We Love Soaps: At the Emmys I asked you if you had any guesses who Nathan’s father is? Any more insights or ideas about that?
Mark Hapka: To be 100% honest with you I know just as much as you do about that. You might even know more. But I know that my mom is Melissa and my grandma is Maggie. That’s pretty much where we’re at right now.
We Love Soaps: How are you enjoying the show now?
Mark Hapka: I love it. I can’t complain. I’m a working actor who works daily with great people. We do charity events. We do these things. How can I say I’m not having a good time?
We Love Soaps: Nathan is a bit of a workaholic.
Mark Hapka: He’s constantly on-call. In every scene he’s getting called into the hospital. Even when he’s getting down and dirty with Melanie, ring-ring. He definitely takes his job seriously and that’s very honorable.
We Love Soaps: There have been a long line of Horton men who were the same way.
Mark Hapka: Grandpa Tom Horton, can’t do him wrong.
We Love Soaps: And Bill Horton, Mike Horton...
Mark Hapka: I think you know more than I do about them.
We Love Soaps: So Nathan and Melanie have gotten very close. Yet as she’s with Nathan, she’s thinkin’ about someone else [Philip Kiriakis].
Mark Hapka: I don’t know why, have you seen the guy? [Laughs] They talk about his dimples all the time.
We Love Soaps: What do you think draws Nathan to someone who is emotionally unavailable to him?
Mark Hapka: I don’t think he believes that. He likes to see the better side of her that everyone refuses to see. He thinks there’s a chance. She’s a challenge. It’s the risk that he’s likes, because she’s not really like him.
We Love Soaps: How does it feel for you to be in a scene as Nathan with someone who is fantasizing about someone else while she’s with you? Some actors don’t like to be in that position.
Mark Hapka: That’s when you have to suspend disbelief and you have to act as though it’s 100%. We’re all friends here. There are no ego trips.
We Love Soaps: In what ways are you different from Nathan?
Mark Hapka: We’re very similar. I’d like to think I’m a good guy and make good choices. I’d like to think I’m as sweet and romantic as he is. But I have a temper. And sometimes some of the stuff he deals with I wouldn’t deal with as much in real life.
We Love Soaps: What would you do?
Mark Hapka: Philip would definitely not be walking around by now. I wouldn’t allow her [Melanie] to do what she’s doing, I’d force her to make a decision.
We Love Soaps: What would you like to see happen next for Nathan? Would you like to see him stand up to Melanie and force her to make a decision?
Mark Hapka: You’re going to start seeing some shifts in the next month and a half in his character. He’s still the good guy, he still means well. But he’s not going to get walked all over anymore.
We Love Soaps: What have you learned from being on the set?
Mark Hapka: I’ve learned that soap actors are the hardest working actors in Los Angeles, and in the world. We work daily, we memorize a lot, anywhere from 10 to 40 pages a day. We only get one take. So what you see is what you get. It’s not like we can do seven takes and take the best part of each take. What you’re seeing is very raw. On top of acting, the stage is lit for three cameras. So you have to be conscious of the light and the shadowing. You’re doing all this technical stuff on top of acting. It’s definitely challenging, and it sets you up for a great career even if you go away from the show.
We Love Soaps: What do you imagine yourself doing five years from now.
Mark Hapka: Well, technically I’m in contract, so five years from now I imagine myself doing DAYS OF OUR LIVES.
We Love Soaps: In your future career, what would you like to see happen?
Mark Hapka: I’d like to tackle this industry from all angles. That’s why I like to do small videos on the side. I have a web series coming up.
We Love Soaps: What’s it called?
Mark Hapka: It’s untitled right now. It’s in the early stages. I eventually would like to make a lot of films. I’ll get outs. I’ll get opportunities and that’s where my heart is. I want to direct. I want to produce. I want to act. I want to hit it all.
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.