July 11, 2009 - 10 years of Santa Barbara : le site Francais
July 30,
2009 - 25 years of Santa Barbara

Stephen  Meadows : «We all were like a family.»

 By Nicolas, exclusively for Santa Barbara : le site Francais, July 2009

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On last July 02, Stephen Meadows agreed to take on his time to answer exclusively the questions of Santa Barbara : le site Francais. The actor talks about his debuts, about his character of Peter Flint and the Santa Barbara years, and at last about his life 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 ?

I'm 58. Live in Venice Ca. and have another place in Hawaii. I'm remarried and we have 7 kids between us !

When did you know you wanted to be an actor ?

When I was a kid. But in the 60's, it wasn't "cool" to be an actor in Atlanta, Ga. I didn't start acting until I was 34.

How did you start your career ?

I had a friend that was a casting director in San Francisco where I worked as an Architect and was also teaching at San Francisco State University. She cast me in a TV commercial so I was able to get a SAG (union) card right away. I was VERY lucky. A couple of years later I came to LA, started taking acting classes and after about 6 months, was cast in Santa Barbara. It was my first real "role" as an actor. Again, I was extremely lucky. For most people, it takes much longer.

 

The time of Santa Barbara

Peter Flint has the reputation of being a bad guy : he was one of the obstacle between Kelly's love for Joe, had connections with evil characters (such as Augusta, Ginger...) and of course turned to be a dangerous serial killer. Did you see him like this ?

To be honest, it's not the actor's choice. You play the character that's written. Besides, being a bad guy is much more fun than playing a milk-toast "goodie-two-shoes."

Did you know when you first played Peter that he had such a hidden past (his real name was Antonio Fiorno, not Peter Flint; he was a gigolo in Miami; ad an affair with Augusta...) ?

No. On daytime soaps, the producers/writers make much of it up as they go along.

What were your favorite storylines and the ones you particularly disliked ?

I didn't like the beginning stuff where Peter was always whining after Kelly. The most fun was when Peter had medical problems which gave me a license to act a little crazy.

What were your favorite male and female acting partners as Peter Flint ?

I really liked working with A Martinez. Great guy. Robin Wright-Penn was a lot of fun to chase around the set when Peter went nuts. We always had great laughs after some of the over-the-top stalking scenes.

You knew the first actors to play C.C. Capwell, Joe Perkins, Santana Andrade, before they all changed of faces. As an actor, how is it to face some new actors for a same part ?

Every actor brings something different to a role. Again, actors must do what's required. We are a tool for the writer and director. It's unfortunate, but most producers would prefer to have computer-generated characters and not have to deal with real human beings. With some of the new, amazing CGI capabilities, I don't think it will be long before we see many TV shows where the characters are all computer generated.

How did you react when you learned that Peter was going to become this terrible carnation killer ? Were you aware that it would sign the end of the character ?

I had requested when I started the show to only be there a year if at all possible. I felt that acting in a soap would be good experience, but didn't have a strong desire to do it for many years.

How did you enjoy to suddenly play a serial killer ? Sometimes, the way Peter seemed completely lost really terrified me !

Loved playing the killer. It's fun to go nuts on TV.

Peter killed four women as the "carnation killer". Two of them were regular characters on the show (Summer Blake and Veronica Gayley, his secretary). Do you remember how these actresses reacted when they learned that their last scene was coming ?

They knew this before we shot the scenes, so I didn't see their reactions.

What storyline would you have seen for Peter if he hadn't been killed and stayed in the show in 1985 ?

Never really thought about it. But he should always stay a bad guy !

Did you keep in touch with members of the cast or the crew after your departure ? Did you continue to watch the show ? And if yes, what character seemed to be for you the best successor for Peter ?

I stayed in touch with some of the people, but I must confess that I did not watch the show.

You made a brief comeback in May 1986, when Kelly has flashbacks of Peter. Do you remember how this sudden comeback occurred ?

The producers called my agent and asked if I would come back for a few days in Kelly's "dream". It was fun to see the cast and crew again.

If Peter had to be avenged in further Santa Barbara episodes, how could it be and by who ?

Well... Peter was a pretty bad guy. Maybe he could be "avenged" by a long-lost brother, Paul. Paul would be a real smoothe guy that everyone likes but behind the scenes, he destroys people. Kind of like the stock brokers on Wall Street !

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

I thought Mason was a good slimy character. That would have been fun.

 

These 24 last years after Santa Barbara and now

You played in some movies and TV shows after your departure from Santa Barbara, then you finally changed of career. What were your favorite roles as an actor ? How did you come to the decision of changing of professional life ?

I liked playing flawed characters... Since we all are.  I was an alcoholic cowboy in Young Riders. Lots of action... really fun.  There were many other good roles. I'd like to think that each was enjoyable in some way. My career choices came after I had kids. I didn't want to travel away from my young children as my wife was working all the time. So I decided to focus more on product and real-estate development, which is what I did prior to becoming an actor.

Tell us about your new career. You seem to have worked on many great projects !

Much of my focus these days is on Parabounce (www.Parabounce.com) as I hold several patents and have received a great deal of press. Also, my wife and I spend a lot of time working on our property in Hawaii. It's a vacation rental and pretty spectacular. (www.ParadiseDarling.com) I also volunteer a great deal. I was a volunteer in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami and have also worked in Peru. Currently I volunteer in the Emergency Room and one of the local hospitals. The rest of the time I try to spend with the kids.

Do the people you befriend today know about your acting career and your times on Santa Barbara ?

I don't usually tell people about it, but it seems like sooner or later, they find out. After having a "public" career, it's difficult to hide, even if I wanted to. This is one reason why I put up my own website (StephenMeadows.com)... Might as well let people know what I'm about.  It makes it easier for business as well.

What would you like to say to all the Santa Barbara fans all over the world ?

I'm sure most of the actors on the show felt like Santa Barbara was the best soap on television. We all were like a family, unlike a few of the other shows that are very competitive among the cast. Everyone appreciated the fans, as they were loyal and seemed to be quite genuine. It's too bad that the show is gone. Sometimes quality is not a "best seller".  Long-term success for a daytime soap is a very elusive thing to identify.

 

Once again all my thanks to Stephen Meadows for his availability and his simplicity.