FULL DISCLOSURE: I used to skip class in college to watch Days of Our Lives cliffhanger Fridays. My roomate, the great Jason Lamb of the Kansas City Fox affiliate, and I both had a respectable man crush on the great John Black. There may not have been a single more mysterious, or intimidating, daytime star than Drake Hogestyn. Check out that hair.
A former minor league baseball star, Hogestyn caught a massive break just before he was ready to give up on Hollywood in 1986 when he took an audition as the Man Without a Past for Days of Our Lives. The character was based on the Robert Lublum hero, Jason Bourne. Days couldn't use the name, so they kept the initials. What was going to be a character that lasted only a few months became a daytime staple, and Hogestyn had a career.
He left the show, due to massive cutbacks, in 2008. But he is coming back for a big Days re-launch on Sept. 26.
This interview is massive, and I'm going to break it up into three parts. This is part one.
The Big Mac Blog: Were you a fan of soaps before you got the role?
Drake Hogestyn: Well, when I was playing pro ball the game would end and you really wouldn't unwind until the mornings. And when you were on the road a lot of guys would get hooked on soaps. Then when I got the role on the show, a lot of my friends who were ball players would come to play the Angels or Dodgers and I'd invite them on the set and you should have seen their reactions when they would see the people they watch on TV every day. It was great.
One friend of mine was such a fan of General Hospital, and I had him out and had him on that set. He literally couldn't speak when he saw some of those people. It was hilarious.
The Big Mac Blog: Any similiarties between making it as an actor or making it in pro baseball?
Drake Hogestyn: You know I make parallels and analogies to baseball every day. In pro baseball you really just have to be blessed with certain gifts. I was a fringe talent, not a prospect. Maybe earlier on when I was a No. 2 pick of the Cardinals I was a prospect. But that was before my injuries. I eventually became organizational filler. Now, they never tell you that but you figure it. Injuries play a big part.
I had a foot injury one year, and then I hurt my shoulder. The writing is on the wall at that point.
In acting, you have to be lucky and so much of it is timing.
The comparisons are you have to really believe in yourself to do this. Unlike baseball, where you fit and field and run individually, you do win as a team. It takes a lot of teamwork on Days to make this work. That is why a show is successful. Every once in a while you get an insecure actor who doesn't fit in but you are not going to be long for this show.
Like baseball, there is so much competition in this. There are 10,000 to 15,000 actors that are coming out here every week trying to break in. There are a lot of wonderful actors doing plays that aren't going to get the chance, or the right agent, or the right door to open at the 11th hour.
The Big Mac Blog: How did you wind up in Hollywood?
Drake Hogestyn: Total luck. I filled out a 150-word essay from Columbia Pictures on why I should go to Hollywood. So I got a call and came out for an audition. Next think you know I'm in LA.
The Big Mac Blog: Quick hit on Days; why come back to this show?
Drake Hogestyn: Well, I had been off for 2 1/2 years and it is amazing the withdrawal you go through from the cast and crew and production. It's 90 hours a week and you bond. I did a book signing with Ken Courday a couple of years ago and it hurt because I was smiling so much seeing all of these people again. The show had gone through massive changes and huge budget cuts. We didn't know if it was going to get picked up. They made hard choices to put this show on time and under budget, which included letting go of myself and Deidre Hall. They were trying to get younger demographics and they tried this and that and for some reason it didn't work.
Now, we have new writers and two executive producers who have re-committed to the core audience that has watched this show for 45 years and we want to bring those people back. This is a family and we think they are going to watch that family bond again.
To come back is a dream come true?
The Big Mac Blog: OK, where did the eye brow raise come from?
Drake Hogestyn: (laughs) The magazines wanted some fresh shots for the shots, new press photos. Before I took the picture I'm tapping the right side just above my eyebrow because I'm trying to numb the nerve there. They said it's a genetic thing. I don't try to do it. I'm not even aware of it.
It's a trademark, but it's nothing I tried to do. They made fun of it. They even used it as part of the character Joey when he was teaching an acting class on the TV show "Friends". It was Matt LeBlanc, and he said to his class, 'The most important thing is the eye brow raise'. It was a nice shot. But I'm like, is this all I'm known for is the eye brow?
I'm going to post more of this tomorrow ...
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