With GENERAL HOSPITAL celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, We Love Soaps has been catching up with some of our favorite actors from over the years including Kin Shriner, Lynn Herring and Robin Mattson. Up next is actor and singer Brad Maule, who played Dr. Tony Jones on the show from 1984 to 2006. In Part 1 of our exclusive interview, the Texas native talks about some of his early acting experiences and landing his fan favorite role on GH. Check it out below.
WE LOVE SOAPS: You grew up in Texas and were a theater major in college at Stephen F. Austin. How early on in life did you know you wanted to be an actor?
Brad Maule: I didn't know exactly what I was going to do but I knew from the time I was two years old. When I plowed my parents never worried about me because they could hear me singing in the field. I was always a show business kind of person; I just didn't know how to manifest that. I always felt different. I wanted to wear slacks when everyone else worse jeans. I wanted to live in a brick house and not a farm house. Just weird stuff. [Laughs]
WE LOVE SOAPS: After you moved to Los Angeles, you did episodes of THREE'S COMPANY, TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT, played a character in MALIBU, and did some theater work as well. Did you have a favorite experience from your primetime roles?
Brad Maule: THREE'S COMPANY was really shocking to me because it was one of the first things I ever did. When I walked on the set John Ritter threw me a football. He was just the nicest guy. CHARLIE'S ANGELS was my first job on television and I was so scared. I remember that I went back behind the set and did a bunch of push ups before I went out to meet them so I wouldn't hyperventilate. For them it was just another day, and I was just another actor. But for me, they were icons. That was as cool as you could get at that particular time.
WE LOVE SOAPS: Is it true you landed a job on GENERAL HOSPITAL after executive producer Gloria Monty saw you on the American Music Awards?
Brad Maule: The true story is I was just a struggling actor having done a few jobs. Sam Haskell was my agent at William Morris. He was a brand new agent at the time, and later became President of Television at William Morris. He was on the set of the American Music Awards when Andy Gibb didn't show up to perform "Arthur's Theme". He was going through some troubled times. Sam said to the producers, "I've got a younger actor who can do this for you." The orchestra was already recorded so they asked if I could do it in that key. They called me, and it was just one of those things where opportunity came along, and you just had to jump at it and be prepared. I said, "Of course I can do this."
I went over to the Palace Theater and auditioned and hit all the notes, so they put me in an Usher Tux, and the director came out and showed me where to come out and who to sing to. Two hours later the show starts, the theater was filled with people, and the production assistant with me asked what I was going to do if I messed up the song. I said, "We'll just stop tape and I'll do it again." And she said, "Oh, honey, this is live!" So I went down and sang and there were two famous people I sang too. One was Lynn Redgrave and I can't remember the other one. It was quite an evening. They put me in a limo and drove me to Chasen's, which I'd never been to. When I got out people applauded people applauded, and I met Bette Davis and all kinds of powerful stars who were part of the show that night. The funny part is I lived across the street from Chasen's at a $150 a month apartment. I got back in the limo after the party and it just made a u-turn and dropped me off across the street. It was like a Cinderella story. I went back to doing laundry and was still an out of work actor.
Later on the casting agent for GENERAL HOSPITAL called and said they had seen me that night and wanted to meet with me for the role of Frisco Jones. So I went in and auditioned a bunch of times, and tested with John Stamos. Then they said I was too old for the role but wanted to create the role of Frisco's older brother, Tony. And that was it.
WE LOVE SOAPS: Jimmy MacNichol also tried out for Frisco. There were so many actors who wanted that part.
Brad Maule: A record deal came with it.
WE LOVE SOAPS: When you started at GENERAL HOSPITAL, the show was still No. 1 in the ratings, and had been a pop culture sensation with Luke and Laura. How familiar were you with the hoopla around GH at the time?
Brad Maule: No. I had never even seen a soap in my life. When I was growing up we only had three channels and watching TV in the daytime wasn't a thing anybody did. I was a farmer.
WE LOVE SOAPS: With GH celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, a lot of people have been telling Gloria Monty stories. What was it like working for her?
Brad Maule: Terrifying. Gloria was a really neat lady but there was just something about her. When you heard her heels come out of the booth and clicking to the soundstage floor, it was terrifying because you knew you had screwed up. The more she could intimidate you, the more she would intimidate you. With Jack Wagner, he didn't care. But I was petrified and wanted to do right, but I didn't know what right was. Anytime she spoke to me I was like a dog that just laid down and rolled over on its back. I was just scared to death of her.
WE LOVE SOAPS: Wasn't Tony supposed to be killed off after a year?
Brad Maule: They signed me to a three-year contract but that didn't mean anything. They could kill you off every 13 weeks. The soap opera business was so new to me and so intimidating I think after that first year Gloria thought I wasn't going to cut it. I don't think she thought I was a very good actor, and I probably wasn't a very good actor for soaps because it went so fast with so much information. So they shot Tony in the head and the heart and I got a telegram saying my services were no longer needed at GENERAL HOSPITAL; we're not picking up your contract. Then all of a sudden the fans started to write. You don't know what makes things happens in a television show. Some nerve had been pricked among the fans and they liked me more than she knew and suddenly they couldn't get rid of me. It kind of created a pattern for the rest of my time on GENERAL HOSPITAL: when in doubt, let's try to kill Tony.
WE LOVE SOAPS: During the GENERAL HOSPITAL 50th anniversary, SOAPnet aired a 50-hour marathon and fans got to see so many great Tony Jones moments again. What were your favorite stories from your time at GH?
Brad Maule: Obviously the BJ story was the highlight because when you get on that kind of ride it's a wonderful feeling because you don't have to act anymore. You just have to be truthful as an actor. I was raised in a family that lost a child; my brother passed away when I was a kid. I understood the story from a deep part of myself and that gave me the confidence to go on. That was a fun time.
I enjoyed all Tony's wives. Jackie Zeman (Bobbie) was a wonderful person to work with. And Lynn Herring (Lucy) was a wonderful person to work with. And to this day I'm still in love with Hilary Edson (Tania). She was my first wife on the show and we just had a special connection. For 30 years now, we've exchanged Christmas cards every year and still care about each other. She lives an incredible life where she raised her two kids and she and her husband and kids live in France three months of the year. Hilary was always a classy person and she hasn't changed an iota.
Continue reading Part 2...
Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He appeared in FRANCOPRHENIA and the documentary SOAP LIFE in 2012.