"Valley Guy: Rough-hewn Mark Valley and his Salem alter ego Jack Deveraux are soul mates"

by Lorraine Zenka | Soap Opera Magazine, October 15, 1996

Waiting at the bar in jeans, tee and plaid shirt, Days' Mark Valley looks like a muscular construction worker ready to lift a few brews with the boys. Had he been auditioning for a beer commercial, Mark would have landed the part. But it's a Burbank restaurant, and the actor is waiting to be interviewed as part of his work obligations.

It hasn't been a particularly good week. In fact, it's been "crappy," says the actor.

First, Mark crunched his '66 Mustang, and it's in the body shop for repairs. "There's an element of humiliation in an accident," he groans. "Just me and a wall; I'm good at that."

He's also been through a "horrible" audition. "It was for a bad guy," he reveals, "and I played it charming -- too charming -- and they hated it. Plus I showed up dressed like this, with my hair a mess, while everyone else was in a suit."

Trying to quit smoking has him edgy. And he's been too much on the go to get to the gym, and that makes him feel sluggish and uncomfortable. But he earned his yellow belt in martial arts, the mention of which brings a smile to his handsome face.

Still, there's the matter of the interview, when he'd rather finish his grilled chicken sandwich and coffee so he can get started on the weekend. Twin cast mates Paige and Ryanne Kettner, who play his TV daughter Abby, have asked him to visit.

"It amazes me that people are interested in what I think and do," he admits. "But what's going on with me, who I am, what I want, can't really be defined in an interview. Besides, what I say or think today might change by tomorrow.

"I think one reason I became an actor is because I don't express myself well through words, simply talking," he half apologizes. Mark enlists the help of a movie he's seen, about the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat's life, to explain what he does and why.

"Artists use their art as a means to communicate, to free themselves from some internal anxiety, whether it's exhilaration, pain, whatever," he contends. "Being creative is a way of getting out and acting is a channel for whatever creativity I have.

"I'm an artist," he adds. "It's funny, the reactions I get from people when I say that -- it seems to bother them until I say that what I do is kind of 9 to 5 most days. As soon as I compare acting to a regular job, they relax.

"Maybe it's a throwback to those comprehension tests that picture several squares and a triangle and you have to choose which doesn't fit," he laughs. "Another reason I became an actor is because I was tired of being a square -- or trying to adopt to becoming one."

Mark says he even managed to find creative pleasure when he served as an officer in the U.S. Army -- by planning training exercises for his platoons. "Instead of the usual stuff," he says, "I'd helicopter over some mountains and scout a battle area. The younger troops liked it. I never did what was expected, but kind of made it up as I went along."

Mark, who graduated from West Point, could have worked as a management and/or financial consultant, quickly earning a six-figure salary, when he left the military. But he felt he needed to do something else -- and money, or lack of it, wasn't going to stand in his way.

"People always say that if they win the lottery, they'd do this or that," he says. "So I try to keep the attitude that I already have $5 million in the bank.
"But the point is, if you really want to do something, you'll sacrifice and do it. The only thing that keeps people from following their dreams is fear of not being good enough. No one's afraid of success."

Professionally, once he learns most of what there is to know about acting, Mark says he might like to be a producer. But for now, there's Jack Deveraux -- a character he says is him in many ways. "Except he's a Gemini and I'm a Capricorn," Mark laughs.

Turning serious, he adds that he feels it's mostly a manner of sharing a soul place with his character. "It really doesn't matter if Jack is this way or that -- details don't matter," he contends. "It's your soul that goes into being that person. Children see that more clearly. Actors do, too, until they start overanalyzing background and motivation.

"I think a lot of guys believe it is important to be self-reliant," he adds. "If a nuclear bomb exploded, would I be able to live by myself? I know it sounds crazy, but I have this feeling that I've got to be able to survive alone."

"But is it possible to be completely self-reliant in a situation like where you're exposing your soul? Can you really trust someone else to carry you through, give you support, whether for five minutes, five days or five years?

"Geez, I don't usually think and talk about this stuff," he laughs, before admitting that interviews may not be bad after all. "There's discovery about myself and my character in this," he marvels. "I can analyze my work, and it helps me understand if I'm making sense of things."

Then, with this interview and his wicked week behind him, Mark heads off to a couple of little friends, little talk and lots of play.

Source: Thanks to "Salem"


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