We caught up with Peter Bartlett (Nigel, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) when he was breathless. Because he had just taped a love scene? No. Gone for a jog around Central Park? Er, no. He had just come off a “snowmobike” in the Duracell Power Lodge in Times Square. The bike collected energy in in two huge batteries to light the 2009 sign at the ball drop.Soap Opera Weekly: So what did you do?
Peter Bartlett: I put energy into the Duracell battery.
Weekly: That’s very green of you.
Bartlett: I was reminded that I saw a documentary on the fashion industry in Paris during the second World War, and there are films of several people on bikes. That’s how they generated the sewing machines in the fashion industry.
Weekly: Wow. How long were you on the bike?
Bartlett: I was just on for three or four minutes. I revved up a little energy along with everyone else. I’m an old man, Gabby.
Weekly: Tell us about this new musical you are in.
Bartlett: It’s a play with music. It’s a wonderfully silly piece. It’s called What’s that Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling. It’s [about] this failed composer who’s on my talk show that’s devoted to musical theater, and after 20 years of not succeeding, he’s finally getting a show on Broadway. So he sits and plays songs from his show.
Weekly: And is it a long run?
Bartlett: It’s limited. We did it at the Atlantic Theatre Company for a couple of months, and now we’ve been at New World Stages for a few months. We close before the first of the year, on December 28. I’m back on the soap after the first of the year, January 5 to 7; I’m delighted.
Weekly: I know! He’s very striking. Does Nigel have a good relationship with David?
Bartlett: No, no, no! He’s fought tooth and nail to keep the information from him that he is indeed the real heir.
Weekly: Do you have any other projects lined up?
Bartlett: I’ve been recording — the last three or four months — one of the voices in the new Disney animated feature, The Princess and the Frog. I’m playing a British valet, Lawrence. So it’s fun; there are a lot of good people in it. Of course, you don’t see anyone, because [you] record [the voices] in a very isolated way. I went up to L.A. once and recorded, and then the last time was here in New York. It’s a sweet part. It won’t come out until a year from now — Christmas 2009.
Weekly: Who are some of the other voices?
Bartlett: John Goodman, Oprah Winfrey, Anika Noni Rose (Lorrell, a title character in the movie Dreamgirls), Keith David, and Bruno Campos from Nip/Tuck. A lot of good people.
Weekly: Do you know what Lawrence looks like?
Bartlett: I do, actually. When I went out to L.A., it was amazing, because the first thing they showed me on a big screen was an animation of my character with my voice coming out of it. They used recordings from my two auditions. He’s a big, heavyset guy, but he looks vaguely like me. And when you are recording, they are also taping you; they do it for the facial expressions. And I met my animator. There’s one guy assigned to each character.
Weekly: Sounds like all’s going well. You take care of those Buchanans — there’s trouble ahead.
Bartlett: There is!