|«I want to fight for a better world !»|
By Daniel De Belie, Ciné Télé Revue, 1987
In Santa Barbara, he plays the disturbers and the bad sons but, in real life, Lane Davies does not have anything of Mason's agitation and bad intentions, even if he loves the character, his claimings and the sometimes worrying image he gives. Born in Georgia, South America, on July 31 1951, he owes to his mother to have had very early the love of theatre and show business, when this dynamics young woman enlisted all the family in the construction of settings for the local theatre. As Davies dad was himself radio host, it is quite naturally that the young Lane chose the theatrical career before appearing in TV shows once installed in Los Angeles. Dallas, CHIPs, Days of our Lives, many contributions to the small screen before joining the team of Santa Barbara in 1984. Television is however not all his life, and he acknowledges that three years of Santa Barbara exhausted him at the point to take two months of rest to return to his first love : theatre. From now on, Lane Davies began a new season, after a quick journey in Paris and a short theatre season in Georgia which had required of him to wear barb and long hair for the needs of the part of Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.
Is this difficult and ungrateful to play a malicious guy on screen ?
No, not really. You just have to call the baser instincts we all have in us. It is much funnier than to play sympathetic guys.
Which kind of mail do you receive from Santa Barbara fans and how do they react to your character ?
A very friendly mail in general in spite of the character that I play. In fact, I am a vulnerable bad guy, and I am convinced that people understand the reasons that push me to act like this. Mason has a defensive attitude and the public has sympathy for him. In any case, never any insulting letter.
Is the rhythm of work different between a daytime soap like Santa Barbara and a nightime soap like Dynasty or Dallas ?
Very different. On Santa Barbara we must memorize 75 pages per day whereas on Dynasty, which is aired only weekly, we have generally only nine pages per day in the worst case. A show like Dynasty can take its time with details, to refine the psychology of the characters. Here, we work in haste. The advantage of a soap like Santa Barbara however is that it precisely requires a more natural approach, more spontaneous, without repetition. It is much more alive because it is every day present on screen. In fact, it is false to say that we less refine our characters. It will even be the opposite. We are with them twelve hours a day, we are permanently our characters. It is besides sometimes very disconcerting because it happens to us not to be able to separate the one of the other, especially when we are implied in romantic scenes.
Do you feel some affinity with Mason in Santa Barbara ?
Many affinities. I spend too much time with him not to resemble to him a little. I like his sense of cold humour. I especially like his love of the language. His vocabulary is much richer than that of the average American. For this reason the writers of Santa Barbara love the character : they can refine their dialogue, an occasion which is rarely offered to them.
What do you like to do when you do not work ?
To sleep. I sleep a lot. I also like to ski, to fish. I especially like to work with my hands : do-it-yourself, joinery, painting. All activities I can practise there, in the mountains, a country cottage I own at two hours of Los Angeles.
Does it disturbs you to be recognized on the street ?
Not at all. Once that you exert a job like ours, it is necessary to agree to see part of your private life falling into the public domain. I must even acknowledge that I like to be recognized on street. While arriving to Paris, I had to sign an autograph to the customs officer. The pleasure was as much for me as for him. Unfortunately, the fans of Santa Barbara would have many difficulties to recognize me with this beard I had to have for the part of Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing.
Seen from Europe, the life of an American movie or television actor appears luxurious, idyllic, extravagant, in the middle of swimming pools, splendid villas and glowing cars. How is this image correct ?
It depends on the person you talk about. And you fall well badly, because I am precisely the counterexample in this domain. I have a very modest way of life, at least in Hollywood, where I occupy only a small apartment for the needs of my job. People you talk about live in Los Angeles permanently. For my part I am there only very rarely. As soon as I have twenty-four hours, I run to the mountain. I infinitely love this way of life there. I do not fear the loneliness and the silence. On the contrary, they help me to find my harmony.
Is there a wish that you would like to see granted in your life ?
I would like to leave a trace in the memory of people, either through my work, or through my life. Something which enriches them, which makes them better, which brings someting more to the human race. That can appear pretentious but we must be conscious of our utility and our importance in the walk of the world.
What was your more embarrassing moment as an actor ?
The day when, entering the scene of Romeo and Juliette, I stumbled and I ruined my nose on the scene. I was supposed to show my escrimor talents and to put in failure eight adversaries. Once the moment of surprised spent, the public laughed a lot. I was full of shame.
According to you, what is your bigger quality ?
Perhaps perseverance and desinterestedness. When I obtrude myself a purpose, I hang to it and when I work, I do it less for the money than for the pleasure.
What is your astrological sign ? Do you think that you are a good representative of it ?
I am a Lion and I'm generally considered to be a perfect illustration of this sign. I like being under the projectors. Besides a lot of Lion tends to become actors or public characters. I also have the defaults of my qualities. Some of Mason's negative qualities are mine. Egocentrism for example, too much pride also. The advantage of a job like mine is that it forces to be humble, at least in the whole beginnings, and that it thus moderates a little the proud of the Lion.
What qualities do you seek in somebody, that it is in love or friendship ?
A big sense of humour above all. Intelligence also, creative intelligence. Not necessarily culture. My best friend, a country and western singer, that I know for twenty years, is an intelligent man in the creative sense of the word, but I doubt that he can distinguish a Manet from a Monet.
How do you see yourselves in twenty years ?
I see myself teaching my job, ensuring more directings than presences on screen. As a man, I see myself as a husband and a father. (Lane Davies is currently always unmarried).
Who are your fellow-members for whom you have the most admiration ?
At the top, there is Laurence Olivier. Then Robert Duvall and Peter O' Toole come. I also believe a lot in Nick Nolte. He is an actor who gains in quality and force with the age and who follows the same career than Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy. Maturity suits them well.
What do you think of a recent proposal of BBC which, after the shoot of 14 people by an insane killer in a small English town, had wished to see banished from TV and cinemas movies like Rambo and Halloween ?
I can understand this reaction but I am personally against any form of censure. Moreover I am not convinced that to attend violent spectacles necessarily leads to violence. Men are naturally violent, aggressive and cruel and to watch violent movies can precisely release this tendency while avoiding to come to the acts. In the same way we cannot bind pornography to rape. It is true that in a rapist's home you will find more than probably pornographic magazines, but all the amateurs of pornography are not rapists.
For our readers who only know Mason, how would you describe Lane Davies to them ?
He knows himself well and knows the others well, or at least seeks to know them. He has more maturity than Mason, if not just a few things really separate them. They are in fact extremely similar. The only reserve is that I am more in harmony with myself than my character. Mason has a disturbed family life, not me. He lived a difficult youth that he always lives, I personally knew a happy youth...