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An Interview by Ellen Byron in Soap Opera Digest- Nov 11, 1985

*coutesy of SOD

Its happy hour at a theater hangout near Times Square, and things are pretty quiet as the staff gears up for the pre-theater dinner rush. The star of a Broadway show kibitzes over a beer with some friends. Two actors appearing in the chorus of another Broadway production earnestly discuss the status of a new musical due to open across the street. All the waiters and waitresses are aspiring stars them, waiting for that infamous "big break". What a perfect place to rendezvous with Stephen Caffrey, who plays ALL MY CHILDREN'S newest young hero, Andrew Preston.

Ever since he can remember, Stephen has wanted to act. " It was something I just always knew I wanted to do. Even in grade school, it always seemed to be a venue that worked for me,"he shares, settling into a chair and accepting a menu from the waitress with a charming smile and polite thank you. The sweaty eat of a New York summer night hardly fazes Caffrey. Even after a long workday, followed by a photo session for the cover of "Young Miss Magazine" Stephen still seems cool and relaxed in an elegant suit, pin striped shirt and patterned tie. Only twenty-three years old, he has the maturity of someone ten years his senior, and a delightfully dry sense of humor to boot.

" My brothers were actors in high school and college, and some went on to do summer stock after that," he continues, explaining how he came by his career. Ironically, even though Stephen followed his brothers' lead, he admits that he wasn't close to his six brothers and sisters as a child. Due to his father's career in industrial safety equipment, the family had to move every year, sometimes more often. "It seemed every time we moved, we'd lose one child," he remembers. "They'd graduate high school, and not want to leave that community. So we're scattered all over the country." But believing that family is very important, Stephen has worked hard trying to get to know his siblings. "It's funny, but I'm starting to re-discover my brothers and sisters," the handsome actor relates. "We're much closer now."

Moving around so much was hard on Steve in other ways. Caffrey ended up attending four different high schools in almost as many states. "You always had to look forward to the first fight when you got to a new school," he says wryly. Loneliness was a problem, but Steve refused to give into it. "My parents taught me that self-indulgence is the worst thing you can ever do to yourself," he declares with finality. "If you spend too much time moping around, you're' digging your own grave. Of course I felt lonely at times, but I'd feel guiltier about wallowing in self-pity than I would blaming people and situations for my feeling bad. Its not constructive."

After graduation, Caffrey chose to skip college, and immediately plunged into his acting career. He settled in Chicago and began performing in summer stock, dinner theater, musicals- any decent roles he could get his hands on. Often these jobs paid as little as $25 an engagement, and the eager beginner was forced to supplement his income in a variety of imaginative ways. "I've been a waiter, a bartender, a moving man- and look at me, do I look like a moving man, come on! - a shoe salesman, a busboy, a dishwasher, a warehouse worker," Steve recounts, laughing as he rattles off the list. "Being a mover was the worst job I've ever had in my life- I mean, picture me with a 10,000 pound refrigerator, huh?" exclaims the lithe six footer, pointing to his slim frame, with skeptical amazement.

Caffrey's big break came when he was cast in the pilot Hard Knocks- or so he thought. Relocating to Los Angeles, he found himself stranded with almost nothing to do while waiting for the series to receive a green light to start production. "I was sort of stuck there," he sighs, digging into a shrimp cocktail. "I did a play, got one little role on an Afternoon Special and the rest of the time-nothing." When the series fell through, the production company took back the car it had loaned Caffrey and he began pounding the pavement for auditions-literally. "I used to walk to auditions that were ten miles away every day," he recalls, "although sometimes I'd take the bus. " I'd walk more out of boredom than anything else. It was like, "Why do you want to get on the bus just go home and sit by myself?"

Finally, Stephen decided to return to Chicago. His plane had barely touched down when ABC, which had been interested in his work for several years, tapped him to play Andrew Preston. Within days, he took off for New York City. The move happened so fast Stephen didn't have time to find his own apartment before starting work on AMC. Instead, he camped out with a girlfriend.

A stage actor with a decent amount of experience, Caffrey starred his soap role with a rather cavalier attitude. Boy was he in for a surprise. "I was scared to death for about a week, and I never thought I would be, " he admits with some embarrassment. "Being a stage actor, I didn't think of a soap opera as an intimidating thing. I thought it would be easy - its not!" Caffrey credits his veteran co-stars with guiding him through the rough spots. "I worked with a lot of the older actors, and I'm grateful for it because I had to keep up with them," Stephen says, leaning forward and resting his head on his palm as he explains. "they helped me get over my fear. They were very supportive- and fun!"

Once Stephen began feeling comfortable with the format, he relaxed and took a good, hard look at Andrew Preston, who started out on the show as a somewhat less than sympathetic character. "I was Jane Elliot's sidekick, and I knew that she-her character, not Jane herself, she's great was the unprecedented bitch of daytime TV,"he explains candidly. "So there wasn't going to be a way I could outslime her, even if I wanted to. And you can't play sidekick forever. So I decided that in order to have my own personality, I had to be different from her."

Caffrey began doing what he could to transform Andrew into a more likable kind of guy. "I decided to give him s sense of humor, plus have him do what every young man does to his parents when he gets to be about sixteen or seventeen- they told me at the time I was playing sixteen- he starts to kick them in the teeth at every turn." The writers picked up on Steve's attempts to have Andrew rebel against his mother, and"together, we all agreed that if Andrew had a conscience, then he could be his own man. Within a matter of three or four months, we had hit some real meaty stuff in the relationship to Palmer and Andrew's desire to have a father and know his family roots. He went through a big change in his life- he fought against his mother, and accepted the consequences of thing that." In reality, Stephen is very fond of Jane Elliot, and regrets her departure. " I really enjoyed working with her, and will miss her, " he declares with sadness, then adds pragmatically, " she 's also the only relative I have on the show, so now I'm a single Preston standing alone in Pine Valley! It's a little scary there," the young actor admits, then jokes, " it kind of makes me feel like Rambo!"

But AMC has never been one to let a good looking romantic lead to waste, and Andrew's transition into a good guy quickly led him out of a relationship with a nasty Linda Warner, and into one with nice Dottie Thornton. Even Stephen was a little nonplused at this turn of events. "One day I picked up a script and it said, 'Andrew is in the car with Dottie and they're going on a date,' he reveals. "There was no meeting for afar, no courtship, nothing. I just suddenly started dating her, and they wrote I was crazy about her." Stephen is convinced Preston is a little too wimpy when it comes to women. "I wish Andrew didn't have to take as much as he takes, " he sighs in frustration. "It's kind of hard to hold your ground sometimes when you're being humiliated and forced to grovel. Men do not grovel for love, and a women can't respect a man who does. Either you grab it or you don't."

Obviously, Stephen, who firmly declares, " I wouldn't jump into a relationship as quickly as Andrew does, " differs from his character on this important issue, but are they alike in other ways? "There are a lot of similarities, " the brown eyed soap star concedes. " I'm as hotheaded as Andrew is, probably more so. I like to be I control of a situation, and so does Andrew. It's basically the same person in a lot of ways. There's only one thing you can rely on when you're working day after day, and that' your natural instinct." Then, breaking into a broad grin, Stephen adds mischievously, "But Andrew's a MUCH better dresser than I am!"

The growing popularity of his character keeps Caffrey so busy he barely has time to furnish the apartment he recently rented in downtown Manhattan. No longer involved in a relationship, he acknowledges that he is dating a couple of people, but spends most of his rate free time exploring New York with some newfound friends, including AMC so-stars Darnell Williams and Laurence Lau, whom Caffrey calls Larry. " As my first year her comes to a close, I'm finally starting to establish friendships with people and that's nice," the talented newcomer muses. " That's sort of what the turn -off about Los Angeles for me, there was none of that, there was just me watching the clock tick away. Here, it was like that for awhile, but that's what happens every time you move. It's happened to me my whole life."

Pausing to take a rather, Stephen looks down at the tape recorder and lets out a whoop. " I can't believe I've been gabbing like this, " he says, shaking his head in disbelief. The restaurant is beginning to fill up, and Caffrey has to leave quickly or he'll miss the Off Broadway show for which he and Laurence Lau have tickets. While putting on his jacket, Caffrey talks about his desire to have a good run on AMC, his urge to direct, his urge to do another stage play, perhaps even a Broadway blockbuster. " I have a lot of dreams," AMC's newest star confesses with a self-effacing smile. Then, apologizing profusely for his rushed exit, Stephen Caffrey straightens his tie, gives me a gallant handshake, and heads out to meet his friend Larry at the theater.