#TBT Greg Vaughan

Greg Vaughan (Diego, YOUNG AND RESTLESS) proudly admits that his big break came “the day I met Aaron Spelling.” It was on the über producer’s prime-time sudser MALIBU SHORES that the actor made his soapy debut as Josh. The 1996 series was a wash, but Spelling is known for never forgetting a face he likes. Vaughan soon showed up on BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 (ex-Cliff), LOVE BOAT: THE NEXT WAVE (guest appearance as Tom) and for a season on CHARMED (ex-Dan). “He really loves his actors and loves to keep everyone in his family,” Vaughan smiles. “And if he’s encouraged or inspired by someone’s work, he keeps trying to bring them back until they have a hit.”

Vaughan avoids dishing too much dirt about the somewhat-combustible CHARMED set (read: the alleged antics of Shannen Doherty, ex-Prue; ex-Brenda, 90210), but does admit the experience “had its highs and lows. Everybody was preparing me for the worst before I went in, but I’m a very open-minded person.” He does cop to “battling” with co-star Holly Marie Combs (Piper) on Fridays. “There was some food-fight action,” he reveals with a laugh. “It tamed down, but it was very real at the moment.”

If there was ever any tension, there’s no doubt that this easygoing actor could diffuse it — he doesn’t take anything in life too seriously. Take modeling, which in high school was a way to make some easy cash. Vaughan confesses that he had no idea it would take him from his native Texas to the runways of Italy. “I thought it would beat bussing tables at Red Lobster, which I did,” he says. “I put myself through school working at Sound Warehouse, rebuilding lawn mowers for my uncle, installing security systems in the summer Texas heat. Not fun.”

So, he was tempted when a top modeling agency in Milan starting wooing him after graduation, but Vaughan still had reservations. “I was a momma’s boy,” he chuckles. “I liked to stay at home, close to my family. That’s all I knew. Leaving the state of Texas was hard. We’re very proud and don’t want to leave. But I knew there was something more out there for me.”

Three years later, a world-weary Vaughan came home. “I was exhausted,” he sighs. “It seemed like a lifetime. I had already missed seeing my brother grow up (see sidebar), family reunions, weddings. One day, I packed up and said, ‘I’m going home.’ And that was it.” He went back to waiting tables until a push from his mom got his career back in gear. “I think I was in the house too much, and I was eating a lot of food,” he grins. “She was like, “You’re never here this long. Why are you here? Go somewhere.’ She loves it when I come home now. There’s nothing like going home and getting a good hug.”

In L.A., Vaughan took to acting — and these days finds himself enmeshed in a sticky romantic quadrangle on Y&R having slept with sisters-in-law Sharon and Victoria. Stepping into the role in April as a recast (Diego Serrano, ex-Diego; ex-Tomás, ANOTHER WORLD, originated the part) didn’t discourage the daytime newbie, and now he claims Diego as his own. “It’s mine for sure,” he confirms. “I hope to keep bringing more to the character. Every day is another day of excitement because I know I’m going to be even more challenged down the road. He’s in complete disarray. Everything he feared the most has happened. Now that the whole affair with Sharon has come out and he’s fallen for Victoria…. I find myself [in bed] more than anything else.”

Of course, life as a visual object is nothing new, but Vaughan acknowledges, “I’m working out more than I’ve ever had to. I don’t like to run around with my shirt off. I’m very shy in that sense. Josh [Morrow, Nicholas] loves it,” he laughs. “He loves walking around without his clothes on. I’m a little more reserved. I’ll get used to it in time.”

He’d better hurry because, if Internet message boards are any indication, fans are pretty smitten with this unforgettable face. “Thank God for the makeup — if they really could see me underneath it all,” demurs the actor, who calls fan attention “a little overwhelming, but it’s never warped my sense of who I am. Nobody really recognizes me, which is great. It’s not like I’m undercover. I’m very out and about and would never change that. I like to mix with people.”

Besides, Vaughan is predictably glib about his status as a sex symbol. “Come on,” he snorts. “We’re talking about Greg Vaughan, not Brad Pitt.”

Brotherly Love

According to Greg Vaughan, Diego’s relationship with younger brother, Raul, echoes that of his own with real-life younger sib, Chris. However, a distance didn’t keep them estranged as it did his on-screen counterpart. “Diego is very parental when it comes to Raul,” the actor notes. “Leaving my own brother was a very difficult thing for me because he hadn’t even started high school, and I wanted to see him grown as a young man. I wanted to be close enough so he could call me at any given moment. I was very vocal about that before I left, and I called him once a week, as I still do today. Even though now I’m three states away, I can be there in two hours. At the time, it was definitely difficult, but our relationship hasn’t been affected by it. It’s grown. He even sends me Father’s Day cards.”

Just The Facts:

Birthday: June 15

Hails From: Dallas, TX

TX vs L.A.: “It’s a different lifestyle down there. Drinkin’ and eatin’, that’s it.”

Man’s Best Friend: “Daisy, my almost 6-year-old Lab is my best friend in the world. I got her right when I got to California, and we’ve gone through everything together. If you let her, she might just kiss you to death.”

Dating Status: “There is somebody special in my life, but names can go unsaid. We’ve been with each other for a little while. We take it one day at a time. I don’t want to finish the race — I’m enjoying the race.”

On Autograph Seekers: “If it makes someone’s day, I think you should oblige. You’ll always be remembered on your first impression.”

This interview originally appeared in the October 15, 2002 issue of Soap Opera Digest.