James Goodwin made his daytime debut on Guiding Light in 1986, playing long-lost Bauer cousin Johnny. Johnny had been unwittingly involved in a drug smuggling ring in Europe (as you may have guessed, there was a beautiful woman involved) and when Alan Spaulding learned Johnny's secret, he thought it would only be fair to have Johnny do a little smuggling for him. (Alan is very big on hiring people with experience.) Eventually, Johnny became engaged to Roxie Shayne. When Johnny faced dying from cancer, however, Roxie suffered a nervous breakdown and was sent to Switzerland for treatment. Johnny next became engaged to Chelsea Reardon. The two faced down a crazed stalker, but when Roxie showed sign of recovery, Johnny returned to his earlier love and left town.
In 1991, Goodwin resurfaced on another PGP soap, Another World. There, he played Kevin Anderson, a DA with a mysterious connection to Jake McKinnon.
Kevin went off to jail two years later, and the actor who brought him to life went on with his career. Today, the PGP Classic Soaps Blog finds out: Where is James Goodwin now?
PGP: Do you remember your audition for Another World? Whom did you audition with? How was the character described to you? Did you know, going in, that Kevin would turn out to be Jake's brother, and did that color your performance?
JG: Actually, I never auditioned for Another World. I had been off of Guiding Light for about six months and I received a call from my agent stating that a former writer from Guiding Light, Melissa Salmons I believe, was curious to know if I would be interested in playing the part of the assistant D.A in an upcoming trial. I was told it would be short term for about six months, but could turn into something more. Well, it turned into something more once I said I was interested, and they signed me to a two year contract with no specifics as to the direction of the character. However, when I would have scenes with Tom Eplin they would tell me: There is some bad blood here, but we can’t tell you what it is about. So yes, there was some color, but it was totally fabricated on my part, until it came out that I was his father’s bastard son.
What was interesting is that I was working with Judi Evans (Paulina), who had been my screen test partner at Guiding Light, but left the show before Johnny Bauer showed up in Springfield. Let me tell you, that girl knew how to screen-test the new talent. I am blushing just thinking about it.
PGP: What is your favorite storyline or scene from your time in Bay City? Do you keep in touch with any of your former co-stars?
JG: There were a series of scenes that took place between Lorna and Kevin when their relationship was just beginning, that is the most memorable. They went for a weekend in the country and were breaking down each other’s emotional barriers, which ended in a great montage of scenes beginning in an old fashioned copper bath tub to…need I say more. It was beautifully directed and really solidified the two as a romantic couple on the show.
I have not kept up with anyone from the Bay City area, but am always happy to see when Alicia Coppola (Lorna) has a new project. She is on the verge of greatness, I am sure. It was always a pleasure to work with Alicia and Linda Dano (Felicia). They could pick up a script that morning and give an Emmy award winning performance in a matter of hours. What a gift.
PGP: Since Kevin was the DA, you often had a lot of legalese and speeches to wade through. What's harder to get through, that sort of technical dialogue, or a virtually wordless love scene?
JG: I have always been a hopeless romantic, so I would say the love scenes were a no-brainer for me. And most of the lawyers I have met out in the real world were actually frustrated thespians, so I have to say those weren't so bad either.
PGP: Prior to AW, you were Johnny Bauer on Guiding Light. What was your first soap experience like? How did you get used to memorizing all of that dialogue?
JG: I was very fortunate to have been able to come to New York City with a job right out of grad school. I had a “League” audition at Julliard School with grads from ten other M.F.A. programs across the country. After the audition, I returned back to Dallas, but Betty Rea (casting director extraordinaire) had contacted an agent I was considering for representation to see if I would be willing to audition for Guiding Light. I had no funds to be flying back and forth for "go-see" auditions. The agent called and said they would fly me in to screen test. They didn't have a role in mind, but would send some sides for the current character "Simon." I flew in the day before, stayed at the Plaza Hotel, took the subway (wrong direction at first, heck I grew up on a farm -- what did I know?) to the studio. I filmed the screen test with Judi Evans (then-Beth) which was capped off by a kiss. No one was saying "cut" so I proceeded to remove her top. Then they yelled cut. I walked out not sure how things went, but called in to my agent an hour later at the corner of 80th and 8th Avenue and was told I had a part. It wasn't written yet, but I had "a" part. I yelled at the top of my lungs. But, of course this being New York City, no one paid the least bit of attention. A few weeks later I was told the character’s name was Johnny Bauer, and the rest is history. Memorizing dialogue was never a huge issue for me. But you do get even better over time
PGP: Johnny's most memorable story was about his battle with cancer. First, he considered committing suicide. How, as an actor, did you get into Johnny's frame of mind for those scenes?
JG: One of the producer’s at the time, Kathy Chambers, was a cancer survivor and we had a lot of heart to heart talks. I also read Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s On Death and Dying. This book dealt with the five stages of grief once you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. I think Johnny’s suicide attempt is what finally made him accept the fact that he was dying and at that point I believe he "let go and let God."
PGP: Afterwards, Johnny decided to use holistic medicine. Did you do much research on the subject? Do you feel like that story, which also included the healing power of community prayer, was ahead of its time?
JG: I had a terrific movement instructor in graduate school by the name of Jim Hancock, who had the gift of healing people with his hands. I don’t mean in a “miracle” type scenario, but he helped people let go of the emotional pain that was held within their bodies, which I believe can lead to ailments. So I knew a lot about the mindset behind where they were taking the story. I was also aware of people being healed by eating macrobiotic diets. I knew there was some validity to this. I was also caught up to some degree in the spiritual movement at the time. It was my belief then and it is my belief now that one needs to be open to all avenues available to them, medical or holistic. I understood the story they were trying to tell, but I didn't want people to think that this was the one and only way to healing. I felt we needed to be responsible to our audience and make sure they were using all avenues to heal themselves. I was grateful however that they went in this direction as I was told later they had originally planned to let Johnny die!
PGP: Where do you think "Johnny" and "Kevin" are now? More importantly, how would you answer the question: Where is James Goodwin now?
JG: Well, I believe Kevin is probably out of prison for trying to kill Carl Hutchins and is a community advocate for the coal miners where his father worked.... Johnny helped Roxie recover and they are now living happily ever after with their three children in Oklahoma, Roxie's home state.... I am now living in Austin, TX with Michelle, my wife of 25 years, my sons Zane, a sophomore in genetic engineering at St. Edward’s University, and Ben, a Junior in High School, and my two Welsh Pembroke Corgis, Oscar and Ellie. I now perform on a regular basis at the Zachary Scott Theatre (zachtheatre.org) and am currently performing in the World Premiere production of Steven Dietz’s Shooting Star which runs until April 5. Although acting is my hobby now, it is what gives me true joy. I have been very fortunate to have found a home in a cutting edge theatre deep in the heart of Texas. I met a lot of terrific people during my years in daytime and am grateful for having had the experience.
To learn more about Shooting Star, click here. (Goodwin is pictured above with co-star Barbara Chisholm.)
And to watch Kevin Anderson in action, check out the episodes of Another World now running on Hulu.com!