French Stewart

Warning: This performance may contain a trace of nut. When Days of Our Lives needed someone to play the funeral director at a pet cemetery, they handed the part to French Stewart. The former 3rd Rock From the Sun funnyman will appear on the NBC soap September 27 and 29 in scenes involving Brody (Eric Martsolf) and the theft of his mom's remains. Stewart is popping up a lot lately: He will guest on the season premiere of Private Practice (September 23), as a mentally imbalanced man who wants to give a kidney to his brother. Then he'll join Stargate Universe as Dr. Andrew Covel, the wormy new head of research at Stargate Command. Also this fall, he'll produce and appear in Watson at L.A.'s Sacred Fools Theater. It's a riff on Sherlock Holmes lore in which he plays both Sigmund Freud and Queen Victoria. But Stewart's big love? TV Guide Magazine spoke with the actor and found out he's nuts about soaps!

TV Guide Magazine: This Days gig seems like the quintessential French Stewart role — in other words, perfect!
Stewart: I couldn't say no. They had me at "pet cemetery." Funnily, I had done Days in the early '90s back when everyone was possessed and people were levitating. I hadn't done 3rd Rock yet and was very glad to have the work. It was just a bit part. I played a guy who went to a pawn shop and stole a box that saves the world. Sure, soaps are kitschy but they're also very entertaining and real comfort food for the audience. Here's my secret: It's my dream job. I can't help but admire what soap actors do. This kind of work is so much harder than anything else in show business. You really have to be on your toes and deliver — and deliver right now. The actors are really talented and underestimated.

TV Guide Magazine: What's the scoop on your character?
Stewart: His name is Keith and he's sort of an odd guy who lopes around the cemetery. Basically the storyline has Brady claiming he wants to dig up his pet orangutan and that's where the fun begins. My character doesn't understand why Brady would want to take his precious pet to the competition, reminding him that this is the best pet cemetery in the country. Only in Salem.

TV Guide Magazine: So you're open to more suds work? Maybe mix it up with the mobsters on General Hospital?
Stewart: Oh, yeah! It's so disheartening to see a couple of the big soaps go away after 50 years or more. I hate that. I like having them on. I think people will miss these shows more than they think. Not everything in the afternoon has to be a Jerry Springer "Who's your baby mama" sort of thing. Especially when the country is going through these difficult times, and we're at war and the economy is bad, it's nice to have something that's reliable, something you can keep returning to, a simple story that lets you sit back and relax. Maybe people consider them too simple. By today's entertainment standards, they're sort of like cave paintings. But a lot of people want simple. They want comfortable. These shows are like hanging with a family member you've known for a long, long time — even though it may be your weird Uncle Fred.

TV Guide Magazine: You sound like that rarity in Hollywood — a happy, confident actor.
Stewart: I am! There's something to be said for being on a series every week, but it's also nice to be able to bounce around and do things you want to do. Sometimes you do things for the money and sometimes for the love and every once in a while they overlap. I'm grateful and lucky. Mine is a simple life and it's full and it's perfect.

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!