Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Adam Mayfield Interview, Part Two

In Part One of my interview with Adam Mayfield, the actor shared his process of auditioning and getting hired on ALL MY CHILDREN. In Part Two, Mayfield delves more into how his own grief/loss issues have impacted his performance, and struggles with his own insecurities and self-doubts.

We Love Soaps: One thing I’ve noticed as a long-term soap fan is that your presence in scenes, especially following Stuart’s death, has been phenomenal. I wasn’t a fan of the plot, but it gave many of the actors, including yourself, an opportunity to do some amazing work. What was that like for you?
Adam Mayfield: [Pause] I pulled from my Dad. He died when I was 16. He died of a heart attack just like that [snaps]. He was there one day, gone the next, just like Stuart’s death, a total shocker. I pulled a lot from that experience. I went “method” on that. Because I had that experience and as soon as I read [the script] it brought back the memories. I don’t want to say it was easy to pull on, but it was accessible because I had had a parallel experience. And that’s essentially what I did in many of those scenes, I pulled from that experience. When I first go the morgue and J.R. tells me, I just remember feeling so much grief, anger and denial all at the same time before walking in and seeing [Stuart] on that slab. And that was exactly my reaction when my mom told me that my dad had died. It was the exact same experience I had when I was sixteen.

We Love Soaps: Were you able to process these kinds of feelings when you were sixteen?
Adam Mayfield: No. God no. It took a long time. It’s something I’ve resolved now.

We Love Soaps: How?
Adam Mayfield: Time. Forgiveness. We didn’t have the greatest relationship. He was a difficult man. But I miss him. I often think about what could have been. It’s nothing morose on my part. It’s nothing that brings up a huge amount of regret. But you think about stuff like that, like I wonder what it would have been like if he had been around. But how did I process it? I think the biggest thing is that so much time has gone by. This was over 10 years ago. As the years go by you just kind of deal with it. It happens.

We Love Soaps: When you’re playing Scott and having all these emotions, are you able to let that go at the end of the day?
Adam Mayfield: What’s happened to me, especially when I’m really heavy into the storyline, I obsess about the material all the time. It’s always in my head. I am married to this job. There’s always a scene to work on. There’s always the next script to read or to think about. Even when I am not rehearsing in my apartment or with the resident acting coach at ALL MY CHILDREN or my fellow actors, I‘m always thinking about it. It’s always simmering in the back. And I like that. For me that’s part of the process. The more time I can have with the material, the more familiar I am with it when the day comes to shoot it.

We Love Soaps: You really take this seriously.
Adam Mayfield: I take it too seriously.

We Love Soaps: Why do you say that?
Adam Mayfield: Because what I’m learning is that, especially for this medium, if you hang on to it too tight, it’s gonna start to crumble. You just have to hold on to it loosely. If I worry about it too much it affects my performance. As opposed to just being able to let it go. Does that make sense?

We Love Soaps: I think so. If you’re spending an unbalanced amount of time devoted to one thing then it can interfere with your process. So how do you get more balance?
Adam Mayfield: I’m still learning that. I watch my work. Sometimes I’m really happy with it. Other times I have to go weeks without watching because I’m just appalled at what I see.

We Love Soaps: Can you give an example of recent work that you are happy with?
Adam Mayfield: The first thing that comes to mind are the scenes that I did with Thorsten [Kaye]. Thorsten brings something out of me. He just has this presence about him. He’s got this awareness when he’s working. What is it about him? I don’t know. But he just shows up and he’s so relaxed and he’s got so much conviction behind what he’s doing without trying. It raises the stakes for me. I’m drawn into that moment.

This has been such a huge growing experience. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m having a ball with it. But back to the whole idea of working too hard, I think a lot of actors use that as a cop-out. They say, “I want to keep it fresh,” and sometimes that’s true, and sometimes that’s used as an excuse to not give it all the work that it might possibly require. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that if I worry too much about it then I’m not going to bring the same presence into the moment, [as opposed to] if I do all the work, let it go, and make the most important thing in every scene about the other person. To just listen and react and allow whatever is going to happen to happen.

We Love Soaps: Can you give an example of a time you’ve looked at your work and not felt good about it?
Adam Mayfield: Yeah, but I don’t want to admit it. I don’t want to tell you all the times I’ve watched my episodes on YouTube and cringed. Let’s just say there have been many. I like to think it’s because I’m too hard on myself.

We Love Soaps: Fans can be very critical. They can be very loving, but they can be very critical. So if they’re not saying it, it generally means they’re enjoying your performances.
Adam Mayfield: I’d figure they would tell me. I haven’t seen any bad news on the blogs.

We Love Soaps: How are you enjoying working with Missy [Egan]?
Adam Mayfield: I love working with Missy! I absolutely love working with her. What’s not to like about Missy? She’s a hell of a gal. She’s a great person. We get along famously together. The more that we work together, the more we get to know each backstage, the better my work gets. She’s been doing this long enough to where [snaps] she brings it to the table right there. I have felt like I’ve needed more coaxing. Getting to know her as a person more has helped me to get comfortable with the relationship on-screen and off-screen.

We Love Soaps: How are you like Scott?
Adam Mayfield: How do I put this into words? We can both be very careful, too careful. I think at times it works to our benefit because we’re not particularly rash human beings. But at the same time we can be too careful. We’re both very sensitive. The more similarities I can find between myself and Scott the better the work is going to be, because the more personal it’s going to be.

We Love Soaps: How are you different?
Adam Mayfield: We certainly don’t have the same accent. Scott’s a little more serious, a little more pensive than I am. There’s an element of playfulness that I seem to have that Scott doesn’t have. I never really had to put this into words. He’s more of a nerd than I am. He’s a nerd. I think Scott wishes he could enjoy camping, but would fail horribly at camping with the boys. I think he wants to be that guy. But I could be wrong! After all, Stuart went fishing with him all the time.

We Love Soaps: He does seem a little pampered...
Adam Mayfield: Yeah, that’s true. I think everyone in Pine Valley is a little pampered.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Come back for Part Three when Adam Mayfield discusses the move to L.A., thoughts about the 2010 Emmys, and how changing old thought patterns is helping him to access balance and peace.

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 has started blogging again at

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