If MELROSE PLACE has taught us anything over the years, it’s that anything or anyone can be brought back from the dead. Which is probably why actor Thomas Calabro — who has made a career out of playing the deliciously devious Dr. Michael Mancini — was only to happy to take a brief break from twittering and updating his facebook page to talk to us about what brought him back to the series that turned him into a household name and what’s in store for fans during the latter half of the season.
As the only actor who remained with the original series over the course of its entire run, how challenging was it to move on from the character that turned you into a household name?
Thomas Calabro: When MELROSE PLACE became successful I was in my 16th year as an actor. Which is to say that for 15 years, I made a living and was never in the middle of the public eye and was perfectly happy and content. Yes, the show changed my life in certain ways — of course I had more money than I ever dreamed of having and more notoriety where people would recognize me in the street— but for years, even until now, I’m always thinking, “High school? What high school did you got to?” For me it was just another job and another step in my crazy career.
Was it hard convincing casting directors to take you seriously after MELROSE PLACE?
Anytime you become so identified with a show and a role it’s both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you’re imminently hirable. The downside is that you’re usually hirable as the same kind of character. So gone were my years at the Actor’s Studio and my 8-9 years of theater work in New York. Following the original series I was just this guy in a suit who played a soap opera badass. There were people who wouldn’t see me because I was on a nighttime soap produced by Aaron spelling and they didn’t do that kind of television. But I’m not going to sit here and complain about it, reinventing oneself is just something actors have to do.
With that in mind, was there any apprehension to returning the show?
Yes for that very same reasons I just mentioned, but also because the show itself might try to duplicate itself and that doesn’t speak to great success. Developing someone else’s vision [in this case, original series creator Darren Star] is tough to do. As an artist, I’m not saying it can’t be done, but for me personally that’s tough. I didn’t necessarily want to go back and do that again, but I was very inspired by creators Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin and knew they had their own vision. Sure it’s called MELROSE PLACE and it has the same high stakes drama backdrop, but their treatment of it was darker and different and once I heard about their whole vision for Michael Mancini I was very excited to be a part of it.
Both Michael and Amanda seem to be strategically finding ways in which to ingratiate themselves with this new crop of tenants? Would it be safe to assume their endgame is the same?
Let me say this, that is a very strong possibility. Heading toward the end of the season we have quite a few scenes together and there is an underlying relationship between both character’s goals that is begging to be explored.
And speaking of relationships, on the original series Michael was known as quite the lothario. Now that your character’s wife is out of the picture, is the good doctor going to go back to his bed-hopping ways?
It wouldn’t be Michael Mancini without the possibility of some romantic entanglements, would it? Oh gosh, I don’t know how to put this without revealing anything, but he’ll be pushing a romantic entanglement. Maybe ‘entanglement’ is a word I’m using loosely, maybe ‘romantic’ is a word I’m using loosely, either way he’ll be making things happen quite a bit going into the second half of the season.
It took the appearance of Amanda Woodward to really turn the original series into a ratings hit. Is there anything coming down the pipe, perhaps something akin to Kimberley’s iconic ‘wig’ moment that may get people really talking about the new series?
That’s a big question. I believe over the next couple of weeks something pretty monumental happens which I’m not sure is anything we’ve ever seen on television. Fans can expect some pretty fantastic twists and turns as well as a tonal change that moves towards the sweet spot of the original series when buildings were exploding, wigs were coming off and every show had a piece of dialogue that you wouldn’t forget.
With the series’ future hanging in the balance, will the season end on a cliffhanger, or in a way in which fans will be satisfied should the series not get picked up for a second season?
It’s going to end with intrigue, it’s got to, there’s no MELROSE PLACE without mystery. We always move forward thinking we’re in the middle of these people’s lives and what the heck is going to happen next with all of them.
MELROSE PLACE airs on Tuesdays at 9PM on the CW (Wednesdays at 10PM on Global TV in Canada)
Photo Credits: Michael Desmond/The CW