Who let the dog out? Emmy winner Bruce Weitz (of Hill Street Blues fame) is back on General Hospital as hilarious mob don Anthony Zacchara. Though the character has been in prison for the last two years — supposedly with a life sentence — he gets out this week with nothing but evil (and women!) on his mind. TV Guide Magazine gabbed with Weitz to get the lowdown on Zacchara's return and what's next for the manic mad man.
TV Guide Magazine: Excuse us, but wasn't Anthony's jail sentence without possibility of parole? How the hell does he get out?
Weitz: You got me! [Laughs] This is a soap opera. They don't have to say!
TV Guide Magazine: But he's out legally, right? He's not on the lam?
Weitz: Correct. There's one line of explanation. Jason asks Anthony's son Johnny, "How did your father get out of jail?" And Johnny says, "It was arranged between him and Angela Dwyer, his lawyer." And that's all we know. [Laughs] So you tell me how this happened! All I know is that when Anthony gets out of the slammer he's crazier than ever, and I love that.
TV Guide Magazine: This situation is so twisted! Sonny's son Michael killed Anthony's daughter Claudia, but Anthony has no problem with that. Instead, he's secretly trying to recruit Michael to be one of his mobsters. Explain this crazy-ass situation.
Weitz: Anthony loves the fact that Claudia is dead and he doesn't care who did it. He got rid of her and he didn't have to do it himself, so he's fine with it. Anthony has nothing against Michael except that he's Sonny's son. If he weren't, he'd probably like the kid. Anthony is only using Michael as leverage against Sonny.
TV Guide Magazine: The show's PR department hints that Anthony's return will trigger a mob war. What's the scoop on that?
Weitz: I have to be honest. I had a talk with [head writer] Bob Guza and nowhere did he mention anything about a mob war. I've been shooting for about three weeks and haven't seen any of that yet. They're very hesitant to let us actors know what's going on. I hear they've had complaints about storylines from certain actors in the past but everybody should get down on their knees and thank God that they have a job. It's such a blessing to get to go to work these days and if you also have fun, which I do, then that's just icing on the cake. The people at GH are terrific. Really nice. I have yet to meet a prune.
TV Guide Magazine: What do your out-of-work prime time pals think of your cool daytime gig? Like, who wouldn't want to play Anthony Zacchara?
Weitz: Oh, you know the way it is with actors. They get very jealous and rather than admit it and say, "God, I'm envious because you're working and I'm not!" they'll just pooh-pooh it. Actors, and I include myself, are a very strange bunch. They are ego-driven and very sensitive when it comes to other people working. It's very hard to talk my friends into watching a soap opera. [Laughs] I say, "You're missing a lot of fun!" But they don't get it.
TV Guide Magazine: Not every prime-timer or movie star could handle the no-rehearsal, one-take-only world of soaps.
Weitz: That's true. The soaps are in real survival mode in order to stay on the air. You either adjust to it, or you don't. And if you don't, you're gone. But you get used to it after awhile and it's a great adrenalin rush. When you know you have to go in there and perform without rehearsing, it liberates you. I find it very exciting and not a burden at all. They usually shoot 46 or so scenes each day. If you were doing a movie that would take eight weeks! It's pretty miraculous really. The audience would never know how tough it really is, nor should they. They are here to be entertained.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's get back to the zany Mr. Zacchara. Once he's sprung from jail, who's he mixing it up with?
Weitz: He's going through a whole renewal of his spirit and very busy coming on to women. [Laughs] After this long stint in jail, he's a real horny devil! And he really goes for it with Carly. He's in romantic mode-plus! He has some great scenes with Johnny's girlfriend, Lisa. Also Michael and Abby.
TV Guide Magazine: Ever since Michael was raped in jail, we've known that James Franco's character, Franco, has some sort of connection to Anthony. Will that come up again?
Weitz: I'd love to see that happen. I'm sure James is very busy but I love that he finds time for GH and just does what he wants to do and says, "Screw everybody!" I love it! He's got great balls.
TV Guide Magazine: How does it feel to be playing all this mob-lite stuff? The godfathers of Port Chuck have nothing on Don Corleone or Tony Soprano.
Weitz: It's true. There's no real threat on our show because the true soap-opera fans know Maurice Benard [Sonny] is not going to get killed off. So the threat is imaginary. In The Godfather you don't expect Brando to get shot a quarter of the way through the movie, or that James Caan's character will die. That's the real danger of living in the world of mobsters and hoodlums. So you can't really equate the two. At GH, we're just having fun.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you ever try to explain any of this goofy soap stuff to an outsider?
Weitz: [Laughs] Nope. Somewhere in my innate good sense I know better. I did try to tell a friend of mine about how Kristina was only four years old when I had a scene with her just two years ago. Now you tune in and she's 17! But you can't explain this stuff.
TV Guide Magazine: What's your dream storyline for Anthony?
Weitz: [GH executive producer] Jill Phelps once asked me, "What would you really like to do on this show?" I said, "I would love Anthony to be killed off and have his twin sister from Italy come to America and take over the mob — and I would want to play the sister!" [Laughs] Jill just looked at me like I was nuts.