I'll Take ManhattanBy Kathryn Walsh Posted: Sep 25, 2003
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...I lift my lamp beside the golden door." So reads the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. And while John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) wasn't any of the above when he stepped onto New York City's streets for the first time as an adult, he felt like he was walking through that golden door. "I got off the train in Penn Station and walked up the escalator and thought, 'Oh, my God, this is beautiful. I am supposed to be here,'" the actor smiles. "I was home for the first time."Lavoisier says he never fit in back in his actual hometown, Phoenixville, Pa. -- a city whose closest link to showbiz is the 1958 sci-fi flick The Blob, which was shot there. "I don't get suburban life," he says. "I don't like yards. I hate driving; if I never drove a car again, I would die a happy man."The 22-year-old doesn't know where he got his itch for the big city. "My dad (John), he's a laborer. He works in the factory two miles away from where we live, making rooftop coatings and driveway sealers. He was born and raised in Phoenixville. If my father never left his five-mile radius, he would die a happy man." Lavoisier's mom, Bambi ("she was named after a ballerina of the '30s"), is a nurse from "farm country."City life provides Lavoisier freedom he wouldn't find in the suburbs. For example, he doesn't wear pants. "I wear either pajama pants or scrubs. I am wearing pajama pants right now," he says, pointing under the table. He insists he only owns one pair of jeans, which he doesn't wear anymore, and one pair of cargo shorts for golf. "I don't go anywhere where there's a dress code. I've never worn a suit, except in a movie. When I go to work I wear their clothes. Why should I dress nice to go to places where you don't have to look nice? I'd rather be comfortable."John-Paul Seponski had an inkling he would be moving beyond Phoenixville in high school when he changed his name. "My drum instructor said to me, 'John-Paul, if you ever become famous, Seponski's not going to cut it.' So that put the bug in my ear. I went to school the next day and opened up my biology book, and I came across a scientist whose name was Antoine Lavoisier. I thought, 'Hey, that's cool!' I started signing research papers as John-Paul Lavoisier. I was listed as that in the talent show program or if I was in the pit in the orchestra. It just stuck."Lavoisier's first thought was that he would make it as a musician. He picked up his first set of drumsticks in fourth grade and played throughout high school. "When I graduated and it was time to find out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life...I didn't know how to do anything else [but music]. I barely passed my other classes. I don't care about textbook things. I need to create things with my head. So I thought, 'Well, I guess I'll go to music school.'"He enrolled at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia but quickly realized music wasn't his passion. "When my whole life became consumed with music...I didn't like it as much as I thought I did -- even though it was the only thing that I knew how to do at the time. I felt lost, but I wasn't sweating it."Luckily, he had his looks to fall back on. While walking to the gym one day Lavoisier saw a flyer for a model search. He was discovered by a New York agent who brought him to the city for assorted jobs, one of them a casting call for AS THE WORLD TURNS. The show was interested in him, but the role was scrapped. Lavoisier, however, was inspired and dropped out of school so he could move to New York and take acting classes. "I was paying for college myself, so my parents couldn't say no," he explains.Although Lavoisier shunned most of the things associated with home, he couldn't shake his upbringing. Instead of quitting his waiting job in Philly, he gave two weeks notice and commuted to work from New York. "My dad never calls in sick; he's never late, and neither am I. I've had four or five jobs in my life, and I've called in sick maybe three times. If I'm not 15 to 20 minutes early, I feel like I'm late."Lavoisier landed a job as a waiter at the Russian Tea Room to pay the rent while he plugged away at modeling and acting, and about a year later landed the role of Rex. Although the summer was slow storyline-wise, things will heat up this fall --this week Seth catches Rex in some lies and Rex starts to use Jessica. So Seth was right, Rex is a user? "He is right, but he's a little over the top. Rex is not as slimy as he thinks. [Rex is] truly sincere [about his feelings for Jessica], because it's not her fault that any of this happened. But he also wants her money, and he doesn't see anything wrong with taking it."Next week, Rex will find another way to make some cash when he blackmails Roxy with a big secret she's been keeping. It's a reveal that could eventually blow up in his face, however. "If I were Jessica, I would be like, 'Screw you. Get out of here,'" he hints. While Rex's future at Llanfair is uncertain, Lavoisier is not going to budge from New York City. "I'm going to die on the Upper West Side," he says of the neighborhood where he lives and works. "I am where I am going to be for the rest of my life."