OLTL's Dobies Does Double DutyBy Posted: May 20, 2004
Soap Opera Digest: Congrats on your success in The Normal Heart! It has gotten great reviews.
Mark Dobies: It's mind-boggling how well it has been received, but it's a fabulous cast, and it's so well-written. Candice Bergen came to see it; so did Joel Grey. There hasn't been much advertising, but the word of mouth has been incredible. It might end up going uptown [to Broadway]. There has been some talk.Digest: Billy Warlock [ex-AJ, GENERAL HOSPITAL; ex-Frankie, DAYS OF OUR LIVES] is in it, too.
Dobies: Yes. He actually read for my role, but they wanted someone tall and WASP-y, and that's not him [laughs]. He plays Felix, which is a tremendous part.Digest: In a nutshell, what is the play about?
Dobies: It's about the AIDS epidemic in 1985, [concerning] the Gay Men's Health Crisis. I play the president [of the organization]. It's based on a true story. It revolves around all of these people and this rising epidemic. Each has a point of view. They want to attack the epidemic in their own way, and Bruce is a closeted homosexual who works for Citibank. He doesn't want to get into anything political; that's the way he operates. It's about all the characters, how they come together.... It's hard to explain, but the journey that each individual takes from the beginning to the end, it takes you on a path. There are all these different personalities at odds throughout the play. It's brilliantly written and compelling to watch.Digest: It sounds like it's very moving.
Dobies: It is; it's galvanizing. People in the audience have been moved to tears. My agent came to see it, and he couldn't even speak afterward.Digest: It sounds like it can be educational for people today, too.
Dobies: That's true because the crisis is re-emerging. Young people today are doing the same thing [having unprotected sex]. They feel that they can live with AIDS, and if you can afford to pay for the drugs, you can, but it's not like that in the rest of the world. Because of the new cocktails and drugs, they can extend life, but ... we were told that if everyone used a condom, it would go away. People are sticking their heads in the sand again. That's what happened 20 years ago. It's human nature.Digest: How did you get hooked up with this project?
Dobies: They had a hard time finding Bruce, but I read twice, and they offered me the part. It happened very quickly.Digest: Did you and Warlock know each other beforehand?
Dobies: We knew of each other because we'd been at some functions together. But we have the same agent in New York, so we're in good contact. I'm the only Jersey guy, so after the play, everyone will go out, and I'm back here with my three kids and my wife in Jersey at 11 when the play is over.Digest: I guess your kids are too young to have seen the play?
Dobies: Yeah, they're too young. Francesca is 6, Olivia is 4 and I have a newborn. My 6-year-old would understand and ask questions because my kids are incredibly bright, but the subject material is too encompassing. It would be too much. She'd be asking questions for the next three years. I think 13, 14 -- kids at that point would understand what's going on. They can get a grasp of it. That's a good age for them to see it.Digest: How has it been having a new baby in the house while you're handling the play and a soap?
Dobies: It's been tough. I come home exhausted, and it takes me awhile to wake up in the morning.Digest: Are you enjoying being a father again?
Dobies: The only thing I regret is that the timing of having a baby is never right. With Francesca, we moved to L.A. when she was 3 months old; with Olivia, we moved back to New York when my wife was pregnant to do GUIDING LIGHT [where he played Noah]. We're always in the middle of some kind of turmoil. With Robbie, I haven't had time to see him; I'm never home. He's a beautiful boy, my first son. He's growing up so fast ... he's laughing now. I want more time with him. I brought my kids to ONE LIFE, and the cast went crazy over my beautiful girls and little boy.Digest: Do the girls like having a brother?
Dobies: They love it. I don't think they'll understand the ramifications until they get older, but right now, they are very attentive. They're great girls. Frankie feeds him with a bottle. He laughs at them. He's a good baby. He sleeps through the night, believe it or not.Digest: Are you planning to have any more kids?
Dobies: Nope, we're done now; the store is closed [laughs]!Digest: How are you enjoying your time on OLTL? Many fans like Daniel with Nora.
Dobies: They offered me a juicy role, and playing across from Hillary [B. Smith, Nora] right now is great. It's picking up -- it's a lot of work for a recurring role. I'm having a good time. I like working with Jay [Wilkison, Riley], too. He's great. They had some stuff that they had to put off because of the play. Jay is a wonderful actor, and we have great chemistry together. They're going to be exploring that stuff again, the father/son dynamic. Hillary and I are going through a thing. I'm working with wonderful actors. It's been fun.Digest: What would you like to see your character do on the show?
Dobies: Wear something other than a suit! He needs to lighten up.The Normal Heart is playing at The Public Theater in New York City through May 30. To order tickets, call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.