Words by Diedre Johnson
It’s been 18 years since Dylan Neal walked away from his two-year stint as The Bold and the Beautiful’s Dylan Shaw, but the actor has not sat idly by in the intervening time. Far from it. Since leaving B&B, Neal, now 44, has bounced between his native Canada and the US, appearing in a host of series, including Blood Ties, Dawson’s Creek and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Last year, he landed roles in the US series Cedar Cove alongside Andie MacDowell, as well as the hit superhero series, Arrow.
Neal sat down with TV SOAP to chat about his journey from soap to primetime, whether he still talks to any of his former B&B co-stars, and what it’s like working alongside Andie MacDowell.
What’s happening with Arrow?
Last year I was one of the main villains on Arrow and in the second season I play (Professor) Anthony Ivo. I did about 10 episodes and Arrow is a very complicated, very big scope kind of series but Ivo was one of the main villains of last year, so I had just finished the first year of Cedar Cove. I join Arrow in Vancouver. I’m there every 10 days for a couple of months, right up until we start shooting the second season of Cedar Cove. So I am constantly, it seems, in Vancouver right now.
What does success feel like the second time around?
I think you are more appreciative of things that come your way. When you are in your 20s, you have the ignorance of youth and the hubris of youth. You always think that things are going to come the way they are, maybe because it is going well. I was pretty lucky in my 20s. I got a soap opera and then I got pilot after pilot and series after series. I was pretty lucky. I think when you get older, it’s just more meaningful and you understand how very fortunate you are if you are working because a lot of your friends and your colleagues aren’t.
Do you find you can bring more to a role now that you’re a bit older?
The older you get as an actor, you have so much more in world experience to deliver as a performer. I am a dad now and I can relate to so many more things with characters I play, as a mature adult. In my 40s, I’ve lived a full life and the characters that I play reflect that. I can relate to it so it just gets better. You get more challenging roles and you’re at a place where you can deliver that.
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from B&B?
I ended up living right across the street from John McCook (Eric), his wife Laurette and their kids for a number of years, and they were sort of like my adopted parents, in a way, in Los Angeles for me and my wife. We saw their kids grow up. We spent many years at their cottage in June Lake, California in the winter and summer. We were really close to that family and still are. They are really special to us and they just sold that house. The kids are grown and they don’t need it anymore. And when I first got my green card and made a living for the first time, and John was always so open and nice. He’s been working on TV and soaps and was always the patriarch on the show. He was always so kind to me. He’s been a big role model for me, and Laurette (Spang, the original Battlestar Galactica), an actress who decided to focus on family, she was a great role model for my wife. Their daughter Molly, now in her early 20s, is an actress. I remember her, almost as a baby. I have Facebook contact with Maitland Ward, who played my girlfriend, Jessica. She was such a little girl on that show. She was 17 and it was her first big break and the characters were popular on The Bold and the Beautiful at that time.
What would you say, if you could, to your soap character today?
Well, I think we have to revisit the whole stripping storyline. Is this really the right choice for Dylan Shaw, even if you are trying to pay for college? Especially knowing that one day You Tube will exist. It’s like life imitating art. In the ’70s, you didn’t have material that found its way on You Tube to haunt you forever. You were able to make horrible movies or give performances that you are so glad they will never be seeing again. I just hit the cusp age when people were able to save copies from their VCRs and plant them on You Tube. All of my stripping days on The Bold and the Beautiful live on and on in You Tube. God bless fans of B&B, but wow, I could probably live without some of that imprinted forever. I would tell the young Dylan Shaw: “Just beware your decisions now that may follow you for the rest of your life, as they do me.”
What was your first impression of Andie MacDowell?
I was kind of nervous. Andie’s had an astronomical career. She was at one time the number one female box office star in the world after Four Weddings and a Funeral. She’d done Sex, Lies, and Videotape, then Groundhog Day. And the men that she’s worked opposite are the biggest names in the industry. Icons. John Malkovich, Bill Murray, the list goes on and on. So I was a little intimidated but she really welcomed me, made me feel at home and I think it took me a number of episodes to kind of settle in but in the second season, I think we’re really off and running. I think we are really gratified that the audience has responded so openly to our chemistry. It’s not everything but it’s an important factor of the show. If it didn’t work, the show would be kind of in trouble. You hope for the best, put in the work and you never know how it’s going to go. So we feel relieved and really happy that the audience reception to what we are doing together is working so well. Every now and then I look over and say, “I can’t believe I’m working with Andie MacDowell.” TVS