This interview was originally published in the May 26, 1992 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
A Bayou Boy Graduates From ATWT’s Teen Dream To Y&R’s Legal Eagle
Christian LeBlanc believes all people deserve a flattering headline or description written about them at least once in their lives. Without missing a beat, he can recall the title of his last Soap Opera Digest interview. “The Not-So-Subtle Charm of Christian LeBlanc.” He was impressed that the writer mentioned “resting his long, lean legs on a wrought iron stairway railing” at his apartment. “I remember my mom looking at my legs when I was in the fourth grade and saying, ‘You have horsey legs,’ so that was great.”
Eight years later, LeBlanc stretches out his still long legs in his YOUNG AND RESTLESS dressing room. The self-proclaimed “shy kid” is relaxed, funny, endearingly chatty and casually clad in a burgundy sweatshirt and black wire-framed glasses (he lost a contact lens during rehearsal). But the actor has changed since he left the role of Kirk McColl on AS THE WORLD TURNS in 1985.
He doesn’t drink coffee anymore (“If I drink it, you can’t shut me up with a mallet”), he doesn’t get mistaken for Donny Osmond nearly as often, and he’s no longer an adolescent heartthrob; but those are superficial differences.
Older and presumably wise, LeBlanc is back on daytime as Y&R’s high-powered attorney, Michael Baldwin. As Michael, LeBlanc feels he has achieved a maturity he never attained as Kirk. “I was nineteen for three years, until I had to buy a bar and they aged me to twenty-one,” LeBlanc recalls. “Michael is much more aware of his power, and he uses it. I like it more because I think there’s a dark side to him that keeps you guessing. I get to do some adult stuff. It’s more in line with who I am now.”
It’s not always easy for an actor to return to daytime. “There was a little more ego attached to it than I thought,” LeBlanc admits. “There were a few weeks where I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is a soap. Why isn’t Spielberg on the phone?’ But that comes when you’re ready for it. This happened to me out of the blue, and I’m having a ball.”
When his ATWT contract was up, LeBlanc told them, “I want to leave and basically explore the world.” So he moved to L.A. and ventured into prime time on CHEERS, RIPTIDE and HOTEL. Roles on those shows led to a stint as Deputy Junior Abernathy on IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. But after one season, he was let go. He recalls, “The producers were saying, ‘You must not take it personally. We really loved you.’ It was just the changing of the show. They were doing kind of an old version of the South, and I was like Goober [on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW]. He was a not terribly bright hick from the backwoods. Now it has more reality of the modern South.”
Next came the short-lived E.A.R.T.H. FORCE. “The reviews said something like, ‘If EVENING SHADE is the shining star of the new season, E.A.R.T.H. FORCE is the black hole,’” he notes. There was a bonus to the show — it was filmed in Australia. LeBlanc camped in the Outback, went diving at the Great Barrier Reef and “tried to make people sing all the lines to ‘Waltzing Matilda’. No one knows them.”
LeBlanc enjoys combining acting with global travel. When forced to seek “alternative employment,” in L.A., he worked as a teacher, but didn’t return to his old job — busboy. LeBlanc worked at New York’s Helmsley Palace, where his boss was the now-jailed Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley. “She was terrifying,” he remembers. “The hotel would get a call that she was on her way and the place would erupt.” Nonacting gigs never bothered him. “I decided a long time ago I would do what I had to do to get what I want. I also catered. I used to think if I needed a caterer later, people will know me.”
He’d be hard to forget. LeBlanc retains much of his Southern warmth and charm, but he has an impishness that will probably be there until he meets his maker. “We’re a long-lived family,” he quips. “Our minds go, but we’re still strong as oxen. You just have to watch out for us.”
The second of eight children born to a Green Beret, LeBlanc has many childhood memories of New Orleans, where his family lived in a renovated plantation house on the banks of the Mississippi. LeBlanc believes his home fostered his acting talent. “I used to take tours around ‘Cologne Park Plantation, built in 1835,’” he recites “They [tourists] would ring the bell and we’d have to stuff everything under the beds and take people around.” He traded in tour-guide duty during high school when a girl talked him into auditioning for West Side Story: “I was a Shark, because all the brunets had to be Sharks and the blonds had to be Jets.”
At Tulane University, however, LeBlanc majored in ancient history. While swimming laps at the pool, he was “discovered” by a photographer, which led to modeling, commercials and acting. Today, LeBlanc is very comfortable in L.A., where he acts and works on his art. He’s even exhibited paining at the salon where he and ex-ATWT cast mates Marisa Tomei (Marcy) and Meg Ryan (Betsy) have their hair cut.
When asked if he’s involved in a relationship, LeBlanc replies: “The one-on-one that we’re all waiting for? No. And I’m perfectly happy. I guess it’s been a year since I’ve pretty much been on my own. I dealt with some tragedies — some good friends passed away. Family friends. It put me in a place where I thought, ‘What am I waiting for; what do I want to do?’
“So I’ve been traveling a lot. I got back at the end of October and three days later they called for the audition. I know life is going right when I’m in the right place and don’t have to agonize over decisions. I finally got that cart before the horse — just have a life and everything will come. I’ve said that for years, but to feel that is kind of a new experience.”