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Marc Menard: Fearless Factor Page 2

He settled in Miami, mostly because the picturesque city had become a favorite of European fashion photographers, so he could continue to earn money modeling while studying at an acting conservatory. "I definitely made more money in Europe," he shrugs, "but I looked at the move as an investment in my future." He shot several independent films, then landed a short-lived, Miami-based series called OCEAN AVE.Jean Carol (ex-Nadine, GUIDING LIGHT), who played his mother on the show, became a trusted mentor. "We would do big party scenes with the whole cast, which are grueling, 12-hour days," says Menard. "And everybody would complain -- except for Jean Carol. She had more experience than anyone else, so if anyone had the right to be a prima donna, it was her. I thought to myself, 'That's why her career has had such longevity. That's the example I want to follow.' "Having Carol close by proved even more valuable when AMC came calling: "While I was auditioning and even after I got the part, Jean sat down with me and gave me all kinds of advice, like how to avoid some of the behind-the-scenes politics that can happen [on a soap]." Carol also armed the actor with her account of how she turned her GL role into a seven-year gig by infusing Nadine with a previously unscripted sense of humor -- an approach Menard has adopted. "I do ad-lib stuff," he admits. "One day, [AMC Director] Conal O'Brien stopped me in the middle of a scene and said, 'Are you the director? What is this?' He said it in a fun way, but I pulled him aside later and said, 'Listen, I don't know what the protocol is here -- Do you want me to come to you, and say that I want to change a line?' And he said, 'No, no, just do it, and I'll tell you yes or no.'" (Thus far, he's heard far more yeses than nos.)And his fearless nature has already come in handy on the AMC set, where his character has had occasion to mouth off to his boss, a certain Ms. Erica Kane. "They made me yell at Susan Lucci [Erica]!" he laughs. "You'd think I'd be nervous about that, and it did occur to me the first time Boyd stood up to Erica that, you know, it's Susan Lucci! But she doesn't make you feel like, 'I'm Susan Lucci, watch your step.' It's just like Jean Carol said," he concludes. "The ones who last, they last because they're pros."

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