Interview with Kristoff St. John from A Baby for Christmas" on UP - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Kristoff St. John and Victoria Rowell in "A Baby for Christmas" on UP

Interview with Kristoff St. John of "A Baby for Christmas" on UP and "The Young & The Restless" on CBS 12/8/15

Here is most of the audio of our interview. (I missed the beginning) If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on this link and save it to your computer. It should work better that way!  I hope you enjoy it! I've admired St. John for a long time, ever since he starred in "Generations" as Adam 1989-1991. He went right on to "The Young & The Restless" after that and has starred as Neil ever since. This was a very fun interview.

It's been great to watch his character grow over the years, as I told him in our interview. I also mentioned that I had met him, years ago, in 1995, when he and some other actors (including Shemar Moore, who played his brother, Malcolm) came to Riverside, CA, where I was living at the time. They did a charity softball thing with my husband and some other local townsfolk. St. John said that he does remember driving to Riverside for that event, so that's cool. I was very happy to meet them both, since I was a big fan of theirs and of the show. I believe the other actors at the event included Fred Willard, Jonathan Silverman, Christina Applegate, and Eddie Velez. I didn't very many good photos of the event, unfortunately.

I was able to interview St. John over the phone last week, December 8, because of his role in the new UP movie "A Baby for Christmas." It's the third movie of this popular series, with the same cast of characters/actors, all about the Chandler family. The first movie was "Marry Me for Christmas," and the second movie was "Marry Us for Christmas." Karon Riley plays Blair, and Malinda Williams plays Marci. They were married in the second movie and are now expecting a baby. The other characters are mostly Malinda's mother, Stefanie (Victoria Rowell) and her aunts, and assorted other family members and characters. St. John's character, Larry, showed up at the end of the second movie as he and Stefanie ran into each other after not seeing each other for many years. His character travels the world, helping people in disaster areas. The Chandlers all live in Atlanta, and each year they have a very festive Christmas, with lots of traditions. This year, as Blair and Marci try to prepare for their new baby, Stefanie and her sisters get involved with a local orphanage (even though, they really don't have those any more in the U.S.). Last year, I interviewed Victoria Rowell about the second movie. It was great to speak with her, and now it's wonderful to speak to St. John, since I loved seeing them for years as Neil and Drucilla on "The Young & The Restless." 

There were several "touchy subjects" that I was reluctant to bring up, but he surprised me by bringing most of them up himself. His firstborn son died a little over a year ago; Kristoff and his family are suing the hospital that treated him for negligence. He discussed both at length with me. He's used to speaking to people about it, but for me it was a little tough to know what to say about such a horrible thing as a child dying and then having to sue the mental hospital because they didn't properly check up on him, even though he was on suicide watch.

Also, I wasn't sure if I should bring up Victoria Rowell's lawsuit against CBS.  While he didn't directly discuss her case, he did make it clear that he shares her concern about the lack of African-American writers on the soaps. He said that he changes about 50% of the dialogue on the show (and added that Rowell, and Shemar Moore, did the same thing), adding that it is "because they won't hire an African American writer for the show."  However, he did say that "good competent writing is color-blind; however, if you have a television show with multiple African-Americans, I believe that it's the show's duty to hire one, if not two, African-American writers." They do have one African American woman writer on the staff now, but he feels that voice is not the same as his (or Neil's), so he's had to change the dialogue to "give it some flavor." I can't disagree with him because they should definitely have more diversity in their writing and casting.  Also, I think they should give him some writing credit while they're at it.  We chatted quite a bit about how bad and unrealistic the writing is on soaps, particularly Y&R, actually... this is something I've been complaining about for years here on our site.

I told him that while I loved Neil and Drucilla together, for years Neil was "the guy in the suit" and it seems like they gave him a lot meatier stories after Drucilla passed away. I mentioned that Neil was an alcoholic for a while, and he got a lot more opportunity to show what he can do in the more recent stories. He thanked me sincerely and is very glad that he's gotten more story. However, he doesn't think that the audience will ever accept anyone besides Drucilla to be paired with Neil.  "I'm fighting  a losing battle. Truthfully, I lost my super- couple status when she left, and that's disturbing."  I agreed but pointed out that if they got the right actress it might work, and they could maybe tell the right story. I think we had some sound problems at this point, so I don't know if he heard me or not. He did say that he's looking forward to more story next year. I would also point out that "super-couples" are not always so easy to make on the shows, and I don't think anyone has any real idea how to create them. It's usually just luck when it happens, with the right combination of writing, acting, and that indefinable, elusive thing called "chemistry." I wish I had thought to say this to him! Our interview went so quickly, yet we were chatting for almost a half hour.

St. John was running errands when he phoned me for our interview. He was very busy. He'd picked up his dog from the groomers and took lunch over to the guys working on remodeling part of his house (he's just a regular guy!). He was also heading over to have an orthopedic surgeon look at his hand. I hope he's okay! I didn't get a chance to ask him about that.  He had a little trouble at first with his cell, but then we had a nice chat.

He is definitely a man with opinions that knows what he wants - which makes sense, since he grew up in show business, with, as he put it "two hippie parents." He shared that they lived in the mountains (in Idyllwild) and they would drive him down to L.A. for acting jobs. They also traveled all over the world. It sounds like he had a really interesting childhood, filled with adventure (not always necessarily the best kind). His father, Christopher St. John, was an actor, too. Also, as Kristoff mentioned, his family traveled to India and stayed with a "holy man" who called himself God. Apparently he has quite a cult following ("50 million followers" according to St. John). His family made a documentary about it. Wow, that sounds horrible. I'm glad they were able to make the movie, though, and expose this guy.

In our interview, I first told St. John how much I enjoyed his work, and he seemed genuinely grateful to all of his fans that have supported him.  I asked him about shooting the movie, "A Baby for Christmas." His part is fairly small (it's a big movie with at least 8 other main characters), but it's a larger than he had in the last movie. He's paired with Victoria Rowell again, which is great for all their fans. He plays a rugged kind of no-nonsense guy, which is a good contrast with Rowell's flighty Stefanie.  They shot his part of the movie in a couple of days (the whole movie took about two weeks).  He was "in and out." He really enjoyed working with everyone in the movie, some of whom he'd never met before. He spoke in brief detail about how great they all were.  "It was just nice to work, once again, on a project outside of the Y&R studio." He also praised director/writer Rhonda Baraka for her "keen eye" and said that "it was a real pleasure to work with her. We had a lot of fun."

For the movie, they used the same property for shooting that they did last time - a big old house in the Buckhead section of suburban Atlanta that the owners rent out to them. He said that the owners were wonderful about letting them use the house. Of course, he particularly enjoyed working with Victoria again.. Kristoff said that reuniting with Rowell last year was "a true joy" and that he'd been waiting to work with her again for a long time. He continued that it was "a real treat" and that like riding a bicycle, they picked up right where they left off.

He was very glad to shoot in Atlanta, which is beautiful (I agree; I lived near there for many years before moving here to Hawaii). Although he admits they have nice weather in L.A., it is city living, so he enjoys getting away from there from time to time.  (At this point, we had a short discussion about my living in Hawaii, which he praised. I really enjoyed speaking with him. I hope you can get a chance to listen to the audio of the interview above.)

I pointed out that I thought Victoria's character in this movie was very silly, and very different from Drucilla. He laughed heartily when I said that, which was great to hear. However, he thought that Drucilla had a lot of comedy as well and pointed out their similarities. I'll take his word for it because it's been many years and my memory is not that great. Certainly, though, Y&R is a drama, whereas this is a comedy, so it gives Rowell the opportunity to show her comedic side more. He did concede that Stefanie is much more "zany" than Drucilla, but otherwise, he thinks they're both great mothers. The main difference, he said, is that Stefanie is expecting a grand-daughter in the movie, whereas Drucilla passed away before she got that opportunity. As he said, "There's no grand-daughter for Christmas there, is there?" I had to chuckle at that.  Like most soap actors, St. John is far funnier in real life than on the show. Soaps tend to be so serious and dramatic, and they seldom give the actors a chance to show any humor. I realized this years ago when I met many of the actors from "General Hospital" who are really funny in real life but rarely crack a smile on the show.

I asked him about his character Larry in the movie and whether they gave him much background on the character.  St. John pretty much plays it straight throughout because that's the type of role it is. He's somewhat of a do-gooder. He chuckled quite a bit when I said that Larry was kind of a saint because I had inadvertently made the bad pun (as in "St. John"!). He doesn't think Larry is a saint or goody-two-shoes, but he does think that he's a "well-verse, traveled man" who "loves to help with charity causes" such as traveling to Africa to help with hungry children.  "His goal is to unify those relationships that are broken," including "mending his relationship with Stefanie after all these years."

Since these movies are so successful, it seems likely that there will be more of them, and that they might put them out on DVD finally. Kristoff agrees with this, although he hasn't heard anything specifically about that yet. He's hopeful that next year's will be "A Wedding For Christmas," for Larry and Stefanie. That would be amazing! 

We had a funny chat about whether these movies were a real trilogy, including discussion of the "Star Wars" movies and the "Godfather" movies. (Of course he's a "Godfather" fan, like most men are, especially those born in the 60's.) When I first mentioned that the Chandler Family movies were a trilogy, he replied sarcastically, "Yeah, just like The Matrix!"  That really made me laugh.

I asked him about his own family's Christmas traditions, but he doesn't really have any. They do celebrate Christmas, but it's pretty low-key. He mentioned that he's been married and divorced twice, and has three children, so that is part of the reason. Also, it's because of his "hippie" parents, who weren't big on Christmas or other holidays. He does remember that his father would go out into the woods and chop down a eucalyptus branch, or part of a pine tree, to decorate their house. He admits that they did have presents. He does remember, when he was around 6, how they had some jingle bells playing outside, to make him think that Santa was visiting.  He says, "I thought for sure that Santa, and his sleigh, and his reindeer, were right outside!" He and his three kids always celebrated Christmas together, but it wasn't a big deal. Now he has a 12-year-old and a 23-year-old. His oldest son Julian would have been 26 this past week.

Since he brought up his about his family living in the woods, I pointed out that he was chopping some wood with an ax in the movie and wondered if that experienced came in handy. I guess he thought this was amusing, so he laughed and said, "You're funny. Does it look like I have experience with an ax?" I laughed, a little embarrassed...but I wasn't trying to be funny, though. I explained that I didn't have any experience with axes myself. He said that he'd learned from his limited experience with axes to "stay far away from the sharp blade and just try to hit the middle of the log."  We had a good chuckle over that.

I asked him what he was looking forward to in 2016.  He replied that he's looking forward to two projects coming to fruition.  One is the documentary mentioned above ("A Man Called God"), which should be in wide distribution this coming year. The second project is the lawsuit, which he hopes to win because he's "fighting the good fight for mental health awareness" as well as trying to get justice for his late son.

Finally, I asked him what he wants to say to his fans.  For Y&R fans, he urges you to watch this movie "A Baby for Christmas" on UP.  He stated: "To the fans out there who have supported Victoria Rowell and myself, and the other cast members like Malinda Williams, Chrystale Wilson and GregAllen (Williams) - we're so proud and happy to be a part of your lives, especially around the holiday time.  Look out for us in 2016 with potentially a fourth installment. Keep visiting me and the rest of the people at 'The Young & The Restless.'  We adore you."

Our Review of "A Baby for Christmas"

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