BY Michael Fairman
October 02 2009 5:30 AM ET
It Is Written
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for hunky soap star Austin Peck. First, his role of Brad Snyder as As the World Turns is coming to an end. Yup, he is being killed off and heading to that big soap sud in the sky. And while the actor’s final big story line kicks off this month, he will reportedly air though November ... as a ghost. But as the old adage says, when one door closes, another one opens. And walking through this one could be Peck’s big moment!
Last Friday the independent film The Blue Tooth Virgin hit theaters, and Peck is getting winning reviews for his star turn as a sitcom writer who tries his hand at dramatic screenwriting only to make a fatal mistake ... asking a friend for advice!
I spoke with Austin this week. He wanted to clarify that his ATWT demise has nothing to do with his being "fired."
“I think when people see what is coming up with the story line [which facilitates my exit from the show] they will see that there was a lot of time and effort put into it. It was not a, 'Hey, we need to get rid of somebody.' It was story-driven, and it is just sad that my character has to be at the end of it. I think it’s the best story line I have seen them do in a long time, and some of the best work I have seen Terri Colombino [Katie] do for a long time. Julie Pinson [Janet] and Michael Park [Jack] also are terrific, as you will see. ... And while at the same time I am flattered to be a part of it, I am sad that I ended up on the cutting room floor! Everybody at the show has been loving, kind, and supportive, and they have expressed their shock and bewilderment at the decision by the show to end Brad. They have been really kind to me.”
And that is good to hear, because online rumors circulated around last month's Daytime Emmy Awards that Peck’s ATWT castmates did not want him to sit at the official after-party dinner table with them, further fueling the rumor that he was unpopular with the cast. According to Peck, “That is the furthest thing from the truth! I was sitting right next to Ewa Da Cruz [Vienna] and Trent Dawson [Henry] and across the table from Teri, and Jon Lindstrom [Craig] was next to me. I was sitting with my castmates.”
And those fellow castmates, the soap press, and film reviewers are singing Peck’s praises for his work in The Blue Tooth Virgin.
“We shot it in eight days. It’s a simple film and a satire about screenwriting and what happens when a man asks his friend to read his screenplay and what ensues after that. My character comes to a crossroad in his life where he has to make a decision about his relationships in his life, based on where he is at professionally and personally, and about the pursuing of dreams. It deals with the insecurities and neurosis of being creative. I play Sam, and I write the script called The Blue Tooth Virgin. In the movie I ask my friend David to read the script and he hates it. I want to be told what I want to hear -- 'It’s fantastic and you’re incredible.' Sam had a hit TV show, and he is a writer that is ahead of his time, but he has a lot of personal issues he has to work through, like every single human being on earth.”
Karen Black also stars in the film, and Austin says she is pivotal to Sam’s existence: “Karen plays a significant part of the film and is at the middle of it. I had one scene with her, and she plays a script consultant/therapist and it’s where my character comes to a crossroad. She is great in it and very insightful. The sad part about this film is there is no nudity or violence.” [Laughs]
And that 's a shame for gay fans, who have always named Austin Peck’s bod as one of daytime’s hottest. He tells me no such luck in The Blue Tooth Virgin for his fan base to see Peck’s pecs.
“No, my clothes are on in this one, and it could have been played by anyone, and it happened to be me. [Laughs] You know, I have not even been shirtless on ATWT for quite some time, and that’s sad because I am in fantastic shape now. [Laughs] Now is the perfect time for me to take my shirt off!”
Austin then had a good laugh looking back on his year as Austin Reed on Days -- no matter what the scene called for, Austin was always sans shirt. “Of course it gets gratuitous. I remember a time when I was on Days of Our Lives and they had me shirtless in every single scene! It got so silly. So one day I just walked out onto the set in a jockstrap and I started doing the scene in a jockstrap with Arianne Zuker [Nicole, Days], much to her chagrin and shock.”
So what if Days came a-calling and asked Austin back for a return engagement? Would he consider heading back to Salem? “Oh, yeah, I would go back in a New York minute. There have been some calls. So we shall see. I would rather stay on the East Coast. But, I am optimistic about my future. I hope that soaps will be around a long time, but I don’t think so. I think there is a time and season for everything. People ask me about Guiding Light, and I do think it’s sad, but the show was on for 72 years. When you talk about the show going off the air, the sad part is all those people are out of work -- 72 years is a damn good run. ATWT is 53 years old, and that is a damn good run. I think people are concerned that ATWT is the last remaining soap owned by a soap company, Procter & Gamble. So the budget for ATWT is not as big as some of the other shows’. But, I think it’s the best-written and -acted show on daytime by far, and very relevant.”