Where Are They Now: Harley Jane Kozak (Brett, TEXAS; Annabelle, GL)
The PGP/AOL Classic Soap Channel is currently screening episodes of "Texas," an "Another World" spin-off that ran on NBC from 1980 to 1982. One of the cast-members (1981-1982) was Harley Jane Kozak. She went on to appear in the feature films "When Harry Met Sally," "Parenthood," "Arachnaphobia," and "The Favor" (alongside a very young Brad Pitt). PGPClassicSoaps caught up with Harley to find out What She's Doing Now...
PGP: "Texas" was your first soap. How did that part come about and what were your impressions of daytime when you started?
HJK: I hadn't watched soaps since childhood, with my Grandma, and thought they still had bad sound effects and organ music. Was I shocked! This was the Luke and Laura days over at GH, so soaps were experiencing a renaissance. I got the job the usual way -- auditioning. It was the job that kept me from having to go back and wait tables, so it was a very big deal.
PGP: Your character was involved in a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" type story, with puzzle cubes, and mummified bodies and such. What was that like?
HJK: Yes, my character, Brett Wheeler, rich girl/geologist, was involved in a haunted Native American burial ground storyline. It was
called Hi-To-Pah. I remember I had to act with snakes. But the costumes were cool -- lots of hip kakhi -- and we got to shoot some location sequences in Palm Springs, which was my first time in California. Heaven!
PGP: Do you still keep in touch with any of the actors from your "Texas" days?
HJK: Only Michael Woods (ex-Jim, GL), (who played) my brother, and Gail Kobe, our executive producer. I run into Pamela Long (Ashley, TEXAS; ex-GL Headwriter) every decade or so. And (ATWT Executive Producer) Chris Goutman (George, TEXAS) is still on the Christmas card list too.
PGP: You went on to "Santa Barbara" and "GL," so you must have liked the daytime genre. What about it appealed to you?
HJK: Well, the fact that someone offered me a job was very appealing! It's very hard for an actor to say no, but ultimately I did, after "Santa Barbara" (ed. note: Where Harley played ex-nun Mary, who was squashed to death by a giant letter "C"). But I had really great times on all three shows, and with the intense storylines, wonderful co-stars and writers. My training had been all about stage and the theatre, so this was a sort of "graduate school" that taught me how to work in TV, which is a very different animal.
PGP: How did you make the transition from actor to writer? Do you use your acting background in creating characters, dialogue, etc...
HJK: I was in my mid-30's and taking writing classes because I'd always loved writing and have always written compulsively. I started to get less interesting parts as I hit forty, and then I had 3 kids in 2 years, so that REALLY put a damper on my acting career. When children #2 and #3 were still infants, I sold DATING DEAD MEN in a 2-book deal and that was it: instant career change. Yes, acting helps in dialogue, and also in putting myself emotionally into the situation of the characters, and seeing the details they see. I think the details come easily to me; it's the big stuff, the overall plot that I have to sweat blood over.
PGP: Will your your books appeal to soap opera fans?
HJK: The upcoming one, DEAD EX (due out next August) is set in the world of soaps, specifically a soap called AT THE END OF THE DAY. I hope they'll like that!
PGP: You told me you still watch soaps to this day. What do you think of them now?
HJK: I turn them on -- well, okay, I turn on "Guiding Light," at least -- when I'm in the kitchen, either cooking or baking or pretending to write. If I'm writing, I have to turn it off because it's too distracting, but I must say, I do get sucked in. Mostly it comforts me, watching my old friends still on the show. It's just a feeling of "family" that makes me happy. I don't care what the storyline is. I am continually amazed by how good the acting is, though, and how much those actors put themselves out there, day after day, year after year.
For more on Harley and her books, check out www.harleyjanekozak.com.
And to visit TEXAS on the PGP Classic Soap Channel, click here!