Linden Ashby has played quite a few soap opera roles in his long career, including Days of our Lives' Paul Hollingsworth and Loving's Curtis Alden. But daytime fans arguably know him best as Cameron Kirsten, one of the most loathsome villains in the history of The Young and the Restless. And that's why it might be pretty satisfying for soap fans to know he's faced with quite a truckload of torture in his new Lifetime film A Daughter's Revenge.
The upcoming thriller tells the story of Elle Spencer (Jessica Sipo), who uses her unsuspecting best friend to terrorize her stepfather, David (Ashby), whom she blames for her mother's suicide. As David finds himself deeper and deeper in hot water, it becomes clear that he might not only lose his reputation but also his life.
Soap Central spoke with Ashby about A Daughter's Revenge -- which premieres on Lifetime Movie Network this Saturday, May 12, at 10/9C -- and ended up getting the actor to spill about a slew of topics just as crazy as the plot of the film. Read on for details on how he really felt about playing Y&R's baddie Cameron, the possibility of a Genoa City return, why he was fired from his very first soap opera job, the insane real-life story that had him being blamed for a horrendous thing he didn't do, and more.
Soap Central: Hi, Linden! You must be so excited about your new film that comes out this weekend!
Linden Ashby: I am! I've done quite a few Lifetime movies, or rather LMN movies because it's not just Lifetime anymore, and I've worked with [executive producer] Pierre David a number of times throughout my career; he's an old friend, so it's just a pleasure to work with him, and he asked me about this part, and I said, "Yeah, but here's the deal: I'll do this one, and then I want to direct one this year." And he said okay. So that was our deal, and I'm excited about this film, and I'm excited about directing the next one, and it's all good. Life is good.
Soap Central: It sounds like it! I'm going to ask you about the directing angle, but before I do, outside of getting to direct an upcoming Lifetime movie, what attracted you to A Daughter's Revenge and made you want to take on the role of David?
Ashby: The plot is really fun, and the people that I work with -- Jess and Sierra [Wooldridge] -- are great. They're such talented young actors. The script is so fun; Andrea Canning wrote a really great script. She always cracks me up, because it's like, "Okay, so you're not busy enough on Nightline that you just gotta write movies in your spare time?" [Laughs] And you know, I've done so many of these Lifetime films, and I love the format. It's very much first act, second act, third act, the good guys and bad guys are pretty well defined, it's suspenseful, and they're fun. The more I talk to people about these movies, the more I realize it's like [my former series] Melrose Place used to be: it's a guilty pleasure that no one really cops to, especially if you're a guy. But I have guy friends of mine who are like, "Oh, man, I love Lifetime movies." Because you know what you're getting. It's almost like comfort food. You know what you're getting, it's satisfying, it's fun, and it's good entertainment. And it's not trying to be something that it's not.
Soap Central: You did mention that usually the good guys and bad guys are pretty clearly defined, but from the film's teasers, it's not entirely clear where David lies. He does seem to be the victim, as his stepdaughter is doing everything she can to take him down. But he also seems like the bad guy, potentially responsible for his wife's suicide. So, is he good? Or is he bad?
Ashby: My wife has issues that I knew about, and her daughter has issues that I don't know about. [Laughs] But, yeah, I am actually a pretty good husband, a pretty good dad, and there's a lot going on that I don't know about.
Soap Central: Part of revenge, seemingly, is sort of framing David for things he didn't really do. Can you think of a time in your own life when you were blamed for something that you didn't do?
Ashby: Yeah, actually. I remember getting blamed for something that I didn't do, and I was like, "I don't even know what you're talking about." And it was really interesting. I was doing summer theater, and there was a young lady who was an intern, and she created this whole fantasy world and put it in her diary. And her father found this diary and was like, "What the hell is going on?" And I was like, "I don't have any idea what you're talking about." This was a long time ago, and it took some time to sort out, but she was writing her fantasies of what would happen [with me], and I had no idea, but it was pretty tough. She finally said none of it had happened... but the police were called because it was a big deal -- this was a fifteen-year-old girl, and I was maybe twenty.
Soap Central: Whoa. This sounds like the plot of your next Lifetime movie.
Ashby: Yeah! It was a mess. So, yes, that has happened. And other times in your life, you know, people think you've done something you haven't done, and I find the best way to confront that or deal with it is just to really have the people talk about what's going on, and everyone needs to be on the same page. Or you murder people [like in the film] -- I'm not sure! [Laughs]
Soap Central: If you're in a Lifetime film, that's probably what's going to happen! When you first started acting, did you ever imagine that you'd be playing the roles you've landed in your career? Something like this to someone like The Young and the Restless' abusive Cameron Kirsten, which was a doozy.
Ashby: I know! Even to this day, I never know what the next part is going to be. Some of them fit you better than others, and there are some [that don't]. I spent six years on Teen Wolf, playing a really good guy, a great father and sheriff and good man. And that's a character that you love bringing home. And then you play like a really skeezy person, and I don't want to talk too much about acting, but you walk around in these people's skin for so long that you start bringing that shit home. And you don't always bring the good ones home; sometimes you bring the bad ones home, too.
Soap Central: What character have you played that was probably the biggest stretch for you?
Ashby: Well, I would think the part of Cameron Kirsten on The Young and the Restless was a pretty good stretch, but that was a really fun part to play. I don't think that character is done. I think he could show back up there and have a fun time with Sharon [Sharon Case].
Soap Central: Everyone loves a bad guy!
Ashby: Oh, yeah! And he was bad. But it was really fun. And you know, [my wife] Susan [Walters] was on the show [as Diane Jenkins], so they kind of came to me and said, "Hey, will you do these thirteen episodes of this little character arc?" And I said yeah, and then they were like, "Will you do more?" And, "Will you do more?" And, "Will you do more?" And I was like, "Okaaaayyyy." I remember I was doing a movie at the same time, and it was running back and forth between the two. But it's fun. Doing a soap opera is soooo nerve-racking but great for you as an actor at the same time. You don't get a lot of chances. And there's beauty in that because it's a really spontaneous and [it's like a] live performance. You're not doing a bunch of coverage; you're getting it all at once. It's like a play, you're shooting a play, and all these great and spontaneous things can happen. But you don't have a lot of prep, and you don't have a lot of time. And you'd better get it right the first couple of times, or that train is leaving the station without you.
Soap Central: I have a lot of respect for actors who work on soap operas, because it takes a lot of talent and discipline to work under those conditions. And so many people who criticize soap acting don't understand the mechanics of what you guys do.
Ashby: Well, I was having a conversation the other day with someone who was asking about why all these Australian actors are working so much, and I said, "Because they all started on that soap opera in Australia." Liam Hemsworth and everybody started on [these soaps like Neighbors and Home and Away]. You look at their résumés, and they've all been on them. But we never see the shows, so there's no stigma attached to it. But they learned how to work. They learned how to be on time, learn their lines, hit their marks, work in front of a camera, be where they need to be, and really honed their craft. And then they show up here [in the US] and they're good, and we're like, "Oh, wow, that's magical." And you go, "No, man, everybody came from that soap!" There's a stigma attached to a soap opera now, and it didn't used to be that way. It was that way, but not to this extent. Everybody started on a soap. Look, when I was on Loving [as Curtis Alden], it was like Kevin Bacon was on a soap, Meg Ryan was on a soap, Alec Baldwin was on a soap, Bryan Cranston was on Loving with us, Luke Perry was on a soap. Everybody started there. You're a young actor, you learned, you made money, it was a foot in the door, and you gained invaluable experience. And now I think in soap operas, you see people who learn really bad habits, and you see people who don't, and you can go one of two ways. You get these guys who can do this in their sleep, and they're just kind of collecting their paycheck. They learn, "Oh, this face is a good face to make." I don't work that way. That was not my thing. But then you work with great actors. So, it's like anything else; there's really good ones, and there are people who are not great. But it used to be this launching pad for everybody.
Soap Central: Your soap roles were all relatively short. Could you see yourself doing a long-term soap role?
Ashby: I doubt it. But you never know. You get in that situation, and you're there, and you get really comfortable, and you probably get really used to the money, and you get used to the routine, and you're like, "Why would I leave?" Which is a trap in and of itself. It's a good trap; it's a gilded cage. So, I don't know. But I think it works brilliantly for some people. You can have family, you can have stability, you can have all these things that as an actor are not a given. Susan was on The Young and the Restless for just three years, and then she did Loving for three years. I was only on Loving for a couple of years and then managed to get myself fired.
Soap Central: Really? How did you do that?
Ashby: Oh, I probably didn't have a good attitude. I was twenty-something, and you know, I learned all kinds of lessons on that show.
Soap Central: And if you're going to learn them...
Ashby: Might as well learn 'em when you're young!
Soap Central: When you were on Y&R, you played such a shady character, as we established. How did fans react to you at the time? Did they tear you to shreds?
Ashby: Oh, God, they loved that character! It was great. People really responded to that character. It was pretty funny. There was middle ground, because he was really bad, but you knew why he was bad. He was all fu**ed up -- a complicated guy, damaged goods. Like all of us!
Soap Central: You mentioned earlier that you're interested in directing. Is this something you have experience in?
Ashby: Well, I directed on Teen Wolf, and I'm directing a short film right now that I'm excited about, and this opportunity came. I love acting, and I don't ever see not working as an actor. But I find a lot of joy in directing, as well. It suits my brain, and I probably should have started when I was much younger. But that's life, right?
Soap Central: I've heard that directing is super stressful but super addictive. Would you characterize it that way?
Ashby: Yeah! I would totally agree with that. The buck stops at you. Everyone says, "Hey, what do you want for this? What do you want for that?" And you'd better have an answer. But it's like anything else: great directors surround themselves with great people. The best thing you can do is you hire great people and you hire a great cast and you do your homework, and you can kind of sit back and go, "Oh, look how good I am! I am brilliant!" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Have you guys talked about the film you'll be directing over at Lifetime? Do you have an idea of the project yet?
Ashby: I don't know yet. We haven't gotten to that point yet. I haven't seen a script, I haven't seen anything. But I will be excited no matter what it is.
Soap Central: A Daughter's Revenge is out this weekend. Do you get nervous, excited, or any of those emotions before a premiere? What's your typical reaction before a premiere?
Ashby: You know, my part is done, where I can effect any kind of change or difference in the project, so I just hope that people like it. I know the work was good, I know we made a fun little movie, and I think it's all there. So, I hope people enjoy it and have a good ride.
What do you think about our interview with Linden Ashby? Are you intrigued by the premise of A Daughter's Revenge? How would you feel if Cameron Kirsten returned to Y&R? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.