Guiding Light Alum Frank Dicopoulos Tells Us How Paul Newman Changed His Life and Why He's Getting Back Into Acting! Learn More Here >>>
We recently got to sit down with Guiding Light Alum, Frank Dicopoulos, who played Frank Cooper on Guiding Light and is currently Andrew Rutledge on the award-winning podcast Forever and a Day. He is also set to begin filming on the movie Acton Vale this fall. We had the most delightful conversation!
We asked him about what sparked his interest in acting and he told us, "Very funny story. I will never ever forget it. I was at a movie theater with my family. I was a very, very young boy and I can't remember what I was watching but I remember looking up in that screen and saying to myself that really looked like fun, that I could do that. Never from that point forward ever gave it a second thought. Didn't pursue it, didn't do any plays in junior high school or high school."
"I did work on a production in college. I was going pre-med. I went to Kenyon College, a four-year school, and I was pre-med there and in my senior year, I was just having so much difficulty with arts and sciences, and being from where I grew up in Akron, Ohio, everyone either seemed to be a doctor or lawyer or a professional person in some capacity. I'm Greek. So you know that your parents and grandparents are all very driven. And, you know this is what you're going to be doing and I just had so much difficulty with the arts and sciences. But interestingly enough, the non-sciences, I kind of excelled at that."
"In my senior year, Paul Newman came down. They built a multimillion-dollar theater at Kenyon College and he directed a play that was written by Michael Cristofer specifically for the opening of the theater. That was so cool and I just wanted to be involved in the production, so was a stage manager for the production. I was there for every performance, every rehearsal, and I'm once again just sitting back there thinking this looks like a hell of a lot of fun but once again, never gave it another thought. But I told my mom and dad, I'm not pursuing medicine. I'm moving on. I'm gonna try something different."
That 'something different' was NOT acting! "My dad said 'let's try business'. Dad was an attorney with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Firestone store in Sugarland, Texas on the outskirts of Houston, opened up and they needed an assistant store manager. Being that I was in a very tight community, small community and very family driven, for me to leave the nest was a big deal. I did it three days after I graduated from Kenyon College. I went down to Houston, Texas, and I worked at a Firestone store, a garage where I literally learned everything about cars and maintenance."
"But in that store people would always come up to me and say, 'you don't look like you belong here. Have you ever considered modeling or have you ever considered acting?' I just kept getting bombarded with this but I really never entertained it until I was dating this girl and her dad was a professional photographer. They were coming down from Chicago to Houston for a big job. Everybody came down from the production company, except the male model they were going to use because he got sick and didn't make the flight. So the girl I was dating at the time said, 'Dad, I think Frank's perfect for this' and I met the client, they liked me and I ended up doing it."
"I really enjoyed the job so after that I looked up modeling agencies in the Yellow Pages and it was the only one that had a bold black line all the way around it. So I called that and I said, 'I just did this print job. People say I have a look or whatever. Would you be interested in meeting me?' Literally, that's all I did. They said 'sure'. I met them. They said 'let's do some test shots, we'll send you out, we'll start you out slowly.' And then the rest is history."
"I started doing photo jobs, commercials. And then some acting jobs started coming in. And it just started to build and build and build. The agency sent me to Dallas to audition for the tv show Chips. I went up there, met the producer, the casting director. I got in the top four for that role, and I didn't get it. But the director and producer said 'you got to get out of here. You got to come to LA, you'll work."
"I didn't immediately move. I waited a little longer. A movie came in town called The Man Who Loved Women with Kim Basinger. And I'm standing there with other extras and all of a sudden this gentleman comes up to me and he grabs my arm and he says 'Listen, I need you to say something in my movie.' and I'm like, okay, and it was Blake Edwards the director of all the Pink Panther movies. Big-time director and he said, 'I need an excuse to bring Kim Basinger to Burt Reynolds and Barry Corbin so you're a young businessman. I need you here to here'. I was so excited. I couldn't believe it. So I'm walking arm in arm with Kim Basinger and just couldn't believe that I was in this movie doing this."
"That got me my SAG card and I was invited to go to the premiere in California. My mom couldn't make it but my dad did. It was at the Mann's Chinese theater right on Hollywood Boulevard. We showed up in a taxi and we were so excited. This is my first premiere and we went into the theater and the place was packed, the only seat that was available was literally the front row. So my dad and I are watching the movie and I can see myself coming up. Oh my god, there I am. Oh, there's Kim. I'm walking with her and there's no dialogue and before you know it the scene was done. It was that quick. My heart went right into my shoes and then my dad, he just reached out and he held my leg and he goes, 'I know you're gonna make it. It's not a matter of if, just a matter of when. I know you're gonna make it. It's just a matter of time.' So that gave me the inspiration to hang in there and the rest is literally history."
"ESPN came into town shortly after and they needed a host for a sports show. It was called On The Move and once again, the producer from that said 'you need to shut down Texas and get out here.' Once again, I didn't move out. I kept doing editorial work and one day, the manager of the Firestone store was sitting at his desk and he's got the newspaper open, and he lowers the newspaper and he looks up at me and he turns the newspaper around. And there I was in a full-page ad and he thought it was like the greatest coolest thing ever. We had a long conversation and 'he said you gotta go.' So it was time and I moved to California."
"I started doing a lot of episodic. I had numerous roles on Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Who's the Boss? and one day, I get a call. CBS is in town. Betty Rea casting director from Guiding Light is going to be at television city. 'You have an audition', my agent said and I swore that I was not going. I love California. I was not leaving. I was never gonna go back east. Betty Rea says come in so I read with her and she goes 'you're going to New York, we're gonna screen test you in Manhattan.' And I literally got on the plane."
"I must have caught the flu. I was such a nervous wreck. I had a 104 fever. I was sicker than a dog during the screen test. And I think was probably the best thing that ever happened because it totally took the edge off. And all I wanted to do was get through the scene."
"Bobby Hoffman, who was a casting director and an advisor to ABC. He was responsible for the series Happy Days. I took a couple improv classes with him in LA while I was out here and I took my audition scene to him from Guiding Light and what I was supposed to do was to have my tray and walk up to the table with the chair and say 'is this is seat taken.' Bobby said 'what I want you to do is go to the table, pull out the chair, sit down, take a bite and then look up and say 'excuse me, Is this seat taken?' How genius is that? I just thought that's so outside the box. Genius move. So what happened was all these guys that were in that audition, were doing the same thing and I go up through the whole thing and she cracks up because no one else had done that. So it really set the tone for the scene. I attribute that screen test to Bobby Hoffman."
"I was testing for Will Jefferies and as I was flying back to LA unbeknownst to me, they were calling my agent saying 'listen, we saw something in him that we liked, and we want to write and create a whole character just for him.' That's when Frank Dicopoulos became Frank Cooper. That's why Frank is Frank. And that's why when I started off on Guiding Light I started off in a garage."
He has nothing but praise for his Guiding Light family, "I was beyond blessed to be on Guiding Light. I will say it over and over again. And every actor speaks very highly about their show, but Guiding Light had terrific actors. We were a family. We were really, really an amazing cast and crew. And that all trickled down from the top and Betty Rea, God bless her, and Rob Decina. We just had really great casting directors that brought people in that were terrific, just terrific human beings and great actors. So it was a family, it was my family away from my family and that job afforded me an opportunity to raise my family. I love them and I'll never take that back."
"I really can't say enough great things about our wonderful writers and producers as well. They were so wonderful to our entire cast and I am so grateful for their belief in the character of Frank Cooper and their belief in the actor, Frank Dicopoulos over all those years."
"And to our fans who were so incredibly supportive. We are nowhere without fans and my fans were very good to me and very generous. I can't thank them enough."
We talked about when Guiding Light ended and he shared with us, "There were rumors for a while that it was gonna go but then Ellen Wheeler, God bless her, saved it by going out and doing remotes with just handheld cameras. That was fun because that was more of a primetime feel because you are no longer on a set, we are on location and I loved that. That was great. So she bought us some time."
"I'll never forget, it was April Fool's Day and I'm at Costco, just having the best day, and then Ellen Wheeler called me, our executive producer, and she says 'we've been canceled' and I was like "you've got to be kidding me'. I actually thought the show looked fantastic. Once we figured out all the handheld stuff and the movement stuff. sliced the budget."
"I really and truly thought that some other entity was gonna pick it up. How could it not? It was the longest television radio and television show in history. But now I'm hoping that maybe we can stream this thing. There's just so many volumes sitting there somewhere, we can bring them back."
He shared with us a funny story of how he reconnected with two former co-stars, ". My wife treated the family to a trip to Turks and Caicos. My wife's a huge snorkeler, she loves to snorkel. So we were going on this diving and snorkeling excursion, my wife, Teja, and daughter, Olivia, my son, Jaden, and his girlfriend and then my daughter's friend, Alex. You get there at a certain time on the beach, and they kind of corral you and then you wait to board the boat, which takes you to your diving destination or snorkeling destination. There are four boats there and they're putting people on different boats, So the whole family gets on board and we're sitting down and the dive master gets on and says, 'Okay, why don't you go around the boat and introduce yourselves." So they got around to me and I said, "Yeah, my name is Frank, from Jersey.' And all of a sudden I 'no way!' and I look over and there's Laura (Wright) with Wes (Ramsey). You gotta be kidding me! She comes over and we were screaming. I mean, what's the chance? So random but we had the best time. We went out to dinner later and we just hung out. We had a blast."
Frank filled us in on the other former castmates he keeps in touch with. "My wife and I have dinner with Laura and Wes. I'm so proud of all of them and miss them dearly, multi-talented women right there. I'm also happy that I reconnected with Melina (Kanakaredes). We're going to be getting together with her and her husband. Vincent Irizarry and I just reconnected and Mark Derwin who played Mallet and Beth (Ehlers) We're actually doing a podcast together right now called Forever and a Day."
We asked him about his role on the podcast, "They invited me and I couldn't resist. I couldn't resist it at all, it's fun. That was a whole unique different thing for me. I've never done that type of thing, a podcast like that. So I'm enjoying it and we have our new season. We actually won an Indie award. It's won two years in a row so that's exciting. I love working with our wonderful creators, Candice Mack and Casey Hutchinson. It's kind of keeping the chops up."
Frank and his wife stayed on the east coast after Guiding Light ended and recently made the jump to California, "The driving force for me personally was I felt like I was dying in New Jersey. It's a very dramatic word, but I felt like I just wasn't motivated and I just wasn't going to go down that way."
"It's tough, but I'll get there. I don't quit. I gotta be really honest and realistic that I don't bury the family in the pursuit of that dream, but it'll happen. I honestly believe that lightning will strike twice. Once is enough for someone's lifetime, but I don't know. I've always felt a calling and I'm trying to find it and it will happen."
We think it will happen too! Check out our wishful casting article we did suggesting Frank as the new Jeff Webber on General Hospital!
Thank you so much for talking to us Frank! We had a blast and can't wait to see you back on our screens!