ROBERT S. WOODS SHOWS THAT BO KNOWS COMEDY
By Marla Hart
May 12, 1994
As the cowboy son of a greedy Texas oil man, with a cow chip on his shoulder and a wardrobe that could best be described as "plaid," Robert S. Woods joined the cast of ONE LIFE TO LIVE to play Bo Buchanan 15 years ago.
Since then, Woods has managed to keep the heroics interesting as Bo has been pitted against rich relations, self-destructive blonds and murderous frat boys. But this last year has offered Woods, 44, one of the greatest challenges of his daytime career: romantic comedy. Trying to do a breezy romp in a medium that thrives on plodding melodrama is not an easy task.
Still, Woods and co-star Hillary B. Smith (Nora) have done their level best to inject some sophisticated sass into the serial (1 p.m. weekdays, ABC-Ch.7), and both were recognized with Emmy nominations (the awards ceremony will be broadcast May 25).
"I've been reborn. It's what I love doing most," Woods says from his New York dressing room. "Hillary and I have a great thing going. It's a perfect place for Bo to finally be-in a mature, romantic relationship. Hopefully it will last another 15 years."
Producers have stripped Bo of his armed-and-loaded sensibility, which worked well during the "Dallas" era, and created in its place the disarmingly self-deprecating police commissioner of Llanview.
Tuesday, Woods will be romancing another actress, Roseanne Arnold, when he and "OLTL" castmates John Loprieno and Clint Ritchie guest star in-character on ROSEANNE (8 p.m., ABC-Ch. 7).
"It was great fun," Woods says. "Roseanne was a big fan of the (soap) years ago. She was asking me all kinds of questions about storyline that went back 10 or 15 years. She told me that her little town of Lanford was named after Llanview."
Woods was born in the real-life little town of Maywood in southern California. His mother worked as a cashier and his father had a dry cleaning route. The middle-class 1950s upbringing was far removed from Hollywood, he recalls.
"I thought show business was some little guy smoking a cigar in a Cadillac convertible who drives up and says, `Hey kid, do you want to be in the movies?' "
After high school, Wood recounts, "I was in the middle of college at California State in Long Beach and was classified 1A so I thought, `The heck with it.' I wanted to get away and they were looking for guys like me."
At 19, Woods joined the Army and spent 15 months in Vietnam as a (parachute) "jumper." After returning to California, he was obliged to reinvent himself.
"It was pretty strange coming back," he explains. "My friends were already working on their careers. I missed all their weddings. Clothing and hairstyles had changed. My wife, who was my girlfriend then, said I came back a different person. I probably had post-traumatic stress syndrome, but I felt that was everyone else's problem, not mine.
"You didn't talk about the whole thing very much. You're finally out of harm's way so I would think, `Put that weird little thing in the back of your head and go on.' "
Woods graduated from Long Beach with a degree in broadcasting in 1974 and the next year married his wife for the first time (they were divorced and married a second time in 1986). He soon established himself as a leading man, landing roles on THE WALTONS and PROJECT UFO (starring Jack Webb) before heading to New York in 1979 to join "OLTL."
Woods won the 1983 Emmy as best supporting actor for his work on the soap, But after a bogged-down storyline, he returned to Los Angeles in 1986, where he did some film work and TV pilots and was cast in the soap DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Six years ago, Woods left L.A. as much for personal as professional reasons and moved back to New York, rejoining "OLTL."
"Like any business, there's a lot of crap involved (in acting). Being in California and auditioning, schmoozing, networking, it became too all-consuming. When I came back to (soaps), my plan was to stay on as long as the show stayed on," says Woods, father of a 3 1/2-year-old son.
"I don't know if it makes any sense. Here we are talking about Vietnam and romantic comedy and I have to wonder," he confides. "Sometimes I look around and have a reality flash. I think of what I do for a living now and I have to chuckle.
"When I started out and people asked me if I would do daytime I said, `No, I'm not interested in that.' But soap jobs are great for people with families. It's like a real job.
"I think Tommy Lee Jones is a great actor," he says referring to this year's Academy Award winner, who appeared on "OLTL" in the early '70s. "But for every story like his, there's hundreds who have left daytime and it didn't work out. The truth is, I get to do more in a week than most actors get to do all year."