Continuing its grand tradition of celebrity guest stars, ONE LIFE TO LIVE will get a taste of the sports world on Nov. 5 and 6 when ESPN analyst and columnist Matthew Berry (his actual title is “senior director of fantasy”) shows up in Llanview to mix it up with Tina and Cain. Soap Opera Weekly recently spoke with Berry about what it was like being on the soap, watching sports and working with a certain fluffy star.
Soap Opera Weekly: Who do you play?
Matthew Berry: I play Neil, a jewelry appraiser. I guess Tina has some jewels, and Cain has kidnapped or come into possession of David Vickers, Tina’s dog. You’re with me on all of this stuff?
Weekly: I am — I can even tell you that those are the Mendorran crown jewels.
Berry: That’s right, the Mendorran crown jewels. So, in the episodes I’m in, Tina is willing to trade the crown jewels to get David Vickers back, but Cain, being the smart fellow that he is, does not necessarily trust Tina, and brings along Neil to make sure the jewels are real.
Weekly: Does this take place at Llanfair?
Berry: It takes place in Tina’s hotel room.
Weekly: Where is the dog at this point?
Berry: I don’t know where Cain has kept him. When I come into the scene, I bring the dog with me. Cain has given me the dog for safekeeping.
Weekly: Did you like playing opposite a dog?
Berry: I loved it. [Tallulah Bean is] a supercute dog and very well-behaved. One of the better actors. Certainly gave me a few tips.
Weekly: Had you met any of these actors beforehand?
Berry: I had never met the actors who play Tina and Cain [Andrea Evans and Christopher Cousins]. I had met some of the OLTL cast when we did the fantasy baseball commercials [for] the “Endless Drama” parody stuff. I was in those ads on behalf of ESPN. So I met John Brotherton (Jared) there, and Bree Williamson (Jessica), and J.P. (Lavoisier, Rex).
Weekly: They are great people.
Berry: They really are, and they made me feel very welcome. That was the cool thing about the set, in general. Everyone was really nice and very welcoming. It’s a great group, and I mentioned that to Frank Valentini (executive producer). In a former life, I used to be a sitcom writer. I [was] a producer and writer for television in Hollywood, so I’ve been on a lot of sets of television shows. They are not all fun places, but on the OLTL set, everyone was really happy to be there. It’s a great crew; everyone’s really nice and gets along well.
Weekly: After you met the actors when you did those fantasy commercials, did you start watching the show?
Berry: No, to be honest, I didn’t. I was more aware of it, but it’s so hard during the day to watch the soaps. I’m fairly boring. All I watch is sports, because I cover baseball, football and basketball. Sports change every day, and I always have to be up-to-date, so literally when I am not at work, I’m at home watching SPORTSCENTER or ESPN NEWS. Things change every single minute, every single day. There is always a game.
Weekly: Do you go to a lot of games in the stadium(s)?
Berry: I go to some. It depends on the particular sport and whether or not I can get away. I go to a decent amount, but I also watch a ton on TV.
Weekly: Do you ever get tired of watching them?
Berry: No. I really don’t. I love sports. I have the perfect job, for me. I will say this: I had an absolute blast, and if the sports thing doesn’t work out, I want to be a soap actor. That was a lot of fun.
Weekly: Did you have a lot of lines?
Berry: I did! I was impressed and very surprised with the amount of lines I had. I had a lot of lines, and they were very nice to me in terms of, “Okay, if you want to put any spin on it or try a few things, [go ahead].” So I tried a few things to make it a little funny, because I’m kind of a goofy guy myself. They were very open to that, which was cool, and they didn’t kill me off — who knows, maybe I get to come back!
Be sure to check out Berry’s scenes on OLTL Nov. 5 and 6, and see his daily blog at games.espn.go.com/frontpage; click on “Matthew Berry: The Talented Mr. Roto.”