Soap Opera Digest: How did LIVING WITH FRAN come about for you?
Ryan McPartlin: I got this role before Fran got it. I got cast on this before they worked out a deal with Fran. Same with Ben [Feldman], who plays Josh. It was funny because I read with Ben and our chemistry was so good. There are young writers on this show. Jamie Kennedy produces it and is co-creator on it, so you have this group of young guys who are thinking of all the funny stuff that can happen when this kid comes home and finds out his mom is dating a younger man. When Fran signed on, the dynamic had to shift. It had to because she’s the star. They had to readjust and say, “How are we going to explore Fran’s relationship with Riley instead of Josh?” Not to take away from Josh’s character, who is significant to the show, but it had to put Fran on the front-burner.
Digest: Have you been showing Ben the ropes?
McPartlin: He’s one of those guys who did four years of theater. He came out here and booked The WB series THE MAYOR; his first gig right off the bat. It only lasted one episode. So, he took his lumps on that a little bit. But he just played Hilary Duff‘s love interest in this movie [The Perfect Man] that he shot in Vancouver with her. For such a young kid, he has a lot of experience acting. A lot more than I had when I came out here. But a lot of the technical stuff I think he’s learning, as far as making choices as an actor and being aware of camera at the same time. He has come a long way and does well with it. From PASSIONS, I came in and had that confidence already.
Digest: Having come from the soap world, what’s it like for you to perform in front of a live audience?
McPartlin: It’s a great gauge to see whether you’re doing your job or not. You get that immediate feedback. On soaps, you have to learn to trust your own instincts. We used to do humor when I was on PASSIONS, and it’s like you didn’t necessarily know what was funny or not funny because you don’t have that live audience. It was nerve-wracking at first, but you get over that. It turns into energy.Digest: Have you read Fran Drescher’s book?
McPartlin: Yes. Cancer Schmancer is a great book to read. It’s like having a one-on-one conversation with Fran.
Digest: Who do you keep in touch with from PASSIONS?
McPartlin: I talk to James [Hyde, Sam] and Galen [Gering, Luis] once in a while. I’d like to keep in touch with everyone, but I’m so busy and I know they’re all working. I still think about everyone over there all the time. I see them on TV all the time.
Digest: How do you feel about being known as a soap actor?
McPartlin: People talk about soap operas and how they don’t necessarily want to do them or they’re not into them. It’s amazing how many people are coming off soaps right now and blowing up, from Jesse Metcalfe [John, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES; ex-Miguel, PASSIONS] to Eva Longoria [Gabrielle, DH; ex-Isabella, YOUNG AND RESTLESS]. And with LOST going on; PARTY OF FIVE was a prime-time soap opera [and that’s where Matthew Fox, Jack, LOST; ex-Charlie, PARTY, got his start]. So, there’s a respect for soaps like there hasn’t been before. And I think they’re looking at that. When I talk to casting directors, it’s not like, “Oh, you have a stigma.” It’s like, “Really? What soap were you on?” It’s great training. It’s really well-respected, like I think it hasn’t been before, to be honest. There was that crossover from TV to movies years ago when Tom Hanks was transitioning from the sitcom BOSOM BUDDIES to Splash. Now, I think that soaps are getting that level of crossover respect.
Digest: Sounds like things are really going your way.
McPartlin: I’m so excited. I’m so excited to see you. Put that in the article. How nice it is that you’re coming to the set here; someone that I know that has been there for years [as the editor covering PASSIONS].