Antonio Sabato Jr. sits down for a One-on-One with TVSource Magazine.
Antonio Sabato Jr. has proven to be one of the hottest commodities to come out of daytime television, nabbing a series of primetime roles and appearing in the most successful Calvin Klein underwear campaign in the company’s history. His next project is a reality show set to air on VH1 this fall, and he’ll star as serial killer Henry Lee Lucas in the upcoming indy feature Drifter: The Henry Lee Lucas Story, a role that earned him Best Actor at the 2009 Beverly Hills Film Festival. TVSource Magazine had the pleasure to talk with Antonio regarding his upcoming projects and take a brief trip down memory lane.
TVSource Magazine: Last year, you reprised your role as Jagger Cates on the SOAPnet original series General Hospital: Night Shift. A role you originated on General Hospital. What made you decide to return after 14 years?
Antonio Sabato Jr.: It’s a role that has been really special and dear to me. It started my career, and the fans have always asked for me to come back and play Jagger. After 10 or 15 years, it was a great opportunity and I really couldn’t say no to it.
TVS: General Hospital wasn’t your only daytime role. You also played Dante on The Bold And The Beautiful. Was it more grueling to work on a 30 minute show, versus an hour show?
ASJ: Well, on a 30-minute show, the days are a lot shorter. On an hour show, your shooting time is twice as long and can go into the night. Both General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful are great shows and I was very fortunate to also work with two different networks.
TVS: You had the opportunity to work with the legendary Tristan Rogers (Robert, GH) on Night Shift. What was that experience like and what did you learn from him as an actor?
ASJ: Tristan is an amazing guy and we have a lot in common. We found out that we both love motor racing and we talked about our passion on a daily basis. Tristan is a great actor and I would love to work with him any day. He has a great attitude and a great work ethic.
TVS: Last summer you were a contestant on NBC’s Celebrity Circus and won. Congratulations! What attracted to you to this project and were people surprised you were doing a reality show?
ASJ: Working on Celebrity Circus was quite amazing. Other circus shows consisted of actors performing one simple act but we had to learn five extremely challenging acts in two months. These were acts you see in Cirque du Soliel. It was more than a circus, we trained like athletes and had an amazing time. Plus I don’t think there are plans to bring the show back so I guess I’ll be the only winner!
TVS: What was the most difficult challenge you performed on the show?
ASJ: They are all different and extremely difficult. My first challenge was flying on the silks. There are no straps or harnesses and you’re up there on your own. The second was the hand-balancing. It took a lot of strength, balance and concentration. The Chinese poles were another challenge, but I chose all the apparatuses that were the hardest. I said to myself, obviously you want to win and give 100 percent, but you also want to learn something new and be different than everyone else in the competition. There were times that I almost backed away and didn’t want to perform. After conquering the Chinese poles, I began training to do the trapeze. A few days before taping, I was told the trapeze was too big to be brought onto the stage, so they threw the Wheel of Death at me and I only had 3 days to get ready for it. I didn’t have a choice, so I trained hard and I pulled it off. For my last act I was able to bring back the silks. It was much longer than the silk I had done in my first act, and we added more difficult tricks that I wanted to do and I walked away with a trophy. If it wasn’t for the fans I wouldn’t have accomplished that.
TVS: Do you think being athletic gave you an advantage?
ASJ: Certainly it was, but I found it it’s not so much about strength, but about technique. It’s about working muscles that we rarely use. You can’t really train for that in the gym. It was just so competitive and extremely challenging for the body. It turned out that I really fell in love with it and have kept training that way ever since. I still do gymnastics every week. It gave me a great opportunity to find out about a completely different sport.
TVS: So in the last year, you’ve returned to your signature; won a reality show; and you recently just won Best Actor at the Beverly Hills Film Festival for playing the lead role of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, in the indy drama, Drifter: The Henry Lee Lucas Story. Can you tell us a little bit about the film?
ASJ: Sometimes as I am so surprised about my career. I got a script for Drifter, and I loved the story. It was an independent movie—very independent. We shot it in eight days. You can’t really get more indie than that. I was fascinated by my character. For me it was a matter of whether I could pull it off and play a serial killer. It was a challenge. I got in touch with the director and I asked if he really wanted me to play this guy, and from that point on I knew that Michael (the director) was with me. I knew I didn’t have much time when I got on the set. I did my research and changed my look and worked harder than I have in my entire career. I really pushed myself and it turned out to be great. When I saw the film at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, I was very happy. I’m really proud of everyone and director Michael Feifer. I hope that all the fans are able to see it some day on the big screen.
TVS: I’ve done some research on that guy and he’s definitely off his rocker. How did you prepare yourself for this role?
ASJ: Before we started shooting, I studied Henry Lee Lucas. I read as much as I could about him from the internet and books and watched videos. I wanted to sound like him, walk like him, and have his persona.
TVS: Your next role is the upcoming Gardel, based on the father of Tango, Carlos Gardel. What drew you to this project?
ASJ: Well I’m a big fan of Tango, especially in Europe. I’m so glad that Dancing with the Stars has been able to promote the art of dancing all over the world. I think that Gardel is the perfect example of someone who was really passionate about something. We’re still in pre-production and I have high hopes that we’ll be able to do the film this year.
TVS: You have a reality show set to air on VH1 this fall that just finished production. Can you give us a sneak peak of your untitled series?
ASJ: Well the show has a title and is now called, MY ANTONIO. I’ve never done a reality show of this magnitude and caliber, and I’ve never done a show about relationships. In fact, I was really petrified by the whole thing. I was also excited that I could possibly show the fans who I really am and what I look for in a girl. Viewers will see the kind of life I live and what kind of integrity and dignity I have. When I got involved, I said as long as I can be myself I’ll do it…And as long as I can take my mom with me!
TVS: Before we close, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
ASJ: I would just like to say thank you to all the readers and fans that have followed me. The career of an actor is up and down and you never really know when you’re going to be working next. I want to say thank you to everyone who has followed my career because if it wasn’t for the fans, I wouldn’t be here.
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