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Grayson McCouch

Grayson McCouch

Grayson joined the cast of CBS's soap opera "As The World Turns" in the role of "Dusty Donovan" in February 2003. Originally from New York City, McCouch received his Bachelor of Arts Honors Degree in Theater from Hamilton College and later studied at the British American Drama Academy through the Oxford-Yale program. He spent four seasons with the Williamstown Theater Festival where he performed in Arturo UI, The Visit, Threepenny Opera, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Inherit the Wind and The Moon Stone. While in London, the actor was also seen in Electra at the Almeida Theater and Women Beware Women at the Royal Court. In addition to As the World Turns, McCouch’s daytime resume includes a role as Dr. Morgan Winthrop on Another World. After moving to Los Angeles, the actor starred on television’s Legacy and All Souls and appeared on Beverly Hills, 90210, The Cosby Mysteries and the movie-of-the-week Sins of the Mind. His film credits include the blockbuster Armageddon and the upcoming film Momentum, co-starring Lou Gossett Jr. and Teri Hatcher. McCouch currently resides in Manhattan. He stays active in his spare time by playing sports, riding horses and traveling. Grayson was born on October 29, 1968.

Grayson McCouch : The Hustler

Since Dusty Donovan returned to Oakdale, he’s been wheeling and dealing and trying to get himself out of debt. But now, Dusty’s trying to straighten out his act for the love of a good woman, Rose. But now that Paul is back, will these two ever get it together? CBS.com caught up with GRAYSON McCOUCH, the busy actor/writer/producer behind ATWT’s hottest hustler.

CBS.com: You’ve been working pretty steadily these days.
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Yeah, and the soap has really been such a great catalyst for an abundance of energy. So, I’m not only doing the show, I’ve been doing a lot of other things like planning to teach an acting class, writing, and getting involved in producing some stuff. It’s amazing how energy can just propel more energy.

CBS.com: What are you working on as far as your writing?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: I’m writing a primetime drama.

CBS.com: Can you compare it to another show?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: I’d compare it to a show I used to do called Legacy. I’d compare it to Little House on the Prairie a little bit.

CBS.com: Did you always write?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: I’ve always been a writer. While I was doing theater I read a lot of Chekhov letters and I loved writing letters. My prowess is more with dialogue than it is with anything else. My sister’s a writer. She just wrote a book called Girl Cook. Her name is Hannah McCouch.

CBS.com: Do you keep a journal?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Not a journal per se. I walk around with these yellow note pads – as anybody will tell you on set! I write my dialogue from my script on there, too, so I don’t show up with scripts. I have all these yellow note pads all over my house that I’ve begun and sometimes I rip out a page. So, I need to have assistance is basically what I’m saying!

CBS.com: Does it help you to memorize your lines by rewriting them?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Yeah. It certainly makes an impression on your head. But for me, it also gets it off the page and helps me just make it my own, and organic to my character’s rhythm.

CBS.com: So, Dusty’s been doing some pretty bad stuff.
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Has he? Yes, he has. I don’t mind saying that. But he’s not a bad guy. Good people do bad stuff. Bad stuff is carried out by bad circumstances, and desperate needs.

CBS.com: I would say he’s been in a domino effect of bad circumstances!
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Yeah, only the latest of which people are seeing now. The problem is once you get into bad stuff to begin with [and] then it snowballs, it’s pretty hard to stop. So, by the time we see him in Oakdale, that snowball’s already pretty big. That’s [what] the audience isn’t even privy to.

CBS.com: He’s after Rose full speed ahead now, no hesitation, no guilt.
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Yeah. This is what you get for watching your own soap opera! Holden has this line…he says something like, “You would trust that guy Dusty? He’d say anything to you. He needs you to save himself.” And I thought, “Whoa, that’s cool!” If I had to articulate what that’s about, I’d say he’s got a lot of stake in this woman because for him, there’s a part of himself that he can’t let slip away. It’s like the last vestige of sanity, the last vestige of something real so that [he] doesn’t just keep on this downward spiral of hot chicks and hotel babes and not being able to pay off debt. You know? That’s pretty amazing if you think about it. That’s what any real hustler would do. He’d latch on to something real. If he sees something real in her, not just some fast-moving girl, he would probably want to lay his anchor there. Especially [since] she’s the identical twin of a girl that was his first love and perhaps the love that represented purity and innocence in his prior life. On a symbolic level yes, it would be him trying to recapture a bit of his conscience. It would help him assuage all his other guilt if he thinks he’s got someone in his life that’s real. He’s got a sense whether he knows it or not for what’s sacred. But he’s not a bad guy.

CBS.com: Now that we know Paul is alive, is there any guilt on Dusty’s part on continuing to pursue his best friend’s love?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: No, I feel like I paid my penance, I did my time and I served it well by being there for Rose. I wasn’t there for Rose because I wanted her approval or the town’s approval, I did it because of my conscience. I got someone mixed up in business that she had no business being mixed up in. So, when Paul comes back [carrying an axe] like he does…Paul’s being a [wimp] quite frankly. He fakes his death, to me it’s a childish move for attention. And the gig’s up. I’m not playing games. I want relationships that are adult, not what they usually consist of on soap operas.

CBS.com: Now that the whole Spangler business is over, what’s next for Dusty?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: That’s assuming that Spangler was the top guy in the chain of guys that I owe. And I’d like to think he’s not. Let’s assume maybe it gets bigger. One of the notes I was given when I first came on the show was there’s a lot going on that the audience has no idea [about] and to always keep that in mind. This guy’s troubles lie in pretty deep water, you know? So, the web is endless, I think. He’s certainly not going to assimilate to a relationship with a white picket fence and a golden retriever. He’s always going to be hustling. A guy like Dusty would never wait a table.

CBS.com: Is there someone you use as the basis for this kind of hustler?
GRAYSON McCOUCH: Yeah, I just came up with this last night. It’s so weird that you’re asking me this question! I came back to New York more in need of New York than I realized. I was pretty sacked [on L.A.]. I was distraught on a personal level. When I came back, it was primarily a move that consisted on survival, just on a primarily emotional level. So, I wanted the character to reflect that. A really no [BS] attitude, really to the point, and really focusing on things other than relationships to qualify his existence. Dusty’s kind of like that guy. I feel like since I’ve been back, I’m breathing New York. And Dusty is very much a hyper illustration of who I am right now. I have a friend that this character is based on. His name is Johnny Calvani. Johnny Calvani is a guy that can part the sea, if there was one in New York. Meaning, he’s the green light guy. He’s the guy that everybody opens the door to and everybody wants to be around, whether it be Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, now he works for J. Lo. And this guy has never been the quintessential star. He’s been the hustler. He’s been everything he had to be to be like the third guy through the door. Never the guy in the limelight, but always the guy in the mix. He’s a guy that publicly has done whatever he had to do to survive. And people adored him and still do. His tale is so dynamic that he went from rock star to standup comedian to fashion for J. Lo, Studio 54 guy. When he’s down they call him Johnny Baked Beans when he’s up they call him Johnny Caviar. He is quintessential New York. And Dusty Donavan is Johnny Calvani. I’m actually working with him now on a project that’s really going to be a part of this survival guy we’re talking about.

 

Grayson McCouch: One scene at a time

SOAP OPERA WEEKLY couldn't fit everything Peyton List and Grayson McCouch (Lucy and Dusty, AS THE WORLD TURNS) said in the magazine, but you're in luck — there's more from this lively interview.

WEEKLY: What's it like working together?
McCouch: Easy.
List: One scene at a time.
McCouch: One scene at a time.
WEEKLY: Is that your motto?
McCouch: Yep. They go right to tape with our stuff. It's so demanding on the actors, and our way of handling it has been, "One at a time." We'll work on that one scene and then flush it down the toilet when the scene's over. Then we ask for a brief pause to look at the next one.

WEEKLY: Do you rehearse your scenes a lot beforehand?
List: We run the lines for the words. But every single time we tape, it's different.
McCouch: Peyton's so cute. She'll say, "Ugh, I'm not ready." She'll be in the hair room and we're trying to cram in lines over hairblowers and she enters the scene sometimes unwillingly. Then all of a sudden they call action and it's all over. She's amazing.

WEEKLY: What has fan reaction been like?
McCouch: My business partner said to me, "Do you know you guys have your own Lusty fan site?" We have Lustyheads out there who are down with the chemistry.
List: I've run into people who have given me folders and official cards for their Web site.
McCouch: I was given a whole album on Lusty with pictures, letters and actual storyline. They wrote their own Lusty fantasies. They are very committed. It's nice when people are so vocal about something they like. It's helpful to hear.
List: Being here [at the set] sometimes you feel like it's going a certain way and you feel really good about something and then it doesn't turn out to be the way you thought it was. It's cool to have a response where you feel like what you're enjoying and experiencing, the audience is doing that, too. They get it and they're in tune with it.

WEEKLY: What about that age difference?
McCouch: No one blinks an eye at a 20-year difference as long as the guy's like 45 or 50. Like 50 and 30 totally works. 'Cause you know, the girl's mature. If he's mature, she's younger, but it's all well-suited. We're probably right on track.
WEEKLY: What would you like to see happen with Lusty?
McCouch: Four kids and a Lusty marriage. I hope they stay together forever. She really has lured him in. The last thing he wants to be a part of is a responsible relationship. And yet here he is. He's hooked. So regardless of what happens, she'll be a tough one to get out of his system.
List: Just how they got together in the first place was so different from other couples. They started in extreme circumstances. They were tough with each other and as their relationship progresses they're getting nicer to one another.

WEEKLY: It seems like it's Dusty and Lucy against the world.
McCouch: I got to see her toughness and she was supposed to have this whole maturation process which she did through all these crises. We've been through a lot of stuff together in a short amount of time. There seems to be a loyalty and a devotion to one another.
List: She assumes that he knew about the loaded gloves [during the fight] because he knew that it was going to be fixed and she's really upset because her friends are getting hurt. She goes off and cries and says he's a jerk and she hates him and that's it. But then within a day she turns around and is like, "Okay, I don't really care." She can't go a day without him.
McCouch: There's a security there that one would naturally have. I depend on feeling like she needs to be taken care of by me. I'm the only sensible figure in her life and the only one who can protect her. It's a vain outlook but it is the way it is. List: There's a difference in personality and ambitions and goals. You're constantly making compromises. He makes a lot of compromises for Lucy which doesn't seem like it'd be a typical quality with him.
McCouch: Damn straight. You know a guy maybe goes down that road once, twice. If it doesn't work out he's too traumatized to ever go again, to have someone that beautiful and have it be that right and potentially have it traumatize you. You only have a handful, and this is probably the one.

WEEKLY: And Lucy's put off college to stay with Dusty.
McCouch: That's huge. Williams, no less. One of the top in the nation (laughs).
List: That's a huge thing and people would tell me, "I can't believe you're putting off college." Because their view on it was that it was a young, foolish, just jumping-before-you're-looking-thing. It was a huge decision she completely thought through. The lines that Lucy were saying were, "I'm in love with Dusty and I'm staying here to be with him." But I think off-camera she spent hours going,"I can't believe I'm not going to go to college but..."
McCouch: Well, she's smart enough.
List: She's too smart.
McCouch: She corrects me all the time.
List: It's making me feel bad.
McCouch: And it's cool that the educated rich girl gives up the college education for the bad boy. It's a nice compromise. They complement one another perfectly. She can't stand her bullsh-- uptown world and we meet on that middle ground.
List: People are like, "You smile now." She feels safe and comfortable. I have funny lines. I get the script and I'm like, "She's funny...sometimes."

Grayson McCouch : The Dusty Settles

Grayson McCouch sat down to talk with SOAP OPERA WEEKLY about his hot new storyline on AS THE WORLD TURNS (Lusty, anyone?) and how he's keeping busy outside of the show.
WEEKLY: What was your reaction when you first found out about the Lucy/Dusty storyline?
McCouch: I was really excited because I usually get excited about different dynamics in general, whether it be with an older character or younger character. I also saw in Peyton (List, Lucy) an open book to work off of. There's a truth and simplicity to her work that's very calming. I looked forward to working with her.
WEEKLY: Did the age difference bother you?
McCouch: I wasn't skeptical or prudish about it. I thought it would be great. Peyton always seems older to me anyway. With regard to the character of Dusty, it's a perfect match-up. I assumed he would roll with younger girls. Not underage girls, but pretty girls.

WEEKLY: Some fans are up in arms about the coupling.
McCouch: I don't know what people are talking about. The only people who are shocked or offended by it are either in the industry and the people who have been viewers of the show for a long time and have this certain thinking of what's right for character. Those people — bothered or not — will watch it anyway because you watch what you're bothered by as well, I think. If they are not seeing the truth between [Lucy and Dusty] then they must not be watching closely enough. I love coming to work. I do my scenes with Peyton and I don't get taken in by what people say.

WEEKLY: How is working with Peyton?
McCouch: We don't talk much about the scenes [beforehand], we don't go over it that much. So everything that's been found has been kind of magical. We are discovering one another as we shoot the storyline. So those moments of shyness or whatever are very real because they are emphasized by the awkwardness of our age difference in real life and on camera.
WEEKLY: What's the age difference between you in real life?
McCouch: She's going to be 18, I'm going to be 36.

WEEKLY: She's half your age.
McCouch: (jokingly) So forget everything I said, I stand corrected. Yes, this should be stopped immediately. I'm done.

WEEKLY: Well, Dusty is young at heart.
McCouch: Look, if you're a hustler you're immature anyway. You defy logic on a daily basis. There is something regressive about being a gangster or a hustler. There's definitely a youth at heart that with her seems pretty much on the level. That's where people find one another and I think that's where it's going to defy the age difference and become [something] special.

WEEKLY: Tell me about your studio, Graystone Studios, Inc.
McCouch: Initially it was going to be a full-blown school, and now it's my production office. I got a little too selfish with the time and space and how the space was going to be used. I've hosted readings down there. We have a couple scripts, a play or two and a movie in the works. So we're working on all kinds of things. It's like a gymnasium for projects, so it's been a blast. And to have an office outside the home has been a dream. There's not much more I can ask for in New York. We will have a Web site soon so everyone can see pictures of the space and see projects we're working on out of there.

Shades of Grayson McCouch

After Fleeing Darkness In L.A. For Enlightenment Back Home In New York, ATWT's Grayson McCouch Seeks Balance.
Grayson McCouch (Dusty, AS THE WORLD TURNS) is in a very forthcoming mood. He pauses occasionally and glances down with a smile, as if he can't believe what he's about to say. He's not the only one. "You're getting a real good interview -- in-depth, raw: 'Wait till you hear this s--- that I got on Grayson McCouch,' " he eventually says with a laugh, after one particularly revealing anecdote. "It's gonna be my first and last interview. You better blow this one open!"

He's kidding, of course, but that doesn't stop him from answering even the most innocuous questions with a surprisingly introspective candor. Expect a routine response about movies he has seen recently, and he chooses two that especially spoke to him: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and About Schmidt, both of which address the despair of unachieved successes and lost potential amidst the desperate search for meaning in life. He speaks about the parallels to his own life -- some unflattering -- at length, eventually distilling them to one realization that clearly worries him: "I'm constantly finding myself feeling sad in moments of great bliss," he confesses. It's a theme he returns to often, regarding all aspects of his life -- work, family, love -- and one he correlates to the dichotomy between his lifestyles on either coast: It's L.A. (excess) vs. New York (substance).

McCouch spent seven years in Los Angeles after leaving ANOTHER WORLD, where he played Morgan from 1993-96, and his home in New York. "Too long a time to not feel a sacredness in any arena. With friends, lovers, family life. I could never find it. It had me guessing what everything was all about," he says. "It wasn't so much work. I was prospering quite well in L.A. It was that f---ing city. I swear, and this is one of the things I've discovered: It's not so much how a place has affected you, like some bull---- tirade of victimization; it's about how you operate in a place. And I did not operate on a level that I wanted in L.A. My mom was wondering what kind of cultural events I was involved in, and I tried to explain that I went to the Getty [museum] one day and the Huntington the next. When really I should be telling her, 'There are a lot of hot chicks out here, Mom, and the club scene sucks because you have to leave at 2. And then, perhaps, I'll get around to reading a book.' ... I felt like my battery was depleted, and I had to recharge."

And as soon as he made the decision to come back East, he couldn't get home fast enough. "Quite honestly, my agent called and said, 'What's your problem? You're gonna have a show in three months. You always do. Just wait until pilot season.' And I said, "I can't wait three f---ing months.' I was going nuts. I don't blame anybody. Some people operate very well in L.A. For some, it's a bright, sunny town, and you can't beat the weather. For me, it's hot in hell, too."

Knowing that daytime was his best option ("There are only a handful of things you can do in New York as an actor: Work on one of four soaps or get a job in meat-packing"), he consulted friend and former ALL SOULS co-star Daniel Cosgrove, who plays Bill on GUIDING LIGHT. Cosgrove put him in touch with ATWT, and McCouch was hired to play Dusty soon after. "There was something in me that thought I'd never be on daytime again," admits the actor, who had played everything from the lead in prime-time series to a featured part in the blockbuster Armageddon (see sidebar) during his time away. "For whatever reason, yes, it felt regressive. But I think that was erroneous thinking -- it's a great job." More importantly, it brought him back to the grounding influence of his family and the (relative) stability of the East Coast.

Grayson McCouch's Love Story

His love life is another area where the balance between superficial temptation and spiritual fulfillment is a struggle. "I think I choose my relationships, fortunately or unfortunately, as a model for my whole m.o., which is not to settle," he says. "Finally, when one does marry, it will be the utopian arena that illustrates who you are as a person. It's not so much who I want to be with, it's 'In whose company am I going to perform the best in life?' Show me that woman who makes me feel like a million bucks, spiritually, mentally, physically, all of it. That's what I'm waiting for, that's what anybody's waiting for."

It's what he didn't find in two of his more notable long-term relationships. He was first drawn to veteran theater and film actress Betty Buckley, who is around 20 years his senior, when she took the stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival just before he got the job at AW, and their romance lasted three years. "True women-lovers like myself go through this evolution where when they're younger, they go for older, and when they're older, they go for younger, and somewhere at the end of the day, you have experienced the whole spectrum of womanhood. And hopefully, you emerge to a place where you're not oedipal, and you're not a pedophile," he chuckles. In retrospect, he believes he was drawn to Buckley's talent and wisdom, but it was definitely a high-maintenance relationship. "Oh, man, she was the most difficult woman in America!" he blurts. "I was dysfunctional. My parents clearly had something to worry about. You can imagine bringing her home to my mother. The two of them, it was like Clash of the Titans."

It was about two years later, on the set of LEGACY in the pastoral backdrop of Richmond, VA, that he fell for co-star Sharon Leal (ex-Dahlia, GL; now on BOSTON PUBLIC). "Only in retrospect do I see how utopian it actually was. It was a dream for me. I had a good time with my horse, my woman and a great car," he jokes. But the idyllic life didn't extend west when the show was canceled. "It's funny, I saw sides of Sharon after LEGACY that I never saw before. This is what happens in Hollywood: You meet someone on a job, and what you forget is that when you're working, especially on location, it's fairyland. You don't have to worry about dishes. You don't have to worry about bills. You don't have to worry about any of the obstacles that life presents because everything's taken care of for you. All you have to worry about is hugging and kissing one another. Then, once it's over, you go, 'Oh, okay, Now there's life.' I found that it was a real challenge doing the obstacles of life with Sharon."

Things fell apart soon after he followed Leal to San Francisco for her run in Rent, although he admits that she's still the closest he has come to lifetime commitment. "There was a moment where I thought I was going to get married," he reveals. "I walked into Tiffany's with her -- and walked right out again. I think it was from that moment on, and we never really spoke about it after that, but it was the beginning of the end."

Without his relationship, it's almost as if the distractions of L.A. got the better of him. "After Sharon, I met a lot of really fine-looking women who lacked a lot of substance that I miss from people like Sharon or even Betty," he continues. "I felt myself compromising, attached to people I had no business getting attached to: a bunch of hot mamas who can't offer me a thing at the end of the day. I'd love to find fusion of everything again."

And he's not just talking about his love life. He dreads the idea of life being that empty, even as he fights the more shallow impulses within himself. "I feel almost desperate to find gratification blended with impacting life in a positive way. And the two don't necessarily feel like they go hand in hand all the time," he finally says, in one of his most honest declarations.

Like we said, pretty forthcoming. But he's not so obliviously earnest, which is why one of his last comments -- elicited, quite innocently, from a non-invasive "just the facts"-intended question about his worst qualities, and which quickly evolves into a more complex discussion -- comes with another wry grin. "I'd like to dig a little deeper, which I've been doing. I've been excavating a lot," he says. "We'll see how deep I can go."

Grayson McCouch stars in ''ARMAGEDDON''

Perhaps the best testament to Hollywood excess to date is the testosterone-fueled blockbuster that is Armageddon. "Everything about it was over the top," laughs Grayson McCouch, who played astronaut/ munitions specialist Gruber and went home with tales of wild parties, strippers and cheerleaders, most of which are a bit too scandalous to repeat here. "There was a bunch of type-A guys, living large," he continues. "One of the big things was to bring your car, put up the hood where the trailers were parked and let all the guys peruse the engine, sit around and talk about how hot it is, and 'Zero to 60 in what?' Bruce [Willis] would bring a different car to the set every day. Ben [Affleck] started doing it, too, but he only had two cars at the time. One day, Bruce brought a really hot metallic-blue Shelby and said, 'You guys want to take it for a spin?' We said sure, so he threw the keys to Ben, and he told me to get in. We took it out [on the freeway], and Ben almost killed us. We were going so fast, and all I could see was the headline in the morning: 'Ben Affleck and ... some other actor died last night.' I said, 'You know, Ben, you've got a good thing going, but nobody knows who the f--k I am, and I don't want to die with you!' "

Catch Grayson McCouch In ''Momentum''

AS THE WORLD TURNS's Grayson McCouch (Dusty) stars in the Sci Fi original movie, Momentum, which airs on the cable network this Saturday, July 26. Here, McCouch tells about his physics professor-turned-"kinetic action hero" character.

Soap Opera Digest: Tell us about the movie.
Grayson McCouch: It's got a classic comic book arc. Basically, the government had a program called "Project Momentum," where they recruited people with telekinetic powers and then nurtured their talent as a weapon. And then the project became potentially too dangerous and the government decided to eradicate the program and all the people with telekinetic powers. A band of them got away and have been on the run and they kind of survived by looting and robbing and things like that, causing trouble. The government is still trying to track them down, and they recruit my character to work on the inside to bring the wild bunch in. He starts out as a science teacher, but he's a nomad, because he keeps running every time his talents become known to the public. The CIA, unbeknownst to him, has been trailing his path, so they know of his talents. Louis Gossett, Jr., the guy in charge of the project for the CIA who comes and recruits him. Teri Hatcher plays an FBI agent. The sci-fi is not outlandish. It's enough to keep you grounded so that it remains viable. It's kind of X-FILES-ish in its grounded bizarreness.
Digest: What can your character move with his telekinesis?
McCouch: He can move cars, people ... a lot!

Digest: Is it true this could become a series?
McCouch: It was a movie made with the intention of a possible franchise, and in actuality, it makes a better pilot than a complete movie, because the end really leaves you longing for this next one. It might turn into a series, and then I'd really have some ass-kissing to do to Chris [Goutman, ATWT Executive Producer].

Digest: So what superpower would you choose to have?
McCouch: Time. I just want to live forever.

ATWT's Grayson McCouch & GL's Daniel Cosgrove

Our interview with Grayson McCouch (Dusty, AS THE WORLD TURNS) and Daniel Cosgrove (Bill, GUIDING LIGHT) in the August 19 issue of Soap Opera Digest could have gone on for 12 pages, and it broke our hearts to cut it for magazine length. So, we put together a less-edited version of the parts of the conversation we couldn't include.

The scene is an early evening at Pastis in New York City's meatpacking district. Cosgrove -- who has come straight from a long day of work (shooting his first "naked a-- scene") at GL's midtown studio and is anxious to get home to his wife and kids in Connecticut -- waits patiently for McCouch, who confesses in a sheepish phone call that he's still stuck in a cab uptown. Forty-five minutes later, he arrives; the old friends are so comfortable together that they literally begin talking nonstop from that moment on.

After doing a spot-on impression of Grayson's performance as Dusty on that day's show, Cosgrove begins with his plan for how to get himself a role on ATWT....

Daniel Cosgrove: I'll be like little Oliver on THE BRADY BUNCH, and my name will be Musty Baker and then everyone will make fun of me and all call me "the jinx."
Grayson McCouch: You're going to be a baker as a profession.
Cosgrove (singing): Candlestick maker.
McCouch: And we'll be laundering whatever through your bakery.
Cosgrove: Ah, it sets up so many possibilities.
McCouch: Doesn't it though? ... First of all, I don't even know your character's name over there [Cosgrove is laughing] at GUIDING LIGHT. That doesn't say much, does it? And here he is doing imitations of me.
Cosgrove (imitating McCouch's line as Dusty in a low, gravelly voice): "Your capacity for forgiveness is awe-inspiring."
McCouch: Did you do that on ALL SOULS [the show on which McCouch and Cosgrove met], too? Did you --
Cosgrove: Hey! What are you talking about? I would sit there in front of the mirror and I'd take your lines [imitating McCouch again], "Your capacity for forgiveness is awe-inspiring."
McCouch: That's right.
Cosgrove: And then I'd take my lines and do that. [Raising his eyebrows à la McCouch] "Yeah."
McCouch: Danny said to me, "You know you've blossomed when people are doing imitations of you, and I have to tell you, Grayson, I do imitations of you ..."
Cosgrove: "... all the time."
McCouch: Every night.
Cosgrove: Every day. [Both burst into laughter.]
McCouch: In fact, if you do a very careful case study of his work over at GUIDING LIGHT, it's basically a strong nuance of Dusty without anybody really noticing.
Cosgrove: Without the edge.
McCouch: Which is keeping him in a job. [Cosgrove simultaneously repeats "without the edge" in a higher-pitched voice.]
Cosgrove: It's a dull Dusty. No edge on that.
McCouch: If you just imitate Dusty over at GUIDING LIGHT, that will probably keep you on the show for a good six years.
Cosgrove: Let's talk about the rash that I got from the prickly heat riding down here in the cab.
McCouch: You got a heat burn? That comes from sitting down too much, Danny.
Cosgrove: You know what I had to --
McCouch: Tell GUIDING LIGHT to give you a few more pages.
Cosgrove: You know what he does? He does this thing, he's a masochist.
McCouch: Danny said, "You're not gonna come back and do [a soap]. Are you thinking about it?"
Cosgrove: I said, "Do it. You know what? You're at a different place than I am. If you want to do it, I think it would be a great move, but either way if you hang out there for a little longer I think something else will happen." Because he's talented. Like I said, I worked on a show with him where he carried the whole show, and we just came in every once in awhile to say, "Hey, hey, hey, how you doing?" And he'd send us off with a look. He would do an eyebrow thing and that would be it. I would do an eyebrow back and that would be it.
McCouch: You know what he said to me? This is the true heart of Danny Cosgrove. He said to me, true story, "You know you're the lead of the show." [To Cosgrove] You were pretty serious at the time.
Cosgrove: Yeah, I was serious. No, I was.
McCouch: "You're the lead of the show and I've got to say, 'I know I couldn't do that right now.' " And I looked at him, I looked at him as if he were retarded.
Cosgrove: That's true.
McCouch: To say, "What is your problem? You have all of this talent, you're so good-looking, you're all these things. Why would you say that you couldn't captain this f---ing ship?"
Cosgrove: What did I say right after? I said, "Rub a little lower, rub a little lower. rub a little lower." And that's what it was. [McCouch laughs.] Right there, he hit the magic spot and right there was this sweet magic. Sweet magic.... Things are getting crazy out here.
McCouch: He said, rub a little lower.
Cosgrove and McCouch: Rub a little lower.

Cosgrove: That's true, though. You carried that show. That was a good show.
McCouch: You know what? That was a good show.
Cosgrove: And you're doing a great job over there as Dusty. ALL SOULS, it was short-lived --
McCouch: It was like whatever I did for UPN was doomed to fail. Not because it wasn't good -- because it was. Both LEGACY and ALL SOULS, those were great shows. UPN was just a loser network at that time, in not knowing how to nurture ...
Cosgrove (as McCouch continues): I am no part of that. I love every network. There are no loser networks. Some things just don't work out. Some things just don't work out in life. I am not bitter. Some times things just don't work out...
McCouch (finishing): ... and [producer Tom] Fontana had the same problem with his cop show, THE BEAT.
Cosgrove (still talking over him): ... I would love to work for UPN again. I think it's a great network.
[Next, the discussion turns to which actors make believable action heroes.] McCouch: Something that is going to make [Josh] Hartnett and f---ing that guy, The Recruit, the Irish boy, Colin Farrell all look like the light chumps they are.
Cosgrove: No, I think they are fantastic people. Everybody gets an opportunity.
McCouch: You scaredy-cat! Because you're part of the "lite Hollywood" steppin' up in the world.
Cosgrove: Hey, no. The way it is, things happen in life
McCouch: Oh, yeah, you believe them as action heroes?
Cosgrove: And you can't --
McCouch: One answer. Do. You. Believe. Them. As. Action. Heroes? Answer the question.
Cosgrove: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth. [Mock seriously] Um, yes, I do.
McCouch: You do? Then you belong with them.... [Distracted by a patron] Danny, check out the blonde! She's hot, huh? I'll tell you, there are great-looking girls in New York. Can we talk about something for a second? There are some great-looking women in New York. New York women have it over anyone. Except maybe the Norwegians. No, not even the Norwegians.
Digest: What about Montreal? You're always going on about that.
McCouch: Well, you're right. On just the all-around, decadent, good-time front, Montreal is king. And then New York.
Cosgrove: But you know what's a close second? Jersey.
McCouch: A close second might be Miami, but L.A. is definitely third place.
Cosgrove: Don't overlook Jersey.
McCouch: It's not that the women aren't the hottest in L.A. -- they are, physically speaking. But when you break it down, they're only good for two months, maybe three. Unless you're a sex addict, and you could bring it to eight.
Cosgrove (to tape recorder): Now, I'm married with two children. I don't know anything about that....
McCouch: That was a great quote! You've got to put that in there.... Now, Danny, can you talk a little bit about some of your greatest hits, because we know you've had a string of success.
Cosgrove: I would love to talk about my hits, but I have none.
McCouch: All those horror flicks you did?
Cosgrove: Yeah, big time. The best one was SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.
McCouch: Were the chicks hot?
Cosgrove: I can't comment.
McCouch: Were they devilish?
Cosgrove: They were red hot.
Cosgrove: I haven't had one of those since 1999.
McCouch: Of course not. That's when you got married.
Cosgrove: What are you talking about? She's the one who introduced me [to great food]. I only ate McDonald's before I met her.
McCouch: Your wife likes that spicy, shrimpy stuff. She's a dancer, she's really hot.
Cosgrove: Next thing you know, I'm moving in.
McCouch: Next thing you know, she knows a good thing when she sees it, hooks him and he is butter.
Cosgrove: No, I was lost, I was confused. I was scrapping nickels and dimes for 40s [ounce beers].
McCouch: Strong beauty like that walks around, and you are on for the ride, my friend. Danny, let me tell you something: She is way too good for you.
Cosgrove: I already got kicked out of college, so I went to Florida for a few years and worked as a bailiff, and then you know what happened?
McCouch: He was a bailiff! I mean, this girl was so much better than him.
Cosgrove: No, watch this: "All rise. Oyez, oyez. The honorable.... [McCouch howls as Cosgrove gives his court instructions.]"
McCouch: His wife married a bailiff, all right?
Cosgrove: No, I was an out-of-work actor. She was supporting us on Alvin Ailey [Dance Company] money.
McCouch: That's an unbelievable woman. She is so much better than you, because you would never do that for somebody.
Cosgrove: No, I was a loser.
McCouch: You were: You were a selfish loser.
Cosgrove: I was! That's right.
McCouch: He was so selfish that it took a woman who believed in him -- even when he was a bailiff -- to pull him out of his head to realize that there are gracious people in the world. And that's what gets him home at 9:45 every night.
Cosgrove: Before the forked-tongued heathen goes on.... No, seriously, you've got to come on-set. Can I come to watch you guys film?
McCouch: You know Laura [Wright, Cassie]? She loves me. She's married, but she loves me. We get along great.
Cosgrove: No, she goes, "I met a friend of yours." I'm like, "Who?" She said, "Grayson McCouch. Now I understand."
McCouch: Yeah, she thinks I'm crazy like you.

Digest: Do you watch each other's shows?
McCouch: Heck, no. Obviously not. Well, we've been over this, but Danny's watching my show because he's studying me. Daniel studies my work. I tune in for Danny.
Cosgrove: I wish GUIDING LIGHT would write for me like they do on his show.
McCouch: Danny was my favorite guy to work with on ALL SOULS. We always made scenes that were nothing into something crazy good.
Cosgrove: I was the fast-talking goofball, and you were the guy who was the reason.
McCouch: I was a slow-talker, that's what you're trying to say.
Digest: How has the fact that you lead such different lives affected your friendship?
McCouch: Totally. I hate it, I don't like what's going on, I feel alienated, and I'm somewhat angry, quite frankly. I used to have a boy to roll with and now he's confined to the trappings of hearth and home. And it bothers me.
Cosgrove: So, I call him up, I say, "Hey, how are you...."
McCouch: He's losing his freedom.
Cosgrove: But you know what? Things work out.
Digest: Do you even see each other socially?
McCouch: Danny has the antithesis of any social schedule.
Cosgrove: That's the thing: I love motorcycles. This guy's got motorcycles; I don't. I love old cars, but I don't have an old car and he does.
McCouch: He loves sex.
Cosgrove: I'm married. Enough said.
McCouch: He loves going out dancing salsa.
Cosgrove: I live vicariously through him.
Digest: Do you let him near your kids?
McCouch: Not once!
Cosgrove: I certainly would if he just would wash his hands once and then rinse with witch hazel.
McCouch: No, and the truth is, I know your wife is afraid of me.
Cosgrove: My wife has a lot of respect for you. She really likes Grayson.
McCouch: She actually knows that I'll get Danny home safe.
Cosgrove: She knows you're on the ball. Like I said, he's a lot more responsible than I am.
Digest: Why?
Cosgrove: He's more together. He must have had a better childhood.
[Cosgrove and McCouch have an extensive argument about who had a worse childhood.]
Cosgrove: ... I was doing some summer stock at Williamstown.
McCouch: No, you weren't! I was.
Cosgrove: Oh, that was you? See what I'm talking about? See what's going on? I don't know what reality is what.
McCouch: That was me who did 10 years at Williamstown holding my breath. Not you. You were a bailiff, and you were a model, and then you got a modeling job on [BEVERLY HILLS,] 90210 and then some things happened.
Cosgrove: I was never a model.
McCouch: That's true. I'll give you that much. That's the only reason I'm friends with you: because you were never a model. You could have been. Look at him: Danny could have been the Marlboro Man, the Calvin Klein guy. Danny could make billions off his mug alone. And he chooses to focus on the good stuff, I suppose.

Shades Of Grayson

After Fleeing Darkness In L.A. For Enlightenment Back Home In New York, ATWT's Grayson McCouch Seeks Balance
Grayson McCouch (Dusty, AS THE WORLD TURNS) is in a very forthcoming mood. He pauses occasionally and glances down with a smile, as if he can't believe what he's about to say. He's not the only one. "You're getting a real good interview -- in-depth, raw: 'Wait till you hear this s--- that I got on Grayson McCouch,' " he eventually says with a laugh, after one particularly revealing anecdote. "It's gonna be my first and last interview. You better blow this one open!"

He's kidding, of course, but that doesn't stop him from answering even the most innocuous questions with a surprisingly introspective candor. Expect a routine response about movies he has seen recently, and he chooses two that especially spoke to him: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and About Schmidt, both of which address the despair of unachieved successes and lost potential amidst the desperate search for meaning in life. He speaks about the parallels to his own life -- some unflattering -- at length, eventually distilling them to one realization that clearly worries him: "I'm constantly finding myself feeling sad in moments of great bliss," he confesses. It's a theme he returns to often, regarding all aspects of his life -- work, family, love -- and one he correlates to the dichotomy between his lifestyles on either coast: It's L.A. (excess) vs. New York (substance).

 

McCouch spent seven years in Los Angeles after leaving ANOTHER WORLD, where he played Morgan from 1993-96, and his home in New York. "Too long a time to not feel a sacredness in any arena. With friends, lovers, family life. I could never find it. It had me guessing what everything was all about," he says. "It wasn't so much work. I was prospering quite well in L.A. It was that f---ing city. I swear, and this is one of the things I've discovered: It's not so much how a place has affected you, like some bull---- tirade of victimization; it's about how you operate in a place. And I did not operate on a level that I wanted in L.A. My mom was wondering what kind of cultural events I was involved in, and I tried to explain that I went to the Getty [museum] one day and the Huntington the next. When really I should be telling her, 'There are a lot of hot chicks out here, Mom, and the club scene sucks because you have to leave at 2. And then, perhaps, I'll get around to reading a book.' ... I felt like my battery was depleted, and I had to recharge."

And as soon as he made the decision to come back East, he couldn't get home fast enough. "Quite honestly, my agent called and said, 'What's your problem? You're gonna have a show in three months. You always do. Just wait until pilot season.' And I said, "I can't wait three f---ing months.' I was going nuts. I don't blame anybody. Some people operate very well in L.A. For some, it's a bright, sunny town, and you can't beat the weather. For me, it's hot in hell, too."
Knowing that daytime was his best option ("There are only a handful of things you can do in New York as an actor: Work on one of four soaps or get a job in meat-packing"), he consulted friend and former ALL SOULS co-star Daniel Cosgrove, who plays Bill on GUIDING LIGHT. Cosgrove put him in touch with ATWT, and McCouch was hired to play Dusty soon after. "There was something in me that thought I'd never be on daytime again," admits the actor, who had played everything from the lead in prime-time series to a featured part in the blockbuster Armageddon (see sidebar) during his time away. "For whatever reason, yes, it felt regressive. But I think that was erroneous thinking -- it's a great job." More importantly, it brought him back to the grounding influence of his family and the (relative) stability of the East Coast.

His love life is another area where the balance between superficial temptation and spiritual fulfillment is a struggle. "I think I choose my relationships, fortunately or unfortunately, as a model for my whole m.o., which is not to settle," he says. "Finally, when one does marry, it will be the utopian arena that illustrates who you are as a person. It's not so much who I want to be with, it's 'In whose company am I going to perform the best in life?' Show me that woman who makes me feel like a million bucks, spiritually, mentally, physically, all of it. That's what I'm waiting for, that's what anybody's waiting for."

It's what he didn't find in two of his more notable long-term relationships. He was first drawn to veteran theater and film actress Betty Buckley, who is around 20 years his senior, when she took the stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival just before he got the job at AW, and their romance lasted three years. "True women-lovers like myself go through this evolution where when they're younger, they go for older, and when they're older, they go for younger, and somewhere at the end of the day, you have experienced the whole spectrum of womanhood. And hopefully, you emerge to a place where you're not oedipal, and you're not a pedophile," he chuckles. In retrospect, he believes he was drawn to Buckley's talent and wisdom, but it was definitely a high-maintenance relationship. "Oh, man, she was the most difficult woman in America!" he blurts. "I was dysfunctional. My parents clearly had something to worry about. You can imagine bringing her home to my mother. The two of them, it was like Clash of the Titans."

It was about two years later, on the set of LEGACY in the pastoral backdrop of Richmond, VA, that he fell for co-star Sharon Leal (ex-Dahlia, GL; now on BOSTON PUBLIC). "Only in retrospect do I see how utopian it actually was. It was a dream for me. I had a good time with my horse, my woman and a great car," he jokes. But the idyllic life didn't extend west when the show was canceled. "It's funny, I saw sides of Sharon after LEGACY that I never saw before. This is what happens in Hollywood: You meet someone on a job, and what you forget is that when you're working, especially on location, it's fairyland. You don't have to worry about dishes. You don't have to worry about bills. You don't have to worry about any of the obstacles that life presents because everything's taken care of for you. All you have to worry about is hugging and kissing one another. Then, once it's over, you go, 'Oh, okay, Now there's life.' I found that it was a real challenge doing the obstacles of life with Sharon."

 

 



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