LIFE and DEATH
Matthew Ashford ponders
Dr. Stephen Haver's
October of 2003, Matthew Ashford's long-running DAYS OF OUR
LIVES character, Jack Deveraux, was bludgeoned to death by the
Salem Stalker. Less than two months, later, the actor resurfaced
on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, where he'd begun his daytime career two
decades earlier and would soon be revealed as the serial murderer
who'd been terrorizing Llanview!
It's an irony that isn't lost on Ashford. "I feel like
jack has left one alternate universe for another, says the actor,
who originated his DAYS role in 1987 and returned in 2001 after
an eight-year absence. "I have scenes with Bree Williamson
(Jessica) where I keep saying [the name
of his DAYS wife] Jennifer, or Salem university instead of Llanview
University. I've had to bit my tongue on many occasions."
And we'd be remiss not to mention Stephen Haver's mother, Marlena,
who shares the same name as DAYS' killer doc! "Isn't that
something?" the actor laughs.
In many ways, Ashford's career has come full circle with his
return to OLTL. "It's really wonderful to be back her again,"
says the actor, who played Drew Ralston from 19822983 in his
first television role. "I worked with Bob Woods (Bo),
Erika Slezak (Viki), Robin Strasser (Dorian)
and Phil Carey (Asa) before, and I'm getting
the chance to work with a whole group of new, talented people
"But," he continues, "I'm in a slightly different
place now. I had been through four years of a professional training
school [earning a BFA in theater from the North
Carolina School Of The Arts] when I arrived in 1982,
and yet I still basically didn't know what to do. Everyone has
so much on their plate that you really can't wait for someone
to direct you. You have to look at your own work and make strong
choices; I didn't.
While Drew met a sad fate, Ashford found new life on other soaps
(see FYI box below), and returned to Llanview
with a new perspective. "I learned from different mistakes,"
he relates. "Coming back here now, this character is wide
open, and i said, `I'm going to do my own thing and keep bringing
things for the directors, producers and writers to look at.'
"Back then," he continues, "I didn't always know
what to do with it and thought, `It's just another day -- when
in fact every day is this great opportunity. Maybe that big
movie is out there, but who knows? You better not wait to do
your best acting until you get there. Whatever you're given
here, you should make something of it, because it will help
you be the kid of actor that can take all kinds of material
and make something of it. I wish I'd been able to figure that
out back then."
Seizing The Moment
While the the handwriting seems to be on the wall for his killer
character, LA-based Ashford is keeping an open mind. "Although
[Stephen] sounds like he's not so long
for this world, it's hard to tell," he says. "I'm
also talking to people at the network about other projects.
I'll be back in L. A. for pilot season, but if something comes
up here, I'll be back in New York, too."
After being on the West coast for so long, Ashford even was
able to relish the East Coast's harsh winter weather. "I
actually liked the snow because i hadn't been in it for so long,"
he relates. "I got a good dose of it this time, and I got
to wear clothes I haven't worn in years!" It's a beautiful
city, I've reconnected with old friends and made new friends,
I got to see Broadway theater, the symphony and the opera."
Like the weather, Ashford acknowledges that the soap business
is ever-changing -- and that's all the more reason to make every
day count. "In 2020, people will be looking back to the
good old days of 2004 and saying, `Remember when we were there?'
This business is so volatile, who knows what we'll be doing
then? So we've got to enjoy this."
doctor teaches Jess and
Co., at the school of hard knocks
and Jack put the super
29, Davenport, IA
Eight is enough:
of eight children, Ashford spent his formative years growing
up in Fairfax, VA.
On the homefront:
The actor has been married since 1987 to actress/singer
Christina Ashford, and they share two daughters, Grace and
In between OLTL
Ashford played Cagney on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW
(1984-'86) and Tom on GENERAL HOSPITAL
The actor's movie credits include Billy's Hollywood
Screen Kiss, Maid in Manhattan
and Bonfire Of The Vanities
On primetime TV, he's appeared on FRIENDS
and DHARMA AND GREG
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