Bond is back... on Santa Barbara

 By Bonnie Siegler, Soap Opera Update, 1990

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"That's an interesting question..." muses Steve Bond. "I really wasn't planning on returning to daytime at all. When this role came up, it just felt right, you know ?" He takes another stab at his tossed salad and looks towards his somewhat sceptical visitor for emphasis. The former General Hospital actor is sitting in his dressing room on the NBC lot, graciously taking time out from his lunchtime break to explain his return to daytime TV as MacKenzie Blake, Santa Barbara's rather new resident. "I felt this was a quality show and I thought Mack was a multi-dimensional character. I can't explain it other than the fact that everything said "do it" in my bones. It just felt right."

The 36-year-old actor, dressed in blue jeans, sweatshirt, work boots and sporting an earring, is unusually handsome, with blue eyes and a profile to die for, thanks to his European heritage. I was certainly not prepared for the charm, intelligence and honesty that was forefront and center stage during our hour together. It's hard to believe that this husband and father is more attractive in person than Jimmy Lee Holt ever was during his four years on General Hospital. But for the past two months, Bond has been playing Mack Blake, the sardonic, frequently tongue-in-cheek exercise instructor and Gina DeMott's brother on Santa Barbara.

What's it like working with Gina, a.k.a. Robin Mattson ? "Oh, she's great !" he quickly answers. "We used to work together on General Hospital, so the fact that we're playing brother and sister is fantastic. We have a history... we have a background and there's not that honeymoon period where you have to find out where you're at with another actor. With us, we can jump into it and have a relationship that's long standing. We have a similarity in the way our energy flows. I find Robin a very passionate, rapid-firing kind of actress... things just roll off. And I've tried to maintain that same height as far as the way Mack feels about things. When Gina and Mack have an argument... there's that passion. They have similar rhythms... I like that. Just the frustration of being a certain way... that is definitely a big similarity in their characters. But I think the core of the characters are very different. Mack is basically good. Sure, he's been in trouble and has relied on the kindness of women to help him out, but he doesn't harbor any hostilities. Gina harbors hostility toward everyone."

Even though the storyline calls for considerable tension between the siblings, Bond rationalizes this situation as if defending a real life sister. "A lot of the tension stems from the fact that Mack gets most of the attention. He was his dad's favorite. Gina's relationship with her mother, who now is being played by Stella Stevens, is terrible. And Mack is able to let things go easier than Gina... I think he actually gets a kick out of Gina. I wouldn't play this guy in a very serious way because I feel if you do, there's nowhere to go... there's no dichotomy in the character. So if this guy's real charming, fun, whatever, when there's a change, it's very clear. Otherwise, it's all just a monotone. That's what I like about Santa Barbara; they let you have that humor... to bring that charm to the work."

One cannot help but notice the actor's confidence in explaining his acting style. First winning the attention of daytime viewers as Jimmy Lee Holt, the heartthrob of General Hospital, Bond is already gaining a following at his new address. Can you compare the two soaps or your two characters, I ask ? "Jimmy Lee versus Mack... I don't know. Jimmy Lee is sort of a blur to me. Isn't that funny ? Looking back, Jimmy Lee was a lot more intense. Mack is the kind of guy who tries to react to things with a sense of charm, humor, (he) tries to take things lightly. Don't get me wrong. He has intensity and anger, but they're way underneath." Pause. "Working on Santa Barbara as opposed to General Hospital ? Well, General Hospital at that time was a very pressured place to work... very intense. Santa Barbara - and it could have a lot to do with me - is by far more relaxed. They've given me much more freedom with my character... more exploratative. ...Is that a word ?" Before I can consult Webster's Dictionary, he laughs. "I might be illiterate, but I'm illiterate in four languages."

Originally born in Haifa, Israel, Steve and his family relocated to Los Angeles, where his dreams of acting out wonderful adventure fantasias became reality. At age 12, Steve played "Boy" in a trio of Tarzan action films. Next he appeared in Don't Just Stand There and as Kirk Douglas' character as a child in The Arrangement. Steve found time to indulge in another fantasy by becoming a rodeo cowboy riding bucking bulls and broncs. A riding accident quickly halted his cowboy ambitions. Among other contentions, he often competed in Little Britches Rodeo, and like his current character, is a fitness enthusiast. During his time away from soaps, Bond kept busy doing feature films.

Exactly what does he like about daytime, I wonder ? "I don't know," he says, willing to express his anxieties. He seems to want to unmask something of himself behind that chiseled handsomeness - something more real and vulnerable - humor, needs, insecurities. "I like the fact that it's challenging, verbal acting, and it's a challenge for me to make it interesting and different. But that's also what I don't like about it too. In a film, an actor takes you through the experiences of the character by living those experiences on the screen with the audience. In daytime, we talk about the things and can't take you anywhere because we don't go anywhere. So that is the biggest challenge... to make it seem like you're going places when you're not. Daytime is a cerebral experience, while film is a visual experience. It's like the difference when two people get together and there's that passion, as opposed to getting together and talking about it. So getting that excitement into daytime is a great challenge to me."

Eventually we segue back into Bond's earlier acting days. Given the opportunity, would he rewrite a chapter in his life ? "I don't think I would have wasted so many years on bad habits." Delicately, I ask him to embellish on that. "Want me to be specific, huh ? I had a few years where I was, putting it politely, being destructive to my body. I think the day I stopped drinking, I got an acting job a week later, and haven't stopped working since. I just wish I would have stopped drinking five years earlier. The ball started rolling from then on..."

This is a time of pivotal change for Steve Bond. Celebrating his seventh anniversary to his wife Cindy today, he reflects on his personal meaning of success. "It's doing whatever it is you dream about and living out your dreams. We all have them and I think the pursuit is the most important thing in our lives. It's not the accomplishment that means success, because the accomplishment is just temporary. But especially in my business, dreams and goals are continuous. ...Another project, another deal, another film, another TV show, whatever it may be. To be in pursuit of that is the most important thing in my life other than my family. Accomplishing or completing a goal or dream is wonderful... It's like a gift. To have the guts and courage to have a dream... that in itself has to be enough, because that's the only thing you can actually control. Everything else comes and goes by the hand of someone else."