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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Part #1

AWT: After AW you went back to primetime. Can you talk about your exit from AW? What are some of the favorite roles you've played since?

CP: With AW, when we talk about stuff lasting forever, I never thought AW would be that. I never thought I’d be talking about it in 2010 because there were no reruns at the time and AW was media that we made for that moment. If you missed an episode, you missed it forever. If you didn’t tape it, you weren’t going to be able to catch it later. Whereas with primetime and with films you have a longer time to be viewed and seen, which is one reason I decided to move on after my contract was up. I mean, I loved the show, but I felt I need to move on. I wanted to do that next Hairspray, that next Cosby Show. I guess once you do it once, you want to go back and do it again. At the time I left, I was thrilled because I was positive about moving on to do more work in film and primetime, but before I left, Michael Laibson made me promise that if I was to come back to daytime, I had to come back to Another World. So it was nice to know I was still wanted in daytime.

After AW, I did Dark Justice. I loved doing that character. That was one of the few characters that I did where I got to show every facet of my personality. I loved what my character was saying politically, I loved that I was working with such a dark subject, I loved that I got to do martial arts and did most of my own stunts. It was literally everything. Dark Justice and Black Ninja were the only two projects where I got to do everything that I really enjoy.

The most recent project that I’ve done that’s out is a movie called Cover. I guess you could say that it is the black version of Brokeback Mountain. It’s explores married men who cheat on their wives with other men. It was directed by Bill Duke and stars me, Vivica A. Fox, Louis Gossett, Jr., Patti LaBelle, Leon, and Mya. It’s becoming a cult classic with strong grass roots. I loved what it was saying politically. Unfortunately 20th Century FOX got a little squeamish about it and limited the distribution. As always, in Hollywood there are no guarantees!

AWT: You wrote, directed and starred in the film, Black Ninja. How did that movie come about and what was your experience wearing three hats?

CP: I got to do everything that I enjoy doing, but it was a challenge. The budget was very limited, but the overall experience was great. The Black Ninja was in a lot of ways a continuation of the character in Dark Justice. It’s about a lawyer who hates the law. He hates that people like him are able to manipulate the law so that real justice can’t be done. He starts out as a lawyer, kind of like Johnnie Cochran. He was good at manipulating the law and he knew that what he was doing might be considered to be immoral to some, but he didn’t care because he was making money off of it. But that changes when a client, an assassin, who my character gets off on several murder charges, kills my character’s wife and kids. And that’s the first time my character is confronted with the type of people he’s been getting off all these years. And he becomes a recluse, learns martial arts, and when he comes back he goes back to taking on these questionable clients, defending them by day, but meting out his own justice to the guilty at night by doing to them what they did to their victims. It’s kind of dark and humorous and a lot of action. We had a lot of fun doing it. In fact there was talk about making it a television series. Currently, we’re developing a comic book series centered around the character.

AWT: You were Seaweed in the original Hairspray! What was that experience like?

CP: There are a few projects that I’ve done that are going to last forever. When I’m a grandfather, when I’m dead and gone, Cosby is going to be one and Hairspray is definitely going to be the other. After I did Cosby, John Waters wanted to meet with me. And it’s funny- I had seen Pink Flamingos in college and I remember thinking ‘What a bunch of weirdos. I hope to God I never meet you people in my life. They’re like the Addams family for real!' And when my agent called me he said, ‘Oh, John Waters saw you on Cosby and he really likes your stuff and he wants to meet with you,’ I was like, ‘Why would he want to hire me?’ When I finally met with him, I realized that John Waters will be the smartest man I’ve ever met in my life, bar none. He has a unique way of looking at the work, but it’s not wrong and it’s not crazy, it might seem crazy at first, but you realize it’s crazy like a fox. He is absolutely the smartest man in the world that I’ve met. He has a very sincere honesty about him. He’s probably more of a humanitarian of the world than most humanitarians claim to be.

I remember when we were on the set and I was talking to him about Ricki Lake and Colleen Fitzpatrick, and I thought for sure Colleen would be the big star coming off this project. I love Ricki to death and she’s majorly talented- she can sing, I mean people don’t even know how well she can really sing. But I was looking at it in the typical Hollywood kind of way. John was like, ‘No, it’s going to be Ricki, because when you put the two of them on the screen, who is anyone going to be looking at? Ricki. And as long as she’s brilliant every time, they’re going to keep looking at her and no one’s going to be looking at Colleen.’ And it was so true! The big mistake Hollywood makes is they put these fantasy images of women out there, but realistically most women look like Ricki and Ricki is going to be the woman they relate to. I’m telling you John is so smart.

AWT: During your stint on AW, you were also working with the Guardian Angels. What drove you to participate? Are you still involved with the organization?

CP: I was involved for about ten years, but am no longer with the organization. It’s kind of a complicated story. Basically, I was a working actor and doing pretty good and was living a lifestyle where I wasn’t faced with a lot of concerns like a lot of other people. At the time, everyone in the world was talking about the Central Park jogger who had been raped and that whole situation, and I thought it was disgusting from every perspective I know. Legally, morally, culturally - everything in every way. I was on the show one day, and an actor was talking about it and he was going on about how he would’ve beaten up those guys and saved that woman and I’m looking at this guy and thinking that he may believe he would’ve done that, but I knew he wouldn’t have done anything. I’m sure there were people in Central Park at the moment that woman was being raped and did nothing because they were afraid. And I’m looking at this guy go on about what he would’ve done and then I actually thought about would I have done anything if I had been there and, honest to God, I realized that I wouldn’t have. I’d have been afraid like everyone else. And I hated that I would’ve been afraid and that it was the truth. I asked myself: What kind of man does that make me? I was kind of down on myself. Shortly after that, I remember being in the back of a limousine and I saw a group of Guardian Angels on patrol. And I thought: You know they are the only ones who would really do something about a situation if they saw it. And then the idea popped in my head ‘Why not?’ I really wrestled with myself over it. What am I gonna do? Karate chop a gun from someone’s hand? I’m a television star! But then things kept happening and I kept seeing the Guardian Angels everywhere all the time. One thing led to another and I went down and signed up. I think things happen at certain times in a person’s life where you’re kind of forced to be honest with yourself. Being honest with yourself is the hardest thing to do in life. It’s easy to point out other people’s faults, but it’s hard to be honest about your good points and bad points and then actually take action and do something about what you feel are your shortcomings.

AWT: What are you up to these days? Tell us about your current and upcoming projects.

CP: I just did an indie movie called Café with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Kennedy. Not sure when it’s coming out. 90% takes place in a cyber-café. There are all these different people who come into the café. I play a cop who comes in for coffee and donuts and Jamie plays a drug dealer who is my arch enemy. It’s pretty dramatic and has a cool sci-fi twist to it. I also have a few television projects in the works that I’m keeping my fingers crossed for. We’ll see!

AWT: Where do you think Reuben is today?

CP: I think Reuben could’ve gone down a couple of paths. He could be a cop or he could be a lawyer from what Cass taught him. I think that would be interesting. Because of his stand-up he was great at speaking and would be great in court. He would still have a chip on his shoulder about life and society, but in a positive way. Reuben was one of those characters that if you caught him on a good day he could save the world, and if you caught him on a bad day he might be the guy trying to destroy the world. Because he was filled with uncertainty he could be both good and bad. He could probably be an interesting politician! To really be fair and honest to the character that was created, he has to be troubled, there’s not going to be a magic wand waved where he says, ‘I get it now!’ He’s someone who always wanted to trust in people but just couldn’t do it. Cass and Josie were really the only two people that he ever trusted. Not his mother, brother, or sister. He really wanted to have more with Josie but there were two big things preventing that, one being that he had a good friendship with Matt and there’s no hitting on your guy’s girl and the other, and I hate mentioning it, being the issue of race. During the NYC storyline there were some letters mailed to the studio of fans accusing AW of being irresponsible showing a black man and white woman living with each other, etc... so I think the writers kind of backed off on that. Maybe it would stand to reason that Reuben would even say ‘Wow, I can’t cross that line culturally even though I’m feeling it (for Josie).’

AWT: Any message to the AW fans who've followed your career since your days in Bay City?

CP: Thanks. I really appreciate everyone’s support. I’m really , really surprised, and humbled, and happy that there’s still so much interest in our characters and I’m grateful for their support. The Another World Fan club has been really cool about reaching out and keeping contact with the cast and helping to keep the love for the show alive which has been great.


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