«I regret Santa Barbara»

 By Isabelle Caron, Télé 7 Jours, 1987

 Home   Cette page en Français  

"I loved Joe Perkins a lot. I miss him", Mark Arnold says, while walking on Santa Monica beach. This 29 years old actor, who receives every week more than thousand letters from France, regrets Santa Barbara, the show-star of TF1 with ratings of 25 % (more than some films aired during the week on the same network). Then why did he give up his role ? "Initially because I wanted to do cinema, theatre and with Santa Barbara it was not possible".

Like Robin Wright, who gave up her role of Kelly Capwell, Mark Arnold evokes the hell of the shootings : "We used to shoot 14 to 16 hours per day, seven days a week. That is to say a one hour episode per day. The evening, when I came back home, I had thirty pages of dialogue to learn for the following day. I thus spent six months to fall asleep with the scenario in the arms by swearing to me to drop everything so much it was difficult."

Mark Arnold had indeed been chosen by the producers to replace Dane Whiterspoon, holder of the role of Joe Perkins, but also Robin Wright's fiancé and it is there that it became complicated : "The other actors regretted Dane, who had become their friend, and Robin, who also took to me for an enemy, refused me to graze her whereas the director and the writers howled so that I kiss her. But as of the first day, as you perhaps saw it in France, we found ourselves in a bed together. As for the American televiewers, all very in love with Dane, you imagine their reaction. One had stolen their idol and at the beginning especially, I received many letters of insults..." However, all these worries, usual in the American soaps where one replaces the actors for a yes or a no, did not last too long : "The actors adopted me, the letters changed of tone and even Robin Wright became to smile at me and to speak to me during the pauses. She even regretted that I disappear..." Because (and still there the American television writers are used to it), the day Mark announced that he did not renew his contract, two years ago, he has quite simply been killed...

This episode, you perhaps may be able to watch it on TF1 if the French network buys some new episodes. "To replace Joe a second time, explains Mark, would have been ridiculous..." Of course I asked him to tell me his death - that I watched on television - but he refused to spare you the suspense : "I can only say you that it was my best scene in the show, even if the French public undoubtedly preferred my wedding." But there, always while walking on Santa Monica beach, Mark corrected himself, and in French : "Hoops ! I said too much to you. It will be necessary to wait... for this wedding which could well be the one of Kelly Capwell and Joe Perkins."

"Let us speak about other things", smiles Joe, who excuses himself not to be able to answer all his French admirers, but promises that he will come to Paris soon and will let Télé 7 Jours tell it to you. Before that, he answers to the questions the most frequently asked to him : "I was born close to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I studied dramatic art at the University of Boston, but instead of trying my chance first in Hollywood, I chose New York. I dreamed of theatre, but I had to start with a role in the soap Edge of Night and it lasted three years and a half... Financially, that was going well, but I finished to feel dull and I left to Hollywood, and I stayed there." Mark however kept his apartment in New York : "I like this city and between two roles, I walk, I go to the cinema." Mark made his first film in 1985 : Teen Wolf, directed by Rod Daniel, and since he plays especially in TV movies. His dream ? "A big nightime soap like Dynasty or Dallas, but above all to never stop playing. Among the French actors, I admire a lot Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert, and I would like to meet them."

Single person, Mark Arnold is believed to be a seducer but claims the opposite : "I have many friends, especially since I died... on television. As if this scene had made a real shock to many of my relations, they phoned me immediately and I do not cease seeing them any more... And admirers of Joe Perkins manage to get my number and I am often awaked in the middle of the night." About that, I asked him by leaving him on this beach he likes so much, does he always watch Santa Barbara ? "Yes, but as there is no more Robin Wright, nor Mark Arnold, I prefer the old episodes I watch and watch again with the VCR !"