Eric Martsolf Says Goodbye to Passions image

Eric Martsolf (NBC)

Eric Martsolf (NBC)

Passions may be airing on DirecTv through August, but for the cast and crew, the show is essentially over. Having finished taping at the end of March, the actors already bid adieu to their home in Harmony, but fortunately for us fans, we have a couple of months before we have to say our goodbyes. I recently chatted with one of the most fought over men in Harmony, Eric Martsolf (Ethan) who shed some light on the end of the offbeat soap.

When we talked, Eric was on the notoriously congested 405 freeway in Los Angeles, but since he was stuck in traffic, it turned out to be the perfect time to chat. And the first thing I can tell you is that after nine years and one reprieve, Passions really is over.

“We thought we were dead when NBC cancelled us and DirecTV was this unsuspecting angel that picked us up for awhile. I’d have a hard time believing lightening would strike twice, so I think we all pretty much put the staple in the show. We wrapped it up in a nice tight little package and I think everyone was happy with the way it turned out. So it’s time to say goodbye,” Eric said.

With Ethan still not knowing one of the worst kept secrets in all of soaps (that Little Ethan really is his son), I had to ask if his character will find out the truth before the show ends. Unfortunately, this was information Eric couldn’t exactly share with me, as he laughed, “Wouldn’t that be doing an injustice if I actually gave that away?” He did however tease, “As far as the ending goes, there are some twists. It’s not just hunky dory. There are some unsuspecting relationships that form at the end of the show that fans probably won’t see coming at all. As to whether Ethan is involved in that I can’t say. It’s not totally predictable. I’ll leave it at that.”

I didn’t really expect an answer, but I had to try! One thing he could share though, was that the final shot of the show is of the whole cast, crew and basically everyone who was ever affiliated with the soap, including actors from years back, in the church waving goodbye to the camera. He also let me know, much to my disappointment, that even though it was one of his favorite stints on the show, there will be no more Telenovelas. “How do you top that one,” he jokingly asked, referring to the last hysterically over the top parody.

So now that he has some distance from his last day on Passions, I wondered how Eric felt about it all coming to an end. “It’s a shocker obviously. You know, you’re in this lovely soap bubble for six years and bam! you’re an actor again and you’re out on the audition circuit again, so it’s definitely culture shock. I miss the work. I miss the family of people,” he reflected.

But he still keeps in touch with a lot of his co-stars, including Lindsay Hartley (Theresa) and Justin Hartley (ex-Fox) who he is filming a series of webisodes with. Titled, “Braun and Glamour”, the upcoming online series is the brainchild of Justin and Eric from when they were working together on Passions. A comedy focusing on a group of highly dysfunctional people who sabotage each other’s lives, Eric warns that the webisodes won’t be round two for Theresa, Ethan and Fox, but assured me it will still be fun to tune into.

A common complaint of fans over the years has been that Ethan is completely blind to Gwen’s manipulations and Theresa’s secrets. Apparently the fans aren’t the only ones who have felt frustrated, as after six years of playing such a gullible character, Eric admitted, “Playing Ethan was very, very frustrating at times because I don’t think there’s a human being in history that is as oblivious as Ethan was.” He went on to explain, “In order for a soap to work, you literally have to have a certain level of stupidity in the male community or it doesn’t allow the women to be manipulative and then you don’t have good meaty stories. So we accepted the fact as guys on the soap, we’re going to be a little dense. We knew that going in. We could tell that on the page. The trick was to play it well.”

That doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy playing the daft lawyer, but with the role of Ethan behind him, Eric is now looking to portray someone on the other end of the spectrum, such as a juicy bad guy or a great comedic character. As for going to another soap, Eric doesn’t rule it out, but said he couldn’t really discuss it. Does his imposed silence mean something is in the works for him on a fellow sudser? Time will tell I guess, but if he has his way we will see him on either General Hospital or The Young and the Restless, as “[Those] are classic soaps that I would consider myself fortunate to be a part of if the right role came around.”

Even though he is done taping Passions, Eric can’t completely put the show behind him just yet, as he will be hosting the Farewell to Harmony Cruise this October, that will also see Emily Harper (Fancy), Eva Tamargo (Pilar) and Colton Shires (Little Ethan) among other cast members on board. If you’re thinking about going, it sounds like it will be well worth it as Eric previewed, “I’m sure on the cruise we’ll be answering many of the questions that we weren’t even allowed to answer while the show was running. We’ll be flapping our gums the whole trip. If you want good backstage gossip from Passions, I suggest you take that cruise.” He also mentioned that fans will have the chance to karaoke with him, go to a Harmony Prom and participate in many other events.

After calling Passions home for six years, I assumed Eric took something from the set with him on his last day. He definitely didn’t disappoint as along with a vase from the Crane mansion that a prop guy gave to him, Eric copped to taking a reminder of his first day of work. “I remember when I first started the show I drove in and I didn’t know where to park. I remember looking to the left and seeing my name on this parking space. That was a big deal! That was pretty cool. So that was my ceremonial thing I did in the parking lot by myself [on my last day]. I took that plate off the parking lot and I kinda kissed the place goodbye and said ‘Thanks a lot’ and I drove home.”

Talk about coming full circle!

We here at will definitely miss the wackiness of Passions, as well as Eric’s portrayal of the often dense, often shirtless and always likeable Ethan Winthrop. I’d like to thank Eric for talking to me during his stressful drive through L.A and will definitely be watching to see where he turns up next.

Lori Wilson