Saturday, May 1, 2010

FLASHBACK: Grant Aleksander 1995


By Marla Hart
Chicago Tribune
July 23, 1995

Grant Aleksander, one of the stars of ALL MY CHILDREN, was born and raised in Baltimore, a no-frills, working-class city that has given the world film director Barry Levinson, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, the Orioles and Colts.

There, Aleksander, the son of a business exec father and violinist mother, grew up wanting to be a professional football player, until he was talked into performing in a high school production of "The Doctor In Spite of Himself." He discovered the thrill that most actors relish, though few acknowledge so directly: "Showing off, getting attention; I was very much into it," he says.

Pursuing his muse, Aleksander studied theater at New York University and Circle in the Square and played the tragic hero in several plays, including the lead in "Hamlet."

By 1982--with tragedy and comedy under his belt--he was on his way to being a character actor had it not been for GUIDING LIGHT. That year, the soap cast him as good guy Phillip Spaulding, and Aleksander settled in to play the handsome, romantic hero for nine years.

"You can plug me into any soap. I know how to be the guy riding into town on a white horse," Aleksander chuckles.

Since joining the cast of ALL MY CHILDREN in 1993 as Alec McIntyre, Aleksander has had a chance to exhibit his range, portraying a businessman with enough mood swings to warrant the introduction of a Prozac storyline. "I'm in my full slime mode now," he says. "Alec's reverting to darkness after a while of being the good guy.

"I'm the utility player. I'm the designated hitter on this show. That's why they brought me on. One minute he's a hero, the next he's Simon Legree. Some days I'm just there to move the story along.

"And if that's what they want, I'm not so naive to think it's more than that. Actors are less important than the written word," he says, underestimating the splash he made when he joined AMC.

When he came aboard, AMC was suffering from storylines tinged with the sense that everyone was sharing the same bath water. As outsider Alec, Aleksander brought a much-needed sense of daring to Pine Valley's claustrophobic confines.

On days when the scripts do little to flesh out "The human factor. That's when you have to fight. In a medium that survives on outlandish circumstances, long fights and fueds, it only works if you buy into the characters." It's a view that puts the veteran in square opposition of the popular trend in soap, where anyone in the cast is considered replaceable.

"Every actor, I think, tries to fill some sort of a hole. You can't help but be introspective. That's what it's all about."

Between GL" and AMC," the actor swore off daytime and moved with his wife to L.A. "I did the usual thing that people do," he says, referring to the rounds of networking and auditions standard for the industry. It wasn't Aleksander's cup of tea.

"I'm not a schmoozer. I was not happy putting my career first. It was ruining things that were more important to me, including my relationship with my wife.

"I knew leaving L.A. would mean in all likelihood I wasn't ever going to be making movies. But I realized that for me, a really good relationship, charity, children were too important and the career stuff was never going to satisfy me."

After three years, Aleksander moved with his wife to Virginia, where he lives when he's not taping AMC episodes in New York.

Well-known in the daytime community for his pet cause--animal rights--Aleksander is an active member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and has converted many fans and co-workers.

"If I've learned anything, it's that people are basically good. We all look the other way when we can, but if we look at the information and we don't hide, then we can make a choice and things can change. Any situation where a stronger party is abusing a weaker party--animals, children, the elderly--enrages me. It's the ultimate form of cowardice."

Aleksander is fully prepared for the notion that he'll be an unemployed actor one day, and talks about the possibility of opening a bed and breakfast in the Virginia countryside. " five years when the daytime roles dry up, I'll do something else. Because really, look at the roles that are created on soaps: they're for young, good-looking kids."

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