Soap opera alum Kyle Lowder (ex-Brady Black, Days of our Lives; ex-Rick Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful) has a huge flock of fans for a reason. Not only is the talented star one of the most charming men in daytime, but he's one of the most creative, as well. Take his latest project, Ladies of the Lake, for example. The miniseries scheduled for release on Amazon on Monday, May 15, was his brainchild; after reading the book of the same name by DAYS' executive producer, Ken Corday, he teamed up with his longtime friend and Emmy-winning producer Michael Caruso to bring the book to life. And trust us when we tell you magic happened.
In order to bring potential viewers a taste of what's to come and what went into the making of the series that stars Lilly Melgar (ex-Lily Corinthos, General Hospital), Marie Wilson (ex-Summer/Bree, DAYS; ex-Meg Snyder, As the World Turns), Jessica Morris (ex-Jennifer Rappaport, One Life to Live), Martha Madison (ex-Belle Black, DAYS), and Arianne Zucker (Nicole Walker, DAYS), Soap Central spoke with Lowder. And he shared quite a few interesting details, including how the series is connected to the James Bond film franchise, what it's like working with his ex-wife, what fans can expect from Ladies of the Lake, and more.
soapcentral.com: We spoke with co-producer Michael Caruso, who said as soon as he saw that Ken Corday had released a book, he called you and said he wanted to turn it into a series, and you said, "Too bad. I already beat you!"
Kyle Lowder: [Laughs] Yes! That's exactly what happened. Just a brief backstory: I was working with Ken Corday, who is a brilliant composer of music, on a musical about two summers ago, the summer of 2015. I showed up to rehearsal, and he handed me this novel that said Ladies of the Lake on the cover with this provocative photo, and it looked soapy -- murder, intrigue, beauty, all this kind of stuff -- and very glam. And I said, "What is this is?" And he said, "I wrote a novel." I laughed and said, "What?!" And he gave it to me and said, "Let me know what you think." So out of respect and intrigue, after rehearsal I went home and started reading it, and the truth is, I couldn't put it down. The story was fun and soapy and riveting, and as I was reading the book, I kept thinking to myself, "I can see this on-screen," whether it was a cool TV movie or some kind of miniseries or whatnot, and I started to read the book not as a book, but I could see it very visually on the screen in my mind. So I just approached him, and I said, "Have you ever thought about developing this story for screen?" And he's like, "Not really. What do you propose?" And long story short, I said, "I think this could be a really fascinating story to bring to viewers, and I think this is a great opportunity to do that. Corday Productions has been known for Days of our Lives forever. Wouldn't it be cool if you could stamp your name on something like this."
soapcentral.com: Is that when you and Michael Caruso spoke?
Lowder: At that point, Ken said, "Put together a team and a proposal of what you want to do, and let's talk about it." And the first person that I thought of that would be a great partner in this was obviously Michael Caruso, with his great history with DeVanity and Winterthorne. Michael is known for very beautiful, colorful, high production value with his stuff, and that's kind of what I saw with this project. But, yeah, to get to your point finally, I brought this up to him, and he's like, "Oh, my God, you'll never believe this: the second I heard about this book, I wanted to do this, and the fact that you're calling me right now and wanting to work on this together is just insane." So, yeah, it was very serendipitous and very cool. And I think that started a really great energy between the two of us throughout the entire project.
soapcentral.com: Was it obvious right away that you'd take this glam, over-the-top stylization?
Lowder: It's a great question because that's exactly where I was. My phone call to Michael was specifically for that reason. The first reason was that Michael was Emmy nominated for both his projects, for DeVanity and Winterthorne, so I knew that he had a track record. And Michael and I have been friends since college. So, we're going on, well... [laughs] a lot of years knowing each other. I worked with him on DeVanity... and obviously knew him as a friend before that, so the first thing I knew was that I was really looking forward to working with him in this aspect, creating something. But to answer your question, yes. When I was reading the book and kind of seeing the picture in my mind, I did see this very hyper-glam, ultra-stylized picture, if you will, in my head. You have Southern California sun and power and money and things like that. What was really relevant at the time, and still is, was The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of Orange County type situation, where you have beautiful women, lots of money, a glam lifestyle, drama, the whole thing. And that's kind of where my head went. And when I talked to Michael originally, I knew that he would be all for it, because that's kind of been his M.O., if you will. And obviously he jumped right on board and said, "Yeah, this is an opportunity to make this bright, sunny, ultra colorful, ultra glamorous," so we kind of had the base look of what we were going for and then we just went from there.
soapcentral.com: How connected has Ken Corday been in the making of Ladies of the Lake? Was he pretty vocal in how he wanted his story to be portrayed? Or did he pretty much hand the reins over to you?
Lowder: It was a little bit of both. Ken is very much involved in Days of our Lives. That obviously has been and will always be his number one priority. So from a man who is really kind of preoccupied with that, he put a lot of trust and faith in Michael and I and said, "This sounds great. You guys go and do your thing." [He didn't step] out of the creative process because he didn't care, but because he just really didn't have the time. But he said, "I believe in this, I believe in you guys, do what you guys need to do to make this amazing." So he gave us the trust and the freedom to do what we had to do. That being said, Michael is the writer between the two of us, and he was charged with adapting a screenplay from this book. Obviously out of respect to Ken but also to the book itself, we wanted to stay as true to the story and the synopsis and the plot of the book as possible. Again, both out of respect for Ken -- and also because the story didn't need a lot of tweaking. So to answer your question, was he creatively involved? Yes. He wrote the story, he had the original vision for it, and we wanted to be true to that. But when the rubber met the road and we started the development and production process, we kind of had free rein and his blessing to do what we needed to do.
soapcentral.com: Obviously it's great that the show has a DAYS connection, but I imagine it's important that it's viewed as its own thing. So how is it similar to Days of our Lives and how do you think it's different?
Lowder: It's like Days of our Lives in the sense that it has a very fun, soapy feel to it with drama and intrigue and murder and all these kinds of things; it very much reads and plays like a soap opera. But that's really the only similarity, if I were to think about it. In terms of the storylines, I've been a fan of soaps, and I've been a part of them for my entire career, and you watch soaps, and there is a level of suspension of disbelief, if that makes any sense. Not all the time, but sometimes, you're watching your favorite soap and something is going on, a storyline, that maybe wouldn't happen in reality, but that doesn't mean you detach from it. You're still attached to the story, and you're still into the story, because that's the genre that you're dealing with, and there's an enjoyment factor when you have that sense of disbelief. This miniseries is kind of the same thing. There are things that happen in this that probably wouldn't happen in real life, but it doesn't take away from the entertainment factor. So again, that was a kind of a long way of saying the similarity to DAYS is that DAYS has been known for its outrageous, outlandish stories of the past, but people love them. So there's that similarity there in terms of the content, and it's very true to the genre of soap opera. But the difference I would say is the way that it looks. The feedback that we've gotten, professional industry feedback, is it's a "visual masterpiece." They've said it's very beautiful to watch. On a soap opera, you're inside, on a set, in a studio, three cameras, and it's a very fast-paced working atmosphere. This, we shot it like a movie. We used the same camera that movies like The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio or James Bond Spectre and Skyfall, the same exact camera that has been used in major, big budget motion pictures. Because we thought, obviously, what do people see? Through the camera. So we spent a lot of money on the camera, and we tried to shoot it like a movie. So it doesn't look anything like a soap opera, but the storylines will kind of bring it back to that genre. It's very much pitted in a fun, dramatic feel of soap opera, but visually, it doesn't look anything like that.
soapcentral.com: What was the casting process like? Were you able to get everybody that you wanted in the parts you wanted?
Lowder: This was the first time that I have been involved in that, and I know casting directors personally, and I've always had respect for what they do, but I have even more respect for what they do [after going through] the process. It's challenging. It's like herding kittens. With the career that I've had and Michael has had, we are very lucky to know a lot of actors and actresses in this business... and we just kind of went through a whole bunch of names of people that we knew personally that would be right for these roles. But once you narrow it down and get a list of maybe two or three actors or actresses for a certain character, it doesn't mean that everybody's schedule will work out. You may want someone, but they're unavailable during that time; just because you want somebody for a role doesn't mean that person's schedule permits. So it was an enjoyable process, a lot of fun, but it was also a tedious process, because everybody's time schedule had to match up to the time period of when we needed to shoot this thing. But we are extremely happy with the cast. Every single person that is in this, we're thrilled with, and we actually originally wanted them, so we can't complain.
soapcentral.com: I find it entertaining that you cast ultra talented actors in the roles of the husbands -- people like Ian Buchanan (ex-Duke Lavery, GH; ex-Greg Madden, AMC; James Warwick, The Bold and the Beautiful; Ian McAllister, DAYS) and Wally Kurth (Ned Ashton, GH; Justin Kiriakis, DAYS) -- and those men actually die quite quickly in the series. What made you decide to do that?
Lowder: [Laughs] The husbands are written like that in the book, as well. It's two things: the book itself was never really about the husbands; the husbands were there to kind of establish, without giving away plot spoilers here, the husbands were there to establish the tumultuous relationships in the marriages. The husbands never really had their own storylines, so we knew when the screenplay was written that the roles of these husbands... were going to be cameo situations. In the casting process, we thought, "What actors can we get that have a very recognizable face and make a splash and a huge impact in a very short amount of time?" And I think we were definitely able to do that. There is that element of it being kind of a bummer, because you're right, each one of them kind of only had one scene. But I have to say, we're so thrilled that in these one scenes for each one of these actors, they just killed it. They knocked it out of the park. So I think it's kind of cool. You watch it, and you're like, "Wow, I love this guy!" And he delivers a whole bunch of wonderful work in a short of amount of time, and then suddenly he's dead. [Laughs] But it's cool, and that's the way it was in the book, so we didn't feel bad about having to cut down airtime or anything like that.
soapcentral.com: I think it's pretty incredible that you and your ex-wife, Ari Zucker, are able to work together as well as you do and also seem to co-parent really well, too. Was that sort of instantaneous, or did you have to work to get to that place?
Lowder: Oh, God, look: without getting into the details of our relationship, Ari and I are still best friends. Obviously we're co-parents, and again, without getting too personal, this is somebody who has been a part of my life for seventeen years with a marriage and parenting and the whole thing. There is a whole lot of love and care and respect for each other at the end of the day. I see and talk to Ari every single day because of the fact that we're co-parenting a child. She only lives five minutes away from me here in L.A. That's the personal side of things. But I think with regards to this project, it was never about the personal. I've worked with Ari for many years on DAYS, and I've always respected her work. Ari the actress and Ari the person in my personal life were always two different people in the sense that I've always respected Ari's work as an actress and Ari's work ethic, her talent, and everything that goes along with that. In a weird hypothetical world, even if Ari and I were never married or didn't have a personal relationship, her work alone was enough for us to say she needed to be in this miniseries. We knew she needed to be in this, and we knew she had to play this role. And I have a very poignant scene with her at the end of the miniseries, and for me, it was never about saying, "Oh, it's going to be great to work with her again," on a personal level, even though it was. It was more about, "Oh, I'm looking forward to working with her as an actress again," because, like any aspect of business, you want to work with people that make you better, and she's definitely somebody that challenges you and makes you better. So the fact that we are best friends and have an amazing relationship personally is a great thing, but more about the professional side of things, from Michael and I's standpoint, she had to be a part of this, and I'm glad she was.
soapcentral.com: What was it like for you to be both a co-producer as well as act in the series? Was that tough to juggle?
Lowder: It was crazy! It was the first time in my career that I had to wear three different hats. I didn't really think about this at the time, but I look back in retrospect and I did kind of have this unconscious separation between the two. But at the time, it just felt very natural. There were two different scenarios. There was one scenario where I had to be in front of the camera and behind the camera on the same day, and then there was another scenario where I wasn't working as an actor, I wasn't on the schedule that day, but I still had to be on the set as a producer. The days that I had to be in front of the camera and producing, it was interesting. We always started the days very early in the morning, so I woke up with the producer hat on, wrangling everybody and getting production started on time and fulfilling all the responsibilities as a producer, and then with maybe an hour or two at most before I had to go on-camera, I just kind of felt this switch where I was like, "Okay, I have to relieve myself of these responsibilities of producer and then not really meditate but close my eyes, decompress from the stresses of being producer on the set, and then go up to hair and makeup, close my eyes, get hair and makeup done, go to wardrobe, pull the script out, and then dive into the actor side of things." I didn't really think about it at the time; it was just something I did. But in retrospect, [at the end of the day], I would kind of sit there and be like, "I'm exhausted!" But I loved it. I loved every second of it, and I learned a lot. Michael Caruso is an incredible producer, and I learned a lot from him during this process -- and I knew that I was going to, which is why I wanted to work with him. This was my first foray into being "in charge" of production, and it was a great experience. It really was. But on the days I had to wear both hats, I didn't look at it as difficult at the time, but definitely that night, during retrospect, yeah, it was a lot. But I wouldn't trade it for anything, because I'm a workaholic. I love to work, and it was great.
soapcentral.com: So how do you feel about the finished project? Did it turn out to be what you originally had in mind?
Lowder: Yes, and in some respects, even better, which is great. With anything in life, you have your initial vision of something, and if you can get to the end of the process and say -- working with other people of course - "I was able to realize this initial vision that I had," then I think that's a success. In some respects, it exceeded my expectations, which was great. I think the team we had -- and I know this is going to sound like a lot of political butt kissing, but it's the truth -- the team that we had was so incredible. Our director of photography, and our crew, and Sonia [Blangiardo], our director, just everybody on this team, both in front of and behind the camera, really cared about this project and really wanted to make it everything that we could possibly make it. When we were on set watching some of the dailies, the footage that we shot throughout the day, we were over the moon about it. But when we saw the final product, there were some aspects where Michael and I just looked at each other and said, "How the hell did we do that?!" [Laughs] And of course we didn't do it; we were working with this incredible team. But without giving too much away, because I don't want too many spoilers out there, there were a lot of parts in it visually that exceeded our expectations. And I think that's all you can ask for. If you can meet your vision, that's awesome. But if you can exceed it, even if in just one or two things, you're thrilled. And that's exactly where we're sitting.
Watch for part one of the four-part Ladies of the Lake miniseries on Monday, March 15, exclusively on Amazon.
What are your feelings about the details Lowder revealed on the making of Ladies of the Lake? Who or what are you most looking forward to seeing when the series debuts? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.