An interview with ‘Guiding Light’ star Robert Bogue (Mallet).
Native Kentuckian Robert Bogue is no stranger to the entertainment scene. He’s the co-founder of the New Group Theater Company, based in Manhattan and has made several guest spots on such TV hits as: “Sex and The City,” “The Sopranos,” “Law & Order: SVU” and had a recurring role on HBO’s “Oz” as Prisoner Jason Cramer.
In 2005, Bogue also co-wrote, co-produced and appeared in the feature film “Backseat,” which won the Audience Award at the 2005 Austin Film Festival. Also in 2005, Bogue joined the long running television show, “Guiding Light” as A.C. Mallet, previously played by Mark Derwin. TVSource Magazine recently chatted with the talented actor about his career, his time on “Guiding Light” and everything else in between.
TVSource Magazine: How did you get involved with acting?
Robert Bogue: It was something I never considered when I was growing up, living in a small town in Kentucky and in Kansas, I wasn’t exposed to it. The wheels started turning in college for a couple reasons. Some of my friends were doing plays on campus and went to listen to a lecture on campus given by Sydney Pollack, the great Hollywood director and I was fascinated. The more I studied acting the more I fell in love with it.
TVS: Having worked in both theater and television, which do you prefer?
RB: If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said undoubtedly that theater was more challenging and enriching. I think every medium is challenging in its own way. There are a lot of challenges in doing a soap opera. Knowing your character, your lines, the speed as to which we work. So now, today, I would say television. There is so much good writing on TV nowadays and I love the intimacy of the camera.
TVS: You are one of the founding members of the New Group Theater Company based in Manhattan; tell us how the group came about?
RB: About a dozen of us started it in the 90s. It started as a repertory company that was going to do American classics. It grew in popularity to where we started doing original works and went from a repertory company to being more of a professional producing house. So I was there for about 4 or 5 years where I got experience as an actor. It was a chance for me to step out of acting class and working with professional actors.
TVS: What was it like working with Bob Dylan? And what’s the story about the harmonica?
RB: That was my first professional job. Loved hanging out with him on tour for a couple days. I quickly went to use the restroom and while I was gone, Bob’s limo came and he left. I was told he was going to give me his harmonica but I wasn’t there when he left, so he gave it to someone else.
TVS: You appeared on “Oz” as Prisoner Jason Cramer. What was your experience like on that show?
RB: It was such a good show. The acting was superb and the writing was great. It was really intense to work on that show. It was intense because when you walked on set, you were in a prison, not like we have on soaps, it was a warehouse built inside like a prison. Everybody was pushed as an actor.
TVS: When you joined “Guiding Light” in 2005, were you nervous about stepping into a role that was previously played by a popular actor?
RB: Yeah it’s extremely hard stepping into it. You start doing your research and find out the character was popular, the couple was popular, it adds more pressure. I can’t play Rob playing Mark [Derwin] playing Mallet, I have to take the idea of the character and flesh him out myself. Mark and I were very different, similar in some ways, but different in others. I have to understand who the character was and add myself into it. And Mallet’s been all over the map, he’s basically been a good guy, and I love playing him. It’s been an interesting ride.
TVS: What was your reaction when you heard GL was canceled and where you surprised, especially since it was announced on April Fool’s Day?
RB: That was the first thought, it was April Fool’s day. We were feeling really good about GL at that point, so it was a real shock.
TVS: With GL ending would you go back to theater or stay in television?
RB: I would stay in daytime and television. I would do a play if it convenient for me to do, but I wouldn’t exclude myself from doing television. I was trained in theater but I like the intimacy of the camera too.
TVS: What are your fondest memories of working with Gina Tognoni (Dinah)?
RB: Gina and I had a really great run together. If the show would be staying on the air, I think the rectangle with Marina, Mallet, Dinah and Shane play out over the next year. Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to do that. I had about 2 years with Gina and we had a blast. I think they just threw us together, temporarily, and it just took off. I think we did great dramatic and comedic stuff together. She was always willing to take risks. We have a great working relationship. We laugh all the time and have a lot of fun together.
TVS: What do you think made Mallet/Dinah work?
RB: I think it’s a classic soap set up, I think it’s bad girl/good guy. I think it’s good guy who breaks the rules for the right reasons. Dinah was compelling because she was really damaged; she always wanted to better but just never got there. It creates a lot of spark romantically, conflict which leads to drama. I think it’s a classic set up. Gina and I worked well together and I think putting all those things together, it was compelling.
TVS: What do you think is the best/worst thing Mallet has done?
RB: The worst thing obviously would be killing someone’s father for money as an assassin. The best thing he’s done, he’s done a lot of good things. He’s stepped down from police chief because he wasn’t comfortable as the way he attained that position, jumping threw a lot of hoops to get Marina a baby, breaking Harley out of prison, he usually does things for the right intentions. He’s a little bit of renegade.
TVS: Does he not trust Marina because of the stuff he’s been through with Dinah?
RB: That’s been difficult for me to play because I don’t think it’s been explained on paper, so that’s been difficult for me to play. The only thing I can do as an actor is make him so focused on being a cop, almost obsessively and throw him into his work. So he’s gone overboard as a cop out of duty and sense of control and him treating friends and family less than stellar. A lot of it doesn’t jell for me, but I know where they want to go but this is a story that was planned to go 9 to 12 months, but with the cancellation the story has now been jammed in to 3.
TVS: Is there anyone from the show whom you didn’t get a chance to work with but wanted to?
RB: The last month or so, I got to work a lot with Kim Zimmer, and that’s been fun. Ron Raines, I’ve always enjoyed working with him. It’s a great group of actors. We just laugh all the time and they have become like a second family.
TVS: What will you miss most about GL?
RB: I love working every week as an actor and I love doing it at a place I love coming to. Spending time with the cast off set, it’s definitely a family. Number one thing I’m going to miss is laughing so much with those I work with.
TVS: Would you like to send a message to your fans and fans of Guiding Light?
RB: It’s been a real honor to be a part of Guiding Light. It’s an institution and icon and I’m proud to be a part of it. The fans are extremely loyal and I’m sure are heartbroken as we are. We wish it wasn’t happening, and there have been a lot of tears shed. We’re there with you, we’ve cried at the studio as they have at home. It’s really sad to see it go, of course our lives will go on, but for the people I’ve worked with as long as I’ve been there, it’s one of the more special moments in my career. We will miss telling the stories and I have to thank the fans for allowing us to do that and for being so loyal.
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