Daytime to Primetime
Ryan McPartlin Loves Living with Fran!
When Ryan McPartlin turned in his badge leaving Harmony and Passions last year as sexy police officer Hank Bennett, he was looking for the bright lights, and now you can say he found them.
McPartlin joined The WB’s Living With Fran, a new comedy about a sexy divorcee (Fran Drescher) who lives with a man slightly older than her son.
McPartlin plays the character of Riley Martin, a hot hunky 6’4, blond haired, blue eyed, 25ish construction worker who took up residence in Fran’s home, much to the dismay of her family.
“What can I say, Fran hired me to do a job, and I found a home,” McPartlin joked. “But seriously, who ever thought that a guy from the suburbs of Chicago would make it to a sitcom in Hollywood? It’s awesome!”
McPartlin admitted that his first love is sitcoms. “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show” were his favorites. He’d tape everyone and keep watching them over and over again.
“I still can hear my parents saying, ‘what are you going to make of yourself?’” McPartlin said. “Well mom and dad....now I have the answer.”
McPartlin began his show business career after college. He graduated the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications, but while in school he signed up for a student exchange program abroad at the University of New South Wales in Australia. While there, he visited the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, the same institution of higher learning that Mel Gibson attended, and it just hit that acting was how he wanted to spend his life, even though he once hoped for a career in sports. (McPartlin played football for the University of Illinois. However, due to an injury, he knew that success in the NFL would never happen, and he became more enthused to follow his dream of becoming an actor.)
After his stint in Australia, McPartlin returned to Chicago, worked many odd jobs including selling life insurance and bartending, and believes those experiences contributed to his becoming a better actor. He signed with a Chicago agent to see if he could find work, but soon choose to follow his ambition to Hollywood.
“That’s what I really wanted. I thought why not? Every agent in Chicago said, ‘kid, without credentials and proving you can make it in Chicago, you’ll never make it in Hollywood,’” McPartlin said. “I thought....we will just see. I packed by bags in 1998 and said, Hollywood here I come!”
As soon McPartlin hit LA he enrolled in a program at the American academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, and studied under famed acting coach, Janet Alhanti.
“Believe it or not, my first role was a guest star on The Nanny with Fran Drescher,” McPartlin laughs. “Whoever thought I’d be working again with a lady like Fran? I really admire her. She’s really quite a gal.”
McPartlin modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch and appeared in National TV commercials and print campaigns.
He then won the role on Passions, which he just loved, but said, he made it no secret that he wanted more out of the business. In fact, while doing Passions, he guest starred on According to Jim, Three Sisters, Still Standing, and North Shore, to name a few.
“I loved Passions, and the people that run it. They (powers that be) knew from day one that I wanted to branch out. I actually asked to be put on recurring status.” McPartlin said. “Also, my story on Passions never really developed at no fault of theirs or mine, but I knew it was time to leave.”
McPartlin finds working on Living With Fran such a challenge because he was able to create the role of Riley. On Passions, he stepped into the role of Hank which was previously played by another actor, and he always felt like he had to please someone.
McPartlin said that Living With Fran is a collaborative effort. “If there’s something I’d like to change then I ask. Fran is so supportive of the cast. In fact, the first read through of the pilot we did at her home,” McPartlin said. “I think our goal is to entertain the audience. At some scripts I’ve seen, I’d laugh, but with this show I laughed out loud, and that’s what I want for the audience to be able to do.”
He auditioned for Living With Fran while still doing Passions with the same casting director who cast him for Dawson’s Creek, a part he didn’t get because of a conflict. And when he walked in everyone had a grin.
“I didn’t know what to think, or what they thought. I was the first to read. In fact, I was cast before Fran,” McPartlin said. “I was brought back, and as they say in Hollywood, the rest is history.”
McPartlin was driving the freeway listening to the radio when they announced Fran Drescher is returning to TV, and his reaction was, “Oh my God! That’s my show.”
McPartlin said that he takes none of this for granted, realizing that there are thousands of out of work actors, but he is going to give it a try and see where it goes, and be himself and let the role come to him.
“I want to stay in this business. I want to take film classes and perhaps write,” McPartlin said. “Who knows...maybe someday I’ll be like Ron Howard.”
Soapdom wants to know, any message to your fans or co-stars from Passions. “Yes! Guy’s I miss you both. My co-workers and fans. I thank each and everyone one of you for your support, and hope that you will come aboard to Living With Fran. I’m also so thrilled to see many soap actors making it in the business and going primetime.”
In his spare time, McPartlin keeps busy playing golf, football, basketball, and going to the gym, and he loves to snowboard and wakeboard. At home, he enjoys spending time with wife Danielle.
Soapdom CEO and QueenRuler’s favorite line from Living with Fran. When Fran’s 21 year old son Josh asks his mother in distaste: “But Mom, what will your friends say when they find out you are living with a much younger man?” “Does he have a brother?” Fran responds.
Living with Fran airs Friday nights at 8:30 PM ET/PT on The WB.
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