Monday, November 22, 2010

Thorsten Kaye Is Still The "Occupant" Of Our Hearts - Part Three

In Parts One and Two of our interview with Thorsten Kaye, the beloved actor discussed his role in the  new film Occupant, his experience working with Van Hansis, the Bianca/Reese wedding on ALL MY CHILDREN, as well as how soaps fumble by focusing on explosions.  In this part, he reflects on his time on PORT CHARLES, his passionate fan following, and why he chose to left AMC. What does he think of "Zendall?" Find out below.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: On PORT CHARLES, you came on as Ian Thornhart, Patrick’s brother, originally as a doctor who worked for a Doctors Without Borders type organization, then ended up fighting vampires.
Thorsten Kaye: Yeah, he had gotten bit by one vampire and everything changed.  But like all good drama it comes down to relationships, doesn’t it?

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It does, but that’s where PORT CHARLES lost me a viewer. 
Thorsten Kaye: I think that soap was a little bit before its time.  You turn on anything now and you see vampires and superheroes.  If you are watching the [Washington] Capitals and are expecting to have fist fights, that’s not going to happen.  You watch soaps because you want what you want.  In our defense, our show was dying and they had to do something.  They thought, “Why don’t we do something radical and see if it sticks?” We were the only ABC soap nominated for an Emmy that year [2003].  So somebody was watching and somebody got it.  I don’t know that I necessarily agreed with it and liked it, but I understood it. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Did you enjoy the supernatural aspect of storytelling?
Thorsten Kaye: Sure.  It's fun to do stuff like that. You don’t know what’s going to happen with your powers.  By the way, I didn’t get any superpowers, I’m still bummed about that.  But it's always fun to do something different.  And that is the thing about soaps, it does get a little stagnant after awhile.  You play the same character who is jealous of this guy and then you don’t trust your wife. The vampire thing broke it up a little bit for me.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Between your roles on ONE LIFE TO LIVE and PORT CHARLES you were building up quite a loyal fan base. 
Thorsten Kaye: Which has nothing to do with me.  That can change over night.  People like what they like until they don’t.   Someone recently said to me, “When you left ALL MY CHILDREN, you didn’t go to the magazines and have a big thank you for your fans.”  No, I didn’t.  And that’s not because I was being a dick about it.  I hope that I thanked my fans every day when I was on screen.  It almost makes it smaller to take a moment out and say, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”  I hope they already know how important they are because we show up for work sober and prepared to give them the best show possible. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: From what I’ve seen, your fans are quite passionate and vocal.
Thorsten Kaye: I think that’s just my mother. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Soon after PORT CHARLES ended you started on ALL MY CHILDREN as Zach Slater, which became your longest running role to date.  I was thinking back on Zach these last six years and the numerous changes he went through.
Thorsten Kaye: Yes, but he just got prettier [laughs]. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And he definitely had better hair!
Thorsten Kaye: Right.  I usually try not to stay in a role longer than three or four years.  But you get comfortable.  Now with the kids, driving home at night to put them into bed, and working three or four days a week, I got comfortable.  It is hard if you want to be a good actor and you get comfortable.  Then you start doing tricks and going through the motions.  You stop questioning scripts and producers and it just doesn’t get as good as it could be.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It seemed every year there was a new rewrite.  So one year he suddenly had a son, Ethan.  One year he impregnated Bianca off-screen without telling his wife Kendall.  
Thorsten Kaye: [Pause] Yeah.  That would have been must-see TV onscreen.  Look, all this stuff, I can’t defend it.  When an audience yells, “Why would he do that,” just know, we’ve all talked about it, and we know it wasn’t right. It was something someone else wanted to do it.  We are very much aware when something doesn’t work because we have to do it. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Zach’s relationship with Kendall took off with fans.  You two are considered a supercouple by fans, meaning, they can’t imagine either one of you with anyone else.
Thorsten Kaye: I’m going to see how they deal with that with her.  She’s such a good actress and a good lady.  I love her. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What were the ingredients that made "Zendall" such an exciting couple for the audience?
Thorsten Kaye: You’d have to ask the audience.  We just showed up.  We’re friends, we challenge each other.  But I don’t know how these things work.  If I did I’d start a soap tomorrow and hire the right people.  There is no formula for it. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So you were comfortable in your role as Zach. Then in later Summer 2009 you received some news.  You were told AMC was moving west.
Thorsten Kaye: Not all of AMC.  Like I said, my family is here.  It didn’t make sense to grab everyone and go west for a few reasons.  And like I said, I had thought about stopping anyway.  I thought that the character wasn’t going anywhere.  And that is partly my fault because I didn’t know what to do with him anymore.  I think it was just time, and it happened to be at the same time they were moving.  It wasn’t about money or relationships with people.  It was just time.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: This week is the death of Zach and his great hair on AMC.
Thorsten Kaye: WHAT? Oh man! That’s alright.  There will be other guys with great hair. We are all replaceable. It is silly to think we’re not.  I understand why they have to do that. They need Kendall to be able to move on.  I hope they give her some time to mourn her husband and the father of her children.  But that’s not what people want to see.  Or maybe that is what they want to see.  Maybe they would like to see her mourn instead of moving on to the next guy. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I think when soaps tell bereavement stories in real time it very powerful.  I don’t see any of the soaps invested doing that kind of story telling these days. 
Thorsten Kaye: I don’t know why.  Maybe you should talk to them.  This is what you do for a living.  You listen to people in your office and you see there is something about the human struggle that is captivating. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And that is what makes soap audiences so loyal.  Quite often they get attached to an actor when they are going through something in their lives such as a birth, a death, an illness. This is why they remain loyal through ridiculous rewrites  They are still invested in the ride.
Thorsten Kaye: Part of the problem is that head writers won’t allow a story to breathe anymore.  They won’t allow it to develop.  They say, “We have to come up with new stories.”  But your story is right here! Why not just let Kendall be? Why not watch that and write based on what she does, not based on what you want her to do. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for the final part as Thorsten previews more about Occupant, and discusses his future.  Is Patrick coming back to Llanview? Read part four to find out!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City.  He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at [email protected].

1 comment:

  1. Writers do need to let a story breathe, and to allow a story to form naturally from the last story. TK is spot on.

    Too bad the writers have dumped that style of storytelling. t