Soaps.com had a chance to catch up with One Life to Live newcomer John Wesley Shipp today, who blew into Llanview on November 8, 2010 as the ruthless Eddie Ford. No stranger to Daytime, John has held roles on Guiding Light (ex-Kelly Nelson, 1980 - 1984), As the World Turns (ex-Doug Cummings, 1985 - 1986), "Santa Barbara" (ex-Martin Ellis, 1987), and All My Children (ex-Carter Jones, 1992).
It's evident that Daytime has changed over the years. From an actor's prospective, John shared his views surrounding his return. "It's been eighteen years and I played another bad guy, but who was different. I feel great. I'm here in New York where my career started with Guiding Light. Back then, everyone took soaps for granted. Now there's only one soap in New York and I think they've benefited from it. One Life to Live has a high-powered cast, the rapid pace is faster, there's no run-throughs, you have blocking then you tape the scenes. It's up to the actors to run dialogue in hair and makeup or the dressing rooms. Your first performance is showtime. It's so fast. I slide right back into it, like getting back on a bike. I felt so supported from the beginning. I've had creative freedom to adlib, the crew was supportive, not that I've never worked with one that wasn't. I'm grateful to have a job. Frank [Valentini] creates a studio that's very collaborative."
Things wouldn't be exciting without a bad guy or two thrown into the mix. In this case, we were fortunate to have an experienced Daytime vet hired to create the role of Eddie Ford. "After I made the decision to leave LA my wonderful agent called me when he read about the part. It was a limited contract, which was attractive to me. On a limited deal you can push the envelope. You don't have to worry about surviving likability when the character offends fans. I was interested, I talked to them and they offered the part to me without an audition. After I read the part, I knew it was a plot device. The Powers That Be were actually concerned I would be too likable for the part. [laughs] Eddie needed to fulfill a specific aspect…"
We may have our own views of what makes Eddie tick. John gave us some insight into how he sees his character and what's caused Eddie Ford to become the man he is today. "My niece, who watches One Life to Live, said, "No one knows who he is. He's my uncle!" I've played all sorts of villains, now there's Eddie. He's a blue-collar guy, came from a conservative background. He headed a family where the wife was supposed to work in the home and wasn't to illicit the attention of other men. Eddie's willing to play the clown, has charm, and when you pause to shake your head, he'll stick the knife in your back. When he loses control, Eddie resorts to violence."
In terms of the scene between Eddie and Bo yesterday, John admits, "I respect Robert S. Woods… Yesterday I wanted to give the sense that Eddie has respect for Bo. I could've played it angrier, let Bo piss Eddie off, but I thinks it's important to relay that Eddie fears Bo."
John thinks a lot of his onscreen sons and dipped into some of the backstory before his character even hit the scene. "I have to credit the writers in regards to the James [Nic Robuck] storyline. He was the most abused, reminded Eddie of his mother. Bobbie [David Gregory] is like Eddie. He feels betrayed by Bobbie, thought they were alike. Then there's Nate [Lenny Platt]… Even though Eddie called him a bastard, he knew right away he was his son. As an actor, I'm fond of all three of these boys. If what I accomplish by coming to this show is to open some hearts to the boys, if I manage that, I'll consider my job well done."
John often frequents the blogs to read what fans are saying. Right now, he knows he's doing his job when he reads all the hatred toward Eddie. Though we can't divulge what will come from his storyline John admitted, "I will give you dark, even my supporters who will be saying 'uncle' will be calling 'uncle'. This is going to get as dark and twisted as any character I've ever played. When it takes that turn I'm going to stay off of the blogs. I don't want to hear how much people hate me. I do encourage fans to write to me though. This will all start very soon."
While walking alongside a certain actor onset, [Sorry, I'm sworn to secrecy!] John expressed to them, "I have to go shed this role." It's safe to say that what's ahead for Eddie, and those he gets involved with, is going to be very dark. "I'm a kind person, someone who cares about people's feelings. This is a hell of a role to play for a people pleaser!"
Though I personally would like to see Eddie stick around Llanview and somehow be redeemed for the sake of his sons and Inez [Jessica Leccia], John assured me there's no chance of that happening. "Eddie will not be redeemed. He thinks he's doing what's good for him. That's the only way to play this character. He's an abusive father, who learned his skills on the streets. He believes he's there to toughen his kids up, to give them a bag of survival tools. There are three things that make Eddie dangerous. One, he has nothing to lose. Two, he's willing to do anything and everything to anyone to punch his way out of a corner when he feels trapped. And three, Eddie always feels trapped."
On a final note, his character may not be here long-term, but John assures fans, "This character is going to resonant throughout Llanview for months to come in the lives of many people. Before we're done, we will have ridden every ride in the amusement park!"
Soaps.com enjoyed chatting with John and we look forward to his upcoming storylines and presence in Llanview! If you missed our Skype video interview with John Paul Lavoisier (Rex Balsom), regarding his current paternity storyline and much more, visit Soaps.com's Skype Video Interview: One Life To Live's John Paul Lavoisier.
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- Amy Mistretta