Hollywoodstar Jack Wagner Exclusive

Hollywoodstar Jack Wagner Exclusive

In a career spanning over 30 years, Jack Wagner has proven that he can do pretty much anything. Although he is best known for his work on television - since 1983! starring in the hit series General Hospital - Wagner has also achieved great acclaim as a stage actor and musician and enjoys the rare distinction of being one of those incredible scratch golfers, boasting a handicap of zero or better. Golfers know what that means!

He has already won six club championships on his home course in Los Angeles, the BelAir Country Club, and in 1990 he won the Pebble Beach AT&T ProAm event together with John Cook. He is also a two-time winner of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, which takes place every July in Lake Tahoe and is broadcast live on NBC. And he organizes his own tournaments: Wagner is the national celebrity ambassador for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which benefits from the annual "Jack Wagner Celebrity Golf Classic.“

We hear from Jack Wagner himself that he was actually present at the recording of the song "We Are The World". Otherwise, he has just released his long-awaited sixth album On the Porch. A collection of 12 original songs, all written or co-written by the Missouri native, he is currently starring in the Hallmark Channel's acclaimed drama series "When Calls the Heart" (season 22 premieres! April 7). Wagner also recently starred in and executive produced the original telefilm "The Wedding March" and had a guest role in the Netflix vacation film "Falling for Christmas" alongside Lindsay Lohan. His special love is the stage. But first, let's talk to him about our very special cover topic, loyalty.

What does loyalty mean to you personally? Are there certain values or principles that are of crucial importance to you?
Well, I think that what you just said with the question is actually the answer. Values and principles. That's what's really behind the word loyalty. I think that's why people rely on family. That's why family is family. Because you feel like those are the people you can trust and who will always be loyal, especially your mother and father. And then I see things like athletics, the soccer teams around the world and in America, professional soccer, professional basketball, and they leave a team after a year or two. I love sports myself and I've always been an athlete, but it hurts me when younger people don't have those ideals to look up to, like a Michael Jordan who played for the Chicago Bulls all those years. I feel like people's loyalty, athletes' loyalty to their teams, is so fickle today because they go where the money is. Maybe not everyone, but pretty much everyone. I think the older I've gotten, the wiser I've gotten when it comes to loyalty. I've always had integrity and tried to do my best.

So you're also concerned with stability? That people no longer have real relationships? That it's difficult to stay together, live together, have partnerships or even get married? Is marriage out?
Yes, I think you're right that the whole model of marriage or the family system, the old role model of what a man is and what a woman is, has fundamentally changed. I think the reason for that is technology. Everyone is fed with so many stimuli. It's all about instant gratification. And it all becomes an addiction. If what you're being fed doesn't stimulate you or make you happy, there's no more loyalty. You might manage to be loyal for a while, but if the slightest problem arises, you'd rather leave the other person or people. Marriages are left like this, institutions are left and jobs too. This intensity or this euphoria has a lot to do with technology and what it has done to our brains, what it has done to our youth, what it has done to the next generation. And that's the reason why not so many people are getting married anymore.

And many don't want children either. Is that because of a big ego? Is it all about the career? Or does everyone want to be an Instagram star and simply doesn't have time for children or anyone else? 
That's what I was talking about: feeding the part of us that needs to suddenly get attention, replies or likes, recognition and validation. That's what happens when it comes to the ego monster. We are all not immune to this problem, which occurs when we do not keep the ego in check and are not aware of how it works. Because then we feed it unconsciously. And that's why it's so easy to give up on things as a result.

What does loyalty mean to you professionally?
I think loyalty to me means that I stand up for other actors, that I speak up to the producers about problems in the show that need to be fixed. I think I'm just the kind of person that if I don't like something, I'll speak up and I won't stand up for something that's just not good or even wrong. I will get involved and make sure people know that it's not working or it's not right. I think that's definitely a form of loyalty and it's not about my ego either. It's more about doing the right thing. And I always try to be diplomatic about it. Even when it comes to actors' contracts, I've been doing that for a long time. Also when it comes to decisions about production or other things. I'm on the Hallmark Channel right now on a show that I've been doing for 10 years and I've had a number of movies that I've executive produced and been in. So I was very much involved in the creative process of scripts and casting. So as you get older, you really learn what directors and production people have to do and not just an actor showing up and wondering where his dressing room is and when he has to perform. So I hope that as I've got older I've learned to be a bit wiser.

But I also think it's necessary to be as well-mannered and light-hearted as possible at work, because not everyone always has good days and so you learn when to keep quiet. Because sometimes being loyal means learning when it's better to keep quiet. That's professionalism. Sometimes I also enjoy being funny on a set. I do ridiculous things and make jokes with other crew members or about myself or I sing a song or whatever, because I think people like to laugh on long days. I've always been someone who's fun and cheerful on set. That doesn't always work, of course, but when it's a heavy, emotional scene, sometimes the biggest laughs come out. Simply because it's so intense. It's almost like being at a funeral. When you're in such an emotional, painful situation, sometimes you have to laugh and cry at the same time because you just have to let it go.

How do you generally prepare for different roles, is there a particular method that you prefer?
It varies depending on the genre. A soap, for example, is shot very quickly. You shoot for an hour and a day, whereas a series takes an hour and about eight days. And if you're doing a play - I've done a lot of stage plays in my life - then you need three, four or five weeks to prepare for a play or live theater. So the process is very similar and yet very different. I call it power running in a soap opera. The bold and the beautiful. You have to learn your lines really quickly and rehearse with the other actors over and over again and pretty much everyone is available for that. In the series you have a lot more time and you simply have more luxury in terms of preparation. When I played Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway, the transformation of the character into a Gothic tragedy from the 1880s was very elaborate: English accent, wig, beard, costume changes, one after the other. For me as an actor, this means that I simply have to learn my lines. That's the most important thing. You just have to memorize, memorize, memorize until you feel comfortable and prepared enough to be confident enough to learn the other actor's lines. Then when you hear the other actor's voice when you start rehearsing, you can shape a performance. So until I hear the other actor's voice, I try to just have equanimity in me, the ability to be open and available. That's how I approach it.

Is it more difficult to act on stage because of all the memorization? It's not the same as in a movie, where there are various scenes and you can learn some of them by heart?
No, it's not more difficult. It's just a live performance and you will play the piece over and over again. In a movie or TV series, on the other hand, the scene is finished as soon as you've finished it. Then you move on to the next scene. That's really the difference between film and television and theater. When you prepare and rehearse for a play, you end up having a lot more time, it takes longer to rehearse it, but then you play it over and over again.

As an actor, you have met many people all over Hollywood. How do you manage to build long-term relationships and do you think it's more difficult today than it used to be? 
The way I see it is that at a young age we are at school, then we go to college, then we have a job and then another job. And in all these situations, we start families. The people we surround ourselves with in college we meet in our first job and then we're waiters and young and so we make these communities in that window of time, you start a little family and then you move on. You finish a movie or the show gets canceled. But the thing is, I wouldn't call them really long-term, dynamic friendships. It's more like you suddenly run into each other or see each other and, like friends, you pick up where you left off ten years ago and maybe haven't seen each other that often. And that's how I would describe my relationships with actors in Hollywood or directors and so on. You just meet up again and for some reason you just pick up where you left off. You laugh about the times you've spent together and you reminisce. But I'm a TV guy first and foremost. I don't know many, I used to know a lot of the big movie actors because I play golf. I'm a member of the Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles. I've played with so many high profile movie stars in different golf tournaments, but I don't know Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt, that's not my world. My world is more sports people and TV people. I've certainly played golf with Sean Connery and Jack Nicholson. The movie world is not really what I would call my group of people because I just haven't worked with them. But I'm really grateful for the relationships I have with so many people I've met - actors, TV people and crew members.

For a "normal" person, it is always difficult to imagine what it's like in Hollywood. Are you automatically invited to parties? Is Hollywood like a kind of family? Or is it just like anywhere else in the world?
Yes, I would say it's like the rest of the world. I think most actors, especially high profile ones, have their own group that they hang out with. And I can probably promise that it's not with other actors, but with grounded friends who are kind of "normal". That's how most people are: You have your own circle of friends, that's just the way life is. You work and then you come home from work and go back to what's normal and everyday for you. That's what I know from actors and musicians.

Is it important for you to do charity work or support other people?
Yes, of course. I was an ambassador for the Leukemia Lymphoma Foundation on the West Coast for 10 years because of my brother, who had leukemia at the time. My main tool for charity is golf. Golf has always been a big part of my life. That's why I organized my own tournament for the Leukemia Lymphoma Foundation for nine years. Of course, it's important to reach out to other actors and athletes in the Hollywood community and they also reach out to me to do charity work. So I've often performed for Anthony Anderson, George Lopez and Marcus Allen. And the list of tournaments I participate in, the one-day charity events, goes on and on. It's a lot of work, but you also raise a lot of money for the charity that way. So I would say that golf is my main platform for charity.

Now let's take a look back: When you were young and you met a major Hollywood actor or producer for the first time, was that a big deal for you? Were you aware of it at that moment?
It's interesting that you ask that. I was just watching "The Greatest Night in Pop Music" on Netflix last night. It was about the song "We are the world". And I was there at the time because I had presented Lionel Richie with an award at the AMA Awards that night. They only showed a small clip of me, but I was there. And I was on Quincy Jones' label. I was number one in the pop charts at the time, so he invited me to "We Are The World". And when everyone showed up, I was in the middle of them, watching everything unfold at M-Records. That night, Michael Jackson came up to me and complimented me on my record and my voice. I wasn't invited as a performer to sing along, but Quincy wanted me to come along to watch the whole thing. So I was there for about half an hour and then left. And when I watched it last night, I realized again what an incredible encounter that was back then. I had somehow forgotten about it over the years. And seeing myself, if only for a few seconds, presenting an AMA award to Lionel Ritchie and then remembering all these iconic artists coming in and me just saying hello to a few of them and Michael Jackson - that experience of meeting them, that was probably the biggest night of my life musically. What was also pretty awesome was playing golf with Sean Connery. The first time I played golf with Sean Connery, it was like a little thriller that completely blew you away.


The portrayal of rocker Frisco Jones in the hit series "General Hospital" offered him the opportunity to record songs for the series, which ultimately led to a contract for several albums with Quincy Jones' Warner Bros. imprint, Qwest Records. Wagner's debut LP, released in 1984, produced a major hit single with the title track "All I Need". Four more albums followed, which produced four more Top 40 singles.

Wagner's love of the theater led him to star in two highly acclaimed national touring productions, first as Tony in West Side Story in 1987 and then as Danny Zuko in Grease in 1988. His work in the theater culminated in 2000, when he played the title role(s) of a lifetime in the Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde.

In the 1990s, Wagner moved to television as Dr. Peter Burns in the hit series "Melrose Place," where he worked for five years not only as an actor but also as a director. Further television appearances followed, including a nine-year role in the major national and international hit series "The Bold and The Beautiful", numerous guest roles in series such as "Castle" and "Monk" and Wagner was also seen in the 14th season of "Dancing with the Stars".

Alle Fotos: http://www.manfredbaumann.com
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Make up: @nellybaumann
Text und Interview: Elke Bauer 


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