Mark has created a character who made a splash from the get-go, especially with Brody being an ex-Naval Seal, which immediately drew a lot of fans to him, given our nation's current state of war. We've been extremely fortunate that his character has spilled into some of the biggest storylines as of late, and with any new character, we were uncertain if the show initially planned to keep Brody around for a while or if his time in Llanview was only meant to be short-term. "When I initially got the audition for Brody, he was called "Quinn" and the script was a single six-page scene that started with me jerking awake from nightmares from the war. Gigi comes in, checks on me, and I start getting ready to take Shane to a ball game, all the while having it out with Gigi about our own relationship, or the lack thereof. So immediately I knew there was a heavy back-story with his war history as well as his personal history with a woman he loved. I immediately wanted to dive as deep as possible there because I knew what the "typical" performance might be… a lot of macho chest-beating B.S. It has been my experience, having known a good number of soldiers wounded and emotionally battered by combat, that these guys are actually much quieter, and when they finally go off, they go nuclear. So I always wanted Brody to have the feeling of a quiet time-bomb instead of a guy constantly reminding you of how tough he is. And I certainly wasn't trying to make him sexy or charming. In fact, I wanted quite the opposite. I wanted Brody to feel very awkward in his civilian life, very much a fish out of water when there were no bullets or explosions around him. The quiet domestic life was the thing he most wanted, most needed, and most feared. So...all that being said, that was my perspective on Brody. So maybe I will take a little credit and say that I think the writers were initially looking for something a little more "on the nose" who would be short lived and I hopefully gave them a few glimpses at a whole life under the surface. I think I very easily could have been killed off on the top of Llantano Mountain, but I think they kept feeding me a little more, then a little more, till finally Jessica and Brody got together and clicked!"
Mark has done an amazing job portraying an ex-Navy Seal, one who had been dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so much so, many wonder if he has shared some of the same life experiences as his character. "I don't personally have any military experience, but joining up was something I struggled with wanting to do all through college. But the truth is, I always have had a bit of a problem with authority and didn't think I could pull a trigger on someone else's orders. I have a good number of friends who did join up and I also know a few guys who got seriously injured. I know a few people I'm pretty sure have PTSD, some from war, some just from life. I did a good deal of reading, researching...looking up interviews and documentaries about PTSD. The way I think I ultimately got to where I have with Brody was building from my own imagination on a few key incidents that will haunt him forever. Those images were sort of compiled from a few different actual combat stories I've heard from friends who served."
For those who didn't know, prior to his role on One Life to Live, Mark's acting career started off with appearances on "Cold Case" in 2005 then his film debut in "Breakdown," as Damon Hart in 2006, so he's been fortunate to dabble in a little bit of everything… film, Primetime and Daytime. "I just love to work. I look at all opportunities as a chance to try to do good work and to walk in someone else's shoes. That being said, I have never really done a proper feature ("Breakdown" was a short film I did for a friend and I was only in for two seconds) so I don't have much experience there. I have to say though, starting with "Cold Case," I have always loved television, as a different actor's medium because of the longevity it potentially offers the actor and the character. You can go so far and start to almost live a double life as your character. I love getting that deep. I'll get back to you after a film or two and see if things have changed!"
We had no doubt that Brody, given his background and mental recovery, would make a great Llanview cop. Though there was speculation about how the show could put him right on the force, with no academy credits, that's all gone out the window, given the kidnapping storyline - and his huge part in the rescue. The scenes left fans on their toes, so we can imagine that they were extremely exciting for Mark to shoot. "Oh man! Now you're talking about the whole reason I wanted to be an actor in the first place. I always have known that the more "actiony" parts were going to be my favorite things to do. Both times I've gotten to do that sort of thing on the show (the Llantano Mountain PTSD breakdown and the Kidnapping/warehouse operation) have been two of my most fulfilling days of my life as an actor. On days like that, where I'm featured in a prominent role, I honestly try to lead by example. I get up on that set and you would need the Jaws of Life to get me off that set. On the Warehouse day (all one day on that set), I showed up, got into wardrobe (a real pair of wetsuit pants by the way) and pretty much didn't leave the set for the next 10 hours. I had so much adrenaline going, I didn't even need to eat. On days like that I feel like I'm on a real mission and it's my job to make each piece of the puzzle work. But the puzzle only comes together because we have an amazing crew from the Directors, to the Stage Managers, to the guy who runs the air conditioning in the studio."
Mark's character's relationship with Jessica has been redeeming, for both of them, and we have been able to watch as these two lost souls have completed the other. Bree spoke very highly of Mark during our interview saying, "Mark is so great to work with… He's really fun and a very giving actor…" So, what's Mark's take on his co-actor? "Bree is the best. I would have no legs to stand on without her. I think we understand each other and know how to let each other lead at the right times. I think also we probably are both a little nuts in ways that complement each other and that comes off on screen. I could not be happier."
For anyone who has followed the storylines surrounding Jessica, we know her past is very complex, so you'd think Mark might have had to ask Bree to catch him up on a few details here and there. "Well...every now and then I have to ask for a quick history lesson, but we have both been playing that there was a lot more therapy in St. Anne's than was shown on the show. We've tried to establish that we truly get each other better than anyone else in Llanview. So a lot of the time we try to play the two of them as just wanting to acknowledge their past, but get on with the future."
Llanview has a mysterious stalker, and we've all been dying to know who the man behind the threats is, so we went out on a limb here and tried to get Mark to spill a few teasers! "I wish I could! But we hardly even know! The writers clearly have a very exciting plan and as an actor it's exciting to see it revealed on the page. Brody is in total cop and bodyguard mode with this story. Which is complicated by the fact that he just had a big piece of steel shoved into his guts and...a few other things as well..."
Awe, well, we tried, soap fans!
Though Mark doesn't have any other projects in the works, he looks forward to the future. "I am always open to more, but I have a pretty tight contract until sometime next year when I can start looking at doing a few guest star or indy film projects. But I am very happy with getting to spend my time with Brody."
Mark will also be attending the Soap Stars Live and Unscripted event, so please visit our One Life to Live News Room to see what he has planned for that!
- Amy Mistretta