Soaps.com journalist David Fix was lucky enough to be able to talk to Steve Blackwood, who may be better known as Bart Beiderbecke, the DiMera's comedic henchman on Days of Our Lives.
Steve is a big hockey fan, and since he grew up in Detroit, he's a Red Wings fan, though he now resides in California. He'll be making a comeback as everyone's favorite sidekick, and recently shot his first scenes in over two years as Bart on May 9th. He'll appear on TV on May 31st, 2007. Steve tells me that he's really excited to be back, and will probably be featured quite often over the next few months, where the big story is "Why the DiMeras hate the Bradys." Fans might be surprised to know that as a welcome-back gift, Days gave him a cigar (because he really likes cigars!) and a welcome-back card. Ken Corday (the producer of Days) sent him some orchids and a card that said, "Welcome home!". Nice to know that they think of Days as "home" and not just a job!
Steve recently shot a few scenes with James Scott (E.J. Wells), and Thaao (pronounced Tay-Oh) Penghlis (Tony DiMera) both of whom he thinks are great guys.
Steve tries to do comedy as much as he can and brings humor to the show. When I asked Steve if Bart was originally written as a comedic part, he told me that the comedy was something that he brought with him and gradually introduced to the character. He was originally introduced on the show in 1997, for a three day role playing Stefano DiMera's henchman who builds a secret room for Susan Banks (played by Eileen Davidson). The character of Bart really caught on with the fans, though at first he was really just a "Yessir, nosir" type of guy who was trying to be menacing. As the years went on, Steve began throwing comedic looks and funny lines in. Steve tells me that his comic heroes are the likes of Jack Lemmon, Cary Grant, and Peter Sellers, and he wanted to bring that type of comedy to the character, because he thought that Bart was a one-dimensional type of character. With Dr. Rolf (Will Utay) and Tony DiMera, Steve was able to bring Bart to a full comedic role. Steve wants to make sure that Bart has a sense of humor, though he still has a conscience. As Steve says, "Bart wants to be a bad guy, but he doesn't want to go too far!". As the fans can attest, Bart is a great addition to the show, and is easily the most memorable henchman on TV.
I asked Steve what Thaao Penghlis (Tony DiMera) is like in real life, since on-screen he is very suave and sophisticated. It turns out that Steve and Thaao are close friends off-screen and take some acting classes together. Steve says that Thaao is very much like Tony DiMera off-camera... Very suave, well-traveled, well-read, and yet he likes to goof around as much as the next guy. Thaao and Steve often go over their scenes together to make sure that they really flow. Steve always tries to crack Thaao's suave veneer with his jokes. Of all the actors that Steve works with, he describes Thaao as the most giving, who wants to make the scene work, no matter who is "shining" in that scene.
Because Bart and the DiMeras weren't on-screen for the last couple of years, Steve wasn't sure what was going to happen with the characters. The need for opposing forces (villains vs. the "good guys") is definitely a driving force for Days, and since the DiMera family was missing in action, once EJ came on the scene, Steve knew that Bart was probably going to be back in action soon. Steve predicts that there will be a power struggle between EJ and Tony, and once that has been finished, they're going to go after the Brady family.
When did Steve start shooting scenes?
Steve shot a scene on Wednesday, May 9 with Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady), whom he describes as an absolute sweetheart.
On Friday, May 11, Steve shot scenes with Thaao, Drake Hogestyn (John Black) and Peter Reckell (Bo Brady)... He mentions that Bo (Peter Reckell) and Hope (Kristian Alfonso) will be back, as well as Bill and Susan (Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth-Hayes) (woo!).
Since Joseph Mascolo (Stefano DiMera) is returning, Steve will be working with him again. They are shooting some scenes on Monday, May 14, and Tuesday, May 15. I decided to treat fans to a trip down memory lane and reminisce with Steve about a few of his past favourite scenes with some of the cast members from the show.
When I asked Steve to tell me about a few of his favorite scenes with Joe Mascolo (Stefano DiMera), he told me that his favorite scene with Joe Mascolo was when Bart actually did something right for him, and Stefano came up to Bart and said, "Bart, you did it!" and KISSED HIM RIGHT ON THE LIPS! His stunned reaction at that point was completely real, and the producer came down from the booth and said that it was one of the funniest things he had seen. Apparently Joe Mascolo is quite a card, and likes to throw a curve at the actors and see how they react!
Steve fondly remembers his last scenes with Judi Evans as Bonnie Lockhart... He reminisces about when Bart was a male stripper, with a lot of flirting and bumping and grinding... Bart + Bonnie = Barney? This begged the question... "Do you see any romance in Bart's future?" He would love to see some, and hopes that in the future, there may be a romantic love interest for Bart. Most fans had hoped that he and Bonnie would hook up!
I had to laugh when Steve mentioned one of Steve's favorite scenes with William Utay, who portrays the evil Dr. Rolf. He says - not to put down William Utay's acting - but when Dr. Rolf was dead, and they were sitting on a park bench "talking", Bart patted Dr. Rolf on the back, and dust flew. "That had to be one of the funniest scenes", he says, still laughing! We spoke in length about how Dr. Rolf would come back from the dead, and Steve suggested that perhaps he had some type of "Brain Chip" implanted that would allow him to come back. Maybe he backed himself up to a hard drive? As for when Dr. Rolf was alive, Steve fondly remembers being dressed up as a woman on a boat with him, when they were dumping Marlo Ungerschterner's body. You'll remember Marlo as Rolf's neice, but may not know that Marlo was a possible love interest for Bart, but "they always kill my love interest!" he tells me. Another memorable scene with Dr. Rolf was when they were in a plane, ready to bomb Salem and kill everyone! Not only was it dramatic, but it was comedic as well. The funniest scene that Steve remembers was when Dr. Rolf had to knock Bart out to get rid of him, and in the midst of talking to Dr. Rolf, Bart just froze up because of a pill that Dr. Rolf had given him.
Besides acting on Days, Steve Blackwood has been in a few movies, as well as appearing on TV shows such as Judging Amy, NYPD Blue, and others. We talked about the movie "Ed Gein", which is about a serial killer that was the basis of such movies as "Psycho", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and others. In "Ed Gein", Steve played Brian, the "surrogate" son of a woman that Ed Gein kills. Apparently, Robert Bloch (the writer of Psycho) was going to do a story on Ed Gein, but came up with the Psycho story instead. A lot of the plot lines in Psycho involve things that Ed Gein had done, such as the fact that he thought he was possessed by or talked to his dead mother. The movie is also known as "In the Light of the Moon". Steve had to shoot Days during the day, and after the Days shoot, he would go up into the mountains to shoot Ed Gein... Quite a stressful time, as he didn't have much time for himself!
Unlike other television shows, soap operas are shot one episode per day... From 7:00AM to 7:00PM, they try do one show. Unlike a show like C.S.I., where a single episode can be shot in one or two weeks, they have to squeeze an entire episode into one day's shooting. When Steve is not acting, he's working on his music. Steve is a jazz singer, and plays jazz piano as well. He loves doing live shows.
Speaking of Steve's musical ability, Steve's character Bart has sang in the past. In fact, he sang "Honeysuckle Rose" to Dr. Rolf. He actually sang the song to a track from his CD "Mood Swings" (which you can pick up at http://www.steveblackwood.com). In this scene, Dr. Rolf said, "If only you could sing like this guy on the radio.", and of course, it WAS Steve singing on the radio! Steve also sang "Mac the Knife" with Jennifer Horton/Deveraux (Missy Reeves, who has "retired" to a wonderful big home in Tennessee). You may notice that when Bart is walking down the street, you might find him scat-singing. Steve always tries to bring the comedy and the music to the character of Bart, to try to make him as colorful for the fans as he can.
Steve has sung in Salem, Illinois, where the yearly Days-fest is. In his hometown of Detroit, he recently sang at Baker's Keyboard Lounge. His family showed up and he has a standing invitation to come back to Baker's Keyboard and sing every holiday season. He has been singing since the 80's, when he was in New York, studying under Uta Hagen, the famous acting teacher. His first band was called "Business of Blues", but he now goes under the name of "The Steve Blackwood Trio". Steve did a Children's Jazz album called "Jazz Baby", which is a compilation of artists, including Jim Belushi, Billy Preston, Cybil Shepherd, and others. On it, he sings, "I've Been Working on the Railroad" to a jazzy beat, and "On Top of Spaghetti" with a New Orleans feel. According to Steve, there's a bit of a stigma attached to actor/singers where people think that if you do one, you certainly can't do the other... Well, I beg to differ. Steve works just as hard on his music as he does on his acting, and it really shows! Check out his website (http://www.steveblackwood.com), which has a link to the Jazz Baby album. From his album "I Don't Worry Bout A Thing", he sings classics such as "Black Coffee", which was originally sang by Peggy Lee, but with his gravelly rendition, he brings these songs new life. On his latest self-titled album, Steve sings a lot of his own compilations, and he is delighted to have expanded as both a singer and a songwriter. When Steve sings in a club, he can't do all his own songs, but he gets to do Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Heusen, and one of his favorites, Jimmy McCue.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Steve Blackwood for his time and this interview. We look forward to seeing you back on Days as Bart! Since Steve celebrated his 51st birthday on May 13th, all of us here at Soaps.com want to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVE!
Journalist - Soaps.com