Comic Relief for One Life to Live's Michael Easton
Michael Easton has no plans to give up his day job as One Life to Live crime-buster John McBain. But it must be tempting. The actor turned fantasy writer just released Soul Stealer: Last to Die (DMF Comics), the third and final chapter in his series of critically acclaimed graphic novels about an ancient Etruscan warrior searching for his lost love across three millenniums. Come October, Easton will be back with yet another graphic novel, The Green Woman (DC/Vertigo), a supernatural noir detective story co-written with bestselling horror king Peter Straub (Ghost Story, The Talisman). Straub has only teamed with one other author during his sensational career — and that was Stephen King. TV Guide Magazine spoke with the daytime superstar about his kickass career as an author, his vampire past on Port Charles and what it's like to have so damn many lives to live.
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TV Guide Magazine: You have a big hit on your hands with the Soul Stealer books, yet you've chosen to end a good thing. That's radical, especially in show biz where sequel-itis is all the rage. Nobody wraps things up if there's still a buck to be made. It's considered suicidal.
Michael Easton: Absolutely. It was hard to say goodbye but it was the right thing to do and when it was done there was an incredible catharsis. I feel like these characters are no longer haunting me. I no longer have visions or dreams or thoughts about them. They're all in a good place where I can let them go and move on to something else. The last book in a way became a labor, rather than a labor of love, when I was trying to find the inspiration to give my characters the right sendoff.
TV Guide Magazine: There's buzz about movie possibilities. What's up with that?
Michael Easton: This month I'm taking meetings about the books with various Hollywood-type people, some producers and a couple of production companies. We're talking about a way to maybe condense all three books into one screenplay. Of course, I've been taking meetings since the first book where [producers] were like, "Where's the tent pole? If we do a movie of this book, where's the second movie?" And then they'd start talking about bringing in another writer to prepare the second script and it made me nervous. One of the nice things about having a day job is that you don't have to pimp yourself. [Laughs] I'm already pimping myself between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.! So I can afford to be patient, and I think that's thrown a few people off. Why is he not jumping at this deal? They got super-suspicious of me.
TV Guide Magazine: How did you hook up with Straub?
Michael Easton: Besides meeting my wife, meeting Peter was the greatest encounter of my life. It turns out he's a big OLTL fan and one day I'm walking down the hall at the set and see this guy standing there with his daughter. He says, "Hello, John McBain!" I'm, like, 'Oh, hello!' And we shake hands but I have no idea who he is. At the end of the day, I go to my mailbox at the studio and there's a copy of his book Coco, autographed to me. Long, long story short, it brought me back to when my mom was going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer — she eventually lost her battle in 1994 — and one of the books I would read to her as she was going through her chemo infusions was Coco. To have that sudden re-connection was really something, and it brought back a lot of emotional stuff. Because of that, or maybe because I'm an inconsiderate jerk, it took me a while to get in touch with Peter and thank him. We ended up going for a drink. He read the first version of Soul Stealer and gave me some notes I was very grateful for. We started hanging out at O'Neill's in New York City and one night we jotted down some ideas for a book. That was 2006. We wrote The Green Woman over a three-week span over many a Pappy Van Winkle. The legal mumbo-jumbo took six months. The incredible artwork by John Bolton took another two years. It's taken a long time to come out but it's been a very pleasant distraction in my life.
TV Guide Magazine: How do the fans of your graphic novels differ from your suds fans?
Michael Easton: [Laughs] I had a funny thing happen to me at one of the sci-fi conventions. A guy dressed as Boba Fett from Star Wars came up to buy the book and there were also some terrific fans of Port Charles who showed up at the signing, and they all started talking. Later, I run into the Boba Fett guy in the bathroom — where he's still wearing his head visor — and he says, "Wow, your soap fans are really strange." I love it when my worlds collide!
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking of Port Charles, you and your vampire lover Kelly Monaco will reunite in an abc.com and soapnet.com webisode later this summer — only you're playing your current characters on OLTL and General Hospital. How'd that feel after all this time?
Michael Easton: Wow, I hadn't seen Kelly in three or four years and hadn't worked with her in six or seven. I jumped at the chance. Despite all that time, we fell right back into this very comfortable place.
TV Guide Magazine: Was PC ahead of its time or what? Now the world has gone cuckoo for vampire. It's too bad the show didn't hang in there.
Michael Easton: I think that show was really going somewhere. [Head writers] Jim Brown and Barbara Esensten wrote some really inspired stuff and it was just coming together — and getting really freaky — when ABC pulled the plug. It seems that these days we're tiptoeing through so many stories that we've told before, but our characters Caleb and Olivia had a very different kind of love story and they still resonate with the fans. Vampires suddenly taking over Port Charles was a crazy new kind of storytelling, and everybody in the cast committed to it. We felt like the sword of Damocles was over our head, so why not commit? Kelly, Thorsten Kaye, Brian Presley — everybody's work was extraordinary! Had the show lasted, it would have been one of the better things on the network. I really believe that. But ABC saw it a different way. Instead of chasing trends like we usually do, we were ahead of the curve for once and then we let it go by.
For yet another taste of Easton noir, download an exclusive look at ABC's fab new John McBain promo.
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