While his GENERAL HOSPITAL alter ego Trevor Lansing has a checkered past — and present, for that matter — filled with violence and mobsters, Stephen Macht has a much more respectable history.
His résumé is filled with the kinds of prime-time and film roles that make other actors green with envy. From KOJAK to CAGNEY & LACEY to appearing opposite Charlton Heston in Mountain Men, Macht shares some of his favorite memorable moments.
Soap Opera Weekly: Your list of credits goes on forever. Do you have a favorite story you can share with us?
Stephen Macht: I got a chance to play a Blackfoot Indian warrior brave — me, a Jew from Brooklyn. I played opposite Charlton Heston, and I chased his ass all over Wyoming, trying to kill him. As a kid who went to see Westerns in the late ’40s, that was a dream come true. Last year my wife and I took a [vacation] in Wyoming, where we shot the movie. We took this boat ride down the river and I’m pointing out the places where we shot, and I hear someone say, “If I don’t throw that bad-ass Heavy Eagle off this boat, my friends are going to say I’m a coward!” I turn around and this guy’s got a big smile on his face. His wife says to me, “Mountain Men is his favorite movie.” What are the chances?
Weekly: Is it true you gave Patrick Stewart a run for his money as Jean-Luc Picard in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION?
Macht: Yes. Gene (Roddenberry, the creator) knew of me from one of his writers. He said, “Look, I want you to play this part. You’re the guy to do this.” And I said, “Why should I play this part? It’s a guy talking to people with two heads all the time.” He said, “It’s not really about that, Steve.” I wasn’t a smart businessman at the time, so I missed an opportunity there. I didn’t have my stuff together, and I think I was probably frightened to play that part. Actors make terrible mistakes when they’re in fear and don’t understand who they are. But now I’m at the time in my life where I’m beginning to understand what this is all about.
Weekly: You played Sharon Gless‘ love interest (Det. David Keeler) in CAGNEY & LACEY. What was that like?
Macht: Sharon and I starred in a miniseries 20 years before she did CAGNEY & LACEY called THE IMMIGRANTS. It was about a young Italian who built a kingdom and then gave it up for the love of a Chinese girl. Sharon played my WASPy wife. We ended up divorced. We’ve been friends ever since then, so to do CAGNEY & LACEY with her was great. Barney Rosen, the show’s producer, had been my producer on the short-lived series THE AMERICAN DREAM five years earlier. He hired me to be Sharon’s recurring love interest, and he let me direct there, too. It’s been a rich and interesting career.
Weekly: Can you talk about making DC 9/11: TIME OF CRISIS (2003) for Showtime?
Macht: I played (Deputy Secretary of Defense) Paul Wolfowitz, the guy who was the architect of [the subsequent Iraq] plan, so it was a very interesting time to shoot that character. Now…people see him as a villain, but I tell you, I think their plan was better than the execution of it. These guys were great theoreticians, but they didn’t know how to achieve what they wanted to do.