Like many high-powered soap stars who stay in a role for a number of years, John Loprieno became bored and burned-out playing his character of Cord Roberts on “One Life to Live.” When Loprieno left the soap back in November, 1991, the show’s writers sent Cord on a doomed rescue mission to the Mideast, where he disappeared into the sand.
Meanwhile, Loprieno retreated to his home in suburban New Jersey to spend “quality time” with his wife, Lisa, and his two young daughters, Danielle and Anna Elise. While Loprieno’s acting career was on the back burner, he taught acting classes at his own theater workshop in Ridgewood, N.J., and wrote a two-act romantic comedy called “Almost Paradise.” After a while, though, Loprieno grew restless and started thinking about reactivating his TV career.
Although Loprieno’s agent suggested that he head for California, the actor was determined to stay on the East Coast. Loprieno called Dennis Swanson (former president of ABC Daytime) and eventually Linda Gottlieb, executive producer of “One Life to Live.”
“We talked about story and where Cord would go from where we’d left him,” Loprieno recalls. “The more we talked, the more I realized that now would be a good time to return. So, after 14 months off the show, I came back.”
The actor is looking forward to playing a more multifaceted Cord.
“By giving Cord all of this background--the Jaba thing and the prison thing--it’s putting him on an emotional level that he never had before,” says Loprieno. “The fans want to know what happened to Cord. He’s been real vague and evasive about it. Cord will be a little darker, and I hope he’ll also be a little more informed and a little less naive. I’d like to see him explore relationships with other characters on the show besides Tina (played by Karen Witter).”
For years, Cord’s romantic life has revolved around Tina, but, much to Lopieno’s delight, that seems to be changing.
“When I returned to the show, I told Linda Gottlieb that we’ve been to the Tina well one too many times,” says Loprieno. “It’s always been Tina, Tina, Tina. I’d like to see Cord get hooked up with the new character of Angela, the evangelist. She’s coming from a different place than Tina, so I think it would be interesting to explore that.
“We’ve found out that this woman is not exactly who she pretends to be,” adds Loprieno. “I’d like to see a relationship between Cord and Angela grow out of a need they have for each other. It would be a timely story line, especially in light of the tragedy in Waco, Texas. I think Cord and Angela would be an interesting couple.”
Loprieno, who hopes the play that he has written will be produced either in the theater or on television, says he is eager to spread his wings beyond soap opera acting.
“I’d like to do everything in this business,” he says. “I enjoy performing, writing, and --who knows?-- maybe one day I’ll even direct. I want to keep my hands in and continue working in the field in whatever capacity--that’s my goal. I’ve got a master’s degree (in acting from the University of Minnesota(, and I figure I should use it for something. I don’t need a master’s to say, ‘I love you, Tina.’ ”
While Loprieno is thrilled to be playing Cord again, his favorite role is that of family man.
“One Life to Live” airs weekdays at 1 p.m. on ABC.