Simon Frasier on "As The World Turns"
The games may be over, but you can still enjoy the
view from Down Under. Enter Paul Leyden, the
Australian native who portrays mysterious Simon
Frasier on As the World Turns. Simon came to
Oakdale and quickly connected with Lily Walsh,
throwing a delicate wrench in her relationship with
longtime beau Holden (Jon Hensley). Given the
impossible task of becoming Lily's new love interest,
Leyden is faring quite nicely and winning accolades
from diehard fans. With just a year under his belt and
the onset of his first American winter, TV Guide
decided to catch up with this Australian import to
discuss the challenges of being Lily's newest love,
his adjustments to the New York City terrain and of
course, the Olympics. -- Delaina Dixon
You recently went home to Australia. Did you catch
any of the Olympics?
I went back to visit my family in Melbourne for about
five days, and then I spent the rest of the time in
Sydney. I got most of all the pre-Olympic hype and
the parties and the whole city looked absolutely
amazing. It was great to be there, even pre-Olympics.
I got back here a day before the opening
ceremonies, which is a bit of a bummer because I
did have tickets to some of the events, but
unfortunately I had to sell them.
It was so moving to see the Aborigines participate in
the opening ceremonies. I don't think a lot of the
people in the rest of the world know that the
Aborigines are the indigenous people of Australia.
It's great for them to be recognized, because they are
such a huge part of the country.
How did a nice Australian boy like you land a role
on an American daytime drama?
It was just before Christmas last year; I was
auditioning for a brand-new primetime show in
Australia, which I got. And then my agent called up
and said there's a show shooting in New York, that
it's a CBS show and worth putting a tape down. No
matter what happens, CBS will get a chance to see
Were they specifically looking for an Australian
They were. Fulfilling this role took about nine
months. They did auditions in New York, L.A. and
England but were getting mostly British people. So
they did a casting call in Australia. At the beginning of
the New Year, my agent told me they wanted to fly me
to New York for an audition -- there's nothing like a
free trip to New York -- but I couldn't just go over for
the free trip. I decided if I went for the audition and got
the role, I would take it. They flew four of us over, and
I was thinking this is the last time I'll see New York
for a long time because I basically did everything but
trip over the furniture in the audition. I went back
home, and about three weeks later, they called up
and said I got the job.
Did you always want to work in New York?
I was working consistently in Australia, getting great
work, but you can be in every big blockbuster in
Australia, and it never gets shown here in the States,
so your exposure is very limited. When this
opportunity came through, it was a great opportunity
to come over. And I have learned so much in this
medium. I work with some extremely talented actors,
and they all produce that kind of work in one take. It's
So what is it like working with soap veteran Martha
I think I've been extremely lucky: Not only was I
brought over to do this show, but I also get to work
with Martha very intensely, and that has been a great
experience. I've learned so much from her. She's fast
becoming one of my closest friends here. She
someone whom I just admire and love working with.
How have the fans reacted to the pairing of Simon
I think at first there was a lot of 'Don't do it; we like
you, but Holden and Lily belong together.' But since
Lily and Simon got off the island, there's been a
complete turn of the tables. Now, 95 percent of the
reactions in fan mail is that Martha and I belong
together. They say that Simon's obviously in love with
Lily and that he's not conning her. It's been an
Has Lily truly fallen for Simon, or is it some sort of
Blue Lagoon infatuation?
I think Lily genuinely has fallen for him. I think there
was amazing connection between them and that he
brings things out in her that have never been brought
out before by Holden or anyone else. I think that's the
side of her that makes her feel empowered. And
Simon is trying to prove how much he loves her. He's
not pushing her, but the only reason he's hanging
around now is for her. So he does need her to make
a decision and come clean. He's not feeling 100
percent comfortable with breaking up a marriage,
either. He does have some morals.
Do you think Lily and Holden belong together?
That's a tough question. The fact that Lily and Holden
are married and taking a stance for the whole
institution of marriage, for better or for worse, then,
yes, they probably do [belong together]. They've
made those commitments and maybe they're going
through a rough patch they just need to work out. If
that's the case, then maybe they need to take some
time out and forget what's happened, if that's
possible. But from a different perspective, watching
them together, I don't see the love there. You see
them being together because of a history, but, from
my personal point of view that's not enough to
sustain a relationship. Just because you've been
together for a long time doesn't mean there's still
passion, there's still love there. I see two people who
are bound together by their children and history, by
the fact that they have shared so much, which is
amazing. But if that's in the past, they obviously need
to move on to make their lives individually happier.
You and Lily were stranded on the island around
the same time Survivor was on. Did you ever
watch the show for inspiration?
Survivor was really well done, and I did watch it
from the onset. I hope I don't get addicted to the
second one, like I did the first, but I didn't watch it for
inspiration. I think it was coincidental that we were on
an island at the same time.
So, are you prepared for your first full New York
I've got to go shopping and get my winter jacket. I
came here the tail end of winter, and it was cold. I
had never seen snow in a city before. And it was
freezing. In the winter in Australia you only need a
long sleeve T-shirt and a medium jacket, and that's
as cold as it gets.
What's the strangest thing you had to get use to
after moving to New York City?
Sydney is so big with lots of parks, greenery and
beaches. Here it's so compact you see a lot more
stuff that should happen in the privacy of someone's
home out on the street. And you get use to it. I have
my moments of what I call my New York freak out. I'll
be walking on a very packed street, and in one ear I
can hear the jackhammer on a construction site;
behind me there's a fire engine blaring its siren,
someone behind me talking loudly on a mobile
phone -- the noise around me makes me go batty for
about five minutes.
So, tell me the sob story behind your saxophone.
I played the saxophone for about 12 years, up until
five years ago. I had the most amazing saxophone,
and I sold it because I needed the money. And I
haven't bought one since. I don't want to buy one
that's any less quality than what I had because it was
an incredible instrument. I'll probably get one in the
next year and take it up again. I had a guitar, and I
kind of taught myself to play. I think the show has
something musically planned for Martha and I. Chris
[Goutman, ATWT executive producer] inquired about
my musical abilities not too long ago. So maybe
they're going to do something on the show, that
would be fun.
I hear you're also writer, and you penned a film?
It's called "Brand New Day." It a psychological
thriller in which the two main characters wrote the
script for each other's lives. It's a triangle thing. It's
got two main guys and a girl, and the plot just twists
and turns. It's all set over a week in their lives. It's
pretty intense and funky.
Are you still working with your production company
in Australia, Wandering Wolf Productions?
We have already shot two short films and paid for
them off the money we've won from festivals. My
partner is producing a play in Sydney next year. I want
to do the same play here in New York -- open them at
the same time and connect up. It could be kind of
Have you gone online and checked out some of the
sites fans have set up for you?
It's flattering that they like my character or me so
much and that they're willing to go through all that
trouble. It's amazing what sort of information they find
out, just surfing the Web. I haven't done a huge
amount of stuff to be on the Web. The chat rooms
can be kind of negative. People don't understand that
the actors are at the mercy of what is written for them.
One of the most rewarding and frustrating things in
being an actor is that you are the voice for every part
of the production, but you speak the writer's words,
you act out the director's direction; you're there
because the producer wants you there. You're kind of
the focal point, and when it's really well written,
directed and produced, you bask in the light of all the
work that other people do.
At As The World Turns, you're in kind of an
interesting situation because you have Hogan
Sheffer, who has a movie background, creating
I can't tell you how much that has made a difference
for me. The stuff that he's written in the last month
has been so good, you wouldn't want to change a
word of the dialogue. I think the feedback has been
really amazing as well. The whole look of the show is
changing, too. They're getting more film oriented in
the use of close-ups. I'm not sure what's coming up
for Simon, but, whatever it is, I'm assured it's going to
be very interesting.