DOOL's Kevin Spirtas, Born to Perform!

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Dr. Craig diagnoses himself - he loves his work!

Kevin Spirtas (Craig, DOOL)It's easy to see why Kevin Spirtas is delightful as the devilishly devious Dr. Craig on Days of Our Lives. He was born to entertain. "I sing, I act, I can do the whole thing," he said with a laugh over phone from his dressing room at the NBC studios in Burbank, CA. "The bug is in me. I have to perform. I've been acting for 20 years, professionally. Broadway. Features. Episodic. My investment (in my career) was to constantly keep working."

It didn't matter to Spirtas if he got called for a bit part, or if he was the star. He took the job and gave it 110%. Which was exactly what happened when he was first called to play Craig on DOOL.

"Days is not the first soap I've ever done," admitted Spirtas, "but it's the first one where I've been recognizable to the masses. In the past, I had taken jobs whether it was one day, or one year. Fran Bascom, the casting director for Days, has been a fan of mine for many years. Over the past 15 years, I had come in for roles on Days through various casting directors."

Spirtas auditioned for the role of a character called Franco." But they went totally Italian," he said, "and there you have Victor!" He was making the rounds and getting work on his own. He had no agent at that time. In fact, at the time of this interview, he still had no agent!

"I had just finished a low-budget independent film," said Spirtas. "The director was an acquaintance, and I had the lead in that film."

Then Fran Bascom called. She inquired if Spirtas would be interested in doing two days on Days of Our Lives. "She told me she had a role that she just knew I'd nail. I was very honored that she looked me up and found me."

However, tracking him down took some effort. According to Spirtas, Bascom had to go through a friend of a friend to get his home phone number. "Thank God she was a fan, and that I did keep up contact with her over the years." Spirtas attributes her remembering him to "the investment" he's put in his career. To show up professionally and give 110% no matter how small or insignificant the role.

Spirtas could not be more appreciative to Bascom for going that extra mile to find him. "I owe her this one," he said. "All the success I've had with this show is because of her. I did the two days. I went in on the first day and she reminded me that when she originally had me come in to read with her, to feel out the part, she said that it would by no means ever cancel me out from coming back to the show as a contract player in another role. So, I said, 'Hey Fran! For me, this (two-day part) is work. I'm grateful for the work. Work begets work,'" which is how Spirtas has always handled his career.

The night of Spirtas first day on the job, Bascom called again. "It was really wonderful. She called to tell me they really like you. I was oh, thank you so much. I just went to the set to do my work. I was not treated with any particular welcome to the show, or oh! You're the new guy for the day. Nothing like that happened. I was just another piece of machinery in the overall machine."

It's the plight of all day players. You're not really a part of the family. "I had major scenes, but only for two days. I worked with two actors who were very complimentary to me. They were very supportive. They invited me in immediately. (But overall) I felt very unnoticed. Looking back, I felt like I was just a guy they hired for two days to be the catalyst for this particular storyline." He felt he was there to do a particular job, and once done, never to be heard from again. "When Fran called and said they liked me, I was like okay! That's really nice. And Fran was like, 'No Kevin. They LIKE you!' And I said oh! OH! That's great. And she said, "well, you never know.' She said she wanted me to know that I did a great job and to congratulate me. I thanked her."

Six months passed. During which time Spirtas starred in a stage show in Los Angeles. Bascom went to see it. They would bump into each other around town.

"I'd meet her on the street and she'd say, 'They LOVE you over there. You know that, don't you?'" Spirtas said with a laugh. "And I'd say okay! They love me."

But Spirtas couldn't help wonder, if they loved him so much, why hadn't they called and offered him more work! Eight months after that two-day job, the call came.

"Fran called and asked me if I wanted to come in for a three years!" Spirtas bellowed. "I asked if she was serious. She said yes! They wanted me to develop the character I'd created."

For Spirtas, this success was one of those Hollywood stories. "It was a gift. A Godsend. I felt it was a tribute to my rule of thumb. To work, no matter what. To show up fully professionally. Be authentic. Even if the camera angle wasn't featuring me that much." Even if it was only for two days.

Spirtas' rule of thumb paid off big time. Landing the contract role of Craig "was like spirit work," he said. "Something else beyond me took care of that. I just showed up."

Even though the role is supporting, it is still a lot of work for the actor. "Craig and Nancy (Patrika Darbo) average anywhere from 3 to 4 days a week of work," said Spirtas. "Sometimes we do more than 4 shows in those days. During the holidays, we do a lot of shows in several days. I'm on the show most weeks, and that's a good thing."

Spirtas is an actor with the right attitude. He has a commitment to the craft that includes continuing study and a positive, reinforcing work ethic. "If I am going to act, my integral self says, you better be good at it. You better cover yourself. Be ready. There's a mentality that says work is work. When I hear someone complaining about how late we have to work sometimes, I just want to say to that person, you'd be complaining more if you weren't working. If you were out serving food, and you couldn't get off Friday night because you wanted to go out with your husband. It's about showing up. If it is NOT inside you, really I inside you, find something else to do." LMS 1/24/00

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