Monday, April 21, 2014

Ten With Ian Buchanan

With Ian Buchanan

Ian is a gentle soul walking the earth. Curious, intelligent, unassuming and generous, he always seems to have a ready and open smile for everyone, a kind comment, and time to tell great stories.  He’s the person who injects the mild diffuser to a volatile situation or leavens a moment with a self-deprecating quip to make people laugh.

Born in Scotland, Buchanan emigrated to the United States in 1981 to pursue an acting career. He studied with the respected Strasberg Institute in New York City before launching a long and distinguished career in television. One of my favorite appearances was with Peter Falk in “Columbo: Columbo Cries Wolf”, in which he played a smarmy, ne’er-do-well Casanova-in-cahoots with Deirdre Hall.  Things didn’t end well for his character in that episode, but Ian speaks fondly of the time he spent with the legendary Peter Falk.  

As accomplished a television actor as he is, he also has a great love and long relationship with live theatre – one he nurtures and pushes with commitment and joy. Like most artists, he likes to stretch himself beyond a comfort zone of expression and leap off an edge or two now and again, and begins a run as King Henry II in The Lion in Winter at the Colony Theatre in Burbank from April 19 to May 18 – a demanding role that explores the psyche of a powerful man feeling powerless against the inevitability of time.

The first time I saw Ian was at the same time as Anna Devane did: Across a crowded room, with the strains of the Tango playing on my television. He stretched out his arm, offered his hand…and invited her to dance.   The love affair with Duke Lavery had begun, and two decades later, Ian is still dancing, still holding his hand out, and making everyone so glad we said yes.


ARD: You recently became a bona-fide American citizen. What was the final push, as it were, that influenced you to take that very definitive, very personal step?

IB:  I became a citizen out of love for this country, gratitude for what it has given me, the right to vote and the next logical step in The American Dream.


ARD: You were a member of The Citizens Band, which can get pretty controversial and daring both politically and socially.  What was the scariest thing you did there as an artist?

IB: I am still a member of TCB. Scariest? Sing from the heart and dance from the soul.


ARD: I know you’re an avid reader who devours books in multiples. What book would you send to an adversary, and what book would you give a friend?

IB: One Hundred Years of Solitude -- to either.


ARD: I want to ask something about your Scottish heritage, but can’t think of a really good one. What question do you wish people would ask you about Scotland or being Scottish?

IB:  I wish they would ask me to define my Scottishness.


ARD:  Okay. Define your Scottishness in ten words. Either in a sentence or ten separate words.

IB:  Melancholic, brooding, pagan, whirling, irreverent, loyal, cautious, thrifty, humorous and reserved.


ARD:  The brooch Anna wore at her wedding to Duke belonged to your grandmother, yes?
How did that come about?

IB: I had three pieces of jewelry that were my Grandmothers. I may have stolen them! One was a Luckinbooth Brouch, which I happily handed over to GH, Anna and Finola.


ARD:  Duke Lavery was gone for 23 years before returning to Port Charles in 2012—to the giddy delight of GH fans. Did you have a sense that could or would happen?

IB:  It is something that I wanted but seemed less and less likely as the years and soaps disappeared. F.V. and R.C. are the only people who could make it happen and make me very happy in the process.


ARD:  When you got the call to play Duke again, was there any hesitation about playing him after so long? What kind of relationship do you have with him?

IB:  I like Duke. I understand him better now. He's grown up since I last was him but in many ways he's still the same. I find him to be unique. He's not a people pleaser which I like!


ARD: You played Martin Dysart in Equus – a fairly challenging and terrifying play, albeit not so much for the nudity, I would guess. What did you take from Dysart and Equus that is solely yours, and what do you think you share with other actors who have done the show?

IB:  The young one was nude, not me. It's a tough role and the ambiguity has to be played fearlessly so that the thing Dysart feels he has lived without, passion, is something that he has and can't feel. It's a role I would play again in a heartbeat. It changed me as an actor and that I share with many of the actors who have played him.


ARD:  Describe your perfect day.

IB:  Peace and quiet. An hour at the gym. An hour at the bookstore. Cocktails with friends. early dinner at home and bed with a great book. That happens once a month! The reality is action packed maneuvering with a mind that never stops. Either one is good.

Performances of The Lion in Winter are Thursdays and Fridays 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Ticket prices are from $20-49.00; group discounts are available.

Previews: Wednesday April 16, Thursday April 17, and Friday April 18 at 8pm. Opening Night Performance with Reception: All Tickets $55.00.The Colony Theatre is located at 555 North Third Street, next to the Burbank Town Center Mall; tickets can be purchased by calling 818-558-7000 or online at The Colony Theatre.

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