In the first part of our interview with Ian Buchanan, the Emmy winning and outspoken talent reflected on his early career in modeling and landing GENERAL HOSPITAL. In this part we look back on his success as Duke Lavery and on prime-time television. Which TWIN PEAKS actor delivered his pizzas? Find out below!
We Love Soaps: Why do you think Duke and Anna were such a huge phenomenon?
Ian Buchanan: I think we are very similar, which is kind of weird. We trusted each other immediately. We worked really well together. We were there for each other, which was great. She was very supportive of me, she wanted me to get the job. She was pretty amazing. We were instantly, and still are, the closest of friends. I think people related to that. And we were British. They liked the dark hair, the unibrow. Finola always said, “If Duke and Anna ever had a child, it would have been an eyebrow.”
We Love Soaps: What did you have to change about your life once the phenomenon hit?
Ian Buchanan: I think just little things. I used to walk from the studio to where I lived in Hollywood. I still did that and then the crew said, “There are people at the gate, we’ll give you a ride home.” I’m very happy to speak to people. I grew up in a very small town where everybody knew everyone. So I was used to it. I didn’t really change much. People kept warning me I had to not get stuck in places, but that never happened. I didn’t change much.
We Love Soaps: Did you find that fans were respectful of you?
Ian Buchanan: Yes, for the most part.
We Love Soaps: How was it working with Kimberly McCullough at such a young age?
Ian Buchanan: She was such a great kid. Now she’s a wonderful young woman. If I ever go anywhere I always spend the first five minutes talking about Finola. People always ask, “How’s Finola?” Then they say, “We saw Kimberly and Kimberly said to say hello.” It’s the most extraordinary thing.
We Love Soaps: You had lots of action on GENERAL HOSPITAL, but I remember there being a lot of quiet warm scenes between Duke, Anna, and Robin.
Ian Buchanan: I actually much preferred doing those to doing the action scenes. I think the show worked for me in the same way it worked for Duke. It was just nice to slow down and be very quiet and just hang out with a family.
We Love Soaps: Elizabeth Keifer played your sister / non-sister.
Ian Buchanan: Yes, my sister/ my lover/ my sister/ my lover. My “nun-sister,” you mean. She’s lovely, I love her, we had a great time. It was hard for her and hard for Tonja Walker [Olivia] to get between Finola and I. I remember that being very difficult for me, I was trying to be the host and making it a little easier. But the pace at which we had to work it was just very hard. I loved that story, it was almost like a French movie. And all the guests they brought in. Guy Doleman, who played my father Angus was, a great movie star. He was in The Ipcress File and lots of great movies. We had a great time.
We Love Soaps: Duke went out in a heroic blaze of glory,
Ian Buchanan: Was that me or was that somebody else? I ran into a building that was blowing up or something?
We Love Soaps: Right, he let people think he was dead in order to protect his family. A year later they brought Duke back with a different actor.
Ian Buchanan: I’m not sure what that was about. Greg Beecroft played Duke after plastic surgery. He must have lost his legs too - he was much shorter than me.
We Love Soaps: Did you have any feelings about the role you created being portrayed by someone else?
Ian Buchanan: I didn’t then but I probably will tonight when I think about it.
We Love Soaps: Whoops. Sorry about that.
Ian Buchanan: I think I was doing several other things at the time and I said, “Whatever.” But I’ve never really given that too much thought. I never really quite knew how that played out. I did go back and did several shows wrapped up in bandages with little slits for eyes. I don’t think I paid that much attention, I’m not sure what that was about.
We Love Soaps: Meanwhile you had moved on to doing cable.
Ian Buchanan: I had been doing THE GARRY SHANDLING SHOW, which was on the stage next door to GENERAL HOSPITAL.
We Love Soaps: What was that show like for you?
Ian Buchanan: That was a lot of fun. It was a whole different schedule. Since I had a day job it wasn’t quite the relaxed schedule that it was for most people with table readings and run throughs. I was running back and forth from one studio to another. The second season [after leaving GH] was a little more relaxed. It was comedy, and I liked working with Gary. It prepared me to do other slightly less mainstream things.
We Love Soaps: Speaking of mainstream, you were on the most impassioned and loved show in it’s time, TWIN PEAKS. How did that come about?
Ian Buchanan: It came about because I was offered for the first time in years a Calvin Klein commercial for Obsession. David Lynch was directing it. I did the commercial with Laura Flynn Boyle and the following week I got a call to start on TWIN PEAKS. It was cool, I loved it.
We Love Soaps: Unfortunately the show didn’t last long after that.
Ian Buchanan: It was the second season, and it was the end of it. But it was a lot of fun. It was very macabre, very soap opera-like.
We Love Soaps: Did you ever find that David Lynch looked down on you given you had been on daytime soaps?
Ian Buchanan: No, he loves all actors. But I think he rather liked to discover people. There was a kid who used to deliver my pizza in Hollywood. The next time I saw him he was playing James on TWIN PEAKS. He liked to discover kids, people who didn’t come with bad habits.
We Love Soaps: James Marshall from TWIN PEAKS was your pizza delivery boy?
Ian Buchanan: I’d come home late from the studio on a Friday night. It was too late to go anywhere so I’d order from Domino’s and he would deliver the pizza.
We Love Soaps: That’s a great lesson to learn. Always tip your delivery person!
Ian Buchanan: That was the first thing I said to him, “Tell me I was kind.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here for Part Three in which he discusses how BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL led him back to daytime, playing a virginal therapist, winning the Emmy, and how therapy has enhanced his life. What reaction did the fans outside give him right after his Emmy win?
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 is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.