An Interview With Jay Acovone

Conducted by Peg McNabb for CABB

Jay Acovone - What can we say about another of fandom's favorites?
Always ready with that delicious grin, or a warm hug for anyone ....working tirelessly alongside David Schwartz on behalf of the con charity..."You people..." he would invariably say laughing, in his closing comments, amazed that we still keep getting together...  All good memories of a favorite B&B actor, as well as a wonderful human being.  It was an honor to have some time with him during the 1997 Minneapolis con to discover a little more about what makes him "tick."  You will notice some of the same questions that I asked in other interviews.  I was always interested in asking the celebs the same set of questions to see how each of them would answer.  I hope you find it as interesting as I did.  .  Peg McNabb

What are your feelinsg about how B&B continues to thrive after 10 years?

Well, it's been kind of amazing because, it's been 8 years since it went off the air, so I mean, 8 years is a long time....There's been a lot of television that's come and gone since then and it's just amazing that this show seems to hold on to its fans the way it has.  I'm hoping that we're going to either make a 2 hour movie or a mini-series, or something!

Do you hear anything about that?

No, I haven't heard anything.  I haven't spoken to Ron Koslow about it, nor has anyone else, I don't think.  He's busy making "Roar" right now, which premiers Monday.  I look forward to seeing that. But to answer your question, yeah it's kind of amazing to me that this show has gone of for the last 8 years and no one has seen it except for the Family channel, or it's in syndication.  And of course, those of us who have been a part of it, we're never away from it because of the fans! (laughs) So, it's fun.

Did you have any clue that this would be the phenomenon that it was?

No, never.  In fact, to be honest with you, when I first did the Pilot, which if you remember, I only had like four or five lines to say, I didn't have much to do.  I never thought this Pilot would go, because it was such a strange concept.  You know, I just thought, "well, it's a job.  I'll do it and I'll never hear from these people again."  And, (laughing) it's been the longest running job I've ever had.   So, that's nice.

Have you ever been involved in anything else that had this kind of feel to it?  Any other project?

No, never.

Even with other cast members?  Have you bonded with other cast members like you seem to have with these guys?

Hmmmm. no.  I've worked on other projects where I've really had good times with the actors. I just finished a two hour pilot in Vancouver called "Stargate" and all the actors on that bonded pretty well.  We all had a good time shooting that.  I don't know whether that's gonna be good or not, I have no idea.  I'm hoping it's going to be good, but we'll see.  But yeah, I always try to have a good time when I work, but I don't think I've ever had these, you know...these friendships have endured a lot of time, 8 years since we all worked together, although I just worked with Linda so I have that coming out.

What was the project and when is it coming out?

The name is "On the Line" and it is an ABC TV movie.  I have no idea when it is coming out.

What was it like working with her again?

Oh, it was great!  It was like we just looked at each other...we looked at each other in the eye and it was just like...

Did the old patterns reemerge?

Yeah, it was just a flashback of years gone by. Oh, I'm so glad you mentioned that. Yeah, it was great for both of us.  I had a great time with Linda and once again, I didn't play a DA or an Assistant DA even, but I did play her boss. I played the Chief of Police.  It was fun, we had a good time, and you could  just see we fell right into those old rhythms.

What would you consider to be Joe's best quality?

Joe's best quality?  I would think that he's fair and plays by the rules.

His worst?

(he ponders this)

Or were you allowed to really flesh him out that much?

Well, some of the stuff that I wanted to get into obviously never happened. I wanted to get into the guy's private, personal life.

Yeah, we all wanted to see more of him.

Well, you know, the name of the show is "Beauty and the Beast," not "Beauty and the Beast and Joe Maxwell."  (laughs)  So, I understood it and I was a  little bit upset by it then, but looking back in retrospect, you have to say well, it wasn't called "Beauty and the Beast and Joe Maxwell."  You can't dwell too much on a character that is secondary or on the back burner. But after so long a run, it's nice to start fleshing out the other characters.

We all wanted to know more about the tunnel people.  After a couple of years of one main story, getting to know the secondary characters, I think, would help to make the story bigger.  As viewers, we got to a point where we cared about ALL the characters and wanted to know about them as  well.

Well, if you remember, I had some shows that were mine.  I had "Temptation" and I think I was big in "The Watcher" - But it was more that I put my JOB to use, that I put the job of being Assistant D.A, or at one time, D.A., and I put that to use in the show for Linda, or for somebody.  And so, yeah, I would have liked it more if it had gotten more involved in the private life of Joe Maxwell; of, for instance (big laugh) did he date women??? (laughing)  I don't want to get into that, but yeah.

There was a hint of a thing with Jenny, I think.

Well, yeah, there was, there was.  (chuckles)

How has being a part of B&B affected your life, if at all?

Well, it's given me friends for life.  I think of Linda Hamilton and David Schwartz, Ron Perlman and just a lot of people that were on the show...Roy Dotrice.  Absolutely - I mean, we're all going to be friends forever, I think.  I've been to Roy's house for Christmas; he's been to my house for  birthdays and eaten dinner at my house.  He and his wife are lovely people; we've been guests of theirs in England and it's, you know, it's nice.  Once  in a while I'll go down and eat dinner with Linda or she'll come over to our house.  I mean, it's been a long time, it's been 10 years and we've all gone through changes and watched babies grow up.  So it's nice.

What has been your career high?

I'd like to think it hasn't happened yet.

What's your favorite B&B memory?  If someone said, "Beauty and the Beast" to  you, what's the strongest image that pops up?

Being at the Golden Globe Awards, was it for first season?  No, I think it  was for second season.  It was like the COOLEST thing that ever happened to  me.  I mean, I wasn't nominated, but the show was nominated a lot of times, Linda and Ron were both nominated that year and I just remember sitting in this room full of REALLY important people saying, "wow!  Look at THIS!"  I know it's gonna sound chintzy when you read it, but it's true.  That was one  of the highlights I think of from the whole "Beauty and the Beast" thing.  I
 just couldn't believe I was there!

Do you ever watch the episodes while they're on in syndication?

Sometimes.  Sure, I have them on tape.  I am missing a few, I'm sure, but there are a number that I really watch a lot.  "A Happy Life" is my favorite show.

Is there something that you wish you had done in an episode that you weren't allowed to do as Joe?

I often joke when I'm on stage at the conventions when people ask me, "What would you do if you met Ron?" "Did you ever want to meet Vincent?" And I always joke and say, "Well, no I never wanted to meet Vincent because those of us who met Vincent died (laughs) and I never wanted to die!"  But to be  honest with you, I really DID want to meet Vincent.  I always feared for it because I knew, I mean it's true, if you met Vincent AND you were a regular person, you died!  So yeah, I think it would have been cool to go down in
the tunnels and go looking for Catherine and discover her world and  Vincent's world and that this whole thing existed.

 Well, just to let you know, in a lot of fan fiction, this has happened many times!

Oh sure, yeah, I've read it!

Oh, have you?

Yeah, I read a lot of it...sure!

Now, we're on to questions that are more about you and what makes you tick.


If you could go back and talk to yourself as a 20 year-old, what advice would you give him?

There's only one thing that I regret in my whole life. And it's that Michael Chianaze, a childhood friend, gave me my first cigarette to smoke and that's the only thing I regret in my whole life.  I have been addicted to nicotine since that day.  So there ya go.

Sounds like you're trying to quit, though.

I am trying.  I've been on the gum for 10 months, I've been hypnotized...

How have your dreams as a young actor been realized or unrealized?

Well, I can just tell you a quick story...In 1972 or 1973, I guess we'd have to look at the video box at the store to make sure, but in '72 or '73 I was sitting in a movie theater with a friend watching "Dog Day Afternoon" starring Al Pacino.  I remember it was about a bank robbery - The movie ended and the credits started to roll and I leaned over to my friend, Ricky Leonard, and I said, "You know, I think I could do this."  And he said, "what, rob banks?"  And I said, "No, I think I can do what this guy on screen is doing.  I think I could act."  He was making it look so easy.  And five years later, I did a movie with him, "Cruising".  I co-starred in that  with Al Pacino!   So five years from then, I did a movie with the guy I was watching on screen and I didn't even know his name.That's pretty incredible.
 So, this is America, baby, anything can happen!  (laughs)

Ok, you have to tell us about your work on the "X-Files."  I know we have some fans of that show out there as well.

Ok,, what did I play, Detective Curtis?  That was my name I'm pretty sure.

How did it come about?

I went in and read for the role just like a normal actor would.  It just so happens that a director I had worked with before, Kim Manners, was also directing this episode.  Kim was an old friend of mine and I had also worked with his sister on "Hollywood Beat", which was my first series in California.  Anyway, Kim directed and David and Gillian were both nice people.

Were they?

We didn't talk a lot off the set because I think what happened was I got there on the 21st of 22 episodes, the one before the ice cave thing.   They were tired.  I mean, I was tired! (laughs).  But they were draggin' and they couldn't wait, really, to get on hiatus and I can completely understand  that.  Plus, David was going right from that episode into the next episode,and then going into a movie.  But yeah, it was fun.  It's a very wordy show and Chris Carter is very specific with his words and he wants them said just so - he has a right to that.  He's a very good writer and he protects his words and so do all the other people that work on that set.  They all protect and serve him well, as well they should.

It was fun seeing you on there.

Well, thank you.  It was fun to do and I'd do it again in a second - I had a good experience.

You held your own.

Thank you.  There's a certain stillness in the style of acting that they use on that show that if you're not used to it, you have to get used to it real quick because they're not going home until they get it the way they want it.

It's interesting that you say that because you read a lot about how David Duchovney can't act, he's too wooden.

Baloney.  He's a terrific actor.  They're both terrific actors and nice people.  I wish them all the best.

What's your most prized possession and why?

My wife - because she's been with me so long! (laughs)  You know I have to say that, right? (laughs)

Well, she's not really a possession...on behalf of all women, I'd like to say that. (laughs)

(laughs)  Yeah, she's not a possession...yeah, that's a bad thing.  I better watch how I word this! My prized possession.....I don't think I have one, you know?  I was, and I'm not going to say I'm not materialistic now, but I used to be a lot more materialistic - I used to have the sports car, the gold watch.  Then you realize, after you lose those things, they weren't so important after all.  It's uh....

the person sitting next to you...

There you go.  And yes, you know what?  My wife IS my most prized possession and I'm HER prized possession - To hell with it, I'll take that chance.  You can print that!

What book is currently on your nightstand?

"All the President's Men"  It's an old book written by Woodward and  Bernstein.

Who is a personal hero, someone who has influenced you?

Oh, there's mom, I guess, but there's been so many.  As far as  influencing me in the business?  I have two - Al Pacino and Jackie Gleason.

Jackie Gleason?

Oh, I love Jackie Gleason.

You're kidding!

That's the Great One, baby!  Jackie Gleason, let me tell you something, there is no better.   Actually, my wife is a theatrical manager and for a while she handled his daughter, Linda Miller.  She's a lovely woman.  I  didn't know she was his daughter 'til much later.  She had been to my house for dinner a few times and my wife just happened to mention it in passingone day. "You know, she's Jackie Gleason's daughter."  And I was like, "WHAT?  WHAT?  ARE YOU KIDDING!!! YOU NEVER TOLD ME THAT!!!  And my wife
says, "and that's why, right there!" (laughs)  Because you would just kill her with questions"  And I probably would have.  As far as other people in my life, definitely my mother because she raised me, my brother and sisterby herself.  I had an uncle who passed away in '87 and I miss him a lot.

What's a favorite childhood memory?

Hmmm, I don't know.  I've very sensitive to smells and waking up on a summer morning in my hometown to the smell of fresh cut grass.


Lake Mahopac, New York...Smelling the fresh cut grass and you just knew it was going to be a good day.

What would surprise us to find out about you?

That I really love my dogs.

What kind of dogs?

Chinese bull dogs, pugs.

What are their names?

Louie and Richie.

If I turned on the cassette or CD player in your car, what kind of music would I hear?

Bruce Springsteen

What were you like in school?

The cut-up, the class clown.  I paid for it.  I wish I'd paid more attention, I can tell you that.

What's the best and the worst thing on TV right now?

I really like NYPD Blue, I really like ER.  I like the X-Files; although you have to understand, I'm really not a SciFi guy, but I do enjoy watching it sometimes.  I think the first Alien is one of the greatest movies of all times...and Blade Runner.  That's great stuff.  The worst?  I don't know...You hate to say the worst.

Oh, go on...tell us!

No, you know why?  I'm gonna tell you why!  (smiles) Because I've done  things that are really bad and the thing is, nobody starts out, nobody plans "let's make the worst movie ever made."  It's just the way things fall into place along the way and it's never any one person's fault.

 If you hadn't pursued acting, what would you have studied?

I don't know.  I never paid attention in school, my marks were never really good, so I never really had the opportunity to go to college.  So I don't know what I'd be.

Well, what were your interests?  Medicine?  Numbers?  Law?

Oh God no, not numbers!  I really like auto mechanics and I really liked anything to do with racing.  To this day, I watch anything with a motor in it.

Words you try to live by - what's your philosophy?

(Thinks a minute).... Be fair.

What's a pet peeve, a real annoyance?

Somebody...Oh, wife's gonna laugh when she reads this.  Sombody  taking food off my plate.  OH!!! (makes lots of groaning sounds)  Oh!

You mean, before you're finished eating?

ForGET it!  FORGET IT!  I wig out!  And it doesn't matter who it is...I mean, it could be my wife or one of my dogs.  I just go nuts!  I'll just go  absolutely nuts!  I can't stand it.  My wife, her favorite habit is to reach over and take a french fry - oh it wigs me out!  It's like, if you ask, yeah, I'll give you one, but don't just reach over on my plate and take one. (laughs) Because I'm liable to bite your arm! (laughs a lot)

When is your birthday?

August 20.

What movie have you ever walked out on?

I never walk out on any movie.  I have too much respect for the actors.

Is there a role you've always wanted to play?

A psychotic killer!

What movie or TV scene last brought tears to your eyes?

The Gloaming.

What is your favorite meal?

Any pasta dish, or steak!

Do you read any fan mail that is sent to you?


 What do you do in your spare time?

Car care.

Describe your perfect day.

A day spent with my wife, in good health.

With that wonderful answer, we're finished.  That was fairly painless, wasn't it?

I think so!  (big smile)