Articles and Interviews

BOSTON HERALD.com     OCTOBER 31, 2004

Boston Herald.com

Unconventional Leyden arrives on 'LAX'
By Amy Amatangelo
Sunday, October 31, 2004

Paul Leyden, the dashing Tony on NBC's "LAX" (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on WHDH, Ch. 7), owes his career to an ornery actor in Australia.

Leyden had written a play that was running as part of a festival in Sydney. The Melbourne native was not pleased with his terminally cranky lead actor. On the final night of the performance, the two brawled.

"He had to go to the hospital," Leyden said during a recent phone interview. "I went on and ended up winning Best Actor. Things kind of went from there - all because I broke some guy's nose. I should send him a thank-you note. Thank you for pissing me off."

Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney (which boasts graduates such as Judy Davis, Mel Gibson and Geoffrey Rush).

Acting also saved Leyden from a life as a corporate drone. After receiving an undergraduate degree in economics, he spent two years as an accountant, a job he didn't relish.

"I almost hung myself from the rafters with a tie," he said with a laugh. "I was not the most productive employee they've ever had. I had the lowest billable hours two years in a row. Instead of going to visit clients, I'd go watch movies. I was the only accountant working there who had a great time, because I was never there."

Prior to his role as the charming and sexy airline-passenger coordinator on the NBC drama, Leyden starred as Simon Frasier on CBS' "As the World Turns."

"I enjoyed my time in daytime. I was constantly working and constantly acting. The main difference between daytime and prime time is time," Leyden said. "We could go and shoot 30 pages of dialogue in one morning. Daytime drama is dialogue driven; whatever you're feeling, you have to say. There's a lot more waiting around in prime time."

"The fans of daytime - they love it and they're very loyal."

Leyden has received marriage proposals from women in prison, and one fan asked Leyden to sign her arm. The next time he saw her, she had his signature tattooed on her skin. Now that's devotion.

"LAX" gives Leyden, still relatively new to the profession, the opportunity to work with seasoned veterans Blair Underwood, who stars as terminal boss Roger de Souza, and Heather Locklear, who plays runway chief Harley Random.

"I grew up watching Heather Locklear. You got to have not lived on this planet to not know who Heather Locklear is," he said. "I get a lot just by working with them and seeing how professional they are and how they lead by example. They're just amazing. You wouldn't know how successful they are by how they are."

Although his character's real-life counterpart doesn't exist, Leyden spent some time with a man who does similar work at JFK.

"His mindset is: The more stressful it gets, the less you can show that. That was the best bit of advice, no matter what's going on, you can't show it."

Although "LAX" dominates his schedule, Leyden finds time for surfing and writing. He has written a couple of feature scripts, including one he describes as ``an arthouse psychological thriller."

He's hoping his onscreen alter-ego will develop some trauma of his own. Underwood's Roger has marital and gambling problems, and the airport cop (Frank John Hughes) drinks on the job. So far, Tony has been a nice guy.

"He's a bit of a Mr. Fix-It, and he enjoys the adrenaline of the job. But there's got to be a time when the stress of the job gets to him. Obviously, personally, I hope he's going to have his own issues."

Who knows? Maybe Tony will punch someone in the nose.


Primetime Preview

(Paul Leyden (ex-Simon, ATWT)

WHEN: Mondays at 10 p.m.EST on NBC; series premier September 13

WHAT: Leyden plays Tony, an airline passenger coordinator who does his best to soothe frazzled travelers' nerves, on this drama about the Los Angeles International Airport staff.

THEY SAY: "They were really keen for me to use my own accent, which is great," reports the actor, whose character also boasts Aussie roots. "An airport is a kind of cultural melting pot, so they wanted him to have an international flavor." Mmm, and how much you want to bet Tony's "flavor" is deemed delicious by the ladies? "He's definitely a charmer, a smooth operator," says Leyden. "But he's good at his job and loves the adrenaline rush it gives him. And he's always'on,' so it will be interesting to see how he is different in his private life from his public life."

WE SAY: Who will have the more exciting Jets --LAX, or the time-slot rival MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL? Can LAX put the heat on CSI: MIAMI? (can we think up any more bad puns?) With Heather Locklear on board and hot LAS VEGAS as its lead-in, LAX could rack up some frequent-viewer miles.

TV GUIDE   SEPTEMBER 19-24, 2004

Who's Ready For Prime Time?
by Michael Logan

This time last year, soap grads Amber Tamblyn, Kelly Ripa, Josh Duhamel and Vanessa Marcil were about to debut in their new fall series - and each of them struck gold. So who's next to make the big crossover?

LAX - A dippy, sexed-up take on a pressing subject - airport management and security. LAX may be awful, but that doesn't mean it won't be a hit. I mean, who doesn't want to see Heather Locklear use cleavage in the fight against terrorism? Plus: she's got swell backup from Paul Leyden. The awesome Aussie , who played Simon on As The World Turns, is LAX's passenger relations director. With luck, this is just a layover. Leyden has everything it takes to be the next 007.


Paul Leyden


Few terrorist plots at 'LAX' - the series

Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood's upcoming "LAX" series will feature stories "ripped from the headlines," but will try to keep terrorist plots to a minimum, reports actor Paul Leyden, who plays the airline passenger supervisor on the new NBC fall show that just started shooting.

"People might be scared post-9/11 and thinking 'Do we really need to see what's happening in airports?' But the show's not about terrorism. It's about an airport. The whole terrorist aspect is a part of that, but the rest is the 60 million people who go through that airport a year, and every single one of them has a story. Life goes on, and people still have to get from A to Z, and the best way to do it is fly," says the Australian hunk best known for his role of Simon Frasier on "As the World Turns."

Leyden predicts, "It's going to be really exciting. The creators and writers have been going down and speaking to all the people who work at LAX, and all the stories will come directly from things that actually happened there. I don't think anything has been on TV before that is the scope and size of this show. The episodes are always going to have a huge amount of extras ... we had hundreds of extras in the pilot and numerous guest roles. And they're dealing with locations and sets that are huge. A lot of what's going on behind the scenes at the moment is finding all the right locations at the various airports, LAX, Ontario ... " Then, of course, he adds, there are the post-9/11 security issues the humongous "LAX" troupe will have to contend with. "The crews and cast have to get screened and everything. I think we're going to be finding our feet over the first episodes to get in the groove."


"LAX" is from Emmy nominated writer Nick Thiel ("Magnum P.I") and producer Mark Gordon ("Saving Private Ryan", "Speed"), a new drama series that explores the behind-the-scenes dramas transpiring daily at the sprawling and bustling Los Angeles International Airport. Heather Locklear ("Spin City") stars as Harley Random, an ambitious, take-charge runway chief based at LAX. Harley is frequently confronted by her rival, terminal boss Roger (Blair Underwood, "L.A. Law", "Sex and the City"), as each jockeys to be named the new director of the airport while working together to solve everything from bomb scares, to VIP arrivals, drunken pilots and roaming pets. Rounding out the cast are Paul Leyden, Wendy Hoopes, David Paetkau and Frank John Hughes. Created by Thiel, "LAX" is from NBC Universal Television Studios. Gordon and Thiel are executive producers.


The Futon Critic

LAX - Television favorite Heather Locklear ("Spin City") returns to primetime -- full-time -- in this off-beat dramatic series centered in a world unto itself: a major international airport. Security breaches, tearful reunions, illegal immigrants, missing children, runaway animals, drug busts, drunken pilots -- there are countless stories to tell in "LAX." Whether it's the ongoing power struggle between the Airfield Chief (Locklear) and the Terminal Manager (Blair Underwood, "L.A. Law"), the romantic misadventures of the Airline Supervisor Tony (Paul Leyden, "As the World Turns") or the trial-by-fire of a young, naive Immigration Office clerk Nick (David Paetkau, "Final Destination 2"), viewers will be pulled into this unique world. Then there are the passengers, loading, unloading and passing through each episode. Each week will feature their compelling dramas -- from chance encounters between strangers to surprise reunions of long-lost lovers to - "the sky's the limit." Wendy Hoopes ("Daria"), Chad Todhunter ("Party of Five") and Frank John Hughes ("Band of Brothers") also star. "LAX" is from NBC Universal Television. Mark Gordon and writer Nick Thiel are the executive producers. Joe and Anthony Russo ("Lucky") directed the pilot.