Soap Opera Digest: Why did you decide to quit your acting career to join the Army?
John Driscoll: I decided that after so many wonderful years as a working actor, it was time for me to give back rather than continuing to receive from others. I was going to work, being pampered and focusing on my own image rather than how I could help others. I watched the news and saw the hardships that American soldiers and their families were going through, seeing what they were giving up or what they were having to deal with, and reading their fan letters about what the Chance character meant to them or symbolized. All these factors were a wake-up call and reality check to what was truly important. Walking red carpets, accepting praise or gifts from fans just for pretending to be someone I truly wasn’t became a personal struggle for me. I really needed to make some changes by following through with my beliefs and convictions, rather than doing what was familiar and easy.
Digest: Why did you decide on the Army?
Driscoll: In 1999, my senior year of high school, I took a standard test all enlisted soldiers take to see which military occupational specialty they may qualify for or show exceptional intelligence toward, and I was torn between the Marine Corps or the U.S. Army. After speaking with my family, they convinced me to go to college first and I agreed, but never lost the desire to serve. Fast-forward now to 2011, I chose the U.S. Army National Guard because of my age coming in  and the career path I wanted at this time. I’m now in the Virginia Army National Guard 29th Infantry Division, which is currently deployed. I am with the unit in Kuwait.
Digest: Were you concerned about what would happen to your acting career?
Driscoll: To be honest, I had to somewhat forget about my acting career when I signed the dotted line on my contract with the U.S. government. If I dwelled on who I used to be, I would have not focused on what was needed in order to get through some very grueling and intense training.
Digest: What was your family’s reaction to your desire to finally enlist?
Driscoll: My family was very supportive of my choice, but wanted to make sure I wasn’t burning any bridges that I had worked so hard to build over the years. My father was a West Point graduate, as were several other family members, and after putting on my uniform for the first time, I remember seeing him actually cry. It was one of the most intense moments of my life.
Digest: How did your agent respond?
Driscoll: He and I are, to this day, very close. He understood my driving passion for the endeavor I was about to undertake. He wished me well and continues to do so.
Digest: How did your friends and Y&R co-stars react?
Driscoll: My friends were all very understanding, giving me the occasional jab due to my age going in. As for my coworkers, I didn’t say too much as I didn’t want to create much of a stir at my departure. It really came out when my producer was approached at the CBS studios by Investigative Services regarding my background check. I received a phone call asking, “John, why is there a person with a badge, a briefcase, and in a trench coat in my office asking me questions about you?” He genuinely wished me well.
Digest: Where are you stationed now?
Driscoll: I am deployed as part of Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East. I live in a group barracks with about 30 awesome guys right now. The 29th has soldiers from every walk of life and background. I’m proud and lucky to be with them.
Digest: How would you describe your daily life now?
Driscoll: Currently, I’m overseas conducting training exercises and I’m also a government contractor in the IT field. I love what I do and I’d like to think that I’m very good at it, as well. I love working alongside other soldiers and contractors, seeing the fruits of my labor as well as knowing that I’m doing my part in protecting those I love.
Digest: What about education?
Driscoll: I’m back in school finishing my undergraduate degree, as well as going for my master’s following that. I found more focus in my life after taking this break from the arts. I love the arts and those I worked with, I just knew my path was leading me in a different direction.
Digest: Are you in touch with anyone from GL or Y&R?
Driscoll: I have kept in contact with several friends from the shows, which has been wonderful in recent years. From GL: Mandy Bruno [ex-Marina], Rob Bogue [ex-Mallet], Lawrence St. Victor [ex-Remy; Carter, B&B], Michelle Ray Smith [ex-Ava], Frank Dicopolous [ex-Frank], and several production staff members. From Y&R, there are a few who I remain close to, such as Jeff Branson [ex-Ronan], Christian LeBlanc [Michael], and Tracey Bregman [Lauren].
Digest: If Y&R brought back Chance, are you available?
Driscoll: I would be honored to reprise the role on a recurring basis, giving the show as much time as possible. I know that my employers do joke about it from time-to-time already. If the show were to reach out and make the offer, I’d consider it as long as the content doesn’t reflect anything that would compromise my real-time work or paint my person in a fashion that would reflect negatively on the military. I will say that there are quite a few of the show’s actors that already live outside of the immediate Los Angeles area or out of state, so that shouldn’t be a factor when considering a role reprisal.
Digest: At any time, did you regret going into the Army?
Driscoll: Never. I know why I put on this uniform and love what it stands for. I have been called to do so many things, whether it’s domestic aid or deployed overseas. I have made so many new friends, met individuals, and been exposed to other cultures that I would have otherwise never interacted with. I am truly proud to serve.
Digest: You also recently re-upped, didn’t you?
Driscoll: I plan on staying in as long as I can and even toy with the option of becoming an officer, as well. My goals are to excel in IT, become an Officer or Warrant Officer, and groom/grow the next generation of soldiers after me, helping them achieve their goals, as well.
Just The Facts
Birthday: June 27, 1981
Born In: Ft. Belvoir, VA
Soap Roles: Phillip “Chance” Chancellor, IV, Y&R (2009-10 and 2011); Henry Cooper “Coop” Bradshaw, GUIDING LIGHT (2004-09).
Relationship Status: Single
Back To The Basics: “I was aware basic training was going to be physically grueling, so I prepared myself by working out longer and harder leading up to shipping out. I went from being a decently solid 185 pounds down to 165, but completely defined with low body fat. I was in better shape during basic than ever before.”
Food Issues: “I miss home cooking in general. I am certainly looking forward to barbecues with family and friends the most.”
Most Challenging Training Maneuver: “They strapped us into a mounted Humvee and turned the vehicle over and over, similar to what would happen if we hit an improvised explosive device. All of the doors but one were blocked and we had to evacuate the vehicle while upside down. It really gets the blood pumping!”
Don’t I Know You?
It didn’t take long for Driscoll to get singled out as a former soap star.
“I was recognized almost from the start by my recruiter’s co-worker in the National Guard Office,” he chuckles. “That prompted the question, ‘Why are you even here?’ ” And the attention kept coming. “Once I got to basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I was standing in line in the dining facility and trying to blend in, when two facility workers came out of the kitchen to shake my hand and give me a hug,” Driscoll recalls. “Needless to say, the drill sergeants immediately picked up on this.” Which brought a variety of questions. “Usually, it would begin with, ‘Driscoll, why are you here, you’re too damn old to be in my Army?’ This was a regularly asked question, being 30 years old at time of entry. At the completion of my basic soldiering and job familiarization schooling, I returned back to my unit in Northern Virginia, where ‘Why did you give up the fame?’ seemed to be a recurring question followed by, ‘May I have a picture?’ At this point, the Army has not asked to me to be a poster child [laughs].” And the first time Y&R popped up on the Armed Forces Network, “my fellow soldiers turned the volume up and made sure I heard the theme music loud and clear.”