Interview: Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’, Hot Soap Topics & Writing Himself Back Onto the Canvas
Image: Kevin Spirtas/After Forever
Soap opera vet on what makes his work so personal…
No question – Kevin Spirtas knows his soap operas. During his 25-year-plus career in Hollywood, he’s performed on Days of our Lives (Craig Wesley), One Life to Live (Jonas Chamberlain), Rituals (Tom Gallagher) and even a brief stint on The Young and the Restless (Les). But he’s also been a pioneer on web soaps – including one he co-created with former Days writer Michael Slade, After Forever (playing the role of Brian). And it’s this one that in many ways is nearest and dearest to his heart. He told Soaps.com all about what makes it so personal, once thinking soaps were “corny,” and learning to stand in the “absolute truth” of who he is.
Soaps.com: What are you doing to keep from going stir-crazy during quarantine?
Kevin Spirtas: I’m fortunate to be on a property in a guest house in West Hollywood. There are three houses on the compound, and we keep our distance in the garden, but we talk and keep aware. My cat Vida and I are binging a lot of digital and network [TV] to keep myself balanced. The other thing about this shutdown is it’s forcing us to stop, tap in and take notice and reset. I’m finding a lot more alone time to process and meditate, then look at my priorities and see how I can operate in this time. I’m also on the phone with my boyfriend every day – he’s in Ft. Lauderdale with his family. Thank God for Facetime and Zoom and the technical age.
Being in the driver’s seat of an online soap
Soaps.com: You have a lot of soap experience, but now you’re both in front of and behind the camera with After Forever, which has a pre-nomination for Drama Series plus eight others. What’s it like to be in the driver’s seat of a soap and not just reading someone else’s stories and lines?
Spirtas: It’s gratifying. Michael Slade [former Days of our Lives writer, now co-creator of After Forever] and I wanted to create a story that was important and personal to both of us, and one thing about being in the driver’s seat is we are able to tell the story as we wish to. We’d both found that gay men of a certain age – not unlike women – are written off the canvas of creative storytelling. So we found it exhilarating not to have to pay attention to what standards and practices would say, or anybody else’s ideas of how they’d tell the story.
Soaps.com: Way back in the day, soaps were often fairly progressive with their storylines – particularly regarding race or social issues. But they’ve become more conservative over the years, particularly when it comes to showing same-sex relationships. Why do you suppose that is?
Spirtas: I feel that the network soaps do approach many hot topics. While the networks, across the board, generally tend to produce conservative content – that, combined with all the exposition and repetitive storytelling, progressive, less conservative and deep story telling tends to get watered down. The best stories come from telling the truth and taking risks. Times are a-changing. All the soaps have devoted fans who are ready and willing to go wherever the writers take them. Maybe it’s time the networks trust that.
A look into After Forever season two
Soaps.com: Your After Forever character, Brian, suffered the loss of his partner last season; this season he’s looking to heal and find love again – and that’s earned you a pre-nomination. What makes his arc stand out?
Spirtas: Season 2 picks up a year and a half after his loss, and he has this idea and desire to move forward. He’s in a relationship with his new partner David, but Brian is also very much rooted and anchored his connection with Jason. He has to deal with balancing living a new life and not bringing the past into the present all the time. It’s a delicate balance – we’re watching Brian navigate through uncharted territory.
Spirtas’ secret to a long career
Soaps.com: You’ve been appearing in soaps and TV series and films since the 1980s – what’s your secret to a long career in this business?
Spirtas: I have been very fortunate to receive many good opportunities. And for that I am grateful. Regarding my work and the roles/projects I do, I love taking that journey through a character that I feel is close to me. I want to heal part of myself through the work I’m attracted to. It’s about intention, and I want to tell stories I’m attracted to that give healing and inspiration and take the viewer/audience on the same journey. That all has been mirrored by my journey as a person as I stand in the absolute truth of who I am, my creativity and my sexuality – and knowing that I am no different, no better, no worse than the person sitting next to me.
Soaps.com: So were you a big soap fan when you were younger?
Spirtas: I was not. My grandmother loved watching them; I would sleep over in the summer and get up and she’d be watching her soaps. It was too corny and pretend-y to me – all grown-up stuff. But as I matured and began to go on auditions, I thought, “I’ll take a soap in a minute!”