Interview!

ICYMI Shawn Christian Interview

Credit: Courtesy of John James

On April 18, the new series FAMOUS IN LOVE will debut on FREEFORM, and DAYS alum Shawn Christian has a plum role in it as Alan Mills. “I play a sort of ruthless and very passionate studio executive,” Christian begins. “I essentially run what is the equivalent of Warner Bros. It’s called Gold Brothers Studio and in the pilot, we find the Bella Thorne character, August. She’s the bright, shining star that we pick out of oblivion and she is thrust into this world of fame and fortune, the highs and the lows.”

Christian already had a big fan behind the scenes in Executive Producer I. Marlene King, who previously oversaw the successful PRETTY LITTLE LIARS franchise on the network. “I went to the table read, which was fantastic,” he recalls. “On a soap, nobody has time for a table read. Marlene King came over and said, ‘Shawn, I just want to tell you how happy we are to have you,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, thank you. I’m blessed to be here,’ and she was like, ‘No, you don’t understand. I’m, like, your biggest fan.’ I was like, ‘What?’ She said, ‘On AS THE WORLD TURNS, I loved your character. I had a crush on you, me and my mom.’ I’m like, ‘That’s great.’ She’s so brilliant and wonderful and interesting. She went around the table and introduced everybody and she said, ‘And here’s my high school crush.’ I was appropriately embarrassed and then I dove right in. Apparently, I really hit it off at the table and the writers were like, ‘Wow, this is really something to explore.’ ”

Christian is excited about his new alter ego. “It really is a fun character, because he’s really outspoken and they give me a lot of leeway to play with the character,” he explains. Working on a series from the ground up also has its advantages, the actor adds. “It’s the first season and everybody’s trying to get the show off the ground and everybody’s putting their best foot forward and going that extra mile to make it the best they can. It’s exhilarating because you know everybody’s in it to keep the show on air. And to be with this young cast who’s enthusiastic about making something special makes me dig deeper to go, ‘I’ve got to bring my A game, too.’ ”

Christian says by season’s end, his character has a much more significant role to play, which will hopefully be further explored should the show get a pickup for another year. “The final episode has a big bomb and I’m definitely woven deep into the tapestry,” he teases. “After I filmed the last episode, I was hugging everybody and saying good-bye. I said to one of the executive producers, Chris Fife, ‘Thank you for allowing me to be on the show and be a part of this family.’ He goes, ‘No, no, no. We come back, you’re coming back. You are a part of the family,’ So I said, ‘Could you put that in writing [laughs]?’ I really hope it comes back, just to create more with everybody there. There is such young talent, and they are motivated and inspired, and you want to be a part of that and contribute in some way. And Marlene sets such a great tone, too.”

The Warner Bros. lot is very close to where Christian first created the role of Daniel Jonas on the DAYS set in 2008. The actor hit the ground running on the soap, and Daniel was a central figure on the canvas for the next eight years. “I think during my time there, there were four executive producers, four different head writers, and everyone had a very specific, different vision of what they wanted Dr. Jonas to be,” he reflects. “What I remember the most is challenging myself to keep him vital through so many changes.”

Lasting in Salem for as long as he did came as a welcome surprise to him. “That show’s been on over 50 years. To be a sliver on the canvas of something that’s so historical, I do look back and go, ‘That’s a huge blessing.’ And I’ve never been on a show for more than three years. That was a miracle, too. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m still here.’ And then I wasn’t.”

Of his sudden exit, when Daniel was killed off following a New Year’s Eve car crash in 2016, Christian admits, “It hurt, you know? Just the way it ended so abruptly. I’m not going to lie. To not know why and have it be so abrupt, like, ‘Look, we’re going to kill him off camera and spread his body parts across the canvas,’ it felt like there was a clear, ‘There’s no way we want this character back.’ And in the soap world, people come back from the dead all the time. The way it was done was like, ‘We want this character off.’ ”

He is happy to know that Daniel’s story lives on through Nicole, Brady, Maggie and Eric. “His value, I have to say, has certainly served the Nicole character well,” Christian praises. “Ari’s [Zucker] done a great job, and it’s been able to spawn some really good story. I get a sense they still talk about Daniel, even today. It’s a humbling compliment, so kudos to the writers and the people who still keep Daniel’s legacy — and the impact that he had in the lives of Salem — alive.”

Christian, who got his acting start on ATWT in 1994, says he would be open to doing another soap. “Absolutely I would, yeah! I would never rule out anything in my life. You see what opportunity presents itself at the time, and you try to make the best possible choice in the moment.”

Twenty-three years after making his professional debut in Oakdale, the actor marvels that he’s still in the Hollywood mix. “I never would have imagined that I’d still be here surviving, doing the thing I’m doing and loving it,” he admits. “There are heartbreaking moments and there are glorious moments, but you’ve got to love it. I’m excited about FAMOUS IN LOVE. It’s a very creative time of finding my own voice and finding how I can artistically lend that voice to this landscape that keeps changing so quickly. It’s an inspiring and challenging time. ”

Did You Know?
•    Christian worked with his real-life stepdaughter, Taylor Cole, on the series SUMMERLAND.
•    He had a recurring role on BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 as Wayne Moses, who was involved with Tori Spelling’s Donna.
•    He played Josh Duhamel’s (ex-Leo, ALL MY CHILDREN) nemesis on the series LAS VEGAS.

It’s All In The Wrist
Christian has fond memories of booking the role of ATWT’s Mike Kasnoff over two decades ago. “I screen-tested for LOVING, GUIDING LIGHT, ALL MY CHILDREN and all these other shows I never got,” he recalls. “They rejected me. And then I auditioned for AS THE WORLD TURNS. After, my agent in Chicago called me and said, ‘Oh, I have an audition for you; come on in.’ I’m like, ‘Did you hear anything about AS THE WORLD TURNS?’ She’s like, ‘Not yet, not yet. Just come in. Let’s get this one on tape. We’ve got to send this one out by 3 o’clock.’ So I went in and she put me on tape, and she’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, I just want to tell you, you got the role on AS THE WORLD TURNS.’ I’m like, ‘Shut the front door!’ I yelled, I slammed my wrist on the ground and almost broke it while I was on my knees and said a prayer. And she captured it all on camera. It was actually really funny. We used to play pranks all the time,
but that was a really good prank.”

EJ Carr

Just The Facts:

Birthday: December 18

Hails From: Grand Rapids, MI

Otherwise Known As: Daniel Jonas, DAYS, 2008-16, 2017; Ross Rayburn, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, 2002; Mike Kasnoff, AS THE WORLD TURNS, 1994-97

This Boy: Christian’s son, Kameron, 16, is thriving, Dad reports. “Kameron’s insane. He’s amazing. He’s such an artist. He does visual cover art, he creates beats and he works online on his website, kameronchristian.com. You can lease his beats for a certain fee, but you’ve got to give him a vocal credit. All of that entitles him getting the producer’s credit. So not only will he create the beat, but he mixes and he’ll master some of these beats, he’ll work the vocal arrangements, he can play guitar and piano. He’s so motivated. He’s 6 feet 2 and gorgeous, great in school and his teachers love him. I’m proud of him.”

My Love: Christian’s relationship with Arianne Zucker (Nicole, DAYS) is going strong. “It’s really good. I’m so proud of everything she delivers and the way she delivers, and her commitment to the show and her desire to explore other creative endeavors. She’s an awesome gal, I have to say. It’s great to be with someone who’s equally as driven as I am, and has that drive and commitment to her work and her home life. She rocks. She’s a little hottie [laughs].”

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