Lane Davies is beloved by soap fans for his brooding, complex, and hysterical portrayal of Mason Capwell on SANTA BARBARA. He is also regarded by critics as one of the greatest actors in daytime history. But how does this acclaimed thespian perceive his life and career? Please join us for this interviewed in which Lane Davies discusses his roles on stage, daytime, and the exciting new web series THE BAY.
We Love Soaps: How did THE BAY come to you?
Lane Davies: Gregori Martin was casting, and put out feelers to find out who people wanted to see back from daytime, and he said my name kept coming up. I have been somewhat semiretired for the last four or five years, doing mostly theater while getting my boys into college. So the timing worked out well. I was just about to head back out to L.A. and earn some college money anyway when I got the call from Gregori. I also wanted to do it because of the other people involved. I figured if Mary Beth Evans, Tristan Rogers, and Charles Shaughnessy were willing to take a chance on Gregori, then I’d be willing. Plus, I have always like the nature of serial drama.
We Love Soaps: What do you like about it?
Lane Davies: The problem I’ve always had with theater, which I do love, is that I bore easily. As sublime as material can be, it doesn’t take long for me to want to move on to other material. So the constantly changing material is part of it. The other part is the pace of the work. You can get hooked on the adrenaline of the daytime schedule if you’re on a busy part on a busy show. That’s part of the attraction of it for me. If you’re shooting film, or even episodic television, the pace can be glacially slow. I tend to fidget.
We Love Soaps: Has working in theater and drama always been a passion for you?
Lane Davies: My mother and father were extremely active in community theater in my hometown. So I was always around it, probably for want a baby-sitter. I was dragged to rehearsals at a tender age. My father had been in radio for years, it was probably in my blood.
We Love Soaps: Was there ever any other work appealed to you?
Lane Davies: Not from the age of about 15 on. There was a period of time when geology was fascinating to me. But as I got older and caught “the bug,” that fell by the wayside. I also came to realize that there was more math and science involved with geology than I wanted to throw myself into.
We Love Soaps: So you moved to California from Georgia?
Lane Davies: I moved to New York first. I rattled around the East Coast for awhile. I was in Atlanta selling real estate and doing theater. I was New York based for my first few years after leaving the Southeast.
We Love Soaps: Did you ever audition for any east coast based soaps?
Lane Davies: No. I auditioned for east coast soaps when I was living in California but not while I was in New York.
We Love Soaps: Did you find theater work in New York?
Lane Davies: I kept finding work in regional theater, dinner theater, summer stock. I never actually worked in the city when I was training there. Most of the work at that time were for guys who could sing and dance. I could act and sing but barely dance. If you were six feet tall, and could carry a tune, then you could find work as a leading man, and that’s what I was doing.
We Love Soaps: Given that you are very serious about your theater work, did you have any trepidations about starting work on a daytime soap opera?
Lane Davies: Not by the time I did it. I had been in Los Angeles long enough by then. The first soap I appeared on was THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS for a couple days work, and then got the offer from DAYS. By that time I was hungry enough. I would have taken any work that was offered. I came to find out that I loved the nature of daytime work once I started doing it.
We Love Soaps: Do you remember who you played on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS?
Lane Davies: He was a doctor. The storyline involved Julia Newman (Meg Bennett) and Victor (Eric Braeden). I just played a young doctor. At the time, instead of testing people, the Bells would bring you on and see if they liked you and how the audience responded. Before any of that fell out, I got the offer from DAYS to play Evan Whyland.
We Love Soaps: I interviewed Suzanne Rogers last year. She told me how Maggie's story with Evan was groundbreaking in that it was the first surrogate baby storyline on daytime.
Lane Davies: Yes, it was.
We Love Soaps: Maggie had been the surrogate for the baby Evan had conceived with his dead wife.
Lane Davies: For years it was thought that I was the father. Then they needed to change it down the road. Years later it was Joe Gallison (Neil Curtis) who fathered the child. For years I thought I had a baby on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Then they took her away from me. I thought that was cruel [laughs].
We Love Soaps: Your character lasted one year. You have said in other interviews that Evan did not exactly make an impact.
Lane Davies: That would be a euphemistic way of putting it.
We Love Soaps: The story was new and different. You were working with great actors. What happened?
Lane Davies: Aside from the fact that I was learning the ropes with daytime and multi-cameras? Beside the novice mistakes, the character started out as this brooding misanthropic young neurosurgeon, and I latched on to that. The writers at some point decided that that really wasn’t working for him, and wanted to change him into someone a little more generic. I resisted that. But it happens. Writers either respond to a character of they don’t. Audience either respond to a character or they don’t. Somewhere along the way I started blackmailing Joe Mascolo (Stefano). That’s when I knew my days were numbered.
We Love Soaps: When I first moved to New York in 2005, I waited tables with a 23-year-old named Evan who told me he was named after Evan Whyland. I guess you had more of an impact than you thought.
Lane Davies: How funny! I know there are a lot of cats and horses named Mason.
We Love Soaps: After the experience on DAYS, did you have any hesitations about signing to do SANTA BARBARA?
Lane Davies: None at all. The agent called, told me I had an audition for "SANTA BARBARA." In my head I thought it was the Santa Barbara Music Theater. Then I got the material and realized it wasn’t musical theater. I went in, read, screen-tested, and the rest is history.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please come back for Part Two during which Lane Davies discusses his legendary role as Mason on SANTA BARBARA. How did he learn so many monologues? And which whom did he vacillate between "strangulation and copulation"? Find out in Part Two.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."