June 9th, 2011  |  Leave a comment

The Jerry verDorn Interview – One Life to Live

© JPI Studios

Is there any doubt that the best “baddie” of them all in soaps this year has turned out to be none other than Llanview’s Clint Buchanan?  The former stoic and heroic cowboy, who became a business empire mogul, took a turn to the dark side and has been the kick start for many a storyline and many characters horrific dilemmas on One Life to Live. And who is relishing this just as much as the audience at home… Clint’s portrayer, two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jerry verDorn!

The former do-gooder, as Ross Marler on Guiding Light, verDorn took over the role of Clint Buchanan, (once played by the late Clint Ritchie) over six and half years ago and has taken the role to unexpected new heights.  But what a palette he was given by the writers! Here is just a short list of some items on Clint’s machination resume:  Switching Jessica’s and Rex’s paternity test, framing Vimal to take the fall for his demands and skullduggery in DNA labs, paying off Eddie Ford to kidnap Nora Buchanan, (and then the evil Mr. Ford almost rapes Clint’s ex-wife in the process), setting up brother Bo Buchanan with his secretary Inez Salinger by having her drug him so it appears he slept with her in an effort to break up Bo and Nora’s marriage. Then, manipulating Bo and Nora’s son, Matthew against his parents, kidnapping David Vickers on his wedding day to Dorian, and depositing him in a Moroccan prison, leaving La Mayor once again devastated at the altar.  Shall we go on?

But payback is a bitch!  And now Clint, after suffering a severe heart attack, is clinging to life and preparing to say goodbye to his beloved children and family members, unless he gets a heart transplant.  Problem is: Clint has a rare blood type and finding a donor is very difficult.  Enter Matthew Buchanan, Clint’s favorite nephew, who he thinks of as a son. After falling and hitting his head and landing up in the hospital… no thanks to Nate Salinger… Matthew appears to be brain-dead and a match for Clint’s blood type.  Will Matthews’s life become expendable to save the man who perpetrated such heinous acts against his own family?

To get some thoughts and perspective on this subject and more, On-Air On-Soaps went to the man himself, Jerry verDorn, who in our humble opinion has given the true Daytime Emmy winning Lead Actor performance of 2011!  Jerry chats about the Emmys, the cancellation of OLTL, where soaps made a wrong turn, and working with the dynamite trio of Erika Slezak (Viki), Robin Strasser (Dorian), and Kim Zimmer (Echo) as Clint’s leading ladies, In addition, he previews that there is more story to come for the Buchanan clan!  Without further ado, we are thrilled to bring you this interview with Jerry.

MICHAEL:

Clint is at the epicenter of most all the major stories playing out on One Life to Live! Now, with his heart attack and struggle to find a donor heart, do you think this was the only way to redeem Clint from his bad deeds?

JERRY:

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I don’t think it was the only way, but I thought it was a good way. There is history there because his father, Asa, had heart problems, too.  And so it made sense family-wise.  I just remember when I first heard about it; I recalled an actor named Larry Gates who played H. B. on Guiding Light. And, he once told me, “When you are pretending to have a heart attack, be very careful you don’t bring on a heart attack.” (Laughs) When we were shooting those scenes, I had that firmly in mind. (Laughs)  But anyway, I thought it was brilliant.  And then unfortunately, the person who stumbled upon Clint in his misery is Dorian, who then proceeds to have a seat and take a view.  I thought it was very good, and after that happened it involved so many other people.  That is really the hallmark of great soap.  And when a soap is going good, and when a lot of people are involved, it makes for an interesting story.

MICHAEL:

Clint, being such a jackass and a bad guy has been so delicious to watch!  When you saw this turn in the character, what were your thoughts?

JERRY:

I thought it made perfect sense.  Because I think in most cases with sons and daughters, they reach a point in their lives when they look in the mirror and say, “Hi Mom or Hi Dad,” because they start to physically look like them.  And usually, they are very emotionally similar to their parent, and so I thought the turn was absolutely great!  Fans would come up to me and say, “How could you do this? This Clint has always been so nice.”  And I would say, “Well a lot of things have happened to him.”  There he is sitting in that mansion all by himself staring into the fire, and so I had no problems doing what the story required.

MICHAEL:

How has your real life family reacted to seeing you play evil Clint?

JERRY:

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They said, “You are really a jackass when you want to be!” (Laughs) You know, over at CBS, I was playing the pillar of the community and such a good guy for so long, even though I came on as a bad guy!  Nobody remembers that I came on GL as Roger Thorpe’s evil lawyer.  I was the black sheep of the family, but that did not last long, and then it was Mayor Marler and all that stuff.

MICHAEL:

You have given the performance of the year thus far, and it is so great to watch Clint mix-it up with Eddie Ford, Nora, Bo, Inez, and especially with Matthew.  With all signs pointing to Matthew being the donor match for Clint, it seems like Clint’s plans all went horribly awry, wouldn’t you say?

JERRY:

Being the control freak he is, Clint is very upset how these things spun out of control. Now perhaps, he is having second thoughts as in, “What have I done now?”  There is a lot of Macbeth in him, as in, “Have I gone too far?”   The sins of the father are coming to visit the sons and all of those kinds of themes, so with the culmination of all that and with all the pressure, it makes sense for him to have a heart attack. Clint had so many secrets going that he can’t even keep them straight!

MICHAEL:

Could you keep them straight? (Laughs)

JERRY:

It was difficult.  When somebody walked into the room, I had to know which baby did I switch, do they know the truth, or what I told them was the truth.  You know how politicians are, when they do something wrong instead of immediately fessing up there is this cover-up, and eventually it gets so complicated that they all get tripped up. That is where Clint is.  He is the middle of this emotional mess and he is not sure he has a handle on it anymore, and of course it involves people he loves!  He doesn’t want Viki to find out some terrible things he did and he doesn’t want his kids to know, so Clint has a lot of balls in the air.

MICHAEL:

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Poor Jessica, split into a million pieces and multiple personalities again.  Does he feel any remorse for what he caused to happen to his daughter?  It seems to not have been addressed!

JERRY:

He does and it does come out in the future.  I have been shooting some scenes where the guilt of that for him is just enormous, and it is finally coming out.  I think the Matthew situation and Jessica splitting again are the two toughest things for him to face.

MICHAEL:

So when he is faced with the knowledge that Matthew’s heart is a match for him, Clint does not want Matthews’s heart.

JERRY:

Clint would rather die than take his heart, because Matthew is just beginning his life and Clint is an older man who has lived a long and wonderful life.  He is adamant about that, I would imagine.

MICHAEL:

Recently, one of the best scenes was between you and Erika Slezak in Clint’s hospital room discussing that he is not going to make it.  You always see with Clint that Viki is his Achilles heel.  He seems not to be able to lie to her very well, or cover his feelings in front of her.  Do you remember shooting that beautiful scene in the hospital?

JERRY:

I do remember that scene, and one of the joys of working here is looking into the eyes of Erika Slezak, because she is such a nice dance partner.  And that helps, because we no longer have any rehearsal time because we shoot things so fast.  I thought that scene was beautifully written. You are right. With the b*s* meter, Viki has got it figured out because she has known Clint for so long, and she knew Asa for so long and they shared children.  He just can’t, and does not want to see her be disappointed or look bad in her eyes, and that hurts him.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Erika got the biggest kick that you came in on your day off to be at her 40th anniversary party, at OLTL.  She told me in a recent interview, “I was surprised that Jerry was there.”  I mean back in the day at Guiding Light you knew of Erika Slezak’s work, I am sure.  Did you ever think you would be her scene partner?

JERRY:

No, I never did, for a lot of reasons.  One of which was I thought I was going to be staying at CBS.  But in terms of that one particular day, I would not have missed that for anything.  Frank Valentini, our executive producer, had asked me to say something to her and I did not want to miss that: the opportunity to say something to her in public that I feel in my heart.  And by the way, that is what a lot of people in the cast feel about Erika for this great accomplishment of hers.  So it was no problem coming in for that day. When I got the role of Clint six and half years ago it was like a gift from heaven, because this show had so much history. With Clint Ritchie having done such a wonderful job at creating this character, I felt enough time had passed with the character being on-screen and coming back again was perfect.  Audiences hate recasts, at least they usually do. (Laughs)  I think my decision was to not base everything off of what Clint Ritchie did when he was doing the role, but I based everything on Phillip Carey (Asa).  I just wanted to walk like him, sound like him, be like him, instead of copying what Clint was doing. And in terms of who I am acting with, Oh, my Goodness! (Laughs) I mean one day I am working with Erika, and then one day I am working with Robin Strasser and Bree Williamson (Jessica) and Melissa Archer (Natalie)!  It’s amazing!

MICHAEL:

What about Bob Woods as your brother Bo?  The showdown scenes in the stable were classic soap!

JERRY:

He is another one, and in real life we are almost like brothers, in that we knew each other in passing over the years, but we kind of bookended each other in our soap careers.  We both started in 1979, he on One Life and me on Guiding Light.  When I came here, I had never acted with him, but it was just so easy to do.  We have some awfully good material and we have a head writer in Ron Carlivati who respected the history and wanted to spring new story out of history, which audiences always like.  It has been really nice.

MICHAEL:

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So what do you think has been the most ridiculous moment of all of Clint’s plotting or machinations?

JERRY:

I think when he had a little too much bourbon and reached for the shotgun and he brings it out in public and brings it into the church.  I read that and went, “Well, at least they had him a little tooted with too much bourbon!” (Laughs)  That was over-the-top. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

On Friday’s episode, Clint reveals to Natalie and Joey he does not have long to live.  Can you give us a preview of what goes down?

JERRY:

Clint is very much just facing facts.  He has a very rare blood type and the donor is difficult to find.  He is not first on the list, even though he owns half the hospital.  Those lists are very sacred and even soap operas will not alter that.  So he is down on the list with a hard to match donor profile.  He decides to gather the family and lay out the facts and enjoy his time and let them know what is happening to him.  They do not want anything to do with this.  And I think Natalie has a line that says, “If the roles were reversed and you were standing watching me in bed, would you be telling me to give up and saying that it’s OK?”   So those are the things that go down and Tom Degnan ((Joey) was terrific.  We actually got to rehearse these scenes, and they were so well-written.  It was a very good day and it was partly about what do you do when someone is on their last days.  Do you support that or tell them to keep fighting?  It is one of those main issues that people have with right to die issues. You will see terrific performances… I will tell you that!

MICHAEL:

Is it easy to just lie around in a hospital bed in scenes and watch people cry all around you?  Or, is it difficult for you?

JERRY:

It’s not easy, and it’s actually very disturbing to me because of my personal history.  I have spent a lot of time in hospitals being a 19-year cancer survivor, and every now and then I have to go back to the hospital to get check-ups.  I am in my fifth week of coming to the set and putting on pajamas and flopping into bed and being hooked up to medical devices, and it’s just too close to what I sometimes go through myself.   I have to watch myself and I am very careful with this, that when the show is over, the show is over, and I leave it all at the studio and go home and live life.

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MICHAEL:

As you are aware many of us in the industry, including myself, thought you were most deserving of a Daytime Emmy this year and you did not get nominated.  What did you submit?

JERRY:

Well, I think most of my material that you are referring to was after January 1, so it was not eligible.  I went with something I had with Tuc Watkins (David), because that was all I had.  It was one of the early Moroccan prison scenes, and that was the only thing I had where the scenes where actually driven by me, but it was semi-comedic.  So I did not know how that would fly.  I did not have any of the confrontations with Bo to choose from.  And so the fact of the matter is, I think several people from our show will be nominated next year when the show is not on, just like what happened this year with As the World Turns.  It does not really matter to me about the nomination, but I would have liked to get some publicity for the show.  Brian Kerwin, (Charlie) has some awfully good scenes with Erika this past year and I am really glad he got nominated.

MICHAEL:

How are you doing now with the news of the cancellation of One Life to Live? And how is everyone doing over at the studio?

JERRY:

The atmosphere has been as positive as it possibly could be, and we have a long time before we go off, so that gives the writers a way to end it properly, if indeed, it is going to end.  I am fine with it, but I am 62.  The people I am not fine with are the people who are the tech people who are in their early 40’s and they have kids in grade school and that kind of thing, and knowing that there is hardly any scripted television in New York, and those are the people I am worried about.  I am not so worried about the kids, they don’t have kids of their own or real estate yet, so they can bounce around in show business, which happens all the time, but to be caught in the middle is tough.  There are, I would say, 100 like that on AMC, and 100 like that on OLTL.  It’s difficult and that is what hurts me.

MICHAEL:

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Having gone through a major cancellation and disruption with Guiding Light previously, does it leave you at all better equipped to handle it a second time, only this time at OLTL?

JERRY:

Over at Guiding Light, I was sort of a pseudo-producer.  I spoke publicly when producers did not want to, so I was privy to falling numbers.  But, I also thought this medium got into trouble when they started worrying about production values.  I don’t think there is one soap opera fan that tuned in to see how well we would blow something up.  They tune in for one thing, and that is story.  We could do this in front of a black screen and it would be fine.  The special effects we should worry about are: ladies gowns, perhaps, and some perfectly romantic lighting.  But setting a major fire or having an earthquake, and a lot of gunplay, the fans don’t care about that.  They care about what Viki feels after the earthquake is over and are the children okay, and all that kind of stuff.  And those shows wasted just oodles of money, in my mind!

MICHAEL:

I agree!

JERRY:

Years ago, I thought they were doing it not for the audience, but for one executive producer to ‘wow’ another executive producer with, “Whoa, how did they do that?”  I promise you Michael, that those confrontation scenes between Bo and Clint at the stable, that is what people tune in to soaps for, and that is what a good cliffhanger is on a Friday episode, with Clint looking at Bo and Bo looking at Clint.  And, there is a gun in the room and a lot of things to talk about, and that is what will bring people back on Monday. We don’t need the stable to catch fire.  So in my mind, our audience gave us a huge artistic license that the producers did not take full advantage of.

MICHAEL:

Right now, OLTL has never been better and the ratings even reflect it.  For the last several weeks, they have been at number 3!

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JERRY:

Isn’t that ironic!?

MICHAEL:

I know, isn’t it ironic!  It’s the most kick-ass show on the air right now.

JERRY:

I am looking up at the screen right now, and Bo and Nora are having this discussion about Matthew’s heart and what to do with Matthew since he is in such a dire situation, and I can’t stop watching!  They are kicking it, and I think the show is in very good artistic shape.  If we have to go down, at least we are going to go down in good shape.

MICHAEL:

If Clint survives his medical crisis, do you have a wish list of how you would like to see the story wrap up in the end for Clint?  Erika Slezak had told me she would like to see Viki and Clint back together.

JERRY:

I would not mind having Viki and Clint back together, too.  That would be a good way, but ultimately, I would like to see Clint and the tent pole characters be what they should be and be with who they should be with.  In Clint’s case, he should be happy and revel in his children, but I think the last image of the show better be Erika’s! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

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How has it been working with John-Paul Lavoisier as Clint’s shocker of a son, Rex?

JERRY:

It has been terrific, and it finally gives some closure to his character, who was running around going, “You’re my dad?  No, you’re my dad?”  Rex was going through that for years, and then finally the irony of it is that Clint is Rex’s dad.  And then there is that loveliness of having his mother come on his show who was on the show before, and every time he sees Rex, Clint sees Echo, who happened to be Kim Zimmer, and that was just perfect.  I had never worked with JP before, and so the awkwardness we played as father and son was just terrific.

MICHAEL:

If you were to sum up what lies ahead for Rex and Clint, would you say there is more heavy-duty drama to come?

JERRY:

There is a lot of drama coming up between Rex and Clint, and he almost brings on a second heart attack at the hospital!  So yeah, JP has had a lot of heavy story to do and he did it well.  I can tell you there is some good story in the pipeline.  Then Viki finds out conclusively, that Rex is indeed being treated this way by Clint, and she just goes into the, “Are you kidding me, Clint,” mode. “Clint Buchanan, who says, ‘family is everything?’”  Those are good scenes, too.  I am telling you, in the pipeline there is some good soap ahead.

MICHAEL:

Can we expect more scenes between Echo and Clint?

Courtesy/ABC

JERRY:

I believe so, and we have taped some stuff that has not aired.  It was so weird working with Kim, because we would see each other at Guiding Light and we would cross paths there, but nothing with any serious story.  It has been so much fun to have scenes about Echo and Clint’s relationship, and Kim is just terrific fun.

MICHAEL:

So this heart story seems far from over!

JERRY:

There is no abrupt ending and it involves all the children, and what I like about it is it involves all the different generations of characters.  Sometimes on soaps characters get compartmentalized such as: here is the younger storyline, here is the old people’s storyline, and here are the people in the mid 40-s storyline and they don’t come together like families.  But these stories have brought actors of all ages together, and I think that is neat.

MICHAEL:

We have got to get you out of the hospital set…STAT!

JERRY:

Courtesy/ABC

(Laughs) They are looking for a compatible donor and I am still there.  A lot of people that come up to me on the street tell me they believe that Clint is not going to make it.

MICHAEL:

Of all the horrible acts of Clint, what were some of your most favorite moments to play so far this year? And, do you think we have not even seen the tip of the iceberg?

JERRY:

Well, the Bo showdown in the barn is one and some scenes when revealing to Bo and Nora, to just go ahead with this and let Clint take the rap for Eddie Ford’s murder.  Clint is like, “You don’t want to know about the killing of Eddie Ford, because it’s not for my sake, but for your sakes.”   I think those were well-written scenes, and they were acted well and shot well.  I did like the heart attack.  I remembered the advice I took that I told you about. (Laughs) I have been so lucky to have so many good acting partners, and I think I am going to have a lot more great scenes before November.  I think Ron Carlivati is on fire.

  1. Brian says:

    Jerry is absolutely wonderful! :)

    Reply

    Terry replied

    Great interview. I love this guy! And I can’t wait to see more of the Buchanan family!

    Reply

  2. Dinah says:

    Thank you for the wonderful interview. I just love Jerry VerDorn as Clint!

    Reply

  3. guilty pleasure says:

    How come you haven’t asked JVD how Clint is going to get the Buchanan mansion back from Cutter? When is that going to happen? Geat interview as usual, BTW!!!!

    Reply

  4. Nancy Gomez says:

    THIS INTERVIEW WAS GREAT!!!!!!
    I WANT CLINT AND VICKI BACK TOGETHER TOO.
    THE PEOPLE OF OLTL ARE JUST LIKE MY FAMILY MEMBERS.
    IT WILL BE A TERRIBLE DEATH OF ALL THESE CHARACTERS

    Reply

  5. Samantha says:

    Great interview. Jerry verDorn is such a class act. Can’t wait to see what he does with the Clint character in the coming months!

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  6. Doe says:

    I loved this interview, Michael. You asked all the right questions to Jerry, and he gave you terrific answers. He seemed very relaxed in talking with you and he made me appreciate him as a man who happens to be a great actor. His evil switch of character was subtle, conniving, and done with precision, as only an actor of his caliber could deliver. I certinly don’t want him to die and go to Neverland. Bravo, Jerry…well done…

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  7. Jim says:

    It was a great interview. I think Jerry is a great actor and get the impression an honorable. and outright nice fellow. if the show does go off the air sure will miss it.

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  8. Waltina says:

    I wonder if Clint is planning to recognize Rex as his son? I must admit that I could care less if he didn’t, I have never liked the character of Rex. I would like to see him and Viki together and their family. Please don’t let Ford be a part of this family.

    It was a great interview with a great actor. I have enjoyed him as Clint more that Bo.

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  9. red and vanessa forever says:

    can’t wait for clint and viki reunion

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  10. ethel says:

    excellent interview!!!
    i really like jerry’s version of clint!

    Reply

  11. annette says:

    What a great guy. I also like how he said “if” the show doesnt continue. I think he acknowledges all that the fans are doing to save it. THANKS

    Reply

  12. todd says:

    Can Clint and Viki move to Port Charles?

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    Suzi replied

    Amen, Todd!! Maybe all of the cast should. I have watched this for so flipping many years (don’t want to date my old self), I truly hope that somehow the show will never end! JVD was right when he said the show has been excellent for the last few years, and it is ironic that it would end at it’s epitome of brilliance! Can SoapNet keep it going?? Oh how I wish!

    Reply

    Todd replied

    I have been watching since 87 and I am still rushing to get home every day. Rex, gigi, and shane blew me awY the last few days.

  13. Tom Peterson says:

    I remember way back in 1973 when I played Thomas Bolin and Jerry was Henry VIII in “Anne of the Thousand Days” back at Moorhead State … best to you Jerry, very glad for your sucess

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    Tom Peterson replied

    Interesting tidbit about that production on “Anne” … not only featured Jerry as Henry, but also Kristin Rudrüd as Anne Bolyn – she was the kidmapped wife in the movie “Fargo”

    Reply

  14. D. Bennett says:

    what is Jerry’s plans now that OLTL if over?

    Reply

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