"Feature Interview" from "CBS Soaps in Depth"
June 20, 2000
by: Chris Eades
When he journeyed from Sydney, Australia, To New York to take the role of scheming Simon Frasier on AS THE WORLD TURNS, Paul Leyden had no idea what he was getting himself into. After a whirlwind casting process, he found himself thrust into a frontburner storyline opposite veteran Martha Byrne (Lily/Rose). He even was made a presenter at the recent Emmys, a daunting experience for the soap newcomer. "I'd never seen anything like it," he confesses. "It was unbelievable to look out amongst all those people."
Recently, Leyden's schedule has slowed down---although he's watched Byrne's speed up as she protrays two characters at once. "It's like working with two different people," he says. "Playing with Rose was just this completely new, different energy."
Now, the energy's been cranked up a few more notches with the introduction of Simon's twisted sister, Celia---Fiona Hutchison (ex-Jenna, GUIDING LIGHT). "It's not a normal sibling relationship," Leyden reveals. "It's pretty dysfunctional."
Working with such experienced performers was a blessing for Leyden as he adjusted to the frenzied pace of shooting an hour episode each day. "Everything I've done in Australia was all film work," he says. "I don't think people really respect actors on soaps because they don't realize the pressure they are under to deliver a good product in a shorter space of time.
"And everyone's doing it pretty much in one take," he adds. "It's very like theater in that way, and you've got to just run off your instincts."
Now that Leyden has gotten the work thing down, he's begun settling into Big Apple life. Coming from the coastlines of Sydney to the concrete sidewalks of Gotham was a bit unsettling at first. "But it's an amazing city," he says. "Something's always happening."
Nonetheless, he has put off taking in any of the city's landmarks until recently, when friends visited from Australia. "I wanted to pretend I was a local," he admits. "but when I had visitors come, we went to the Empire State Building, saw a Yankees game, did the whole Central Park thing."
No Place Like Home:
Although uprooting his life and transplanting himself to America has been disruptive, the Australian import believes he'll come out on top once again. "I liken it to when I first moved from Melbourne to Sydney to go to drama school," he says. "If you really immerse yourself in where you are, eventualy, that'll become your home."