Laurence Lau (ex-Sam, OLTL, 2001-03; ex-Jamie, AW, 1986-90; ex-Greg, AMC, 1981-86)By SOD Posted: Jan 26, 2005
Soap Opera Digest: Hi, Larry! Happy New Year.
Laurence Lau: Thanks, you, too. Hope you don't mind me being [at Starbucks]. I've been going non-stop all day and needed the rest.Digest: Well, that's better than having nothing to do.
Lau: That's true. I really can't complain. Knock on wood, everything is going really well right now.Digest: What have you been doing since leaving ONE LIFE? When I spoke with Barbara Garrick [ex-Allison, OLTL] last year, she told me that you guys are good friends and that she's even given you some acting tips.
Lau: Yes, I keep in touch with her. She is so fantastic; I owe her so much. I liked how she performed so much. I asked her about it and she said that she went to this place called The Barrow Group [in New York City]. I wanted to kind of goose up my craft. I've been studying with them for almost two years now and it's made such a huge difference. She was so right about that place. What's happened since then, it's been great. I've had such a fantastic time. I've had lead roles in four plays.Digest: That sounds great! What were the plays?
Lau: I did the European premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat, which was an incredible experience. We did that in Vienna, Austria, which was just a gift from heaven. It's beautiful there. Then I did the world premiere of a play here in Manhattan called The Flid Show, which is about a man born with no arms. I then did The Exonerated, which was an off-Broadway play about six inmates who were on death row in Texas and got off thanks to DNA testing. I got to go on the national tour of that with Lynn Redgrave, a wonderful human being. Then I did a whodunit called The Perfect Crime, which was a lot of fun. That was also off-Broadway. It was amazing for me to jump into doing four theater projects after leaving ONE LIFE TO LIVE. I kind of feel like I've opened up a brand-new chapter in my craft, because I primarily did television. Working live on-stage is such a wonderful opportunity for me. I'm just so jazzed.Digest: In The Flid Show, how did your character lose his arms?
Lau: He's a thalidomide victim. It was a drug that pregnant women were taking in the '60s, and many of the babies were born with birth defects, like having no arms or having "flippers" — hands that were attached to their shoulders. It was a heartbreaking tragedy. But the survivors call themselves "flids." I played this character whose only respite from bitterness and cynicism is that he sings in this dingy lounge two or three times a week, these beautiful standards from 1962, the year he was born. He falls in love with a nurse and it's the arc from bitterness and anger to love and redemption and forgiveness. It's a gorgeous play.Digest: Did you sing?
Lau: Yes I did, actually. I was never a singer, so when I found out I had to sing six songs, I was like, "Oh, my God, what have I done [laughs]?" But the script was so heartbreaking and so beautiful that I just had to do it. They said, "You can carry a tune, right?" This guy was supposed to have a beautiful voice, so I took a crash course in singing and was able to pull it off. That was such a treat. I didn't know that singing could be so much fun.Digest: How did you pull off acting as if you didn't have arms?
Lau: It wasn't as bad as you might think. It was uncomfortable at first. They had me in this billowy shirt and I had my hands behind my back the whole time. I rehearsed that way, so by the time the performance came, I was very familiar with it. My shoulders ached sometimes in the beginning. It took a while to get used to that. They offered to have my hands tied, but I was worried that if I tripped and fell, I wouldn't be able to put my hands out to stop it. So we managed to do it with me holding my hands behind my back. It was really interesting and gave me a profound respect for people who manage to function without their arms. They're reprising it with a real thalidomide survivor. There are performers in London who are amazing singers and performers, and they're survivors. I'm really excited about seeing this version of the production.Digest: Now that you know you can sing, would you want to do a musical?
Lau: I'd love to do a musical. It would be so much fun! I've been thinking about that because The Barrow Group offers a class on musicals.Digest: Are you still doing television roles?
Lau: Yes, and movies. Last fall, I [filmed] a lead role [as Coach Kerr] in a movie called Slow Moe, which is about this kid who loves baseball, but is too slow to play. He finds this special pair of glasses and when he puts them on, everything moves in slow motion, so he can suddenly hit the ball and feel the ball. It's a real moving story. It's also very funny. I also did an episode of LAW & ORDER [playing Pancho Diamond in the 9/22/04 episode, "The Dead Wives Club"], which was really great.Digest: Would you return to soaps?
Lau: Sure, if it's a good role.Digest: Looking back, how does it feel to have been a part of one of soaps' most popular couples?
Lau: I just can't believe that it's been about 20 years [laughs]! It's great. I still hear from people who say how much they loved [Greg and Jenny]. I'm thrilled that I got to be a part of that. It was a great time.Digest: Aside from Barbara, do you still keep in touch with anyone from the daytime world?
Lau: I see Ilene Kristen [Roxy, OLTL] from time to time. She's come to some of my plays. I ran into James DePaiva [ex-Max, OLTL] recently, too. It was good to talk to him. And I saw Mark LaMura [ex-Mark, AMC]. I always love running into him. He's fantastic. We were up for the same play. We gave each other these big bear hugs.Digest: That's nice. He guest-starred on AMC a couple of times during the last few months.
Lau: Really? It's great that they brought him back.Digest: How are things going in your personal life?
Lau: I'm in a wonderful relationship with this woman named Carolyn. We've been living together for a year. She's a graphic designer. So on the domestic side, things are going well.Digest: Congrats, it sounds like you're really happy.
Lau: I am. It just amazes me. Life is such a wonderful path. You've got to live every moment of it because you never know when it's your time to go. Never take anything for granted. That's something I'm starting to realize.