If you're looking for some serious soap opera gossip, spend 30 minutes talking with Days of our Lives' Austin Peck (Austin Reed; ex-Rick Powers, One Life to Live; ex-Brad Snyder, As the World Turns). The Hawaii native has got a plethora of jaw-dropping stories from his 20 years in daytime -- scandalous stuff that would make your eyes pop out of your head. But if you don't have access to the daytime heartthrob, you can tune in to his show Tainted Dreams, which tells the story of a soap opera within a soap opera and is chock full of what he promises are real situations that have happened behind the scenes of your favorite soaps.
But before you jump on Amazon, where Tainted Dreams is currently streaming, you'll want to finish reading this article. After all, we were lucky enough to spend 30 minutes talking to the amusing actor -- and he spilled quite a bit of entertaining tidbits about his DAYS return, getting naked on set, unhinged costars, and more.
soapcentral.com: Congratulations on Tainted Dreams getting picked up by Amazon.
Austin Peck: Thank you! I really enjoyed doing Tainted Dreams. I love [creator] Sonia Blangiardo; she's one of my favorite people. And I loved the premise of it. The idea, the premise of the show, is something that's been on the minds of many people, but it's not done in a way of making fun of soaps. It's not like Soapdish, which was a great movie, and I loved it, but it made fun of soaps and poked at them in real obvious ways. It told some truths, but I think what we have with Tainted Dreams is really a dramedy that's literally about a soap within a soap and having to deal with all the drama and all the mayhem that happens behind the scenes of any soap. And to be honest, the behind-the-scenes stuff is so much more interesting. And all of the stories on the show are all true stories! Almost everything that's in the show is all taken from true events, true stories, real things that have happened. I've given her stories of my own, and I know other actors have, and from there, she just said, "Hey, this fits, this fits, this fits," so it's all real life. Obviously the characters are totally different, but the circumstances are all real. They really happened.
soapcentral.com: So I take it there wasn't much convincing to get you to come aboard?
Peck: When Sonia called me and told me about it, I was immediately on board. I always thought it was great. She wrote the character [of Max Hillstone] for me, which was great. And the character is a questionable moral character, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have something to learn. My hope is that the show will get picked up, that it gets the right amount of viewers, or however Amazon does it, I really don't know. And if that happens, you'd see a transformation of the character in one way or another. A strength of mine is playing questionable, despicable type characters but bringing a heart to them. [DAYS'] Austin Reed is definitely not that. And Austin has always been a great challenge for me to play because he's written [in a] very archetype way, very archaic… so it was something I was very excited to do right off the bat with Sonia.
soapcentral.com: Do you think Austin is still archetype, even though you haven't played him in quite awhile?
Peck: I wish I would have had more time to explore him during my return. I'll be able to answer that question if they choose to write the character in more, but I was kind of just going with the flow of the existing storylines. I think if the character comes back, we'll be able to find out more about where his headspace is and what the relationship is between him and Carrie [Christie Clark] and everything that has gone on. So it's difficult. I can't really answer the question now.
soapcentral.com: But at least there's a possibility of more, and from what I gather, it seems like you'll be back, right?
Peck: Yeah! Keep that positivity going.
soapcentral.com: It kind of seems like this return has Austin sort of just as a sidekick while Carrie deals with her mom. Is that true, or does Austin have some of his own shining moments?
Peck: I definitely feel like I'm not driving. Without a doubt, I'm a passenger. I don't even get to backseat drive! [Laughs] I'm basically a passenger, and I'm hoping that will change. I like to be in the driving seat a little bit more.
soapcentral.com: Despite being in the passenger's seat, has being back on set been a wild ride?
Peck: It was bizarre, because it's been ten years since I've been there. So it was very weird. I felt a bit like someone had roofied me, you know what I mean? It was a little bit like a drug trip, because everything was familiar, but not. You know when you have those very vivid, specific dreams that involve real locations in your life, like your home or school or work, and in the dream, it's exactly the same, but different at the same time? That's exactly the way it was. There was so much familiarity -- I've been here, I've done this -- but it was also a bit different, very much like in a dream.
soapcentral.com: Was it the same feeling when you reunited with Christie and worked with her again?
Peck: Yeah, all of the above. The whole thing. The environment is a little different because the pace has picked up dramatically. Everything is much, much faster. I'm used to working fast, because at As the World Turns, we had to work very fast. But it was super fast. And again, coming back after ten years, you kind of have to readjust yourself, because every show has its own character and environment. So I had to kind of readjust myself to the Days of our Lives world again. I felt a little bit like when Dorothy first meets the Tin Man [in The Wizard of Oz] and he needs to move and he's like, "Please, give me some oil!" That's the way I felt. I definitely had to dust myself off.
soapcentral.com: What can you say about the relationship between Carrie and Austin? A lot has changed over the years, and they're parents now!
Peck: The way I look at it is like this, and obviously it's good for drama's sake: when Austin is away from Salem, his life goes really well. But when he comes back to Salem, his life seems to fall to shit! [Laughs] Everything just falls apart. As an actor, we'd love to write our own part, and there are so many things I'd love to do as far as for Austin. I think there are many avenues of Austin that have yet to have been explored. I'm not the same person; I'm a very different person, and I've done so many other things since I was on DAYS, and I think exploring a rougher side of Austin would definitely be a real pleasure, and even to involve him in that little bit of sense of humor that I love to play and the sense of irony that he's aware of, like, "Man, every time I come back to Salem, my life goes to shit! Let's get out of here, Carrie!" But he can't because he's there, and he has to be there, and he has to deal with all the crap. And that's the fun.
soapcentral.com: Now that he's a dad, does it mean we'll get fewer shirtless scenes?
Peck: Oh, gosh, I don't know! That would definitely keep me in shape, though, wouldn't it? I remember when I came back to DAYS in '05 and I think in every scene my shirt was off. Every scene. And people were like, "Oh, what is he doing? He's got his shirt off in every scene," and I'm like, "It's in the script! It's not me!" [Laughs] One day, much to the chagrin of Arianne Zucker [Nicole Walker], I just came out in a jock strap. I stripped fully down and just did it.
soapcentral.com: Seriously?! What did she say?
Peck: She screamed. "Aaaaggghhhhh!!!" [Laughs] I think that helped them ease up on her a bit.
soapcentral.com: Did you know that the ladies of DAYS say you're the best kisser they've ever had at work? Had you heard that?
Peck: Oh, my gosh. I read that in an article. Christie said that. How funny. If that's what Christie says, I'm going to have to take her word for it. There are worse titles to have. Actually, my wife, Terri [Conn, ex-Katie Snyder, ATWT; ex-Aubrey Wentworth, OLTL], sent me that article, and I was like, "Oh, man, am I in the dog house?" But she wasn't mad. She was very proud!
soapcentral.com: It would be strange to have to deal with that in a relationship. But, hey, it's all part of the job, and you can't help that you do your job well, right?!
Peck: It is a lot to ask of your spouse. It is. And Terri, she's had some jobs where she's had to be romantic, and the way we both deal with it is that we're honest. Because we've both had to deal with it, because we've both been in that position one way or another, it puts us on an even playing field, and we're really honest with each other. Like, I'll tell her, "I'm jealous." And then she'll look at me and she'll go, "I know, and I'm sorry." To me, jealousy is one of those things where whenever I feel it, I try to admit it because then I take the power out of it, and then I don't feel it as much anymore, and I'm able to let it go. So we do that with each other. It seems to help a lot. Jealously is one of those horrible things that leads to so many other things if you don't recognize it.
soapcentral.com: Since you hadn't been back at DAYS in so long, was there anyone in particular you were super excited to reunite with?
Peck: To be honest, everyone that I saw. I have a special relationship obviously with some more than others, Christie Clark being one of them. Lauren Koslow [Kate Roberts], she's just one of my favorite people on earth, and it was so great to work with her and sit in her dressing room and hang with her and her rock star persona.
soapcentral.com: I love how your story involves Stefano, which must have been pretty meaningful, given that Joe Mascolo recently passed away.
Peck: I know. I was so sad when I heard that. I loved Joe Mascolo. Joe Mascolo was so cool. I have a funny story about Joe Mascolo and Bryan Dattilo [Lucas Horton], and I just have to tell this story. Joe is watching us from upstairs, but he can't do anything to me now! So everybody has parking spaces at work, and they sometimes vary. But certain actors have their designated parking space. So I got in one afternoon, and I pull in, and somebody is in my space, so I pull into the next space and just think, "Whatever." So, later, I find that Joe Mascolo has parked perpendicularly behind my car and Bryan's car, so we can't get out. And so I'm like, "Well, whatever, we'll just go get his car keys and move it." That's Joe being Joe, you know, the big man on campus. So anyway, we go and tell him, "Hey, Joe, you're parked behind us." And at first, he started playing the whole bravado Joe Mascolo thing, "Oh, you're blocked by me? Too bad, so sad." And Bryan, man, Bryan is one of those guys that gets hot under the collar, but in a way that you won't even know it. You really won't know it, the way he does it. So, anyway, I just looked at Joe and I said, "Joe, you're gonna let us move your car, right?" And he's like, "Yeah, yeah," and he gave us the keys. He was just messing with us. So Bryan takes the keys, and he gets into Joe Mascolo's Lincoln Mark 8 -- obviously this was a while ago -- and he goes up and down the parking lot, just grinding the gears, spinning the wheels, burning rubber, just up and down the parking lot, 50 yards there, 50 yards back, back and forth, forward and reverse [makes screeching noises]. If there was a camera just watching me and the car in between me and the camera, it would be hysterical because it was like I was watching a tennis match: head going to the left, head going to the right, head going to the left, head going to the right. And then he just pulls the car into the parking space, gets in his car and drives away -- without saying a word. And I was like, "WHOA." [Laughs] I was like, "What was that?"
soapcentral.com: Oh, my God, that's hysterical. Did you ever tell Joe?
Peck: NEVER! Oh, man, never. "Hey Joe, did you have to change your tires six months earlier than usual?" [Laughs]
soapcentral.com: It sounds like you have a lot of fun on set.
[Heck] yeah. I tell you, the stories and the things that have happened -- when I've been there, when I haven't been there -- it's a soap opera within in a soap opera. That's why I think Tainted Dreams is so great. It's a fantastic premise, and I think it's a great execution. As people watch it and get into it more, my hope is that Amazon and others will be able to find the value in it, and we'll be able to create more seasons. The stories are endless, just endless. And to everybody out there, I'd really love if you just tuned in to watch Tainted Dreams and please let us know what you think and how you feel and if there are ways to make it even better and get the word out so we can get more seasons and episodes on there, because it's a fantastic premise. I think it's something that's been on the minds of a lot of people in the industry and out of the industry, so doers and fans alike. And the more support we have, the more we'll be able to give people the kind of story and the kind of fun that they want to see, because I think Tainted Dreams is a really excellent progression of the genre.
To catch Peck in Tainted Dreams -- which also stars soap favorites Alicia Minshew (Kendall Hart, All My Children), Terri Ivens (Simone Torres, AMC), Walt Willey (Jackson Montgomery, AMC), Michael Lowry (Jake Martin, AMC), Larkin Malloy (Travis Montgomery, AMC, and Sky Whitney, Edge of Night), Grant Aleksander (Phillip Spaulding, Guiding Light), Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily Stewart, ATWT), Marnie Schulenburg (Alison Stewart, ATWT), Colleen Zenk (Barbara Ryan, ATWT), Natalia Livingston (Emily Quartermaine and Rebecca Shaw, GH; Taylor Walker, Days of our Lives), and Austin Peck (Rick Powers, OLTL; Brad Snyder, ATWT; and Austin Reed, DAYS) -- check it out on Amazon.
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What do you think about some of the things Peck revealed in his Soap Central interview? How do you feel about his DAYS return? Will you be tuning in to see him on Tainted Dreams?
What do you think about the reason Carrie and Austin return to Salem? Would you like the pair to return full time? What do you think about the characters cavorting in Salem for the first time without Sami? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.