One Life to Live's Brett Claywell: 'We Told a Story in a World Where Most People Are Afraid to Tell It'
It's entirely possible you missed a small revolution that played out on daytime TV this year, in a gay storyline on One Life to Live involving Officer Oliver Fish (Scott Evans, the younger, openly gay brother of Fantastic Four star Chris Evans) and Kyle Lewis (played by straight actor Brett Claywell), an old college friend whose sensitive hunkitude draws Fish out of the closet. Sure, gays on TV are nothing new, but Kish, as fans began to lovingly refer to them, shattered the age-old image of the gay eunuch, while demonstrating, in a New Year's Eve consummation scene for the ages, that two masculine men in a committed relationship could make sensitive love without the use of a Lady Gaga backing track or cardboard box of sex toys. (Pottery Barn candles of varying heights, on the other hand, are another story.) It was transfixing, paradigm-busting stuff, heralded by media advocacy groups and perfectly timed to coincide with the gay marriage legislation fiascos of 2009.
Unfortunately, it didn't add up to ratings, which were some of the lowest in One Life to Live history. Last week, both men were informed by producers that the storyline is being dropped and that the characters would be written out of the show by April. We approached Claywell, who was still a little stunned by the news but upbeat, for the real story. What we found was a brave, thoughtful and affable actor who seems to realize he was just a party to something big.
You seem in good spirits!
That's one of your jobs as an actor -- you try to keep yourself in good spirits as much as possible because you don't know what tomorrow can bring. Certainly better news than last week. [Laughs]
Can you talk about how you found out?
I had stopped into One Life to Live's production office to drop off my Emmy reel. And then they saw me there and called me in and told me the storyline is no longer continuing. So I found out the same day I was handing in my Emmy reel. That was quite ironic.
Had they already told Scott?
Scott found out the same way everybody else did, which was a little unfortunate. He told me somebody tweeted him. But they might keep him around a little bit longer. As an officer, there might be more work for Officer Fish that does not involve Kyle, but I think that's part of the reason that he wasn't informed the same way I was. I'm just trying to look at it in the most positive way. I don't think it was a slight to him that he wasn't informed. I think it probably had a little more relevance to Brett Claywell than Scott Evans at the time.
To be honest, I'm not a One Life to Live watcher.
That's OK, I wasn't before I was on the show either.
But I became aware of it when I kept stumbling across these steamier and steamier clips of the two of you.
There was lots of steam in that relationship. [Laughs]
Can we go back to how you first got the part? Were you forewarned of what would be required of you?
I was actually hired to play another part, a high school teacher. But the dynamic wasn't what they wanted it to be between me and the high school student I was supposed to be dating. It wasn't supposed to be an evil villain preying on a high school girl, but because of the age difference, that's how it came off. So they hired another actor to play that role, but told me they liked me and would create another role for me. They did, and over time this is kind of the direction it went.
They told me Kyle was going to be a gay character, and I took a week to mull over what's going on. I could never have played this role without the support, belief, patience and communication of our executive producer Frank Valentini. The whole One Life to Live family embraced Scott and I on the journey. There was a physical relationship that developed, as might develop in any relationship, that might have been an unexpected journey for me to go on, but in a testament to how truthfully we told that story it was absolutely the right decision to be made. I'll forever be proud of everything we did last year.
Pages: 1 2