Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Louis Edmonds talks about playing badguys (and Roger Collins)

From Romantic Lead to Moody Menace

The Daily Review (TV Week),  Oct.  9, 1966

Louis Edmonds has the kind of face you hiss and boo at—a quality that makes him menacingly appropriate for the role of Roger Collins, the skulking no-goodnick of ABC's new romantic suspense drama, Dark Shadows, weekdays at 4 PM on ABC.

Things, however, were not always thus. Edmonds was once a romantic lead and cavorted merrily in such off-Broadway musicals as :Candide" and "Ernest in Love."  But ever since his face "defined," he has lapsed into the roles of villainy. In two feature films soon to be released — "The Fifth Arm of the Swastika" and "Come Spy with Me"—he plays a ruthless Nazi officer and an unctuous Russian spy.

"Actually, I enjoy being the bad guy," said Edmonds. "The role is usually more interesting and fun to play. Besides, at any given time, you can be hysterical, temperamental and even scary."

And in Dark Shadows Edmonds is all of these. He cringes in the face of strength, erupts into little rages and petrifies the young girl who acts as governess to his ten-year-old son, whom, of course, he hates.

"But nobody can be obnoxious 24 hours a day," said Edmonds. "So I try to give Roger some wry or sardonic moments."

You may sometimes sympathize with Roger, but you will never love him. It is hard to love a man with bushy eyebrows, deep sunken eyes, and who always seems to be lurking. Add to this the mysterious quality of Edmond's face, which has been mistaken for Russian, English, German and Slavic. During rehearsals for his Broadway debut in "Passage to India," he overheard Gladys Cooper, the show's star, whisper, "Who is that curious-looking German boy with the English accent?"

The truth is that Edmonds is 100 percent American, so native, in fact, that he was born on a sugar plantation near Baton Rogue, Louisiana. His accent and voice have been cultivated by years of playing the classical characters of Shaw, Chekhov, and Shakespeare.

"Oddly enough, there are many people who actually believe that Roger Collins is a real person," said Edmonds. "They want to know how I can be so detestable. An actor friend of mine, who once played a similar role, had so many belligerent calls that he had to get an unlisted phone number."

Still, Edmonds is so convincing as Roger, it is hard to divorce fact from fiction. In Newport, R.I., where ABC filmed the exteriors of a mansion that serves as the show's focal point, he was the only actor addressed by the cast name. And in a scene where he moved furtively along a moonlit seacoast. the cameraman  remarked, "There goes the dirty rat!"

When he is not working, Edmonds lives quietly in a large house on Long Island. But the setting is decorously perfect for a villain. Across the street is an 18th century cemetery.


Sutekh said...

Roger got short shrift when the ratings dropped. He was pretty much the main character to me from the show's beginning.

Robb H said...

Definitely my favorite.

Sutekh said...

Mine too. He was such an arrogant cad sometimes, especially in Season 1. But him putting on his jaunty hat and getting into a car with no brakes had a lot more realism to it than Banabas teleporting himself through locked doors.

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