Sean Kanan started out his career as a Bad Boy, beating out thousands for the role of Mike Barnes, who was given the task of antagonizing and fighting with the films hero, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) in Karate Kid 3. Working in the entertainment industry from teen idol stardom to playing significant characters in daytime television hits “Young & The Restless”, “General Hospital” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” (which is the #1 syndicated show in Daytime, airing in 120 countries around the world), he has had numerous television guest appearances on some of televison’s biggest shows, and navigated an incredible resume of feature films working with the coolest people in Hollywood. Adding writer, producer, author and comedian to his list of talents, he has evolved from a Bad Boy to a Modern Gentleman, which can be seen by reading his engaging book, “The Modern Gentleman: Cooking and Entertaining with Sean Kanan.”
You have worked in television and film, what is the biggest difference between the two since you have been so successful in both mediums?
The biggest difference is that television generally moves much more quickly. You know when you do a film, if you’re lucky you’ll have some rehearsal time before principal photography starts. Generally speaking, you’re shooting maybe 10 pages a day and on “The Bold and The Beautiful” we shoot probably 85-90 pages a day. So you know the more time that you take generally as an actor is it is more desirable because you get to play more and you hopefully get the absolute best result because you’re not quite as constrained by time.
I actually read or saw something on television about working in daytime soap operas about how difficult it is to work in that medium because actors who cannot remember their lines are fired as they do not do a lot of retakes in the soap opera industry. You basically have to deliver correctly, sink or swim. Is that true?
It’s really true. I don’t know how these young kids who get on a show now do it, because they’re given so much material. I started working in soap operas 25 years ago, and so I had some time to cut my teeth and develop the skill set of learning a lot of dialogue. Now for me it’s very easy, I mean I can learn a lot of dialogue very quickly. Today, in this day and age when you go into a show you better have that skill set right away. It almost doesn’t matter how good an actor you are because if you’re slowing down production, the medium just can’t wait and you will not make it.
I think that seems incredibly intense!
It’s super intense.
You have added comedian to your already large skillset in the entertainment industry, and having seen you perform, you are very funny. How did that come about?
I’ve always loved stand-up comedy, when I was about 14 years old a buddy and I snuck into a comedy club, I was just mesmerized watching these guys with nothing but a microphone and their words keeping the audience spellbound. And I started doing it pretty early. I started doing standup when I was 15-16 and intermittently I’ve done it and I just decided you know in the last year or so that I really wanted to get more serious with it because there is just no feeling like that connection you have with the audience. You know when you’re making a movie or you’re making a TV show, unless you’re on a sitcom in front of a live audience you’re not in front of a live audience. The thing about stand up is that you know how you are doing immediately. How it’s being perceived. They are my thoughts.
you know what I mean? I’m not using someone else’s words I’m using mine.
I think that’s very cool, and fortunately you are very funny so you don’t have any of those moments where you are telling jokes and no one is laughing. I think anyone who sees your shows will love them and should follow you on twitter @SeanKanan to see where you are performing.
You’ve worked as an actor, producer, executive producer and writer. How do you like being the person behind the scenes as opposed to being the actual like star in front of a camera?
I think writing is probably the most difficult. I enjoy producing a lot. I like taking a project from the inception to the Genesis and seeing it through to its fruition. You know it’s a lot of fun being involved with every aspect of the film from casting, crewing up and eventually into selling the film, which is the really enjoyable part. So I really have fun producing. I think acting though for me is my first love.
I literally love acting, my favorite stuff is being on stage doing theater.
Yes. Being a stage actor you definitely have to be able to remember your lines or you are really screwed. Lol. It’s very similar to performing stand-up comedy also, because you are getting a reaction from the audience right away.
Yes. So hopefully I’m going to be able to continue to sort of merge all three of those in my career as I continue working.
I’m sure you will.
So each one sort of feeds a different a different hunger I guess.
Today’s newspaper just hit the stands and you’re in the headlines what do they say?
(With a grinning laugh) I’m still standing. You know I tell you, I really have been a cat with nine lives in my personal life and in my professional life. I always am seeking to recreate myself. I mean I’ve gone back to a lot of familiar wells like daytime, but I’m always looking to do other things because you know for me being stagnant does not work, as an actor I want to be creating all the time, and sometimes, unless you’re at a point in your career as an actor where you’re being offered scripts and jobs all the time, you’re usually just another actor looking for a job, which means I don’t always get the opportunity to act on TV or film. And so if that’s not clicking I’ll be looking for a play to do or stand up to do or to get involved in something as a producer. But I just I kind of need to keep moving, and after all these years I have definitely had my ups and downs, but I’m still standing.
Do you still have to audition?
(Laughs) Oh yes absolutely. What is nice though is I have reached a point in my career where from time to time I do get offered films which is really great. It’s not the norm, but you know this one that I just did called “The Absence of Good Men”, I was fortunate enough that the director from another film I was in called “Limelight” was a producer and he called me up at like 6:45 on a Tuesday and said Sean, I need a guy who can come in and do a couple scenes with Jason Patric. I said Jason Patric, I am there. I actually had a court appointment the next day, and you know you can’t skip court.
I told Michelle, I have to do this. She jumps into action, don’t worry I’ll go to court. I’ll talk to the judge and work it out, it won’t be a big deal. So I went, and was on set the next day being fitted for my clothing from the 1920s and there I was in this great set with all the old model cars acting opposite Jason Patric and it was just great.
We should mention that Michelle is your beautiful and talented wife.
Yes, she is amazing.
What is the most useless talent that you have?
I know a bunch of useless trivia.
Me too although you can’t make a nickel off of it.
I’ve got a black belt in “The Brady Bunch”. You know I grew up watching “The Brady Bunch”, “Happy Days” and the original “Star Trek”. So I really defy anyone to stump me too badly on “Star Trek” the original, not the new one.
Same with “The Brady Bunch” or “Happy Days.”
I’m like that with “The Golden Girls.”
I missed that one, but I actually I got to present an award to Henry Winkler at the Skirball Center and he was the evening’s guest and I got to present it. I mean it was like my life a day ago. It’s fun. I felt like I had arrived. Presenting “The Fonz” with an award.
So they’re going to make a movie of your life. Who would you choose to play you?
Oh boy, oh my God…you know it’s hard to answer that and not sound self-important isn’t it?
That’s ok since I asked it, and I think your answer will be fun and interesting.
I’d say Ryan Gosling.
That’s a great answer, he is a terrific actor, but I don’t think he is as good looking as you are.
He is much better looking than I am.
I think it’s ok for you to say that, but I will stick to my guns and say he would do a great job playing you, he is a super talent, but I think your millions of fans will disagree on the whole looks idea.
So, is there a song that never fails to evoke some emotion whenever you hear it?
I’ve got I’ve got a couple I can give you. Here’s three. In no particular order, “Downbound Train” by Bruce Springsteen.
“Peace Train” by Cat Stevens.
Love that song, I always thought it was a 10,000 Maniacs song, did not realize that it was a cover for Natalie Merchant. What a terrific song pick.
My third pick is going to sound really off the wall, but I choose “The Rose” by Conway Twitty. If you are a fan of the tv show “True Detective” there is this great scene with Fred Ward and Colin Farrell are in this bar and this guy comes out and it’s a dream sequence and they are playing the song. It is the most heart-wrenching, evocative, soulful thing. I think you will love it.
I’m sure I will, I have interviewed many of the actors who have had roles on that show.
Last one, if you were a super hero what would you want your superpowers to be and why?
I think I would want my superpower to be cellular regeneration, you know kind of like Wolverine. It would be great if my body was always in perfect physical health and if I got injured I would be able to heal myself immediately. I wouldn’t wish for immortality, what happens if you get thrown in jail then you are really screwed. So I would rather have the ability to live a super, super, long life and become as many things as I could, like a doctor.
And be healthy the whole time.
Yes, and be healthy.
I think that is a great super power, now that I am in my mid-50’s, things are starting to creak a little.
Tell me about it.