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08/24/2011

Part II of the chat with Drake Hogestyn, aka John Black

Drake_hogestyn_01 Picking up where The Big Mac Blog left off from his long chat with Drake Hogestyn, also known as John Black of Days of Our Lives ...

The Big Mac Blog: Did you see coming any of this rapid change in soaps the way it has played out?
Drake Hogestyn:
We all knew big changes were happening. We were losing shows, and long-time names. There was all kinds of talk because so many shows were over budget.
When I say we were working 90 hour weeks I wasn’t kidding; we would wrap at 2 a.m. and be on the set at 6 a.m. I was sleeping in my dressing room. We were so over budget with all of the overtime the crew and production staffs that something had to change.

The Big Mac Blog: What do you think was the trigger in this change?
Drake Hogestyn: Well, in 1986 when I started we just had three networks and we would carry an 11 or 12 share.  Now there are 300 networks and we are competing with this explosion of everything. Shows can show nudity and everything else now.
When Deidre Hall and I were let go a few different media outlets said this was a shot across the bow and that daytime is in trouble. Other soaps called their actors in and made massive budget cuts. Shows started to get cancelled. There is a lot of talk about some shows going to the Internet.
We’re all going to keep a close eye on Katie Couric’s new show and the affect it could have. We could only have three (daytime) soaps on here pretty soon.
What happened was talk shows came on, which are much easier and cheaper to produce. That’s the same with any business. But if you look at all of the popular shows, they are really all soap operas. It’s all a saga. It’s about engaging writing and compelling actors. If you get that people will turn it in.

The Big Mac Blog: What is going to be new about Days of our Lives that is going to allow it to stick around?
Drake Hogestyn: It’s a whole rejuvination of the show. They brought in two new executive producers to replace one. They are redefining the characters on Sept. 26 and put them in character-driven stories that are topical to today. These are the situations that are happening today, like the economy or other social issues that are affecting people right now.
John and Marlena will be back, and they are in situations that are problems but if you hold hands and face it together you can survive it. The theme is love and we will intertwine mystery and intrigue, that is a soap opera. But the underlying theme is love.

6a00e54f7fc4c58833014e8ae98a81970d-300wi The Big Mac Blog: Are you identified as John Black with Deidre Hall, even though you aren’t that couple off-screen?
Drake Hogestyn: Sure. I was in Atlanta at this convention and someone asked me, ‘Where is Marlena?’ I said she was back at the hotel. I do realize we really created this magic over the years that people really like. Sometime I’m almost too close to the trees to see the forest. Sometimes we’ll have scenes sent to us, like a montage of our past work together, and Deidre and I will be like, ‘We were really good back then.’ We do have a connection and we do like each other and we do protect each other. We complete each other’s thoughts. She’s a wonderful person and a powerful actress.

The Big Mac Blog: How did you land this role?
Drake Hogestyn:
It's amazing, really. It was December of 1985 and I had given up on Hollywood. I was going to return to Indiana and Victoria and I were going to start our life together there. I got one more audition, and it was on the Columbia set, which I thought when I was driving up that it was appropriate because that's where I started. Before I got out of the car I thought, 'What a horse s--- attitude.' So I stayed in the jeep, drove around the block once more and said, 'Let's give 'em hell.' And it changed the whole spin of the ball.
6a00e54f7fc4c58833015434c9824c970c-200wi I was reading at the time the Robert Ludlum book about Jason Bourne. The people at Days wanted a brief character that was a man without a past, that was based on Jason Bourne. They couldn't use the name so they used his initials.
I got the part, and it was only supposed to last a few months but the character was so popular they brought it back. I first appeared on Jan. 23 1986. Marlena and John shot to the top of the polls and we were there for 23 years.

The Big Mac Blog: How much longer do you want to do this?
Drake Hogestyn:
I have this expression, ‘You are going to have to take me out dragging and screaming because your name can come off the dressing room fast. So come in and be prepared to show America what you’ve got every day.’ I want to be a part of the process that is this show. There are rumblings that soaps will go south, but I’m rejuvenated and ready for another 60,000 miles.

The Big Mac Blog: Do you still follow Major League Baseball?
Drake Hogestyn:
Oh yeah. Always be a Yankee fan. Always. Always. (Former Texas Rangers and current Orioles manager) Buck Showalter and I were teammates. A lot of my buddies are still in baseball as announcers or managers. (Former Texas Rangers manager) Doug Melvin is a friend. Pat Gillick is a friend; he was the scout that drafted me and he just went into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Baseball is a great fraternity. You go into a stadium and you close life behind you. Between the lines your life dissolves. It’s like walking onto a set; it’s another life.

6a00e54f7fc4c58833015434c985b0970c-800wi The Big Mac Blog: Favorite baseball memory?
Drake Hogestyn: (This is a long story so I’ll condense it). I was in the Florida state league. We were playing a double-header against the Daytona Beach Royals. I was normally a third baseman but they moved me to second because Damaso Garcia got hurt. We had a pickoff play and we had the runner in a pickle; he slides into me and I got a spike in the right thigh. They asked me to sit out the second game and I’m like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ But they make me sit out and I’m pissed. It’s the top of the 9th and we’re down 6-3. The bases are loaded and they bring in Craig Eaton to pitch; now I owned Craig Eaton in Junior College. I told the manager Ed Napoli, ‘Nap, I’m going in’. First pitch I see I hit it dead center field. It’s the furthest I ever hit a ball.

The Big Mac Blog: Drake, I could talk to you another 40 hours but I know you have a life so I’ll say I appreciate your time and look forward to your return.
Drake Hogestyn: OK, next time I’m in Dallas/Fort Worth let’s grab a beer. Go Rangers.

That last part isn’t a joke. I gave him my number, and anxiously await the phone call to have a beer with John Black.

@MacEngelProf
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Comments

Andy Brackett

John Black is amazing. How old is that guy? I think he is a vampire. How else can you account for him not aging??? Nice article.

Trina

How can you not like Days of Our Lives? Marlena and John; the show goes on!

Linda

LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE this, thank you so much for this fabulous interview with Drake! I couldn't sleep because I was so excited to read Part Two so thank you for getting it posted so fast!

Drake is AWESOME! A heck of an extraordinary actor and wonderful person. I don't know how you did it, but did you know that you're the FIRST interviewer to get Drake to say that it was INJURY that ended his baseball career? All of the interviews I've read, he says that he just sucked as a baseball player which is simply not true. Very enlightening and fun interview, thank you again! DRAKE ROCKS!

Linda

LMAO Andy, this has to be the comment of the day! Thank you for the huge chuckle! I agree, Drake NEVER ages. What is even more amazing is unlike so many other actors, Drake has never had plastic surgery. The only surgeries he has had were to repair old baseball injuries. He didn't just drink from the fountain of youth, he fell into the fountain of youth! :P

Linda

Andy, Drake is 57 years old. Born on September 29, 1953.

Marlow K.

GREATEST SOAP OF ALL TIME!!!! Bring back John Black! (i don't like to refer to him by his real name as I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of the show and prefer to live in my own little fantasy world!) John Black has always been a hottie! It blows me away he still looks exactly the same! Crazy! Great genes! I'm excited he is back!!! WELCOME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

Stacy

I gotta say I saw this coming a mile away. Drake is a great actor and Days needs him. It's that simple. He looks crazy young and will attract new viewers and he appeals to older viewers because he has been around forever. And how can you not love John Black??!! John Black is probably a top 3 character from Days of Our Lives. Welcome back Mr. Black!!!!!

Len M.

Great interview. I've followed him for years. I guess I got hooked when I was younger. He is a great actor, a credit to his industry, and has always come across as a heck of a guy. Good story. I was suprised to find an article about Drake on a sports blog.

James Remar

Drake Hogestyn is the best. Totally great article. I hope he does the John Black another 100 years! You need to do more articles like this only you got to meet with some of these folks in person. Relationships are everything in every business AND the quality of your interviews will only improve as your relationships with stars like this grow! GREAT ARTiCLE!

Jimmy Mark D

I love Drake. I can't believe he is a Yankee fan. That kinda kills it for me. RANGERS BABEE!!

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