WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Last year you had a brief stint on ONE LIFE TO LIVE as evil Jonas. Did you know it was going to be a brief role?
Kevin Spirtas: I was told it was going to be a recurring role and it had a little life span. I was hoping it would develop the way Craig Wesley did, where I did two episodes and later was brought on for a seven and a half year stint. I’m actually a big fan of ONE LIFE TO LIVE, I had several friends on the show. I would tune in sometimes. When I came to New York, almost two years ago, the first night I was in town I went to the ABC Salutes Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. All the ABC stars were singing. I went to the party, and ran into Frank Valentini who I met several times at different Emmy award functions. I said, “Frank, I’m in town! If you have an under five, I’ll do it! I love your show, consider me for anything.”
A role came down the pike a week and a half later. My agent said, “There’s this role you’ve been offered on ONE LIFE TO LIVE.” I’m a very big believer in focusing on something you want and doing everything you can to make it happen. I put it out there, and it happened. Like this play. I wanted to do something that would stretch my acting, stretch my spirit, and everything about my life. So they brought me on. It was the 40th anniversary year. And they started me with one thing, and moved over into another thing. It all kind of got mished-mashed together, and I ended up under the sheets with Carlo Hesser. Not Patrick. I wish they would have kept me on.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I was disappointed too. When he first started, and was hanging out with Tina [Andrea Evans], he seemed like a fun guy. Then he became one dimensional evil.
Kevin Spirtas: I know, and I probably played him horribly.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Why do you say that?
Kevin Spirtas: Like you said, it was one dimensional. But I tried! I tried not to do too much mustache-twisting. There was a day I had to go up to David Fumero, put a gun his face and ask, “Where’s the lady? Big hat. Sunglasses. Little dog. Where is she?” And he kept cracking up. We became laugh buddies because everytime I’d do something he’d crack up. There was a day [Jonas] said to a group, “It is time to go.” The camera wasn’t on me and I... [demonstrates walking straight into a wall]. They all laughed and laughed. That’s another big difference between me and these roles. I’m a goof ball. I love being able to show this side.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You have a tendency to play these antagonist roles, these people who really like to stir things up. Why is that?
Kevin Spirtas: I guess on some level, the roles you end up playing are the roles that you’re really most fit for. Or they are tailored for you.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Are these roles tailored for you?
Kevin Spirtas: I have to say yes on some level. There’s a great line in “Loaded,” when we’re talking about knowledge. And Patrick ends up saying, “It’s like you no longer have the energy to put up with the bullshit or constantly prove yourself.” And I think at age 47, if you’re in a place of some peace, and you have some idea and sense of self, then you don’t put up with the bullshit anymore. You don’t try to constantly prove yourself. And for me that is taking on this role. I don’t have to hide anything. This is my life, this is who I am. If people want to find out anything about anyone they click a button on the internet. This is where we are now.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you see yourself in the role of the antagonist in your own life?
Kevin Spirtas: When I first got Craig Wesley, I remember thinking, why was this role created in the ethers for me? I thought, wow, there’s got to be a part of me that needs to work this out. There’s a part of me in Patrick who needs to work this out. Yes, it’s great to be the hero. But I draw from all that anguish and pain. You hold it in during the day, when you’re on the subway and there’s someone singing really loud next to you and you want to say, “Shut up...and you’re off key anyway. You’re not just loud, but flat.” You can let most of the small stuff go. I guess it’s in my chart somehow. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson roles. Pacino plays Pacino roles. I guess I play Kevin roles.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Have you ever wanted to play the hero?
Kevin Spirtas: I have on certain levels. In my slasher films I survived, I was the hero in them.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Tell me about your one-man show, “Night and Days.”
Kevin Spirtas: [In a fancy accent] Let me tell you about my one-man show. It’s about one man. Kevin Spirtas. [Regular voice] I’m not too much of an antagonist in this one. I was back here about six years ago, doing The Boy From Oz as the understudy for Hugh Jackman. He never missed a performance, I never went on. It inspired me to think, if I did a show what kind of show would I put together? What would I really like to sing about? Here’s a gay man going through this life crisis change, I can take that on. I can play that, I can work that out. My journey from St. Louis to Broadway to Hollywood back to Broadway. I can tell that story, because I lived it.
It was about growing up watching movie musicals and wanting to be like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. And then coming to Broadway, knocking on the stage door of the Schubert theater, and being cast in A Chorus Line. It shows the journey of how I became a young leading man in Broadway, and then a leading man in film and TV. Now I go out there and do it on cruise ships and all over the country. December 21st through January 2nd I will be on the Holland America cruise line doing my show, “Night and Days.”
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It’s an autobiographical piece?
Kevin Spirtas: I call it a “journey.”
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you feel you’ve ever lost out on roles for being out?
Kevin Spirtas: Out as a gay man?
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Yes.
Kevin Spirtas: I’ve never considered it. I don’t lead from being gay. I’ve never led from it. I’m Kevin. I’m someone’s son. I’m someone’s uncle. I’m someone’s partner. I’m someone’s non-partner. I’m someone’s friend. It’s a slice of who I am. I am an actor. I am a performer. I think the interesting thing now is that you no longer have the time or energy to put up with the bullshit or constantly prove yourself. But I don’t lead with that. "Loaded" just happens to be a gay role, a gay man I’m portraying. Dr. Craig Wesley happened to be a straight man.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Did you worry about that before?
Kevin Spirtas: I think I did early on. I guess I grew up under the belief that a leading man has to fit a certain image in the realm of the arts in acting and theater. People either know, or they don’t know. They can find out. I think we’re all the same when it comes down to it. We all have a heart. We all want to be loved. We all want to give love. We all want to fit in. Where you put your body doesn’t have anything to do with where you put your focus on talent or creativity.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Stay tuned for the final part of our interview where Kevin shares more about his life and hopes for the future. Click here for to get your tickets for "Loaded"! [Please note: Kevin will NOT be appearing in the show Dec 21, 2009 – Jan 2, 2010, Jan 12, 2010, and Jan 19 – 22, 2010]
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He has started blogging again at www.shouldless.com..