While All My Children has been given a second chance at its soap life, the olive branch continues with the series that is now delighting its long-time fans with some startling blasts from the pasts that have been woven into the fabric of their new and current storylines! Many fans were delighted and shocked with the news that long time heartthrob and romantic lead, Michael Nader is returning to All My Children as Dimitri Marick after more than a decade since his last appearance on the ABC version of the show.
Fans loved the romantic Nader, and the character of Dimitri, and especially his pairing with the one and only Susan Lucci (Erica Kane). But it wasn’t an easy road for Nader on the old AMC, and that is putting it mildly. As had been publicly documented, as well as discussed in the book No Holds Barred, Nader was let go from All My Children due to budgetary considerations in 1999, but there was such fan outcry for him that the ABC Television Network brought him back to the role with a multi-year contract! He returned in May of 2000. Then in 2001, Nader then lost the role, once again, but this time it was due to trouble with the law, and from an official statement from ABC saying if he would address these issues, they would bring him back, which they never did. Nader then sued ABC after learning they never had any intention of bringing him back, after he turned his life around. Needless to say, that is the short abridged version of the tumultuous journey and road Nader has traveled. But all of that … is now in the past!
On-Air On-Soaps had the pleasure of sitting down with Michael, when we visited the All My Children studios, where he was just beginning to tape new episodes as Dimitri. We can tell you, Michael was forthright in our conversation, infusing it with self-effacing humor and wit, and a pleasure to talk! We know one thing, long time fans and new ones too, are going to love seeing him back where he belongs in Pine Valley this coming June. So here’s our chat with Michael N.
So after all this time, how did you end up back on All My Children?
MICHAEL: It’s a cute little story. I found out after I talked to Ginger Smith (executive producer, AMC). Ever since I left All My Children many years ago, she was a fan of my work. Obviously, she supported me because she was having, as I understand it, them already writing for me. She said, “Start writing for him. I am going to find him.” Then Chris Goutman, the director said, “Michael’s daughter is on facebook … don’t you remember Lindsay?” So she emailed Lindsay on her facebook page and said, “This is Ginger Smith. I would like to speak with your pop!” Lindsay then called me and said, “Dad, someone from All My Children wants to talk to you and I gave her your number.”
It must have felt like a sort of vindication, and felt really good to be sought after that way?
MICHAEL: I have been out of the game. I did a couple of guest spots on Cold Case,and little things. Then I started drifting around and going to those, “Let’s see what they look like today interviews.” I went, and you know what? The industry has changed so much. You know it’s sit around and wait. I have a friend, a very good actor. For seven years he did not get work. All of a sudden because of his voice, he has an English accent, he started to get some voice-over work, and it was enough to make a living in Hollywood. Three weeks ago, I got call that he had a cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep. They found him three days later with his dogs around him. So he waited by the phone, he got a little bite of life, and then he was taken. And I said, “You know, I am so lucky of what I did, and to live in this wonderful community in Lake Tahoe. I am at peace.” Then the phone rings and it was Ginger!
Fans loved you as Dimitri Marick! You were one of the shows all-time leading men!
MICHAEL: Who can complain with a thousand candles, me dressed as a Prussian Emperor, and dancing with Susan Lucci in Budapest? C’mon, that was some good stuff!
Did Ginger inform you of the story to lure you back to the soap?
MICHAEL: Truthfully, they did not tell me anything about storyline. Ginger said, “I will do anything to have you come back … anything!” I said, “I don’t need to know anything, sweetie. Just have your financial team get on the horn and let’s get this settled, and I think this will be a gift for both of us! You believe in me, which is wonderful, and I know you haven’t seen me, but trust me, I am ready to roll.”
Did you feel pressure with all that you had been through to come back now to your sort of old stomping grounds and begin the rigors of acting on a soap?
MICHAEL: No, strangely enough. I thought I would be nervous my first little day on set, but I was only nervous for the first beat, because it was one of those reveal things where you have to time it just right, and so for that moment my actor head goes, “Not real. Not real.” But then I let it go and it was just fine. So for the first few weeks, I think I will be drifting in and out, and then I got some scripts where I get busy with JR.
Originally, there was so much speculation that when AMC cast European Russian bad boys Vlad and Yuri (who now we come to find out are running a sex trafficking ring) that somehow Dimitri might have a connection to them because of his European background, as well!
MICHAEL: Those were the boys that I sent to check out the place? No! (Laughs) I honestly have no idea what the storyline is going to be, the plot, or anything. I am just amazed after meeting with Jeff and Rich from Prospect Park, and seeing the product they are putting out. I went, “You know what? This is good!”
You know I was sitting in front of you at the AMC and OLTL premiere! What did you think when you saw the two shows on the big screen? And, what was it like for you being there amongst all of your peers once again, many whom you have not seen in years?
MICHAEL: I was excited seeing it on the big screen. All My Children was fun, and One Life to Live had this dark intensity. I said, “Boy, One Life to Live is very gritty.” And they said, “Just wait. The storylines on this one are going to get very, very gritty.” So honestly, it’s all just a fabulous reunion. I got here, and on the first day I came up here to the studios in Connecticut, it was for a wardrobe fitting and make-up. I literally have not seen anyone since the day I had to leave. It has to be thirteen years ago. The night when I went to the premiere, I walked on the red carpet near Cady McClain (Dixie, AMC) and Jill Larson (Opal, AMC). Jill had not seen me yet, and I came up behind her, and she said, “Yes?” And I said, “Hi Jill.” And she said, “Can I help you?” Then, I said “It’s Mike.” Then the curtain came up and she howled and hugged me very tight. Then later, she says “Just like me Mike, no one recognizes you.” But then towards the end, I started to get some second looks from the fans, and then inside the premiere the three photographers who have been covering soaps forever yelled in unison, “Mike Nader!” I went, “Yes, it’s me!”
Do you suspect Dimitri will be a good guy or bad guy, this time?
MICHAEL: I don’t want him to be a bad guy. I want Dimitri to be a caring man, but very, very tough when s**t comes his way. If “Jr”, or David, or anybody gets in his way, they need to watch out. So to any of the bad guys, I am hoping I might be the fulcrum to pull them down. That would be great.
Will you work with Thorsten Kaye (Zach, AMC)?
MICHAEL: The reason I am sitting here with my head shaved is that when I saw Thorsten, I said, “I am not competing with that head of hair!” Now, I still have hair in my head, but then I also saw Vincent Irizarry, who plays David! So I went in and said, “Ralphie, let’s buzz this mother off!” (Laughs)
Did you ever stay in touch with your former AMC on-screen brother, Edmund, played by John Callahan?
MICHAEL: No. I don’t know how long John stayed on All My Children after I did. I think a little bit longer. I ran into Walt Willey (Jackson, AMC) and Michael E. Knight (Tad, AMC) when we did Oprah’s show with the tribute to Susan, and at the end were all of her on-screen husbands. I did that because I thought that would be fun and would mean a lot to Susan. Being back here now in 2013, is a karmic thing for Ginger to have held me dear in her heart, all this time. And then to have this happen for her, and then for her to go, “You know what? I am in the position now to bring that dude back!” She cared that much to make it happen!
Does it feel like this is a second chance at life in Pine Valley for you, and with the revival of AMC?
MICHAEL: I think this version of All My Children is definitely the second coming of the show. And the kids that they have now, they are allowing them to be real kids, not soap opera kids. They are dressing them fresher. The whole show is fresher.
Show business is one of the toughest businesses to be a part of. It can break your spirit, your heart, and can make you very wary of people, and who to trust. Was your decision to reside currently in Lake Tahoe based partly on getting away from the rat-race of the “biz”?
MICHAEL: I came down to visit Lindsay in Los Angeles, about a month before I got the call from AMC. I said, “Lindsay, I’ve got to get out of here.” We went out to dinner, and there were so many wannabes, and my daughter is so solid. But who wants to live in Los Angeles, if you don’t have to? I tell everybody: ‘there are a lot of pretty places if you let go of that old stuff.’ People hold on to their dreams for too long. Get real! Look, it happened for me, and then it didn’t happen for me anymore. I found a community that I love. But I accepted this, here at AMC, the gift that they told me that they wanted me to come home.
So soap fans, are you excited to see Michael Nader again as Dimitri Marick? What do you think will happen when Dimitri hits Pine Valley? How do you feel about Michael getting a wonderful opportunity to act again on the new AMC? Let us know!