Ian Buchanan has carved himself a fabulous career playing left-of-center soap guys — slick crime lord Duke Lavery on General Hospital, superdouche Dick Tremayne on Twin Peaks, virgin psychiatrist James Warwick on The Bold and the Beautiful and Dr. Greg Madden, the All My Children wacko who performed the notorious "un-abortion" on Erica Kane's baby. Is Buchanan now getting ready to top 'em all? The Emmy-winning star joins NBC's Days of Our Lives on Thursday, Feb. 9 as mystery badass Ian McAllister and TV Guide Magazine got the scoop.
TV Guide Magazine: It's so odd to think of Ian Buchanan in Salem. But odd in a good way, know what I mean?
Buchanan: [Laughs] Well, I do bring the odd with me wherever I go! My character is really out there. Ian McAllister loves chaos and entertains himself quite nicely by stirring things up with pretty much everybody. He's known Madison since she was a kid. He and Kate also have a history, which is interesting. He's involved with John and Marlena, Victor, Brady. He has a past with a lot of people yet he's never been to Salem.
TV Guide Magazine: Then how does he know so many of the characters?
Buchanan: That all happened in other places. People can meet people in jail, for example. I think he had to go away at one point. Titan now owns Madison's company and Ian comes in connected to Titan. He dresses very elegantly, very chic. He's this wild Scotsman who's dipping in everywhere. "Hi, I'm Ian McAllister. I'm new in town! Here's a box of shortbread." And then the shortbread hits you on the back of the head as you leave the room.
TV Guide Magazine: Shall we assume his arrival is not good news for Madison?
Buchanan: There is no good news from the day he gets there. He's like the classic wicked Salem person. And he has plans. Every day he says to one character or another, "You know, I like it here. I think I'll stay." He's very amusing. [Laughs] Well, I think he is!
TV Guide Magazine: Were you looking to do another soap?
Buchanan: Not at all. I was very surprised when Days came along. I thought I'd spend the third act of my life in clown face on the stage of some small theater somewhere. I wasn't sure I had another soap role in me. But here we go!
TV Guide Magazine: Well, you need the dough don't ya?
Buchanan: That is nice. But it's also kind of nice not needing to have your wits about you, which is what's required when you're on a soap. I had settled into a very happy life of no schedules, no expectations. I like not having to go to bed at 9 pm.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you still the only actor in L.A. who doesn't drive?
Buchanan: Yep, still the only one. [Laughs] No, actually there are now several actors who don't — but they misbehaved and lost their right to drive. It's a growing club. I'm the only one who's not been on TMZ for it!
TV Guide Magazine: Is Sarah Brown keeping you on your toes?
Buchanan: I'm having a great time with Sarah. She doesn't hold back and I love that. Now, more than ever in soaps, you have to deliver. The thing I like about Days right now is that everybody wants it to work, which has not been my experience everywhere I've been. People can be very competitive with each other but, here, that's not the case. At Days you behave.
TV Guide Magazine: How much does that have to do with these precarious times in the soap world?
Buchanan: Everything. The big ship has sunk already and we're all lucky to be in a lifeboat. It's such a mystery why this has happened. There are so many great scripted serialized dramas on cable and in primetime — like Revenge, which is so popular! And I follow all those historic soaps like The Borgias because they're juicy and they're dirty and they're just great fun.
TV Guide Magazine: Like daytime used to be.
Buchanan: Yes, but I don't think it's accurate to say that people no longer want to watch daytime soap operas. The networks want to blame it on that but I think they just decided they want to save some money. [Sighs] And they now want to give people something to chew on during the day. Whatever. People will never stop wanting to hear great stories told well. It's what I love about soap opera. I'm not wildly entertained by YouTube and all that stuff. It doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. I don't want to watch somebody's cat doing something. I want to see great scripted material that is shot and performed well. I've been fairly lucky in daytime. I think the best days were definitely way back at B&B, the days when the money was there and things were lush and we could spend all day making a half-hour show look great.
TV Guide Magazine: And a guy like you could lose his virginity to Hunter Tylo in the rubble of a massive earthquake. They don't write 'em like they used to.
Buchanan: [Laughs] Exactly! But I do love the writing at Days. I'm very happy.
TV Guide Magazine: The show is kicking ass these days.
Buchanan: I agree. I'd like to be there for as long as it lasts.
TV Guide Magazine: It should be mentioned that this isn't your first time there. You and several other top soap stars played royalty at the coronation of Princess Greta in 2001, which turned out to be a ghastly, overhyped mess. The extras had more screen time than you did.
Buchanan: Things did not play out the way they expected. But [exec producer] Ken Corday said to me, "You'll be back. We'll work this out." I really enjoyed being at Days during that time and thought it'd be nice if it turned into something. [Laughs] It just took a little longer than I expected.
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah, like 10 years! So how come I found an old interview from around that time where you seemed very unhappy with that coronation stuff? You even said you were going to write about it in your memoir but a couple of people had to die first. So, uh, did they die yet?
Buchanan: [Laughs] No, they're still hanging in there. There are so many things that I've known and seen. When people ask about the book, I always claim I'm going to write it. Some day. And I do keep a journal and it's a good one. If I should ever lose it and somebody reads it ...well...then I will be on TMZ!
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