In Parts One, Two, Three and Four of our interview, the legendary Ron Hale discussed his early acting career, the rise and fall of RYAN'S HOPE, his perspective on portraying broken Mike Corbin on GENERAL HOSPITAL, and his decision to leave the acting business. In the final part below, he shares hopes for his future and tips on being a "person" before an actor.
We Love Soaps: You said earlier you are ready to leave California. What’s next for you?
Ron Hale: I have lived out here [in Southern California] about 16 years. It’s a beautiful place, but I need to go somewhere where I can sit on a porch and hear it rain. And feel it rain. I need to be somewhere where there is a change in season. Not a drastic change, I’m not talking about Minnesota. But somewhere in the Southern states where I can get a nice piece of property, 50-100 acres. I’d like to get an old farm house that I can work in, fix things up, and have animals again. I’d like to have a big garden again, and live around fresh water lakes where I can go fishing and work with my hands again. I miss that so tremendously living here - the changes in season, where winter lasts a few months, I can chop wood like I used to, and read a lot. I want to see spring again. I love the idea of the rebirth. I love watching wild flowers come up and the trees getting leaves again.
We Love Soaps: Would you like to do all that and still act?
Ron Hale: No. When I walk, I’m walkin’.
We Love Soaps: As a fan of yours I’m sad to hear that. But I sure do understand what you’re saying.
Ron Hale: It’s been 45 years since I unpacked my one suitcase in New York City and went to my first class at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I have been so blessed with my career. Nobody appreciates it more than I do. But that took a lot of hard work and dedication. There will be a lot of people who will know where I end up, and they will have my number. If someone needs something, like, “Ron, we’re doing this theater production in Boise, Idaho, and the guy playing the lead just got sick and we’re opening in three weeks, can you come out?” Of course I would do that. I’ve done it before.
I’m not saying I’m burnt out, it’s just time to move on. The years are getting by, and I still have a tremendous amount of energy. I love to travel, I love to play golf, I’d love to get out on a small tractor and clear up half an acre of land and plant it and watch stuff grow. It’s very idyllic, but I can make it happen. And it’s the year 2010, I can be on a plane and be anywhere I want. It’s not like I’m going off to live in a cave and grow a long beard. But all the people who know me know that this is something I have craved all my life. It’s so funny, here I am in a business where I get on stage in front of hundreds and hundreds of strangers to make them laugh or cry. Yet, all my life all I’ve really craved is living in a cabin somewhere with a couple of dogs hunting and fishing.
We Love Soaps: You sound complete and content when you talk about it.
Ron Hale: It’s always been a dream, and now I’m at the point where I can make that dream come true.
We Love Soaps: You gave an interview in 1976 in which you said, “You have to be a person before you can be an actor.” What does that mean?
Ron Hale: In order to portray other human beings and different walks of life, in order to become that person for two hours on stage, or ten minutes on order, if you don’t understand humanity, if you don’t understand your brother man or sister, which is understanding yourself, you have to be a complete person. You have to know how to feel pain, to feel hurt, you have to be sensitive to other people, to their ways of life, to what they do for a living.
I remember a young actor in New York saying derogatory things about sanitation workers. I almost bashed in his nose. I said, “What the hell are you talking about? That guy is busting his ass out there all day long.” He said, “How can they do that? It’s picking up other people’s garbage!” I said, “He has a wife and kids to feed. He could be very content. Yeah, he’s picking up garbage, but does that make him less than you? You will never be actor.” He said, “What the hell are you talkin’ about?” I said, “If you can’t get into that guy’s mind, if you can’t see where he’s coming from, and how he could be content, then how can you portray other human beings?”
We Love Soaps: It’s interesting you say that. I just gave an interview tonight where I said a similar thing about therapists. I think it’s the people who have survived and overcome adversity who are more available to assist and promote mental health.
Ron Hale: Absolutely. That’s exactly what I meant in that quote. Now again, I’m not a confrontational person. I do everything in my power to be non-confrontational. But I can only be pushed so far, and then look out. I remember this actor on RYAN’S HOPE. I can picture the kid, but I don’t remember his name. He was on the show a few months and getting really cocky, thinking he’s James Dean. I heard him in the make-up room one day talking about this-and-that. I walked up to him and in a very low voice said, “If you spent three days a week with an acting coach instead of three days a week at the gym working out your abs, you might get somewhere.” His mouth was just open. I don’t think that sunk in.
That’s one of those things I have run into more and more, and have certainly run into that a lot more out here than I ever did in New York. The physical image has become more important than the training or having the need as a person to do the thing we do. But most of those people don’t last. If you’re just a me-me-me person, and all you care about is limousines and paparazzi, and want to be a star instead of an actor, then that is the big difference.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at Amazon.com. For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at Shouldless@gmail.com.