Keepin' an eye on Paul Johansson, Santa Barbara's gorgeous Greg

 By Dawn Mazzurco, Soap Opera Update, 1990

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How did you get into acting ?

I was a total basketball freak. I just finished playing college basketball. I lead the nation in scoring in Canada . I then joined the national team and travelled to Israel , China , Korea , all over the world playing for my country. When I came back from the tournament, I finished my education, and had a chance to go play professional basketball in Sweden . They sent me a first-class plane ticket and were going to pay me a lot of money to go play professional. That same week I got a phone call from a Hollywood manager who really liked an audition tape I did for a film up in Canada , and he wanted to meet me. So I chose to go to Los Angeles and meet with him and fell in love with Los Angeles , and really haven't been home since.

How did the role on Santa Barbara come about ?

I did an NBC movie-of-the-week called Swimsuit. After that I started getting a lot of auditions. It's funny. I auditioned for this role and had a really bad headache. They really liked me and wanted me to screentest for the role. But it was in the hospital for two weeks with viral meningitis. The day I came out of the hospital I screentested for Santa Barbara and I got it. I actually got the part on my birthday, January 26th.

Do you find any similarities between acting and sports ?

Oh, it's incredible. The mental discipline is the biggest similarity. I live by the idea that luck and preparation equal opportunity. I'm always prepared, I always come to work with lots of ideas in my head, and my lines memorized ready to go, like I do basket ball. With an opponent, I find out their weaknesses and their strengths and the same with my scenes and the people I work with. I work the same way I did as a basketball player - I just totally incorporate it into the different genre.

Did you have any difficulty getting into the rhythm of daytime ?

Yeah, it took me a while to get used to it. I still think it's the hardest money to earn in show business. It's hard work, but it's also the most fulfilling. You complete a one-act play in a day.

Were you intimidated, being cast onto an Emmy-winning show, with a cast of talented actors ?

(It was) Not as intimidating as it was inspiring. I think a more perfect word was that I was inspired by the fact that the show was so good. It makes you want to rise the challenge, in a similar, athletic way.

You were also thrust right in the middle of a major emotional storyline, being introduced as C.C.'s son. How was that ?

I wear my emotions on my sleeve anyway. What you see is what you get with me, and one of the things that I worked on (in acting class) was to keep my instrument open. That is being able to be very free and open with my emotions at all times.

How would you like to see Greg grow as a person ?

I hope that (Greg) goes as far away from the real Paul as possible. I hope that many people are always guessing, that nobody can quite figure him out. I want him to be a little mysterious, a little bit Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean. He's got it all, but he really doesn't have it all.

What about the relationship between Greg and Emily - how would you like to see that progress ?

I hope (the relationship) really goes strong. We really care a lot for each other as actors and we have a good relationship on screen, too. Julie's one of my favourite people to work with.

What about your future - do you see yourself staying with daytime ?

I never want to put limitations on that. You just do the best work you can and everything else takes care of itself... I want to make sure it's always interesting and that I never get bored and that I always bring new life to a project.

How does your family react to your being on TV ?

My mom is very proud of me. My dad, who was really upset with me quitting basketball, recently said to me, "I never thought I'd say this Paul, but you're actually good at it," and that made me feel great.

Do you draw on any personal experience when portraying the relationship between Greg and C.C. ?

Always. My father and I had a love/hate relationship. He's probably one of the gentles, greatest people in the whole world, but even those people make you frustrated sometimes. Your parents always make you frustrated, trying to live up to their expectations, because they have their own concept of who you are and so do you, so there's always that struggle. So, yeah, definitely. But now we're closer than we've ever been.