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James Patrick Stuart looks back on his non-daytime gigs

James Patrick Stuart

Credit: ABC

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James Patrick Stuart (Valentin, GH) looks back on his non-daytime gigs

Brett, SEINFELD, 1996: “Marc Hirschfeld, who ended up becoming head of casting for NBC but at the time was just a lowly casting director, had me in to test for a pilot and I didn’t end up getting it. But when James Spader fell out of the role of Brett because he was filming a movie in Spain, Marc’s back was against the wall and he needed to find somebody in a matter of hours, and I just happened to be in the office! He goes, ‘Just go [to the SEINFELD set] now.’ I got there and it was me and maybe six other guys in the room. Larry David [SEINFELD’s co-creator] was one of them. I was young and relatively new to comedy — I was studying at The Groundlings at the time — but Larry was just laughing at all the right moments and I thought, ‘Huh! Maybe I can book this thing!’ It wasn’t even an hour after I left that I got a page from my agent who said, ‘You got it! Go tomorrow.’ I remember moments watching Jerry [Seinfeld] and Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] figuring out the rhythm and the pace of a joke and I use that experience to this day. And as a red-blooded American male — when Julia Louis-Dreyfus smiled, she had a supernova smile. I told Amanda [Setton, Brook Lynn] that she’s probably the only other person I’ve met that has a smile on that level. It was really exciting to watch Julia sell a joke. All those guys were amazing. It was like being with the Beatles, the four of them [in the core cast] together.”

Guy, FRASIER, 1996: “Jerry [Seinfeld] told me — while he was eating a bowl of cereal — ‘This is going to be big for you.’ He goes, ‘I’m not bragging, but we have 32 million viewers.’ And the FRASIER audition probably happened because someone was like, ‘That kid was great on SEINFELD. What else can we find for him?’ The next thing you know, I was around the table where they had done every CHEERS table read, every FRASIER table read, and Kelsey Grammer was sitting right next to me and David Hyde Pierce was on my left and we did the table read for all these legendary producers, Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan and Jeff Richmond, who just dominated the comedy world. They were just laughing thunderously and I remember just thinking, ‘I’m never gonna forget this week.’ ”

Greg, THE SIMPLE LIFE, 1998: “Working with Judith Light [ex-Karen, ONE LIFE TO LIVE] was a dream. I was playing an Englishman, the producer of her HGTV-type show, and she was just delightful. I love her up and down. I get the impression that even 20 years later, if I told her it was my kid’s graduation, she’d send 100 bucks. She’s just a good, kind person.”

Claude, ENCORE!, ENCORE!, 1998-99: “We had such an amazing cast, [including] Dame Joan Plowright, who was Laurence Olivier’s wife, and Ernie Sabella and Glenne Headly and, of course, Nathan Lane. Nathan’s comedic timing is just unbelievable and getting a chance to do a scene where Nathan Lane, of all people, is doing a spit take next to you is just paradise because he has a bag of tricks that has been honed on Broadway and doing comedy for years. It really was paradise.”

Keith, ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE, 2002-03: “Paget Brewster, who ended up making a zillion dollars doing about 500 episodes of CRIMINAL MINDS, is, for my money, one of the funniest actresses I’ve ever met in my life, and then you put her in the same room as one of the funniest comedic actors I’ve ever met in my life, Andy Richter, and we just had gold! I actually told myself, on multiple occasions, ‘Don’t laugh at the next thing he says, because you look like an 8-year-old girl at this point, giggling at everything he does! You can’t laugh at everything the human being does, give him a break!’ Those were such good times.”

Dr. Moss, It’s Complicated, 2009: “I read for the casting director and the next thing I knew, I was in front of [Director] Nancy Meyers, who’s a hero of mine — I love her movies — and I got the job. We filmed it in Brooklyn and I went into the casting office to sign some paperwork or something and on the wall, they’ll always put up the headshots of the people that have been cast. On the left there was Meryl [Streep], Alec [Baldwin, ex-Billy, THE DOCTORS et al] and Steve Martin, and then on the far, far, far, right of the black wall was me! Nancy later told me, ‘You were the first peripheral character that I cast. I saw everybody for that role, everybody in town, but the moment I saw you, I knew I wanted you to be in my movie.’ That was sort of a spiritual booster shot and I was now ready to go face Meryl! I was excited as hell to meet her. I’ve met a lot of my heroes, said a lot of stupid things. I told myself, ‘Give her a break. She probably gets [gushed at] all the time.’ We ran the scene a couple of times and then we got quiet, and eventually, she just goes, ‘So, do you have kids?’ And we were off to the races, talking about our children and education. She was just so lovely. The thing about Meryl is that she knows the dialogue backward and forward, more than any human being I’ve ever met. So she’s giving you the words as written, but every take feels like it’s brand-new, and at the same time, she’s watching you like a hawk and she’s reacting to whatever you give her. She’s the queen!”