July 11, 2018 - 19 years of Santa Barbara : le site Francais
July 30,
2018 - 34 years of Santa Barbara

John Novak : «I loved working with Robin !»

 By Nicolas, exclusively for Santa Barbara : le site Francais, July 2018

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On last July 11, John Novak agreed to take on his time to answer exclusively the questions of Santa Barbara : le site Francais. The actor talks about his debuts, his time on Santa Barbara as the third interpreter of Keith Timmons, and his career since his departure of the show.

The beginnings before Santa Barbara

At first, I'd like you to tell us a little about you : how old are you today ? Where do you live ? Do you live in couple or have children ?

Ahhhhh how time flies ! I'm sixty two years of age ! I currently live between Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. I'm divorced and have been for years. I have a son Joseph.

To know you better, what did you brought from yourself in the character of Keith Timmons in Santa Barbara ?

When I think of it, what I brought to Keith was the maddnes and chaos that I was juggling my life ! Obsessive perfectionism with the reams of dialogue in the famous court scenes and interrogations. I was astonished I could cram so much into my memory. It was hard work.

How did you start your career as an actor ?

My Chemistry professor recruited me into a high-school production of Cole Porters Anything Goes. In the cast were Maurice Godin and Denis Naples. I was terrible but I loved it. I discovered that you could study and train for the craft.
I auditioned for Ryerson university theatre acting program and was accepted ! Still navigating the tempestuous seas of life as an artist.

 

The time of Santa Barbara

How did you start in Santa Barbara ? How Keith was introduced to you ?

I had no familiarity with the daytime soap genre. My work visa had just come and I was in L.A. speculating withy family in Vancouver. My manager Bill Boyle got me an audition with NBC for the show. There were internal changes going on between NBC and the shows creators the Dobsons. The Dobsons were locked out in litigation and I auditioned for their replacements. None of which I knew at the time.
There was interest, I had just been offered a movie on Hallmark with Jack Lemon. I was on my way to the first read through in Vancouver when I got a call that NBC wanted me to meet one more time. I refused. They had to decide now. They came in with the offer and I missed out on working with Mr. Lemon. Ha !
I apologize to Hallmark for any inconveniences that may have caused them. Better late than never !

You succeeded in the part of Keith to Justin Deas, who strongly marked the character and the series a few years ago. Did you watch some of his work to try to imitate his madness and energy ? How is it for an actor to take over a part already played by someone else ?

Yes Justin Deas set the mark ! And honestly I have yet to see his work. As I mentioned I was new to the genre and did not watch the show. I had no idea ! ...and resource material like past episodes weren't readily available. The internet was still a baby ! I had a huge binder of the Show Bible massive ! I could read that.
There was no time trying to stay on top of my life and relocating my family. My first week was in Miami ! Keith had a lot to say ! It was a wonderful whirlwind ! I had enough energy and maddnes going on in my own life to fill Keith's needs. (LOL)

Keith had some great time when you played him : his surprising comeback in DisneyWorld, the investigation on Robert Barr's murder, his attempt to seduce Gina again... What were your favorite moments as Keith ?

I loved working with Robin ! A beautiful and generous soul ! We had instant chemistry and she brought out the best of that in me. We had such fun !!! The dress up and kinky romance was delicious ! I was struck by the thought, "This is my job ! I get paid for doing this !" ! I think she was the reason I was in the show !

What were your favorite male and female acting partners as Keith ?

I had fun with Robert Barr and Flame. We had similar points of view, irreverent and fun ! It was great to start with Gordon Thomson as Mason. We had been neighbors in Toronto. He'd just come off a huge series. Roberta Weis was a Canadian. That's was fun !
Being the parade marshal in Walt Disney World with Gina and Brandon was amazing !

What was your best remembrance from the show, on a relational and on a professional level ?

I especially enjoyed doing the family scenes. I love working with young actors. Brandon was refreshing a fine actor !
Honestly it was all great ! It's hard to be fair singling out moments. I haven't seen the show in many years. It would be fun at this stage in life to revisit !
The first week we shot in Disney world was magical. It was amazing fun on and off the set ! We had carte blanche ! It was not hard to fall in love in that setting !

You left the show after only six months. What were the reasons of your departure ?

Yes how do things end ? An interesting combination of life vs. art vs career ? How you order these challenges determines your priorities.
Short answer, the Dobsons won their case and returned to the show. There was a scurry of actors busily ordering bouquets to send. Etc. I have never been good at professional politics and may have been negligent that way !
Circumstances in my life were coming to ahead as well. A perfect storm was brewing that brought about many profound changes ! Robin had warned me. This will become your life ! My life was chaos it overwhelmed the show! It needed to get cleaned up !
I wasn't sure that I wanted to purse daytime. That's how it worked out, if circumstances had been different it would have been such fun !!!
Ahhhhh to be young and pursuing ones promise ! And making ones mistakes ! Life !

What did you think of the end that was reserved for Keith ?

Keith's exit... I barely remember. It strikes me it was like a fart dissipating in a room. Ha ! Just wafting off in the breeze ! I hope I can find it online I'm curious now ! (LOL)

Did you keep in touch with members of the cast or the crew after your departure ? Did you continue to watch the show ?

No I don't have any contact with the cast or crew. Our lives are so incredibly challenging going forward it's very difficult carrying your past. It's so different now ! The technology that I have witnessed come into being is mindboggling, it's daunting to try to stay on top of !!! But the accessibility of information being able to do an interview like this. Wow !
I did tune in to the show, to see how it developed. It was in trouble and politics won out. It soon went off the air.

If you hadn't play Keith, what character would you have liked to play ?

Mason might have been fun !

 

These last years after Santa Barbara and now

Before and after Santa Barbara, you played in many TV series and movies. You also made a lot of dubbing for animated series. What differences do you make between these programs ? What evolution do you see as an actor in this past 25 years ?

It has changed so much ! Things that had to be rigged are now computer generated. It has overwhelmed our sensory tolerance levels ! I am getting back to playing my acoustic guitar and harmonica. It will be appreciated after that great EMP pluse that changes everything ! Ha !
The mystery of movie making is gone. Anyone with a phone can do it and some get lucky !! It's much harder to make a living. Especially if you choose to live outside of L.A.. We shall see, we shall see !

Do you have upcoming projects for this year ?

Project Ithaca from Wild Media Entertainment. It's a fun movie waiting to come out ! Watch for it. I just started voicing a character for a children's animated series with Nelvana, 13 episodes. Great fun. And I've been offered a role in a movie, Stealing School.

What would you like to say to all the Santa Barbara fans all over the world who didn't forget you as Keith ?

It's truly amazing to think that there are people in the world still enjoying the work that I was so blessed to have contributed then ! To be connected to that and to you now is an extraordinary gift. I am very grateful !
Particularly France ! Your nation is renoun in the world for its love and respect of actors, you value our craft. I hope I can one day to visit and bask in that love !!! Thank you, my heart is full ! The reason why ! Much love to you all !

 

Once again all my thanks to John Novak for his sincerity and his humor.