Chatting With OLTL's Charlie

Digest catches up with ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Brian Kerwin (Charlie) about his new play, his second Emmy nomination and life in Llanview.Soap Opera Digest: Congratulations on your nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor. How did it feel when you heard you’d been nominated again?

Brian Kerwin: Pretty neat! I’m constantly sort of amazed and downright skeptical, because I sit there and look up to so much Bob Woods [Bo] and Erika [Slezak, Viki] and some other people’s work on that show and I certainly don’t in any way see myself doing anything better than them. Then again, Erika has won so many [Emmys] over the years that after a while I guess they consider that to be redundant or something.

Digest: You’ve mentioned before that you don’t like to view your own work. How did you pick your Emmy reel this year?

Kerwin: When they asked about it, I went to Leah [Weber, assistant producer] and said, “I don’t know what to pick,” and she said, “Well, lucky you, because a few months ago, Erika Slezak called and said, ‘Boy, that scene in the episode that aired today is some of the best work I’ve ever seen and Brian is just wonderful and if they come up with a nomination again for him this year, that’s definitely the reel we should send in.’ ” And I said, “She did? Do you know which episode that was?” And she pulled up an old Post-it that had the episode number on it. So I said, “In that case, send it in!”
Digest: That’s a pretty good co-star to defer to.

Kerwin: As far as I’m concerned, and this has to do with so many other aspects of the show, I will always defer to Erika’s better judgment. She’s a consummate professional and artist in this medium. She knows what’s good, she knows what works, she knows what sells and she’s very sharing about it. A number of times during production, I have turned to her with questions like, “Would this line be better this way or that way?” and she’s always right on the money when it comes to advice. So I take her advice whenever I can. She knows what she’s doing.

Digest: I understand you submitted scenes following Jared’s death. That kicked off such a great story with him going after Mitch and conspiring with Dorian, which tore him and Viki apart.

Kerwin: The writers pulled through with some of the most wonderful writing and storylines for Charlie this year. If they don’t write it, I can’t do it. And this year they certainly wrote it. And I had great people to work with. I just love working with Roscoe [Born, ex-Mitch], and my regulars, like Erika, but [John] Brotherton [ex-Jared], I really miss.

Digest: Agreed. It was a good story but it’s unfortunate that they took the time to establish the father-son relationship between Charlie and Jared only to later kill off Jared.

Kerwin: I think the beauty of Frank Valentini as a producer, and he really is an amazing producer, is that the show always goes first. It isn’t one person or one person’s feelings or one ego or anything like that, but between him and Ron Carlivati [head writer], they realized that the death of Jared would serve the show on so many levels. It was a sacrifice, I think, that was made for the show. It really kicked in some wonderful stuff. And John may be better off for it. He did his three years on a soap opera; he put it in his time; he has proved to anybody who wants to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can show up, learn the lines, be on time and get the job done; and then on top of that, he’s a wonderful actor. He’s out in L.A. right now and it’s just a matter of time before something takes.

Digest: What are you up to aside from OLTL? Are you doing more theater?

Kerwin: I am, as a matter of fact. I just did a play called Graceland for Lincoln Center. We opened on May 17 and it went very well. We got a very lovely review from Charles Isherwood in the Times. It’s part of a new program called LCT3 and it’s to promote new plays by new playwrights. All seats are $20 and it’s in a theater that is only 150 seats or something like that and limited run [the play closed on May 29]. So I’ve been pulling double duty. When I first went in to ONE LIFE TO LIVE, I had just gotten the play August: Osage County, which ran for a year-and-a-half, so the first year-and-a-half of my time on ONE LIFE was doing a three-and-a-half hour play every night. There are a number of us who keep trying to tread the boards while treading the studio as well.

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