Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Victor Alfieri: The We Love Soaps Interview, Part Two

In Part One of our interview with Victor Alfieri, the multi-talented star discussed his new role on ALL MY CHILDREN, and how growing up without a father led him to become the "class clown" entertainer.  In Part Two, he shares the details of a tragic incident that changed the course of his life and his career.  Plus what was "Franco's" name going to be on DAYS before Alfieri was hired? Find out below!

We Love Soaps: So you were acting in fotoromanzis, your career was taking off, and what happened?
Victor Alfieri: At the age of eighteen I got attacked on the street.  I was with my girlfriend on the way to the movies.  I was attacked by three people. We got away from them.  But the thing is, the last man was an older man.  Because I grew up with my grandparents, I had huge respect and values for older people.  This was guy like in his 60’s and I was eighteen.  The other two kids ran away.  This older man stood there, kept asking me for money, pushing me around, calling me and my girlfriend names.  I just dismissed him, said, “I don’t want to fight you, just go away, it’s over.”

My girlfriend and I were crossing the street in the most famous piazza in Rome.  He grabbed me from behind.  I turned around and he had a wine bottle in his hand.  A lot of people thought he smashed a bottle on my face, but that’s not what happened.  What happened is that I grabbed the bottle, I took it away from his hand, I grabbed the man, and wanted to push him on the hood of my car, which was parked behind him.  What happened was we both slipped.  He ended up hitting the hood with his head.  I ended up breaking the right window of my own car with my face.  That’s what happened to my face.  The guy went into a coma, we both fell so hard.  When I got up I was bleeding, my nose was detached, it was a big deal.  People were screaming at me, “Oh my God he’s dead, you killed him!” It was a weird feeling.  I remember it like yesterday.  It was weird weird feeling to believe you killed somebody.  But I did not kill him, I did not attack him.  He recovered after five days.

We Love Soaps: Was he prosecuted?
Victor Alfieri: Yes, he was. 

We Love Soaps: Is he still in jail?
Victor Alfieri: No, he never did jail time.  In order to do jail time in Italy you have to do something really, really, more than that.  Sometimes it shocks me.  You read the news in Italy, how somebody shot somebody or killed somebody, and they give him eight years.  If it happened in the states you’d be in jail for life. 

We Love Soaps: When I see your pictures, or see you on soaps, I can’t see any scars. 
Victor Alfieri: Well I believe in positive energy, that when you do something positive it comes back to you sooner or later.  I always try to stay positive and helpful to the community.  That night they took me to an emergency room.  The lady in charge took really good care of me.  She placed 56 stitches on my face like a plastic surgeon.  You won’t believe the amazing job she did in an emergency room, in a public hospital! This woman, I don’t know why, but she was an angel, she spent three hours carefully placing the stitches on my face.  You can still see the scars, but after twenty years it’s better.  I would never change the scars for anything, it’s part of my life. 

We Love Soaps: And then you became a cop?
Victor Alfieri: I was in the police force and loved it.  I enjoyed everything about it.  I always loved to help people, I always loved to be the one to protect people, maybe because growing up I didn’t have someone to protect me.  I love to put my life on the line for others.  I will never turn my back on helping people, even now.  But I think that’s the wrong reason to become a cop.  Also, after the incident, I was little mad.  I loved being a cop, but you could become like a vigilante, you know? So I quit the police force, and broke up with my sweetheart love.

We Love Soaps: The one you were with when you were attacked?
Victor Alfieri: Yes, I broke up with her, I was sad.  She moved to Milan and my friend came to L.A. and told me, “Why don’t you come for vacation?” So I jumped on a plane, I came, and I never left.  

We Love Soaps: How did your grandmother and mother feel about you leaving?
Victor Alfieri: They loved me so much, but in a way they trusted me.  I grew up on my own, I joined the police force when I was eighteen, I had been all over Italy with the police force. They were okay with it.  Of course they miss me so much but I make sure I talk to them every day and see them every year. 

We Love Soaps: So how long did it take for you to get hired on DAYS OF OUR LIVES?
Victor Alfieri: I came here in 1994, and I started acting right away.  I was pretty lucky.  That’s how I developed the interest in becoming an actor.  I said, “I can do this.” DAYS OF OUR LIVES hired me the first time in 1995 with a role named Jose.  He was a fisherman who had scenes with Kate, Lauren Koslow.  I think I did five or six episodes as Jose.  So when the contract role came around for “Jason Kelly,” I auditioned.  I even told my manager, “I was Jose on this soap opera five months ago, how can they bring me back? And this guy is American!” So I did the first audition, second audition, then the third was a screen test. I was lucky.  I had had experiences working with stars in movies before.

We Love Soaps: But as we know, daytime actors often have to work much harder to do more material with less time.
Victor Alfieri: I was ready set wise.  But line wise I was not prepared.  It was hard work, and English was not my first language.  I remember staying up until three-o-clock in the morning studying my lines, trying to get them right.  There were a lot of lines.  But they really helped me a lot.  I’m very happy they put up with me and were patient.  I was always prepared, I never forgot my lines.  But my accent was strong, my acting wasn’t that good at that time.  I was very happy they kept me on for a long ride.  They gave me a lot.  I owe a lot to them.  Fran Bascom was the casting director, she really helped me a lot.  I’m still friends with her.  She’s Italian, you know.  She was speaking to me in Italian after my audition.  Her name is actually Francesca.  I always keep her in my heart.  She’s my mother figure in Los Angeles. 

We Love Soaps: So they changed the name of your charater from “Jason” to “Franco.”
Victor Alfieri: Yes.

We Love Soaps: During this time you were involved in two major stories on DAYS, both which carried over years after you left.  The first was with Franco’s involvement with Hope and Bo.  Franco was hired by Kate to break them up.  Did you know what a strong following Kristian Alfonso and Peter Reckell had in the U.S.?
Victor Alfieri: No, I did not.  I had just moved here, and we don’t have DAYS OF OUR LIVES it Italy.  I was not aware, and I think that helped.  It was less pressure. 

We Love Soaps: What was it like to work with this couple?
Victor Alfieri: It was great.  I remember Peter Reckell.  He comes off tough, but he’s a really nice guy on the inside.  In the beginning I was like, “Why is this guy so hard on me? Is he trying to fight me, does he not like me?” But that’s his way of being.  He’s really a sweetheart.  Kristian too, she is really a sweetheart.  She is also Italian. 

We Love Soaps: Despite the fact that Franco was coming in between this popular couple, the fans really took quite a liking to you. 
Victor Alfieri: Yeah, I was surprised.  Still today people stop me on the street and say, “Oh my gosh, you were Franco Kelly.” It’s been 12 years now.  They say, “I loved you, you were so bad!” To me it’s like, I didn’t do anything that bad except for romancing a girl. It’s not like he was Stefano DiMera, exploding things, making people disappear, killing people.  People are smart enough to know I’m playing a role.  They are also smart enough to understand that without a villain there is no spice.  It’s like making dinner without the main ingredient.  If you don’t have a villain, then how can you enjoy the storyline?  You need somebody to spice it up.  Franco Kelly was there for that purpose. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for Part Three of our interview in which Alfieri discuses his work with Alison Sweeney on DAYS,  his time on BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and history and future producing films.  Plus, who was his character of Giovanni on B&B named after? Come back to find out!

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 is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! Thanks for helping to giving us this kind of insight into Victor Alfieri.