November 9th, 2012  |  Leave a comment

The David Gregory Interview – One Life to Live & She Walks in Beauty

Courtesy/DavidGregoryOfficialSite

It has been exactly one year since On-Air On-Soaps ventured to New York City to say goodbye to the amazing cast of the beloved One Life to Live.  And as hard as that was, we will treasure it for the rest of our lives.  But as this year has played out many of your favorites have gone on to new projects, new roles, and new endeavors.  One such performer is David Gregory, who as hottie Robert Ford, spent his time in Llanview bedding many of the young ladies, being the big brother to his two younger siblings, dealing with his abusive dad and the issues that caused, and finally finding love and becoming a dad in his own right shortly before his untimely death.

Now the multi-talented Gregory can add writing and directing to his resume, as this weekend (with a show tonight and on Sunday) his new play, She Walks in Beauty, has performances at the prestigious Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York City.  David does not act in it, but tells On-Air On-Soaps how the play came about, and how he cast some folks with a close connection to Llanview in it.  David also filled us in on some very great news during our conversation that he has been cast in a recurring role on the upcoming NBC primetime soap, Deception!  If you recall, this was the opulent soap announced by the peacock network that was originally titled, Notorious.

Of course, there was so much to discuss about the final days of One Life, and how David felt about the way they chose to wrap up Ford’s story, what he thought of the final juggernaut of an ending to the 43-year-old soap, and his chance meeting post-Llanview with Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki) that put the loss of the series in proper perspective for him. With David, we looked at the past and what he has accomplished, and how important it is to remember to cherish memories, but also to move forward with a passion for life, and to more importantly, keep oneself open to new and exciting things ahead!  And certainly for David, dreams come true!

MICHAEL:

David, what a week for you!  Putting your first New York play on stage that you wrote and directed!  And, this was also the same time last year that we got together with the cast of One Life to Live for the final press junket, which was the last time I saw you in person!  How have things been for you post-One Life?

DAVID:

Courtesy/ABC

It’s been almost a year-to-the-day that we did all of those final One Life to Live exit interviews!  Of recent, I have been extremely busy!  This play that I wrote I submitted it to a festival, basically to have something to do.  This summer was a little slow, and as soon as it got accepted and we started rehearsals, I got another acting job.  It’s been a challenge and joy to juggle these two things, and we are putting the show on its feet this week.

MICHAEL:

But if I understand correctly, this is pretty fantastic for you!  The very highly regarded Manhattan Repertory Theatre chose your play from submissions from hundreds of upcoming playwrights.  How did this all go down?  It’s kind of thrilling, actually!

DAVID:

The Manhattan Repertory Theatre does a play festival each season of the year.  I submitted my play and they picked it, and the best part about it is they provide the space for you to perform it, and you have stock sets you can use.  They provide the lights, and the sound system, and that whole thing.  And, you get about three performances out of it, and more if it does well.  I took a play writing class in January because OLTL had just ended, and I wanted to get into acting class and do things to keep my chops sharp, but I did not want to get too burned out on it, especially because losing One Life was such a loss.  So I thought, “I will take up a playwriting class. That is something different!”  And, it’s something I have always been interested in.  This play I wrote in late August and finished in a decent amount of time.  I submitted it for, for a lack of a better term, “shits and giggles,” and here we are!

MICHAEL:

And … there are some familiar faces connected to the play that One Life to Live  fans will know! 

DAVID:

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

So, I was able to get Barret Helms (Ex-Baz) from One Life to Live and I needed a middle-aged man to play the sort of father figure, doctor, kind of role.  I thought of Gary Donatelli for that, who was one of our directors at One Life, and it was just a shot in the dark.  I sent him email and said, “Hey, you are really right for this role.  I don’t know if you act, or if you would be interested, but I would love to talk to you about it.”  He sent me back an email that he was really interested, and that he was very flattered.  I had auditions for the lead female role, and Gary showed up to audition as well for his role, like everybody else!  And, you’ve got to give it to this guy.  He rose to the occasion! Gary was man of much power at One Life, and someone who I always admired, and one of the first directors I worked with.  He directed the famous “Ford and the Bucket Scene,” which was one of my first days of work.  We had a great time working together, and when would I have seen him again if not for this play, post One Life?

MICHAEL:

Did you know Gary even acted?

DAVID:

No, I did not know he acted, but I went with “type” first.  When I heard him read the part I knew he was exactly right, and my girlfriend Jen, who is an actress as well, sat in with me when I did his audition, just so I could get another perspective as well.  She said, “I think you have got to give it to him.  He is great!”   Not that I did not want to be surprised, but he brought it.

MICHAEL:

When we last talked a year ago, you had informed me that the end of One Life to Live probably would not hit you as much as would some of the long standing veterans of the series who gave decades to their roles.  Looking back now, do you still feel that way?  It must have a very deep emotional connection for you.

DAVID:

Courtesy/ABC

When One Life to Live ended, I had sort of had bits of panic the last week we were shooting.  We were sort of a family and people we going to miss each other a lot. And a lot of times, I wouldn’t remember certain episodes, but I do remember days I had with Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica) or Brittany Underwood (Ex-Langston) or with my boys on set.  And the longer the show had been off the air, the more of a gap you start to feel from that.  Lenny Platt (Ex-Nate) and I still see each other a lot, and I see Barret obviously, but a lot of people moved to the west coast.  Months later it started to bug me.   You are back to a totally different life style of auditioning and hitting the pavement.   I went to get a hair cut from Wayne Bilotti, who was one of our hair guys on One Life, and he happened to be cutting Erika Slezak’s hair while I was there.  Erika started talking to me, asking how I was doing.  I think this was late January and I did not want to ask her, but I did want to know.  I asked her, “How are you?”  She said, “Great.”  She seemed to say she had time to do things now that she did not have time to do before, and by that she meant having time with her family. You know how she is … she is such a personable person.  I am sure she misses One Life so very deeply. And I do not want to put words in her mouth, but I got the sense from her that if she was OK, then I had to be OK myself, because she was trying to see the silver lining it.  I don’t mean that in a false sense.  I genuinely believed she saw the next step in her life, whatever that may be.  I thought whatever is going on in my head, if Erika Slezak has got her heard on straight, which she does, then I should absolutely too!  For so many years everyone looked to her, and now if she is not panicking, or freaking out, then what choice do I have?  That is also the same way she worked.  She was always prepared, knew her lines better than anyone else, and everyone else’s lines!

MICHAEL:

True that!  Well, Erika knew everybody else’s lines better than them!

DAVID:

She did!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When we last talked, the final episodes of One Life had not aired yet.  What did you think of Ford’s big scenes in Hell with John Wesley Shipp (Ex-Eddie)?

Courtesy/ABC

DAVID:

What a blast! (Laughs) We knew we were shooting out of order.  I knew that Ford was hovering and Frank Valentini (EX EP, OLTL, now EP, GH) came up to me one day out of the blue and said, “You know you’re dying, right?” (Laughs) And I said, “No, I didn’t.”  And he said, “Well, someone had to go!”  And I almost said, “Thank you,” and here’s why:  In a show that has such a huge history, and that has characters on it that deserve a strong ending and deserve to be written for in the last week, I knew that if they were going to kill me off that meant they had to then write a story for it, which meant that I was not going to be twiddling my thumbs the last couple of weeks.  So I thought of it as a blessing in disguise … and great!  Then I got the script that said that John Wesley Shipp was coming back in and that we were going to duke it out in Hell! (Laughs)    They wrote these wonderful scenes, but to sort of cap off what it was about … has Ford changed?  Or, has he not changed?  In addition, Ford got to stick to his old man in the end. Ford has got to throw his father into the burning pit of Hell to survive, but then, Ford sort of runs into Heaven, and we all know how that ended.

MICHAEL:

Also remember, the original show title of OLTL was Between Heaven and Hell, and you got to play that throughline at the end of the show’s historic run.  You know, I thought maybe they would let Ford pay for being such a dog with women! And I mean more than making him dress up like a hotdog to pay his bills! (Laughs) Anyway, I thought Ford would actually end up in Hell, but in the end, he did get a reprieve, if you will, and he did wind up in Heaven.

DAVID:

I tried to explain this to my family before it aired.  I said, “I am going to sort of be in between worlds.  They are not sure if Ford is going to Heaven or Hell, and they want to show that.”  But I think it worked! They were able to bring back some very familiar faces for the Heaven sequences, and I think they utilized it beautifully.  I was actually in Chicago for an event on the last episode airing of One Life.  The actors in attendance watched it together with the fans in this huge bar area.  And … what a topper!  Having Trevor St. John (Ex-Victor Jr.) show up in the last scene!  I did not know that was coming.  I did not know ‘till it aired.  It was such a blast for us, because we were watching it with fans of the show, and it was such surprise to them as it was for us!  And we were all thinking, “This is the last one, and what a way to go out!”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

OK, being the man who clocked the most shirtless scenes in soapdom … what happened with the infamous bucket scene?  Was that always supposed to be the plan?  Was it in the script that way?

DAVID:

It was written that way!  I got the script, and I will never forget this.  I am a big fan of Hugh Jackman, and ever since I was a kid, he has been the guy I want to emulate.  I got the script for the scene and it literally said, “Ford picks up the bucket of water in the barn to cool off.”  And then they wrote as a note, “It should look like Hugh Jackman in Australia!”  I saved that script, because I was so excited that, that is what they wanted me to go for.  There were a few episodes I had prior to that, but when it came to the bucket scene I thought, “Oh, now we are getting into soapy goodness!  This is good and fun!”   We literally shot it as plain as day.  It was supposed to be a little more in slow-motion, but they shot it and that was the first day I met Gary Donatelli.  I had no idea it would cause the tremor that it did.  I am so glad it did!  You know how this goes?  Fans can make you or break you in this soap business.  I was supposed to only be on OLTL for two and half weeks, and I was there instead for two and half years, because these people kept me in my job.  I am reminded of that all the time whenever I go to something someone says, “I miss your character, or we miss the show,” but you know what? “We miss you guys!”  It boils down to that.

MICHAEL:

I will never forget our special BlogTalkRadio OLTL final two-hour finale broadcast, where fans spoke to members of the cast live on-air telling them how much they will miss them and One Life.  It was heartbreaking!

DAVID:

Jerry verDorn (Ex-Clint) had his recent annual charity event, and the year before I attended, fans were saying, “We are so sad the show is going off the air,” and this year, it had been more of, “We really miss it” and some people were talking to me as if One Life had just finished, and I realized it was still that fresh to them.  If you watch a show, for say 25 years, when a year goes by without it, you still feel that void in your life.  I just sat and talked to some people about this for a while, and you get the sense that it was more than just a television show that people would sit down to watch.  It was families who would watch it together.  I talked to a husband who said, “I am not a soap guy, but my wife and I have opposite schedules, and the only time I get to spend with her and do something she likes to do, is watching OLTL with her.”  I thought that was really neat of him as a husband, and the fact that it brought them together.  So when something like that for them ceases to exist, that is a huge void. 

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

You got a lot of flack for coming on and stealing air time from some of the main characters of the series.  Your family then expanded to bringing on your two brothers, Nate and James.  You must have a special place in your heart for Lenny Platt (Ex-Nate) and Nic Robuck (Ex-James).

DAVID:

Listen, those guys are always going to be important to me, always.  No matter where we go, or what we do from here on out, we are going to remember this is where we started out.  I was raised to believe you never forget how you began and at OLTL, I learned everything that I needed to know.  Now obviously, I want to learn more, but I have done primetime work since, and it is never as stressful.  You are shooting fifty pages a day in three hours on a soap, and it can take its toll on you after awhile, but you can go do a guest spot on a primetime series, and it’s three pages in four hours.  One Life prepared me for anything that I could possibly have to deal with, and I did it with Lenny and Nic, because we often had scenes together, or stunts to do together.  We were all kind of in the same boat.  It sort of helps to have guys who are thinking what you are thinking.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s talk about Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica)!  I know you two are once again on the same show!  Explain! (Laughs)

DAVID:

Bree is doing Haven on SyFy, and she is going to be on this new show on NBC series called Deception, which they just changed the name of to that.  It’s going to be a mid-season series. I just got hired on there as well!  I am about to shoot my fourth episode.  Bree and I ended up working the same day, and so we got to see each other for a little bit.  What the odds are of that?  Unfortunately, we do not have scenes together as of now, but she plays a very important role in the show.  I think it should start airing in January.  It’s a killer; it’s being billed as primetime soap.  I am playing Kyle, he is sort of a bad guy with a motorcycle, maybe with a heart, but we are not sure.  Does that sound familiar at all?  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

You?  Playing that kind of role?  No! (Laughs)

DAVID:

He swoops in … and the show is about this big family, The Bowers, and he has his eye on the youngest daughter.  I think I start airing on the third episode.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s get back to your play, which I found the subject matter quite intriguing.  Tell me the basis of She Walks in Beauty?  What would you tell people is at the core of the story?

DAVID:

The way I have it structured is in the first scene, it’s a husband and a wife, and we get the idea that they haven’t been married very long, but there are problems developing in their relationship, and very soon after that we realize that she is in fact a mechanical human prototype!  Her husband helped invent her and his boss, who they just refer to as “dad”, is the mastermind behind the entire project.  So what I wanted to explore was – are the problems in their relationship because she is a robot?  Or, is it because she is actually starting to have human characteristics, and they are just normal problems everyone experiences, which sort of make this a dark comedy!  It’s what we would laugh at if it was somebody else, and what we would not laugh at if it was.  What ends up happening is, she gets very curious.  So the questions become: Is she capable of having children with her husband?  Can she go to school like everyone else?  One of the things her father says is, “We can input anything into your system? “  She says, “I don’t want to be inputted.  I want to learn.”  And it holds up a mirror to us in a sense, and shows us maybe that we are better off the way we are, because we have all the tools and the abilities and we just have to make that choice.  Without giving the story away too much, it sort of heats up when there are problems where she may have been made faulty, and maybe they should make another one … and so, if they make a 2.0 version of this woman, does this make it the same thing, or something different?  And, the guy ends up having an affair with the 2.0 and it starts riddling him with guilt, and so he actually starts to develop this guilty conscience about it.  The best way to describe it is ….  a sci-fi dark comedy.

MICHAEL:

Who plays the robo-woman?

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

DAVID:

The robot woman is played by Andrea Leach.  She made me laugh when she read for the part and took it places I did not expect.  She reminded me of a Bree Williamson, in that they have a relationship a little like Ford and Jessica – like you get on my nerve, but you really don’t, but I really like you! (Laughs)  I could not stop laughing at Andrea’s reading, because it was like here is someone who found humor in something that maybe was not funny, but she sees the reality of the situation, and she is great.  I needed someone who could hold their own on stage against two very strong men.  She has Barret on one side and Gary on the other.  Gary is like 6’4” (Laughs) He can be a very intimating presence, and I can attest to that when he came in to direct my first scenes years ago saying, “Who’s that Ford kid?  What is a Ford?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Many of your former One Life to Live co-stars are on the west coast, as we have discussed.  Are you content staying on the east coast?

DAVID:

I have definitely thought about it.  As of now, with Deception shooting now in New York, I am staying put.  My heart is in TV and film.  But what I am doing now, and what I had been doing, is exactly what I want to be doing, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say, because I don’t think a lot of people can say that about what they do for a living.  I guess, I would just know if it was the right project, or if the time was right for me to move to L.A.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Have you been auditioning for other daytime soap roles, although that would now bring you to L.A.?

DAVID:

I have not been. You know, I signed for another four years at OLTL before it was canceled.  In my mind, it was sign to stay in New York and see what happens.  I kind of left it at that.  Deception happened, and I felt like it was the right thing at the right time.

MICHAEL:

So, do you get a sense that this role on Deception could turn into something bigger for you?

DAVID:

I was talking to one of the writers today, and they told me they like the character I play and the chemistry they are seeing, so I am just taking each episode as a blessing and seeing what goes on.  I was kind of keeping this low key until I started shooting and got a few episodes under my belt.  Just because I know how quickly things can change, and when I auditioned for it, it wasn’t supposed to be a recurring role, but it was suppose to be an episodic and then done.  They are now getting back in their production offices once we got Hurricane Sandy out of the way.  I feel more confident now that I am really involved in this show in some small way.

MICHAEL:

The big question David … Will you be on Deception with your clothes on?  Or, off?

DAVID:

Courtesy/ManhattanRepTheatre

Believe it, or not?  I am wearing layers of clothing. .. A lot!   I am a motorcycle guy and I have my hoodie and leather jacket.  He is a little rougher around the edges than Ford.  It’s a blast.  I am working with a girl named Ella Rae Peck.  She was heavily recurring on Gossip Girl last year.  When I saw she was attached to it, I was thrilled.  She and I had actually done a Gossip Girl episode earlier in the year.  On Gossip Girl we were playing best friends, and on Deception we are playing lovers.  So, we are playing opposite of what we played before, which is great.

MICHAEL:

In closing, I just want to say kudos to you, David.  Best of luck with putting up your play!  You must be very proud. 

DAVID:

It’s a little nerve-wracking thinking about what you are doing, but my girlfriend told me, “You are creating something in the middle of New York City.  How many people get to do that?”

  1. Becky Cloutier says:

    God we all miss our soaps soooo much! And of course all the Actors Too!!

    Reply

  2. louisa says:

    Lots of good information here! Still really missing OLTL…

    Reply

  3. SharonB says:

    Congratulations to David Gregory and his upcoming projects. I am so glad he is getting new projects. I miss One Life to Live so much as well as everyone that worked on it including the behind the scenes people. I wish great success for all of them. I love OLTL always!!

    Reply

  4. SharonB says:

    Thank you so much Michael Fairman for keeping us up to date on everything.

    Reply

    Patrick replied

    Yes, Sharon I am so glad Mr. Faiman is keeping us up to date with so many of the actors from cancelled soaps! I still miss OLTL and its been almost a year since it went off the air.

    Reply

  5. gloria says:

    Wow, this brings back so many memories & makes me miss OLTL so much, all over again. I have the official cast portrait framed & hanging on my bedroom wall across from my bed. That is my big, wonderful family who I love & miss so much. Watched the show all my life. I’d give anything to have it back.

    Reply

  6. steve says:

    David my warmest congrats on ‘She Walks in Beauty’ I’m sure it will be hit & awesome
    Interview You’re still missed on Daytime lol !

    Reply

  7. MBmomof3 says:

    Thank you, Mr. Fairman for a great interview. Congrats to David Gregory. Miss OLTL & the cast/characters everyday. Always happy to learn what the actors are up to.

    Reply

  8. Philip says:

    So happy David is staying busy with successful projects. Looking forward to “Deception” and wish him a very great future.
    All of us miss OLTL very much and feel ABC should have found a way to keep the show on the air. Hope the other “Ford” boys, Nic and Nate are also doing well.
    Had OLTL not been cancelled, I’m sure Barret Helms would have become a fan favorite also. Since his actual screen time turned out so minimal, we didn’t have the opportunity to get to know his character.
    Just wish I could have gone to New York to see David’s play.

    Reply

  9. Robbyrob says:

    Thank you for keeping in touch with David Gregory. I was a big fan of his work (and shirtless scenes) on OLTL. I recognized him on the streets of NYC before OLTL was canceled (sniff…sniff). Can I just tell you…how nice and personable he was to me. He spent time chating with me about the show and let me take some photos of us together. He had no problems with guy fans coming up to him and saying hi. I was sad that Ford died at the end but it truly was a memorable run. I wish him the best of luck and hopefully I’ll run into him again and say hi. Keep up the great work Michael!

    Reply

Leave a comment