Tom's life experience will, no doubt, give the character
a more serious demeanor than the one Ashford was used to
displaying as Days
' Jack. Yet, Ashford insists he's
primed for the task. "When I came on to play Jack,
he was serious. Then, he kind of turned a corner and became
comical." Ashford doesn't necessarily see that happening
with Tom, nor does he want it to. " I would prefer
to see humor in a daily life be more than just comical.
At this point the book is kind of wide open as to what could
happen... Wherever the character goes is OK with me."
Perhaps that's a parallel with Ashford's own life, because
since leaving Days
he's enjoyed exploring many avenues
and stretching his talent in a variety of different directions,a
tiny bit in a movie, a sci-fi thriller called Species
with Ben Kingsley. I played a guy in a bar about to be picked
them playing the vampire in a production of Dracula
up by an alien who had adopted the form of
this lovely, young woman. But at the last
minute another girl falls into my lap, gains my attention
and I'm spared."
The most fulfilling work he's
done in the past year, however, is with Interact Theatre,
a company he discovered via former Days
McIntyre (ex-Jo Johnson). "Marilyn said, 'Come down.
Check it out,'" recalls Ashford. "I eventually
did, and they just blew me away. [The company is comprised
of] a very trained, imaginative group of actors. I knew
I only had to gain from being around them."
But most importantly, Ashford has gained a great deal of
insight from his Interact Theatre experience. "I've
learned to break habits set in my mind. I had gotten so
used to getting a script and trying to do instant characterization
and make instant choices," he says, referring to the
fast pace required at a soap. "At the theater I rehearse,
you build a character slowly, take time with it. It's the
desirable way to work -- my desirable way to work."
Ashford's opportunity to check out a different way of working
wasn't his choice. Days
abruptly stopped contract
negotiations with him in the summer of 1993, and informed
him he was being written off the show. Although it turned
out to be something of a blessing in disguise for the actor,
it caused a tremendous outcry of protest from his fans.
Ashford has been overwhelmed by the adulation, which continues
to this day. "I never experienced anything like it
before," he admits, adding, "For any amount of
support I received or am still receiving, I appreciate it.
To me, that kind of [feedback] indicates people appreciated
and enjoyed what I did, that i's still to be remembered.