You'd never guess it if you met him now, but General Hospital's James DePaiva (David Bensch) used to be quite the a-hole. During his sixteen-year stint as One Life to Live's Max Holden, he often offended costars, enraged writers, and embarrassed publicists. In fact, it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary to see him in shouting matches with the powers that be or even throwing furniture on set -- both of which he admits happened on more than a few occasions over the years. Which is why he's actually quite surprised that GH's executive producer -- who worked with him at OLTL -- offered him a job on ABC's sole surviving soap.
“I'll be honest: at One Life to Live, I was a s**t,” he tells Soap Opera Digest. “Frank was on the bad end of my misbehavior several times... I'm waiting for a chance to sit down with him and apologize for what a bad person I was, for what a hard person I was to work with for a long time.”
Years of personal growth and experience have helped DePaiva recognize his demons and control them, but a great deal of his maturing process came through a 2008 meeting with Tracy Goss, a corporate transformational expert introduced to him by his OLTL pal Nathan Purdee (ex-Hank Gannon). DePaiva went through Goss's program and found the whole experience life-changing.
“I was angry and shut-down and enraged for a long time,” he says. “I wasn't just hostile at work. I was hostile everywhere. Part of [the program] is understanding what manipulates you in the world, which is something you don't have control of until you're aware of it. As soon as I became aware of it and was working on it, I was able to get perspective. It turned my life around. It's been good for my relationship with my children, my wife [Days of our Lives' Kassie DePaiva, Eve Donovan], everybody.”
Unfortunately, though he's put in the work on himself, his memories of his time on OLTL remain particularly unpleasant. Simply because he didn't like himself as a person at that time.
“One Life to Live just happened to be what I was doing at the time; it wasn't One Life to Live, it was me,” he says. “It probably would have been better for everyone if I had left earlier, but I was unable to at that time. And as much as I needed to go away from One Life to Live, I still felt very hurt about being let go. I'm grateful I was, in retrospect. But acting was so tied up in this horrid person I'd become, by the time I left, I never wanted to act again... [and] to lose something that was the main focus and drive in your life and never want anything to do with it again is crushing.”
To learn more about DePaiva's struggles while he was on OLTL, including the insensitive way he brushed off Emmy-winning actress Crystal Chappell (ex-Maggie Carpenter), check out SOD's full story here.
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