This was an auspicious moment for me -- my very first interview with Days of our Lives Patrick Muldoon, the actor who originated the role of Austin Reed. We had met previously, on the set of Days at the launch of the new Horton Town Square back in August, but we only spoke a few moments. I do have a video of that and I'll get that online soon, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, the first thing I had to explain to Muldoon was my way of working. I type tres fast. I hate transcribing interviews. So rather than tape-recording them, and having to transcribe them at a later date, I type right into the computer as we are chatting.
He got the deal right away.
"So, I should give you sound bites instead of pontification," he giggled. Sounded good to me.
First thing I had to know. What had he been up to since leaving DOOL last time?
"It was 16 years of essentially of an artistic journey for me. I've had girlfriends in France and England. I've kind of followed my heart."
He also starred in a number of feature films – too numerous to mention, many made-for-tv movies like Turbulent Skies, Point of Entry, Ice Spiders and others.
"A lot of movies," Muldoon shared. "Some good, most forgettable. Been in a band, The Sleeping Masses, and really developed my songwriting and that's (a testament to) the big loves in my life, so I became a song writer. I jumped on the other side of the desk and learned movie producing at Eclectic Pictures. It's been kind of a Jackson Pollack painting. I've followed my heart and thrown everything at the wall and seen what sticks."
All that soul searching and finding his way has led him straight to Salem once again and he couldn't be more delighted.
"Now I come back and I am at NBC every day and it makes me very happy," he said. "The first thing I didn't' realize coming back -- that has kind of crept in -- was that when Austin was originated, there was kind of a marriage between the writers writing the fictional story and you as the actor. (The writers) watch what you bring to the story. I didn't realize how subconsciously you don't forget anything emotionally. So I have a scene with Carrie or Sami or Salem in general. It hasn't diminished at all. It's been baking for the last 16 years. I realized that I have an emotional attachment to Austin -- a stronger attachment than to any other character in my career."
Muldoon revealed that he was 23-25 years old when he originated the role of Austin. "When you are young (you are) very open. All of that has grown now that I've come back into Salem," he said. "That's a weird experience to have happen as an actor. I am in a rare circumstance. To leave someplace for 16 years and show up again and it is still really, really alive. You can go home again – even if it's a fictitious home of Salem. Also emotionally, there was much of that character that was me at that time in my life."
Muldoon went on to say that Austin's roots are the closest thing to him as a person. "It's like playing me in this fictitious place called Salem," he said. "That's great. I am loving it. That's the big surprise of going back that I didn't expect."
What would Muldoon like to see happen with Austin this go round?
"What's interesting for me is what's interesting for the audience and the fans is to explore this character in different situations," he said. "So much of what Austin is has to do with his relationship with Carrie. It saved his life in a lot of ways, but by the same token, you can't have a couple coming on the screen saying I love you, I love you. Right when they come into Salem they are put on different sides of John black's case. If she's the love of my life, how do you go about being on opposite sides of a case that could ultimately put her father in jail for life. The answer to that is there is no answer. It's been tough on Austin. It's the genius of the writing. They've given me a huge obstacle to overcome right out of the gate."
That's how Muldoon believes the new writing team is impacting the character.
"That was the main thing. Immediately, right out of the gate, the character is challenged with the biggest obstacle he's had since he got Carrie, got his girl. He's now immediately put into a situation where the relationship gets tested." Muldoon reiterated, and he's loving it.
When I asked him what's it like working with Christie (Clarke, Carrie), he had only one word for it.
"Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun," he bellowed.
This week on Days of our Lives, Austin has been invited by Sami to stay with her and Rafe. He will be sleeping on Sami and Rafe's couch. How will that play out?
"I think that its not gonna be the same old storyline of Carrie, Austin, Sami. We are not regurgitating that storyline. But it is going to be really potent. The present is true because the past exists. They try and handle each other, the characters have matured since the first time they saw each other. Including Sami. She's married, she's got four kids. Austin's married, but there is at least an attempt to handle this situation as adults, but the past is true. So, of course it is under the surface. And that comes into play. Austin comes in and looks at Sami and is impressed with the fact that she's become a women. He genuinely has affection for her and respects that she's turned herself around. She's grown up. Still all that other stuff -- you don't dismiss that. It still exits. The question for Austin -- who is Rafe? And that's what we are finding out now."
Muldoon went on to share that off screen, he and Galen Gering (Rafe) have quickly become best buds. But on screen, the characters are sniffing each other out. Who's this guy? "Galen and I have a blast together as well as becoming friends," Muldoon said, "but the characters are still skeptical of each other."
As well they should be. After all, they both have a past and a future with Sami.
As we were wrapping up the interview, I couldn't help but wonder if Muldoon ever tuned in to Days of our Lives at times during that 16 year absence and if he ever caught a glimpse of his successor in the role, Austin Peck.
"I did tune in once in a while," Muldoon replied, but he didn't really follow the storylines. Far as his thoughts on Austin Peck as Austin, he had this to say: "I've met Austin Peck a few times. He is a very sweet guy -- a great guy. He did a great job with the character."
To his fans, Muldoon shouts out: "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be back. And my message to my fans is simply of gratitude. Christie and I wouldn't be back if it wasn't for the fans, so my shout out to them is 'thank you.'"
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