Friday, September 05, 2008

Anthony De Longis: He was on daytime soap? Really?

"As you see, I'm not really a bad guy, I just play one on TV," Anthony De Longis told us via email a couple hours after he chatted with us over the phone from his ranch on the West Coast earlier this week. And BRBTV has to admit, we took a quick breath when we read that statement ... because the man who portrayed bad-guy Leo Mitchell on "Santa Barbara" in 1989 has had an incredibly action-packed career.

Swordmaster. Whipmaster. Expert horseman. Professional weapons instructor. Stunt coordinator. Fight director. .... Oh ... did we mention actor, too?

"One of the things that's hardest on most actors," De Longis tells us, "is how do you stay busy? What do you do between roles? I say, learn something, because the more knoweldge you have, the more uses you have."

Teaching Michelle Pfeiffer how to use a whip with ease for her role as Catwoman in 1992's "Batman Returns." Choreographing Anjelica Huston in 1995's "Buffalo Girls." Serving as a swordmaster in "Secondhand Lions" in 2003. Training Harrison Ford on his 10-foot leather bullwhip for this year's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." And amazingly enough, amid De Longis' expert action work on these projects, he still tends to get a little action in front of the camera, too. (Can you believe he also played a scary clown in "Batman Returns"?)

"My point being, I like to stay proactive," he says. "Quite often, I get as much worth coming in and helping other actors tell a story with action as I do getting acting roles myself. Instead of getting frustrated of being between roles, I try to embrace it."

Besides his dips into the daytime soaps world (he was on "Days of Our Lives," too), forays that seem almost ludicrous but for the fact that our Leo Mitchell was, after all, a pretty action-packed menacing guy, De Longis has ventured into the sci-fi genre, with roles on "Babylon 5," "Star Trek: Voyager" (a key Kazon role that was extended for his talent) and "Battlestar Galactica," for instance. His IMDb resume is extensive, dating back to the late '60s, and his own official resume makes this extensive picture even clearer.

"When I first started as an actor," he says, "I wasn't particularly adept physically. I said, I'm an actor, I need to develop more skills, more comfort physically. To me action is dialogue with movement, as opposed to words. I often tell people, you don't have to give me a lot of words. If you're telling your character's story, quite often the person who says the least in the scene is the one the audience watches the closest. I'm not the kind of actor who runs through a script and sees how many lines I have. It's nice, but that's not the be-all and end-all."

Quite a lot for the bad guy killed on the beach by our Laura Asher. (And he'd worked with Christopher Norris before, by the way, on an episode of "Trapper John, M.D.," the very first role he ever used an accent in -- Australian.)

De Longis just finished the film "Double Duty," which is in postproduction and also features Tom Sizemore and Connie Stevens -- along with Ismael "East" Carlo, another "SB" alum as Rueben Andrade. The History Channel is going to tape him at the end of this month for their show "Extreme Marksmen" (you mean they haven't until now?). He's got an article about the bullwhip coming out in Black Belt magazine at the end of this year. And he's appearing in a new TV series with Christian Kane, whom he worked with on "Secondhand Lions."

"He just called me up a couple weeks ago," De Longis says. "He has a new series called 'Leverage.' There's a big fight sequence for introducing his character. So he said, 'I want to get Anthony in here for this.' We put together this incredible fight in the kitchen that gives him all the credibility he could want, and we put it together in about a half an hour. We shoot the whole thing as a master. We did it start to finish every time we did it."

So is that enough, for a guy with such a broad wealth of experience? Keeping the acting resume and stunt instruction building? Well, no, not really enough ... He and his wife Mary also operate Rancho Indalo, atop one of the foothills of the Angeles Mountains in southern California, where they offer the adventure of a lifetime to anyone who's interested in a little safe shooting, a little instruction with the whip, a little training with the sword.

"We're now offering our 'Train to be Your Favorite Action Hero' Rancho Indalo curriculum," the ranch's materials say, "which embraces our favorite characters and genres including whip action like Indiana Jones and Catwoman, swashbuckling swordsmen like Zorro and D’Artagnan (sabers, rapier and dagger, small sword), broadsword- and axe-wielding heroes like Conan, archers like Robin Hood, Green Arrow and 'Lord of the Rings,' pistol and shotgun-toting western icons like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley and the Lone Ranger (on our live fire on-site pistol and shotgun range) and knife and tomahawk throwing like 'V' and 'Last of the Mohicans.'"

Ummm ... sign us up!

"We afford people the opportunity to come in from around the world, really, and stay at the ranch," De Longis says. "We have opened this up to the general public, people who've had a dream and never had a chance. If you want to be pampered, go to a hotel, but if you want an action-adventure, come and see us. We're four miles from the freeway; we're an hour from anywhere in L.A."

You can keep up with De Longis ever-evolving career at his official site,, where you can see many of his career headshots and stills, and you can view videos of his action work.

And you can find BRBTV's complete interview with De Longis in the next edition of the equally ever-evolving reference guide "Send Me to Santa Barbara."

Next Friday: We talk with another "SB" star who's got a great behind-the-scenes career going these days!

Photo by John Leonetti; courtesy of Anthony De Longis.

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