Austin Peck
(© Carol Rosegg)
Austin Peck
(© Carol Rosegg)
Austin Peck has been a familiar face to daytime drama viewers, first for his 10-year stint as Austin Reed on NBC's Days of Our Lives and then a three-year gig on CBS' As the World Turns as Brad Snyder. But right now, Peck is returning to the theater in Martin Casella's The Irish Curse at the SoHo Playhouse. He plays Steven, an unhappy gay cop who joins a support group for men of a certain nationality who have issues with their endowments. Peck recently spoke to TheaterMania about acting in this show and his career.

THEATERMANIA: So had you ever heard the expression The Irish Curse before you got this job?
AUSTIN PECK: I'm part Irish, but I'd never heard it before. And now I'm more acquainted with it than I ever thought I would be.

TM: What made you want to audition for this show?
AP: When I first looked at the script, I decided it was hysterical. I loved the monologue that Steven has about the guy he once dated who had a ginormous penis. But it was more than that; it's because of that encounter that he basically made this decision that affects the way he is with people. So I did the monologue for my mother, who is an actress, and when I finished, she just said to me really dryly, "Wow, I don't know what's more disturbing, what you're saying or that you're actually convincing saying it." So I said to her, "I'll take that as a complement." And then I felt good going out for this role.

TM: How do you see Steven?
AP: Well, I think he's got to deal with a lot of heavy things on a daily basis. There's a real pragmatism about him and obviously a cynicism as well. He has a way of looking at life and seeing the worst of human nature. I think he's scared to see the positive in people.

Scott Jaeck, Austin Peck, Roderick Hill, and Dan Butlerin The Irish Curse
(© Carol Rosegg)
Scott Jaeck, Austin Peck, Roderick Hill, and Dan Butler
in The Irish Curse
(© Carol Rosegg)
TM: Do you like playing someone who's so negative?
AP: I don't really see him as negative; I see him as someone who's struggling. You know what I like about Steven? He says what's on everybody's mind. I'm a lot like that, and it's gotten me into a lot of trouble. The other thing I love about Steven is that he has got this fantastic sense of humor and that's how he gets through life. His jokes and his way of messing with people are how he deals with things. I see him as someone who's very intelligent.

TM: After all the years spent on daytime, what kind of fan reaction do you get in New York?
AP: Once recently, some guy came up to me and just said, "My grandmother hates you." Or a lot of people come up and say they know me from one show or the other, and then they apologize for watching it. I say okay. But it's strange to me, because I didn't come up to you and insult your job. But most of the response in New York has been really positive. People love their soaps. You're in their living room on a daily basis and you become part of their family.

TM: So do you want to continue doing more theater after this?
AP: I would love to do more theater. I would really love to play Gaston in Beauty and The Beast. I don't sing but I know I could play that part. I think my sensibility is more geared toward comedy, but maybe it would be fun to do a really serious drama. I just want to continue to do more character stuff and continue to break the mold of what people think.

TM: What do you think people think when they hear the name Austin Peck?
AP: I would like people to think I'm a good actor, because I'm very passionate about it and I take it very seriously. Of course, I have fun with it. It's not rocket science and I'm not curing cancer, but it's something I have put a tremendous amount of time and energy and effort into seeking to be good at it.