Follow the links to our archive of Thorsten's print interviews and articles about the characters he's portrayed.
Above: On the cover of the June 26, 2007 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
The day after One Life to Live's Patrick Thornhart spoke those lines to "Miss Margaret Saybrooke," as she is gallantly called only by him (she's "Marty" to everyone else), there was a run on the poetry section at the Barnes & Noble on West 66th Street in Manhattan. There is but a lone copy to be found there of the collected works of William Butler Yeats, Ireland's poet laureate who penned the poem Brown Penny nearly a century ago. Such an occurrence is testament not only to the power of television but to one of the more beguiling daytime storylines in recent memory and to Thorsten Kaye, the actor who has breathed life into it.
Kaye, a young British actor with impressive Shakespearean credits, has speculated that the name Thornhart derived from a combination of "Thorsten" and "Braveheart." However, the very Irish Michael Malone, until recently OLTL's head writer, reveals that he has had the name in the back of his mind for quite some time, slated for a kind of modern-day Heathcliff pained (thorn), poetic and passionate (heart). When Malone saw Kaye's audition for another show, he felt he had finally found the right man on whom to hang his BrontŽan hero whom he transplanted to Ireland. This unusual tale of love, menace and mystery, originating in the land of magic and melancholy, is enhanced by the haunting Song Without End, written by David Nichtern, who also co-wrote the show 's theme.
An appealing cross between Liam Neeson and Joe Lando, who still manages to be wholly original, the soon-to-be-30 Kaye insists, with good-natured self-reproach, that it's time to "get serious." He shares with Thornhart a sense of physical discomfort, of being vaguely at odds with his environment. "I hate shopping for clothes...as you can tell," the guileless actor declares, slipping into the self-deprecating humor he uses freely; it is his only significant disparity with his character, whose circumstances have not so far granted him much levity. "Pants is the worst, because you have to take your shoes off," he explains with a straight face. "I have a real problem with my pants, so I just don't buy them. I don't need the aggravation. And food - I always order out because I can't be bothered cooking." Kaye is a playful dodger: Notwithstanding his paeans to maturity, he employs a transparent refusal to be altogether serious about anything as a mask for deeply held convictions and sensibilities. The native Londoner's arsenal includes entertaining pronouncements on Americana, particularly the female variety. "I've never dated an English girl," he claims. "Ever. I've always dated American girls. There's something very sexy about American women, especially Midwestern women, and you can tell a New York woman from an L.A. woman just by her attitude. I like a woman in blue jeans, boots, and a flannel shirt who loves animals and lives on a farm. Put her on a Harley and I'll marry her. That's what I like. End of story."
Kaye is certainly qualified to comment on things American. Because his father was an employee of General Motors, he was education in American schools in England, associated with American kids and at 18 made a beeline for the States, where he had gained track scholarships at several American universities. A motorcycle accident cut that career short, however, and, casting about for an alternate path, he applied for and received a dramatic scholarship (which he claims they were just "giving away"). But it wasn't just track that brought him Stateside, nor is it only his current profession that keeps him here. "The American dream is very much alive, always has been," Kaye suggests. And what is the American dream to a young Englishman? "I had it," he declares. "You let your hair grow, you have an earring, a leather jacket, a Harley-Davidson, the beach, beer and women. That's the American dream. And if you can be actor on top of that...!"
His father was less enthusiastic about that idea, however, even though Kaye admits actors get more respect in Britain than they do here. "He isn't too pleased with me," mutters the errant son, betraying maybe just a hint of regret about that. "He wanted me to do a General Motors kind of thing, be a business major." You mean like his brother, coincidentally named Patrick? "Yeah, he's in the car business. He does a car thing," Kaye says dismissively, "and he likes rock music. I don't understand what he does, he doesn't understand what I do. I did it (theater) just to piss off my dad...kind of. The first thing that comes up is this whole sexual thing, right? Like, are you weird? You must be gay if you want to be an actor. I said, 'Dad, you watch Charles Bronson. You watch Clint Eastwood. You don't think they're gay, do you?' He said, 'That's different.' I say, 'It's not different. Not different at all.'"
Apparently, pulling Marty and Patrick apart and sending her back to Dylan, however temporary, was particularly difficult for the actor. "You lift it off the page and have a relationship with this woman," he exclaims, becoming more animated, "then you turn around next week, and it means nothing? Whoa! Wait a minute. What just happened? Bring people together, tear them apart, bring them back together - it's interesting, but it's heart-wrenching. And doing the same scene over and over, for the people who were doing the laundry on Monday and couldn't watch! That's fine, but it's hard to say, for the 15th time, 'Inspector Bass is the one who did it. He's the bad man.'" He finds photo shoots equally troublesome. The first thing they ask you do is take off your shirt," Kaye continues to fuss, worrying the silverware. "The mail I get from people says, 'We like what you're doing with the character,' not 'Your butt is cute in shorts.' I couldn't do this for 20 years," he says, shaking his head. "I hope I can do it for two."
It is precisely this kind of turmoil churning away beneath his character's bemused facade that makes Kaye interesting to watch. His impetuous and impatient Patrick Thornhart makes Christopher Douglas' placid and mono-key Dylan Moody, for all his long hair and 5 o'clock shadow, look like a preppy refuge from Yale. "Dylan is everything Marty ever wanted," says Malone. "He's stable and steady and secure. But Patrick appeals to her romantic side, her musical side, her sense of adventure."
However reluctant to play "the hunk," the actor is circumspect about doing love scenes, and is looking forward to being sent out on some promotional tours. "I love meeting people, you kiddin' me?" he asks rhetorically, perking up considerably. "I think I'm very much Americanized now. That means I'm a pretty friendly guy. I don't have a problem talking. You want me to talk to those guys over there? I will. In London, people don't talk to each other, that's not a European thing. In pubs they do, but that's the only place you can talk to anybody. When I was in England I missed America - cable TV, football, stores you can go to and buy things whenever you want!" As for the love scenes with Susan Haskell, who plays Marty, "It was very rehearsed. There was nothing sexual about it, and it took a long time." Then his eyes light up, just a little, and he ponders, "There's something about her. She lives in a place emotionally when she's in front of the camera that I don't even like to visit anymore. It's very, very attractive. She's so invested, she's so there. That's a direct quote. You can put that in."
He leans forward, conspiratorially, like a little boy with a secret. "To tell you the truth," he stage whispers. "I have a little crush on Susan Haskell. It's healthy. There's nothing weird about it."