From Soap Opera Digest
March 19, 2002 issue
As reported last week, Tom Eplin (below) has been let go after 17 years on and off as Jake, the popluar character who crossed over from
ANOTHER WORLD's Bay City after the show's cancellation and found a new audience on AS THE WORLD TURNS in 1999. While many online fans are already in an uproar, calling his dismissal a big mstake - and even starting an online campaign to keep him - Eplin is characteristically low-key. "The show was always a foreign place to me. To play the same cahracter on a different show presented
problems that I wasn't entirely comfortable with. I sort of felt like a misfit," admits the actor. In fact, his response to internet
rumors that Lesli Kay's Molly is also on her way out (which are, by most accounts, inaccurate) elicits more concern tha for himself.
"I hope it's just Jake because Molly would be a big loss," he says. "As an actor, you always want to thing that your loss will be felt, but that's selfish. I think that people who are making the decisions at CBS are doing what they think is best for the show. If my departure is worked into a storyline that allows them to benefit from it, and they think they can spin story out of it, I think that's the right thing to do. They've been good to me, and I don't have one bit of animosity toward the people who make the decsions there." Calling the discussion in which ATWT Ececutive Producer Christopher Goutman broke the news a "private matter," Eplin will say only, "Chris handled it really well."
Asked whether Jake had story left to tell, Eplin shrugs, "Tom didn't have any left in him. It was a good decision...It's the proverbial
bird getting pushed out of the nest. I think it's for the best because I don't think I would have made this decision on my own. I feel like it's time to move on and do something else. It's 110 person the right thing. For those people whou would express any of their anger toward management for making this decision, I would say, 'Don't.' The show is a living, breathing entity and it will go on without Jake and be more successful without him."
So, what's next? "The second I leave, I will be on a bus to California," he laughs. It's no slight against New York because there are people in New York who have been very kind to me, and I've mad some good friends who I"m sure will be in my life for a long time. But that ankle break on AW [in '98] was a turn-around for me. I haven't been able to get on my feet since then, and every time winter came around, the ankle would start aggravating me. I need to go home to California, get healthy, get these pins and screws pulled out of my leg and see what comes next. The last year-and-a-half has
also been difficult because of my father's health, which has been a concern. There's nothing you can do when you're 2,500 miles away. I've always felt that you can't really make someplace your home if you think at the end of your contract, you're going to go back. You can't have two homes. My family is what I miss."
Not that there aren't experiences from his time on ATWT that he'll look back on fondly. "I became great friends with Lesli, and I'll
miss that. Scott Holmes [Tom] and Benjamin [Hendrickson, hal] will have a place in my heart. I'll miss Brooklyn's coffee and the crew," he says, then pauses. "I haven't really had time to reflect; it's difficult to articulate all of the things I'll miss."
Eplin, a Lead Actor Emmy nominee last year, may soon be fielding other offers, but he's not ready to dicuss that possibility
yet. "We'll see. I'm not even worried about my career right now," he says. "I'm not concerned whether I can work again as an actor. I can do the job. I need some months away from doing that job so that I can figure out what it is that I want to put my focus on in life."