November 23rd at www.gothamtheseries.com.

MICHAEL PARK:

Yes. We shot three episodes, and it was fun. It’s great seeing all the people I used to work with at ATWT outside the studio. We shot it at Martha’s house, which is as much of a mansion as you can possibly get.

MICHAEL:

So you play Richard Manning, a very wealthy man?

MICHAEL PARK:

Of course I do! (Laughs) He is a playboy, and he is the most eligible bachelor of New York City, a JFK Jr. type, if you will. Richard manages a hedge fund and is in a bit of a jam, and we don’t know why. But, he has been married and in the process of getting a divorce. He has got two kids, and that is all we know of this guy. There is a bit of mystery about it. Back in high school, Richard and Catherine, Martha’s character, dated a bit and they are reunited at this St. Jude’s benefit, of course. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How did your participation in the project come about? I am assuming Martha came to you and said, “Want to be in my webisodes?”

Michael ParkMICHAEL PARK:

Well, we went out to LA and talked to a bunch of people and found out the state of the union basically, and where daytime television may be going and what we can do to spark interest in certain shows. A person told us, “Take the project in your own hands and try to make some buzz with it on the Internet, because that is where the next wave of entertainment is going.”

MICHAEL:

Are you a partner on the project?

MICHAEL PARK:

Actually not, it’s all Martha Byrne’s and her amazing idea. I hear Kin Shriner could be involved now, and Anne Sayre and Lisa Brown, as had already been reported, are working on the show. I am very happy with it.

MICHAEL:

Will you continue on with Gotham?

MICHAEL PARK:

Sure, as long as Martha will have me, or until she kills my character off. (Laughs)

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