10 most wanted : Lane Davies

 By David Johnson, Soap Opera Weekly, 2000

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Not only is the perp tall, handsome and debonair but he is a superb actor who can delve deeply into a character's soul, as he did so brilliantly with Santa Barbara's tortured Mason. He can also toss off a quip or pointed barb with the best of'em. After leaving soapland, Davies starred in four prime-time sitcoms, each of which "lasted about seven seconds." He's done 40 guest shots on various sitcom, and played a "recurring psychopath named Tempus" on Lois & Clark : The New Adventures of Superman as well the recurring role of "imperious, upscale" Chancellor Duncan on 3rd Rock From the Sun last season. He also is appearing on The Practice this season. Away from TV, he is the artistic director of the Santa Susana Theater Company and co-artistic director with Michael Arndt of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, both based in Thousand Oaks, Californie.

"It seems when I've been ready to do a soap again, nobody's been ready for me, and when I've been offered stuff, I've been committed to something else. Alos, I've been offered roles created by somebody else. I tend to shy away from that now. When I go back, I want to play a new character that I can put my own stamp on. It's just very difficult to capture what someone else has been doing; you get yourself into a lot of trouble as an actor doing that." Davies is used to playing crazy family dynamics (think the Capwells); if a new character is what he wants, we think he would be wonderful as a long-lost Quatermaine cousin on General Hospital. Edward wouldn't know what hit him.

What memories do you have of working in daytime ?

I remember the early days of Santa Barbara, when we were all sort of learning our way together. The day's work was very much a work in progress with a lot of collaboration and a lot of openness on everybody's part, from the writers to the actors to the producers. I've never quite duplicated that working environment - outside of my theatre companies - where there is that much exchange of creative information.

Can you share some of the funny things that occurred during your time at Santa Barbara ?

There was a lot of stuff that happened behind the scenes that is not printable, unfortunately, in a family publication (laughs). The stuff on-screen wasn't nearly as interesting as the stuff that was happening offscreen.

What was it like working with Nancy Lee Grahn (ex-Julia Capwell; now Alexis, General Hospital) on Santa Barbara ?

Nancy and I had this fabulous working relationship that went sour toward the end. But we never quite lost the chemistry, even we hated each other. The audience seemed to like us together. Nancy and I have never been - or played people - who were pushovers. We had opinions and we expressed them. Now, we're considerably mellower. We both have children of our own by different people. I'm glad to say we're great friends again.

You played a doctor on Days of our Lives. What was he like ?

That was my first contract role. Evan was the father of Maggie's surrogate child. He was like Mason, sort of misanthropic. His wife had died tragically, so he moped around. He had some of the qualities of Mason, but without any of the fun. The character never really clicked. The writers thought the age spread was too much between Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) and me. Actually, we were an item offscreen for a couple of years, but the writers didn't think we were right for each other. I lasted for about a year.

While Ronn Moss was away doing a project in Italy, you temporarily replaced him as Ridge on The Bold and the Beautiful. What kind of experience was that ?

They offered me six weeks of work to come in and make out with Hunter Tylo (Taylor) - for a lot of money. Which sounded wonderful, so I accepted. But to step into somebody else's role and especially when he's as different an actor as Ronn is to me and they're basically continuing to write for Ronn - well, it was a very strange experience.

Do you watch soaps now ?

On occasion, I look in on General Hospital. I've checked up on Jill's (Farren Phelps) show, One Life to Live. As a viewer and as an actor, I miss the humor we had on Santa Barbara. I wish the shows would take themselves a little less seriously. [On Santa Barbara] we sort of walked a fine line between respect for the work, but still not taking ourselves too seriously, especially when actors like Justin Deas (ex-Keith Timmons; now Guiding Light's Buzz) and Robin Mattson (ex-Gina Capwell) were on the show. There was a kind of irreverence about it - that the audience was in on. We were winking along with the viewers. The soaps are a bit heavy-handed now. I'd like to see the shows get some lightness back into them.