One Life To Live Q&A: Corbin Bleu On Playing Reporter Jeffrey & His Unique Meeting With Erika Slezak
He’s one of the newest cast members to Prospect Park’s The Online Network reboot of “One Life To Live,” but as The Banner’s freelance news reporter Jeffrey, Corbin Bleu fits in like he’s been in Llanview for years.
The “High School Musical” and Broadway alum (he starred in, “In The Heights”) was thrown into the deep end of Llanview as soon as the show debuted online in late April, pairing him up on screen with Victoria Lord, played by multi-Emmy winner Erika Slezak.
“She is the sweetest woman you will ever meet,” Corbin told AccessHollywood.com of his celebrated co-star.
Although she is one of daytime’s most celebrated actresses, Corbin didn’t have a second to get nervous about meeting the daytime queen. Before he could go up to her and introduce himself, she came to find him on the Stamford, Conn., set. And, like a plot straight out of a soap, he wasn’t fully dressed at the time.
“I’m in the middle of a fitting, so like I have no pants on, I have no shirt on, I’m like in my underwear, and I hear the door knocking and they’re like, ‘It’s Erika. She wanted to come by and say hi,’” Corbin laughed. “I ended up putting on clothes real quick.”
As the episodes of the show continue to roll out online (“One Life To Live” now drops two episodes a week — on Tuesday and Thursday), fans will be seeing more and more of Jeffrey. And, in our interview with the actor, he told Access about what it was like joining the soap world, and hinted at his character’s dark side that viewers will soon see unveiled.
AccessHollywood.com: Jeffrey’s a great character, but you felt bad for him the first week of episodes because he brought Victoria this huge story about her forever arch rival, Dorian, and he’s still freelance.
Corbin Bleu: You know what, it’s one of those thing with soaps. It’s just the build. … You gotta keep ‘em down until that one twist finally comes. He’ll get his day.
Access: Jeffrey apparently has a dark side. Does it have to do with his work or his personal life?
Corbin: It’s a combination of both. I’m trying… not to give too much here, but you’ll definitely find out some stuff about his past that has its own little puppet strings on his future.
Access: Tell me about jumping in with the pace of a soap opera. People on soaps have one of the hardest jobs in the acting world because there are so many pages to get through.
Corbin: It’s funny because I heard about it and I’d been told stories and I thought I understood what I was getting myself into. It was not until the first day of work that I was like, ‘Woah!’ I had no idea. I memorize anywhere between 20-50 pages [of dialogue] a day and it’s just the craziest thing. I’ve worked on Broadway and that’s a difficult venue in itself. … With this, there’s always something new going on, so you’re always on your toes. It’s not stale. The hard part is just getting it crammed into your brain for the next day. … Once you start, it is [an] unstoppable locomotive and I don’t really get to work on stuff until the end of the day, so once I’m done, in the evening time is when I’m going, ‘How am I gonna get ready tomorrow?’
Access: At least you are in Stamford, Conn., where I don’t imagine you have a huge network of friends just yet, or things you are used, to because it is a new place for you guys to film.
Corbin: You are so beyond right. It’s 45 minutes away from New York City, so for the weekend I go into New York, but during the week, yeah, there’s not really too much going on there. I have a 45 minute walk to a mall, so it’s not even worth it. I pretty much just chill in the hotel room and work. … Luckily, the friends that I have are just the best possible friends. They all know me and get me and understand when I work on a project, I kind of disappear. I don’t really take a lot of phone calls, I don’t really text back and forth a whole ton, and even more so with this. … I do my best to talk to my family every day.
Access: You’ve got to keep in touch with the family!
Corbin: I’ll tell you one good thing, my father, he’s the one that I run my lines with every day, ‘cause he’s an actor as well. He’s been doing this longer than I have and he’s been my coach my whole life so I Skype with him every night, so I get a chance to see the rest of my family as well. But he’s the one I run my lines with.
Access: Have you changed your physical routine to cope with this schedule?
Corbin: I try, but sometimes, I mean, especially with soaps, right, ‘cause you’re taking your shirt off all the frickin’ time.
Access: That can mean a lot of working out, right?
Corbin: Well, we haven’t gotten to it yet, but it’s coming. So, you want to be able to get to the gym, you want to be able to eat right, and you get up every morning around 5:30, 6:30, so you want to get as much sleep as you can. It gets to that point though where you go, ‘I just want French fries.’ Or, ‘I’m just so depleted I don’t know if I can make it through this shift right now.’ Or I have been working all day, I would love to just veg and watch TV, but I can’t do that because it’s already 11 o’clock and I gotta get to bed.
Access: You’re on social media. What’s the reaction been like to ‘OLTL’ from your fans?
Corbin: Everybody seems very excited. It’s been a great response on Twitter and Facebook — one, they’re loving that it’s on the web and they can watch it whenever they want…. And it’s edgier now. … I know for my fans, specifically, it’s great to see the reaction from them because a lot of my fans maybe haven’t necessarily been introduced to the soap world before, and a lot of them are checking it out and really enjoying it and getting hooked on it. I love the crossover of generations and styles.
Access: There is a nightclub in Llanview – Shelter, and throughout ‘OLTL’s history, characters have performed in various venues. Any plans to take the stage?
Corbin: [Executive Producer] Jennifer Pepperman and I… had several long conversations before even starting. … The thing with Jeffrey, because of how involved he is in his work, and stuff that we will start to reveal later on about what his true purpose and everything is, I don’t know if singing [fits in] there. … So probably not. I’m gonna say ‘No’ on that, which is totally cool with me because I prefer it that way, just because I don’t need to sing in every project.
Access: ‘OLTL’ did a ‘High School Musical’ style episode when it was on ABC.
Corbin: That is so funny. That’s hilarious. Well, obviously if they end up doing that, if everybody’s doing it… then maybe, but I don’t think it would be in character, necessarily, for Jeffrey to sing.
-- Jolie Lash
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