David Fumero (ex-Cristian Vega, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, 1998-2003; 2004-05; 2005-11)
Soap Opera Digest: When OLTL wrapped production in 2011, did you move to Los Angeles right away with your wife, Melissa Fumero (ex- Adriana, OLTL)?
David Fumero: Yeah, that was an executive decision Melissa and I made. Before that, Melissa wasn’t working much and I was on ONE LIFE but I wasn’t working much; months would go by without having to go to set. We just decided, “Let’s sell our condo, move to L.A. and try it out. At least we can say we did it!” And I’m glad we did. Everything started clicking after we got here.
Digest: Tell me about your experience on the Starz drama POWER, where you spent three seasons as Mike Sandoval.
Fumero: That was actually my first, like, real gig after ONE LIFE, so that kind of opened up the door for me for everything else. It’s hard to bust through that [anti- soap] stigma at times, but after POWER, I felt like it wasn’t there anymore. I was lucky to play a character with depth and who was causing trouble and had substance. It was a great experience.
Digest: You’re currently on L.A.’S FINEST, which premiered last season on Spectrum and has subsequently moved to Fox.
Fumero: Yeah, I’m a recurring guest star on that show. The first season, I was on, like, four or five episodes, which are the ones on Fox. Then they brought me back the second season and gave me a lot more, and that’s the season out now on Spectrum. It’s a Bad Boys spin-off, so it’s fast action, some comedy, a lot of things blowing up all the time, all kinds of twists. It’s great. Rebecca [Budig, ex-Hayden, GH] and I ran into each other on set at the end of the first season. I’ve never worked with Rebecca, but we knew each other from the soaps. She is just such an awesome chick, and it was such a cool vibe when we got to hang out. I work with Gabrielle Union, Jessica Alba, Duane Martin — all the leads are great. Last season, I was a lieutenant in the narcotics division and I was kind of giving them a hard time because they were doing things the wrong way, and then the second season, I take over the robbery and homicide division, which is the division they’re in, so for season 2, I’m their boss.
Digest: Between this and Melissa’s run on BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, what’s up with the Fumeros playing cops?
Fumero: I don’t know! This law thing keeps following us! I think my character in L.A.’S FINEST is the first good guy I’ve played since Cristian. I’ve played nothing but bad guys! I’m actually on my way to Hawaii to do an episode of MAGNUM P.I., playing another bad guy, which should be fun. I find the hardest thing for me to play is the charming, sweet, George Clooney kind of guy. I have such a hard time with that!
Digest: You actually guest-starred on BROOKLYN NINE-NINE. What was your foray into comedy like?
Fumero: That was so scary. I read the sides for the character I was playing, and I thought, “Oh, yeah, I can do this,” and I was prepared, I was ready to go. But then, when you’re with Andy Samberg, Joe Lo Truglio, these guys are just frickin’ awesome at comedy. I was just like, “I hope what I do is enough, I hope it’s funny!” I kept focusing on, “What you’re saying is funny, so just play it straight. Make them believe it.” But this is Melissa’s job! For six years, this was her family, and I walk in there and everyone is super-accommodating, nice, and I think it would have been a different experience on a comedy show where I didn’t know anybody.
Digest: It’s been wonderful to see Melissa shine on that show.
Fumero: She’s so good, man. She was a little insecure at the beginning, of course, because she’d never done it, but I’ve always told her, “You’re a funny person!” When we hang out with friends, all we do is try to make each other laugh. That’s kind of our life. I think it’s always been in her, but she just had to start taking it out for work! It’s a common thing for people to be type-cast. I think it happens to a lot of guys, like me, who were on a soap for so long: “Oh, he’s a soap guy. That’s what he does.” It’s tough [being an actor]! It is a tough job. But before I got ONE LIFE, I was a pretty confident dude when it came to acting, and I’d never done anything before. I mean, I’d done commercials and things, but the classes that I took, I thought I knew what I was doing. But then you’re thrown 50 pages in a day and it’s madness, and I was like, “What?!” It was so hard for me in the beginning.
Digest: Did you have castmates that you considered mentors?
Fumero: Kassie DePaiva [ex-Blair], Renee Goldsberry [ex-Evangeline]. She was one of my favorite people to work with of all time because we didn’t just show up to set; we worked on things. “What do we want to do with this? Where do we want to take it?” I learned so much from her. And I welcomed it because I was hungry for that on ONE LIFE, you know? Everybody loved the storyline because our hearts were in it.
Digest: Do you have a favorite era of your years at OLTL?
Fumero: The beginning of ONE LIFE TO LIVE for me was very, “Try to figure out this job that you have.” I honestly think I kept the job in the beginning because I was in great shape and they kept taking my shirt off. That brought ratings so they kept me on. But I thought I was going to get fired every other day! That was a stressful time for me. And when I came back again, that was another stressful time for me because I worked every single day, but I didn’t have a lot of really great story that I cared about. The starving artist, the nice guy — that gets boring after a while. I actually enjoyed that Manchurian Candidate stuff. When I read it, I was like, “This is crazy!” But I was like, “Okay, let’s do something that’s different!” So I was excited about all that, when Cristian got brainwashed and he came back and he was supposed to kill his brother. I had a great time working with Kamar [de los Reyes, ex-Antonio]. I worked a lot with Kassie DePaiva and we always just laughed so much. That was a lot of fun. I used to always love working with her. That time, I think, was the best.
Digest: Other than your wife, who are you still in touch with from your Llanview days?
Fumero: Mark [Lawson, ex-Brody; Dustin, GH] and Kamar and Sean Ringgold [ex- Shaun] — we’re really good buddies and I talk to him often.
Digest: A lot of people walk away from a soap with some good friends, but you kind of hit the jackpot with a wife!
Fumero [chuckles]: For some reason, I kept coming back to ONE LIFE TO LIVE, you know? I was on there for 13 years, on and off, and every time I left, I was always ready to move on, ready to do something else. But [Executive Producer] Frank Valentini kept calling me back to ONE LIFE every time I left and always offered me something nice, so I kept coming back, and that’s how I met Melissa. It’s kind of crazy! It was meant to be.
Digest: And now there are two more Fumeros! Your first son, Enzo, was born in March 2016, and this past Valentine’s Day, your second, Axel, was born.
Fumero: It’s crazy! If I were to be honest, truly honest, I think babies are overrated. When Enzo was born, I didn’t feel that feeling that everyone [talks about], “When they come out, it’s just the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen in your life.” First of all, he looked nothing like me! I wasn’t, like, worried, but I was like, “This baby doesn’t look like me!” The No. 1 thing in my head was, “I’ve got to take him home and I’ve got to keep him alive!” And then you start realizing how much work it is and it’s just overwhelming. A buddy of mine would call and say, “How’s it going?” and I would say, “This kid isn’t paying rent.” But the second he started smiling and kind of reaching for me and looking at me in this sort of “Papa” way, it’s like, “Okay, now you’ve started paying rent.” The love is unbelievable. Melissa and I still look at each other with the two little kids and say, “Can you believe we’re parents?” We had a dog together when we were in New York and she was so spoiled, and that was our kid. But you can leave the dog in the house and walk away and do things, and you can’t leave the kids! It’s a lot harder.
Digest: The way you talked about babies, I kind of can’t believe you signed up to do it again!
Fumero: Well, we never decided to do it the first time! We talked about it, and then there was an accident. With No. 2, Melissa was like, “Look, if we’re going to give Enzo a brother, we’ve got to think about it soon.” I was like, “Yeah, yeah.” In my mind, I was like, “There’s no way I’m doing this again.” And then it happens and you’re like, “Okay, I guess I’m doing it again!” But they were both meant to be because they were both accidents. And we are so grateful and fortunate that it happened how it happened. At my age, I didn’t think I would ever decide to have a baby. But God or the universe said, “You can have this.”
Digest: Is there anything you want to say to the fans that have been following you since OLTL?
Fumero: There are no fans like soap fans. I give credit even for my marriage to the fans because it was them writing in at the time and doing petitions to bring back the character — I remember those petitions and the things they were doing, and this was before Twitter and all of that, all by mail. That’s what made the producers and Frank Valentini decide to bring me back, I’m sure. It’s because of them that I am where I am today.