In Print


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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.

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Smash Landing

Soap Opera Digest 

by Mara Levinsky, Published April 30, 2012

Beloved to soap audiences, first as the brooding Patrick on OLTL from 1995-1997, then as the brooding Ian on PC from 2000-2003 and then as the brooding Zach on AMC off and on from 2004-2011, Thorsten Kaye didn’t have to wait long to find gainful post-Pine Valley employment: The real-life musical theater buff is playing bartender/Anjelica Huston-wooer Nick on NBC’s SMASH. He let loose to Digest as only he can.

Digest: Thorsten! How are you?
Thorsten Kaye: I'm doing all right. I broke my arm pretty good, so I'm dealing with that.
Digest: Oh, no! How did you do that?
Kaye: What do you know about sharks? Like, great white sharks? No, I'm just playing with you. I can't talk about it because I was shooting SMASH when it happened and I didn't tell them how it happened, so I can't have you telling them what happened.
Digest: Fair enough. So, you've been working with a broken arm?
Kaye: Yeah, they wrote it in, which is pretty cool. It broke in half and it's got 18 pins in it, so it's a pain in the ass.
Digest:  Has it been a canvas for any artwork by the Kaye children [McKenna, 9, and Marlowe, 5]?
Kaye: No, because times have changed since the last time I broke something. They put on a fiberglass cast and cut it off every week to X-ray it and make sure everything is good. But doing the show, I had to leave it white.
Digest: All right, let's talk SMASH. I've been watching. I'm obsessed with Anjelica Huston.
Kaye: Oh, she's the best. I'm taking her to a Ranger game next Wednesday. We're friends. We go drinking and stuff. I feel like I've known her for 20 years. The biggest and best part of being part of the show, for me, is that I'm like a kid in a candy store. I've got a thing for musical theater, which is a bit of a dichotomy, someone who loves hockey and likes going to Broadway shows. But this is the perfect job for me because I play the bartender! I don't even need wardrobe! I can just show up, say a few things and serve drinks to people. Anyway, what kind of questions do you have? I'll give you dirt on anybody.
Digest:  Let's talk about you getting the job to begin with.

Kaye: They asked me if I wanted to read for this thing, three episodes playing Anjelica Huston's boyfriend. I said, "I'll do it for one episode if I get to make out with Anjelica Huston!" So, I get the part. I don't know why, maybe no one else knew about it. We hit it off, because she's just such a cool lady, and I have been on the show ever since, 9 or 10 episodes.
Digest: And I imagine your schedule is pretty breezy, since you don't have to be in the big production numbers.
Kaye: I actually was in one of the production numbers, and I don't think they really thought that through [laughs]. They just thought that anybody on this show knows how to do this stuff. It's like thinking, "All hockey fans know how to skate." It doesn't work that way! They said, "Oh, we're doing this Bollywood number," and I show up that day thinking, "I'm in the background serving drinks, like always." Ten minutes before we start, the dance captain comes over and goes, "It just occurred to me that nobody taught you the dance." I said, "It just occurred to me that you guys might be in a lot of trouble! What do you mean, dance?" And she goes, "Oh, well, there are some dance steps, but it's nothing." Well, it's nothing to them, right? I go, "Yeah, just like brain surgery is easy if you know how to do it!" So they put me in the background, thank God, and say, "Here are the moves." Couldn't be more foreign, right? I mean, I have troublewalking in a straight line. So they load up the dance floor with 60 Broadway dancers. I'm going, "I'm just follow them. How hard can that be?" It's six moves, I figure, I can do that. The music starts and they start doing something that looks nothing like what I am doing. I'm watching these guys thinking, "They're all wrong, they don't know what they're doing!" By the time I figure out that no, they're just doing it the way it's supposed to be done, I'm all over the map, and it just gets worse every take. And then someone comes in and changes something and they go, "Oh, okay," and they do it that way. You say something like that to me and my head would explode! If I had two weeks, I'd still be struggling. I still couldn't sleep the night before. I'm hoping that they cut me out of it.
Digest: Wow, they really threw you into the fire.
Kaye: Next time, keep me out of the fire! I'm good with that. I called Susan [Haskell] and said, "Susan, this might be my last day on Smash. They called my bluff."
Digest: Well, how are you at pouring drinks? Any real-life experience there?
Kaye: Yeah, I've watched people over the years pouring drinks. The biggest difference between daytime and nighttime shows is that in nighttime, you only have one camera or maybe two running at the same time, so whatever you do, you're doing to have to redo, to do the scene from someone else's angle. But it's got to match, so if you're making drinks and putting stirrers in drinks and putting drinks down, that's a lot to remember for some old hack like me.
Digest: Especially with an arm out of commission!
Kaye: That was only two episodes. But before that, I was mixing drinks and…you know, I'm rethinking this whole thing. I'm not good at any of this s---. I think my high point was not having a lot of lines on All My Children. "Oh, he says so much with his eyes." Yeah, he says so much with his eyes because he can't remember his lines, that's why!

Digest: Ah, so it was a choice to make him a man of few words for ease of getting through the day!
Kaye: Yeah, it was a producer's choice [laughs]. I'd come in in the morning going, "You know what? I don't think he'd really say that." "Really?" "Yeah. I think this can be said with a look." "Oh, okay!"
Digest: So when you came in for this part, did you test with Anjelica?
Kaye: No, it wasn't anything like that. You know I kind of moonlight as a stuntman?
Digest:  Uh, no.
Kaye: Oh, you didn't know that? Yeah, I started as a stuntman. Every now and then, when I get bored or all my bones are intact, I'll still do a couple of things because I enjoy it and I have a lot of friends in the stunt community. Jerry Hewitt, the stunt coordinator for Smash, called me up before I had this audition and said, "Hey, we're doing this bar mitzvah scene and we have to pick up a chair. Do you want to come play with me?" I said, "Sounds great!" But that Friday, I went in and taped for the producers, and they called me on Saturday and said, "Hey, we need you here on Tuesday to do your first episode of this three-episode gig." So I had to call my buddy back and say, "I can't lift the bar mitzvah chair." Can I tell you, this couldn't have been better. It's something that I really love. I can just sit there and listen to these girls sing all day—and it shoots in New York, so I don't have to leave my family. Sometimes they'll say, "Oh, so-and-so had to leave because they got the lead in such-and-such show." I'm like, "I'm not going anywhere! If they'll have me, I'm not leaving!" I'm having fun.
Digest: When you met Anjelica for the first time, were you calm or freaking out?
Kaye: How do I say this without sounding like a jerk? I don't really get intimidated by actors. I get intimidated by athletes. But I walked in and she came over and gave me a big hug and that was it. If you're an Oscar winner and a big star and this show is depending on your talent and your ability and your name, you can be a real [jerk], and she is so the opposite of it. She is so kind and gracious—and I would tell you otherwise, you know it. And don't forget, she's playing my girlfriend! I make out with Anjelica every time I'm there. Whether they write it in or not [laughs]. But we like each other! She's great, so respectful of everyone, and when something doesn't go well, she doesn't say, "I'm going to be in my trailer." She says, "Let's fix it." I feel like someone is paying me to take acting lessons, and not just from Anjelica. Debra Messing [Julia] is such a pro. Jack Davenport [Derek] is hysterical, a good guy, good-looking guy, getting it done. Christian Borle [Tom] is brilliant with what he does.

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Digest: It's nifty to hear you so happy.
Kaye: Did you just say nifty?
Digest: I did. And I don't throw that word around.
Kaye: No, no, and you shouldn't [laughs]!
Digest: Right? Because it's 2012 and I should retire it!
Kaye: No, no, you're using it cautiously and I think that's good. But what's going on in the soap world?
Digest: Well, the One Life people have joined GH.
Kaye: Yeah, how's that going? I just talked to Michael Easton [John] the other day and he's over there. Listen, I hope ABC hangs on to it. If they don't, they're just going to lose that entire audience; they'll go somewhere else. It doesn't make sense to me. They didn't ask me to go [to GH].
Digest: But you wouldn't have gone!
Kaye: Eh, I would have gone for a few episodes, just to see what was going on over there.
Digest: Well, now they'll know. So, Smash just got picked up for a second season, but you're done shooting the first. What are you going to do with your break?
Kaye: Hang with the family. I'm writing a couple of things, trying to get some stuff produced. My friend Whoopi [Goldberg] was here not too long ago looking at some things. We're going to do our own stuff. Listen, change is never bad. The soaps are golden handcuffs; they always were. You get paid so much money, but you die a slow death, too. Being on a series is a great thing, but if you say, "Hey, this isn't working", and they say, "Oh, it's okay, it's kind of how we want it," and you say, "But you're saying my house is green, and it's yellow, you know that", and they say, "Yeah, but we really want it to be green," then after a while, you just say, "Ah, f--- it. Make it any color you want."
Digest: Like, "It's futile for me to care."
Kaye: Right. The biggest problem with the soaps is that there was no community where people talked to each other and said, "Hey, what are we doing wrong here?" It was just one person saying, "This is what we're doing." And everybody knew it wasn't going to work. It almost seemed like they did it on purpose, like the [Miami] Dolphins trading Brandon Marshall. You're looking to get a great quarterback, but now you've got no one to throw to. That doesn't seem like a wise decision. [Former ABC Daytime chief] Brian Frons would make these weird decisions about firing people that didn't make any sense, that didn't help the show any. But it kind of seems like that's what he wanted. So, congratulations.