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Justin stars as "Nicholas Foxworth Crane" on NBC's soap opera "Passions". Foxworth "Fox" Crane is the son of Ivy Winthrop Crane and Julian Crane. To anyone on the outside looking in, Fox would seem to have it all. The prodigal "golden boy," Nicholas is in his early twenties, his body hard and toned from years of playing soccer and tennis. He is also apowerful, potent presence among both his buddies and the ladies! Although Fox was sent to the best boarding schools, first in America, then in Europe, his sense of entitlement to have what he wanted when he wanted it, by whatever means necessary, ultimately caused trouble on two continents. Nicholas' various headmasters would describe him as spoiled, willful and arrogant, whereas his friends see him as charming, clever and at times crafty -- thus his nickname, "Fox." The ladies love Nicholas and he loves to "love" them, but had never actually been in love…that is, until Whitney Russell caught his eye. His other acting credits include the student films "America The One" and "Get Up, Stand Up" as well as the theater productions of "Of Mice and Men", "Actor's Spotlight Hour" and "Get Up, Stand Up." Justin just completed a national commercial for Miller Genuine Draft that will launch in late fall of 2002. Justin was raised in Orland Park, Illinois with his older brother Nathan and younger sisters Megan and Gabriela. Justin attended Southern Illinois University and The University of Illinois in Chicago majoring in History and Theater. Justin's favorite pastime is baseball. He is also an avid basketball player. Justin resides in Los Angeles with his wife, and co-star, Lindsay Hartley and their baby daughter, Isabella. The 6"3 actor was born on January 29, 1977, in Knoxville, Illinois.
One on One with Passions' Justin Hartley
This year the fireworks started early for Passions duo and real-life marriedites, Justin and Lindsay Hartley. On July 3 -- just one day before Uncle Sam's birthday -- the couple happily surrendered their independence for full-time nursery duty, and welcomed their first child, whom they named Isabella Justice. Dad took six weeks off the soap to get acquainted with his brand-new daughter. Mom took an eight-week maternity leave. SoapCity caught up with Justin shortly after he returned to work.
SoapCity: How's the baby?
Justin Hartley: She's wonderful, amazing. She's changing every day and doing wonderful things, like blowing bubbles of spit. It's amazing, how as parents, we see them do things that are not extraordinary at all, but to us they're extraordinary. It's kind of cool watching how they start to become little people.
SoapCity: You chose such beautiful names for your daughter. How did you and Lindsay pick them?
Justin Hartley: There's no one in the family named Isabella; we just liked the name. For a middle name, we didn't want to call the baby Justin or Lindsay, so we named her Isabella Justice, which I think is really cool. It's a good word. It's a little bit of a combo. Lindsay likes strong names. She thinks it sounds strong, Isabella Justice Hartley.
SoapCity: So is anybody getting any sleep in your house?
Justin Hartley: Let me tell you something, the baby sleeps 10 hours a night straight through -- 10 hours! The bad thing is if she goes to bed at 6PM and she wakes up 10 hours later, it's 4 M. But usually she goes to bed at 8 or 9PM and wakes up at 6 or 7 in the morning, and we've got to be at work early, anyway. It's amazing, since the time we brought her home -- there was like a two-week period where she would wake up once or twice during the night to feed for like 10 minutes and go right back to bed. She's not really awake at night. She doesn't want to be awake then. She's like her mom, she likes her sleep, you know.
SoapCity: Do you get parenting tips from castmates who have children?
Justin Hartley: Yeah, a lot of parents in the cast are trying to give me advice, but I've seen their kids [he laughs], so I'm taking any of it. They're so good, everybody here. Nobody will tell you what to do, but they all offer their tokens of advice without telling you this is how you should do it.
SoapCity: Did you know the sex of the baby beforehand?
Justin Hartley: Yes, and we told people. Lindsay did this incredibly beautiful thing in the baby's nursery. Her walls are pink and her furniture's white, and Lindsay put up all these little wooden hearts and cupids and clouds and moons and stars, and covered them in glitter and rhinestones.
SoapCity: With a baby in the house, you probably don't have much time to relax. But when you do have a few spare minutes, what's your favorite primetime show?
Justin Hartley: Right now it would be Monday Night Football. I also like Las Vegas a lot and I'm a big West Wing fan.
SoapCity: Do you try to catch Desperate Housewives?
Justin Hartley: I do because Jesse's on it. [Jesse Metcalfe; ex-Miguel]
SoapCity: How do you like your current storyline on Passions?
Justin Hartley: I've been enjoying it. Since I've come back, I've had some opportunities to put on my dancing shoes a little bit and box with people and go head to head with them. I like that kind of stuff; you know, power scenes, struggle and things like that, as opposed to just filler. I've had a chance to do a lot of cool things recently.
SoapCity: Do you and Lindsay rehearse your scenes at home?
Justin Hartley: Sure, we run our lines and give each other pointers. I try not to give her too many pointers because she's been on the show longer than I have.
SoapCity: Does she ever do Whitney's lines? Do you do Chad's?
Justin Hartley: Yeah, we have fun with it. We read them out loud, just to get the dialogue down.
SoapCity: What do you think the future holds for Fox?
Justin Hartley: I tell people this and they don't believe me, but it's the truth: the producers don't tell us anything, so you kind of just show up. I would assume that's kind of how it is on a lot of soaps. They don't want to give the story out, obviously.
SoapCity: Just for fun, what advice do you think Dr. Phil would have for your character?
Justin Hartley: If Fox went to Dr. Phil for therapy, I think he'd look at me and go, [imitating Dr. Phil's drawl perfectly] "Hello, am I missin' somethin' here?" Dr. Phil is my hero, I love that guy. Lindsay and I watch him all the time.
SoapCity: How about Carson Kressley, the fashion guru on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?
Justin Hartley: He'd probably just hand Fox a rubber band and say, "Why don't you try this on for me?"
SoapCity: What about the Extreme Makeover team?
Justin Hartley: They would probably just wonder why Fox slept with all their wives.
SoapCity: Do you and Lindsay have any vacation plans in 2005?
Justin Hartley: Actually, we're thinking about a belated honeymoon in Hawaii. Isabella will be a little older then -- old enough to go on vacation with us. And we'll take the nanny along, so we can have some free time. We never got a chance to take a honeymoon when we got married, so why not? We like the idea of Hawaii because it's one flight, a direct flight. I don't want to stop anywhere with the baby. We already did a test run. In September, the three of us flew to Chicago to see my little sister in a production of Annie. We wanted to be there for opening night.
SoapCity: How did that trip with the baby go?
Justin Hartley: Isabella was a doll. She slept the whole way on the plane, didn't cry or anything. We were lucky. There was another couple on the plane with a baby that just kept bawling the whole time. You had to feel bad for him, poor little guy.
Justin Hartley: The New Guy
If you're going to make your debut in daytime, you might as well start at the top. That's exactly what Justin Hartley, who joined the cast of Passions in December, has done. As Nicholas Foxworthy "Fox" Crane, Hartley plays the privileged male heir to the Crane dynasty. Blessed with his family's staggering wealth and good looks, Fox will tap into it all as he pursues his fellow tennis pro, Whitney Russell, and his stepmother Theresa Crane. But fans, take note. Hartley stresses there's more to his alter ego than roguish charm. Every calculated move Fox makes will have an intent and purpose in this daytime newcomer's capable hands. Coming across more like the boy next door than a future corporate lothario, Hartley is destined to leave the broken hearts on-screen - and win over the heart of the viewers.
Passions really marks your acting debut. You must have done something in your audition that just wowed the casting director.
I wish I knew! I like to think of Michael J. Fox; he just looks comfortable in whatever role he's doing, and he has confidence. That comes from being relaxed. I'm still young and learning, but I think I just relaxed and trusted myself. Maybe I'm just a good actor, and I acted like I had confidence!
When did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
I didn't really act as a child. I played sports, and I was really into baseball. But I've always loved performing. If you ask anyone from the Midwest, [acting] isn't really something you think about doing as a profession. Once I got older, in my high school years, I realized it was something I wanted to do and got involved in it.
What did your family do the first time they saw you on screen?
I've always been real family-oriented. When I came out here, everyone was really supportive of me, but at the same time, I could tell that they were worried considering the odds [of becoming an actor]. When I landed Passions and I told them, everyone was excited but they didn't really understand it. It really hit them the first time they saw me on screen. They went crazy. They're my biggest fans.
What did you know about Passions before you landed the role?
I had auditioned for the show before, and my sister and my mom are avid watchers. It's a cool thing when you get a show, but to get something that your folks actually watch is even better because you don't have to explain it to them. When I auditioned a year ago, I watched it because I like to get involved with a project I'm up for as much as I can. Before I knew it, I was tuning in regularly, then I was turning it on everyday and I got hooked. So I've been watching it for about a year.
Were your mom and sister happy that you had been cast as a Crane?
My mom is so sweet. As soon as I told her my character, she knew his whole story. Of course, she doesn't want anyone not to like my character. But I think she's warming up to the idea.
I loved the description the show initially gave of Fox, that his body is toned and tanned from playing tennis. Do you play the game?
I play racquetball. When I learned I would be auditioning for the role, I watched every tennis event on TV that I could, because you never know. I might have to play tennis on air one day. I think I could play. I could learn.
So would you describe Fox as a smooth-talking, woman-loving gambler?
I don't think he's necessarily a spoiled rich kid; that's just people's perception of him. I think he's misunderstood in that way. People will think he's a heel, but while I'm playing the character, he'll never make choices that are mean just to be mean. He's doing it for a reason.
You couldn't have asked for a better person to play your on-screen dad. What is it like working with Ben Masters, who portrays Julian?
He's a great actor, and he has great range. But I think the best part of working with him has nothing to do with his acting. He's so gracious, and he's a good man. He's taken me under his wing. He's not intrusive when it comes to acting advice. But if you do walk up to him and ask what he thinks, he's not shy. He's not going to say you were great when he doesn't think you were. If you don't want to hear the truth, don't ask him.
What was the most unexpected thing you learned about being on a soap once you got to the set?
Obviously, the amount of dialogue you have. You watch soaps on TV and you say, "Wow, they've got a lot of lines," but you have no idea how hard it is to memorize them all. On the set, there's this insane amount of work to do everyday. No one knows when he or she is going to leave for the day because you leave when the work is done. But I've never seen anyone go crazy, lose his or her mind or flip out over it. Everyone is absolutely amazing, and everyone is always happy to be there. It makes it enjoyable to go to work.
Since you're the new kid on the block, has anyone played any practical jokes on you?
The only thing more embarrassing than playing practical jokes on the new kid is realizing a year later that you haven't played any, and people start doing it a year later. So I don't think I'm going to say anything about that. (Chuckles)
What do you enjoy doing when you're not on set?
I've been reading a ton. I like plays, and I've been trying to read a play a week. I like Arthur Miller and Sam Shepard. I'm reading a book by Dave Eggers called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It's his memoir, and it's a great book.
If you're reading all those plays, you must have an interest in stagework.
Absolutely. I would love to do some plays. It's the best feeling. There's no take two on stage.
From what I hear, there's not a lot of time for take two on soaps either.
Unless you beg for one, I guess. (Chuckles)
And what about sports?
I have to learn to play golf; I need to take lessons. I'm the reason the green fees are so high, because I just tear up the course. I love the game, and I need to get better.
Back to Passions. What's the one thing viewers can expect from Fox in the New Year?
Just to expect the unexpected.
This Just In: Justin Hartley Is Passions's Latest Heartthrob
"I've never been really practical. I mean, back when I played basketball in high school, I just assumed I would play professionally," Justin Hartley (Fox, Passions) recalls, chuckling softly. "And it didn't happen, obviously. Not by a long shot." That same approach to life – equal parts confidence, optimism and naivete – came into play in college, when the Illinois native decided to parlay his love of student theater into an acting career in Hollywood. "I had heard about [the huge unemployment rate for actors], sure. And I didn't know a soul out there. But I just thought, 'I'm gonna go out there and work really hard. Surely somebody will see me.'"
And so it was that Hartley and his college sweetheart, Jill, set off for California on December 26, 2000 in a big Budget rental truck ("Diesel, no less"), towing behind them Hartley's battered, bald-tired 1994 Chevy S-10 pickup. Along for the ride were their cat, Gracie (named for her gracelessness) and their half-beagle, half-terrier pup, The Gooch (an homage to Arnold's nemesis on DIFF'RENT STROKES). "It was a sheet of ice all the way out," he recalls. "The truck broke down twice, and the second time, it couldn't be fixed, so we had to drive the rest of the way in the pickup and have the truck towed to L.A."
He arrived in the City of Angels with $324 in his pocket, feeling like a Beverly Hillbilly. "I so wanted to get there at midnight so nobody would see us. We – me, Jill, the cat and the dog and the litterbox – pulled up in front of our apartment building in this filthy, dented pickup after it had been towed for, like, 3,000 miles in diesel fumes. Can you imagine what we must have looked like? Then the tow truck with that exploded diesel thing pulls up behind us and parks in the middle of the road, and everyone's looking at us like, 'Great, here come the new neighbors."
"I basically had no money," he continues, "so I had to find a job right away to pay the rent. I ended up getting this job and I knew immediately that it wasn't for me. I was sitting in this windowless cubicle the size of a kitchen table and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I became a defeated person. I had been told I would be closing all these multimillion-dollar deals and making people happy, but you know what it really was? Telemarketing. It wasn't just any telemarketing, it was telemarketing for phone services. I mean, could it be any harder? The people I called would be like, 'I already have phone service, you dummy, you called me on it.' And I would think, 'That's true. What am I doing?' Every single day I would wake up and think, '[Coming to L.A.] was a horrible mistake. This is a living nightmare.' Every day, I had to talk myself into staying."
Hartley is glad he did. The heinous job and disaster-riddled cross-country trip (though he used Budget again and reports, "They were really good!) are now distance memories, as are the growing pains most young performers experience in Hollywood. "I knew I wanted to act, but I had no idea how to gain access to that world," he sighs. "I didn't know to read the trade papers. I didn't know how to find an agent. I had no idea how to get auditions. I mean, I would have given monologues on street corners if I thought anyone would listen to me."
Luckily, he soon made friends, through whom he got a manager, an agent and a test for PASSIONS, though he lost the part. "It was for John," Hartley reveals. "They gave it to Jack Krizmanich. But by that time, I had tuned in to Passions a few times, and I was already hooked, so I kept watching." He swears that seeing Krizmanich on-screen instead of himself wasn't painful. "First of all, I met him at the test and he was really nice. And second, you know, at that time I was not a working actor at all. I thought, 'Obviously, he did stuff in his test that I didn't do,' so I just watched him and tried to see what he was doing that I wasn't."
The second time around, Hartley was just what Passions wanted. "I was so excited," he recalls. "I haven't had that many [acting] jobs in this town, to tell you the truth. A couple of short films, commercials for Macy's and Miller Genuine Draft. So, this was the first time I've really been on TV."
He's been recognized on the street a few times since his December debut, but not enough to be disturbed by it. "I don't care about being watched by people. I don't really do anything illegal, so let 'em watch. I'll tell you what freaks me out, though," Hartley confides. "I wasn't ready for … well, I guess this was kind of naïve, but it just never occurred to me that anybody would say anything negative about me, you know, about the way I act or look." Long story short, an Internet posting described him as "Not hot at all." "I'm the kind of person who can hear 1,000 good things about myself and one bad thing, and I'll focus on the bad thing. I start getting all sensitive, like, 'These people don't know me, maybe they saw me on a bad day.' But what it all boils down to," he concludes, "is that it's no big deal. It's someone's opinion, and they're entitled to write it 100 times if they want. I still feel like this whole entire experience with Passions has been perfect so far."
And Hartley feels equally high at home with Gracie, The Gooch and Jill, who is now a nursing student and gave him an acoustic guitar for his birthday. "I have no idea how to play it," he says. Then, alluding to his somewhat impractical nature, he laughs. "I should be a rock star by the end of the week. Or at least in a couple of months."