TV GUIDE, October 23, 1993
SOAPS by Michael Logan
CALL TO A COUNT
After an eight-year absence, Thaao Penghlis--the most stylish male ever to grace soaps--returned as Days of Our Lives' Count DiMera in last Friday's cliffhanger. To sweeten the star's deal, executives handed him a $20,000 bonus to supplement his studio wardrobe--so, before reporting for duty, he jetted off to Italy to grab the latest threads by Armani, Byblos and Versace. A former diplomat, Australian-born Penghlis, who is of Greek descent, credits his classiness to the films of Cary Grant and Tyrone Power. "They were my ideals--but the youth today wouldn't know who they were. They relate to Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is not exactly style, you know? It's annoying--but that's what they settle for."
SOAP OPERA MAGAZINE, December 7, 1993
DAYS' THAAO PENGHLIS: A Touch Of Suave Sophistication
Antony DiMera has returned to Salem, bringing with him dashing style, tales of world travel and broad strokes of elegance--much like the sophisticated actor who portrays him, Thaao Penghlis.
Although Thaao worked on DAYS from 1981 to 1985, he found the situation dramatically different when he returned in October. His first reaction was, "I've never been here before."
Certainly the mix of castmates, the passing of time, changes in attitudes and outlooks alters the texture of a show, and people.
Thaao observes: "There are some people I've worked with before. The embraces have been wonderful. With some embraces, you realize nothing has changed."
A modern-day Renaissance man, Thaao is a collector of antiques and art, a gourmet cook, and world traveler. He's been all over Europe, and "to Greece nine times in one year, but not the Orient or Peru. I've climbed Mt. Sinai in Egypt, and spent time at an ancient monastery in Meteora, Greece. Only men are ever allowed. You spend time exploring your spiritual aspects."
How would he map his inner journey?
"By the time you reach 40 you must have a sense of your inner being," Thaao explains. "In your 20s, you think you know so much and you really don't know anything. Then your rebellious stages come; then you're 29 and experience anxiety attacks wondering if you've accomplished anything important enough. But now it's different."
"For one thing, I've bought a neo-classical house in Greece near the Acropolis and I'm setting things up for later stages of my life," Thaao says.
"I'm also more willing and able to give from my heart, to be involved. And I'm in love for the first time in 10 years." His romance, he adds, is a personal subject not open to further discussion.
Why did Thaao return to DAYS?
"It's important to be involved, be part of the pulse of life," he answers. "If you are, life enhances you. If you're not, you fall back."
Although Thaao has traveled widely, he finds a richness and vitality in the U.S. that other countries lack.
"There's a greatness in this country. In Europe, they're still trying to work it out. The world is in chaos. I decided I had to be still, to find my own pulse."
Thaao's character Antony DiMera, he points out, is an extension of the VICTOR CASSIDINE character he portrayed on GH in 1981, his first daytime role. When GH writer Pat Falken Smith, who created Victor, later became a writer for DAYS, she brought the character with her, barely disguised with a new name.
What parts of Tony are still closest to Victor?
"Victor was angry and was loved because he was rich, not because he loved," Thaao points out. "He was very selfish.
"In Salem, Victor evolved into Tony who took the pain and threw it all over the place and eventually got to understand some of it."
Before he came back to DAYS, Thaao also worked on SANTA BARBARA as MICAH during the show's last year on the air. But he dismisses that stint with, "I can't remember it. When you walk into a show with a death sentence...well, it was a sad experience."
The philosophical actor would rather turn to the project at hand.
"Coming back to DAYS gives me a dimension through which to see what it is that I have learned, but not quite understood. We establish, up front, that the DiMeras are European, not afraid of passion. Out of this comes the full range of emotion.
"I think Tony has arrived at peace with his father; he has more patience and understanding of him. Of course, he's about to come to grips with another shock, and that's going to raise his anger to a level he's not experienced before."
Thaao is referring to Antony's engagement to KRISTEN, who is in love with another man, JOHN BLACK--a DiMera family enemy.
Thaao says it will be a challenge for him to express rage, since his character has supposedly found inner peace in his quest abroad.
"It will be interesting for me, the actor, to see how different that anger will be. As you get older, you bleed no less."
Thaao, likewise, does not deny feeling anger in real life.
"I've gone through some anger lately," the actor admits. "Part of it was because my mother was close to dying with cancer. That made me upset to no end. My parents are in Australia but I will be bringing them back here again in the spring."
Thaao, born in Sydney, Australia, is one of four children. His parents Peter and Eva trace their ancestry back over five centuries to Greece's Dodecanese Islands. Peter was a master mechanic for General Motors; Eva, a housewife.
"I'm closer now to my parents than I have ever been. We were a poor family, but very rich in dignity and history," Thaao says. "All we really had was our love and caring for each other."
Thaao, whose first language is Greek, went to secondary school in an ethnic section of Sydney. He graduated from the University of New South Wales. After college, he worked for three years with Australia's diplomatic service and later, in New York, for the United Nations. Then he became an art dealer. During that time, he also studied acting with Milton Katselas and with Uta Hagen.
Thaao is pleased to be in a position to take care of his family now. It's a great joy for him to bring them to the U.S. for a visit.
"Giving my parents purpose and saying, 'There's so much they haven't seen yet,' and bringing them into a winning situation gives them so much encouragement," he says. "It's important to keep on winning!"
Does that count for Tony DiMera too?
"Certainly," says Thaao. "There's not a man on DAYS like this character. I won't lose the diabolical side. I'm always questing."
Thaao is aware that his reputation has included the word "difficult," but gives this perspective: "I don't consider myself difficult. I like to say to people, 'Hey, I'm going to do my best. Do you want to join me, come along?' It's good to shake people up when they need it. I'm not here to win a popularity contest. People look for a safe and comfortable place, but that's not growth. It's important to shake up the ones who are too comfortable."
Overall, Thaao is a happy man. "At this stage in my life I can say, I'm a winner."