By James W, Sunday 19th May 2013
Joan Van Ark is one of America's most famous actresses and best known for playing Valene Ewing in the classic soap Knots Landing which is showing at the moment on CBS Drama. Here Joan chats about her career, her time on Knots Landing and her plans for the future.
CBSD: How did you get your first big break into acting?
JVA: With Mike Nichols directing. I auditioned in New York at 19 years old to play the female lead in the Barefoot In The Park national tour. Later, we took it to London and Broadway. (I have a photo of me in front of the Piccadilly Theatre). Great memories.
CBSD: Did you have to audition for the role of Valene Ewing?
JVA: No. My first appearance in Dallas was offered to me without an audition.
CD: What was the atmosphere like on the set of Knots Landing?
JVA: Always comfortable, but with varying intensities, depending on the scenes. Often light hearted, but always loving. A safe place for an actor to do his or her work.
CBSD: Did you bring any of your own personality to that of Valene?
JVA: The jogging, running part of me! David Jacobs put in the Knots pilot. God bless him. Oh and running in the surf! But to live with one character for 14 seasons, there were inevitably some tiny crossovers.
CBSD: Which cast members did you get on with the most?
JVA: Julie Harris, "Lilliemae," Alec Baldwin, brother "Joshua," Ted Shackelford, "Gary," Michele Lee and Donna Mills.
CBSD: How did you feel when you realised that the show had become a global phenomenon?
JVA: I still don't feel that. I don't travel enough globally to get that sense. I just get a lot of fan mail, mostly from Germany and France.
CBSD: Did it add to the pressure?
JVA: No. It's a beautiful "support" somehow to sense connection with others around the world.
CBSD: The show became known not only for it's for its gloss and gritty subjects; how did it feel tackling tough story lines?
JVA: A wonderful, daunting challenge that any actor loves. It's a gift to be given a storyline or scene that is difficult and challenging.
CD: You left after 13th season, why was that?
JVA: A wonderful, different comedy part. I loved her and my co-star Chris Meloni (Law And Order, SVU). She was light years away from Valene Ewing.
CBSD: You directed a couple of episodes of Knots Landing; would you like to do more directing?
JVA: Yes, I would! I become the "parent," instead of being the "child," which an actor always does and should.
CBSD: Do you think it’s time for a Knots Landing revival and if it did happen would you return?
JVA: That's tricky. Depends on so many things... script, vision of my character. But let's see!
CBSD: So what projects are you working on at the moment?
JVA: I've just finished filming Dallas and also RuPaul's Drag Race as a celebrity judge. I've also filmed a PBS special on prime time soap icons, Pioneers Of Broadcasting, and Watercolour Postcards an independent feature.
CBSD: Joan Van Ark, thank you very much.
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