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‘DAY’ BREAK FOR ROARK CRITCHLOW

Roark Critchlow likens landing the role of Mike Horton on “Days of Our Lives” to “finding the pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow.

“Before I got this job, I was bartending and just looking for a break in Los Angeles,” says Critchlow, who hails from Canada. “I was there for three-and-a-half years doing theater and television fairly successfully. I did a lot of nighttime guest spots, generally playing the bad guy.”

That was back in February, 1993, when Critchlow knew that opportunities awaited him in Los Angeles.

“Once I got here I began auditioning, meeting people and waiting for some kind of a break,” says the actor. “I was hoping for maybe a small, principal guest spot on a TV show or something.

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“So this,” he notes, referring to his contracted “Days” role, “is really quite wild, because it’s a huge break.”

Critchlow, who is a newcomer to daytime, admits that he has had to adjust to “the amount of responsibility” an actor has in the fast-paced world of soap operas.

“I personally have to have my lines memorized, make a lot of choices, and understand what I want to do in a scene before I get to the set,” he says, making note of the lack of rehearsal time in soaps vs. other mediums. “Otherwise, I’m not going to look very good.”

Critchlow has managed to handle the assignment like a pro, although he insists, “It’s been a funny and long process” getting to know his alter ego, Mike Horton.

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“He’s a caring person,” says Critchlow. “He wants to be a loving person. He wants to do the right thing. Those are aspects of myself that I am. I do care. I do love. I do the right thing.”

Playing the good guy is a welcomed change of pace for the actor and an immense challenge.

“I think portraying a good guy is actually a lot harder,” says Critchlow, “because people really scrutinize their heroes. They expect them to really be courageous and back up their intentions with some good realities (off-screen).”

Critchlow is a dedicated husband and family man and shouldn’t have any trouble living up to the expectations of his fans. He has been married to his wife, Maria, since February, 1990, and the couple have two daughters, Jara Shea and Reign.

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“I spend a lot of time with my family,” says Critchlow, “because I love them and also because it’s a tough job being a mom with two kids. Motherhood is the hardest job, hands down! So I try to give Maria a hand as much as I can on my days off. I try to distribute (the parental) load evenly. I’ve taken care of Jara Shea and Reign for hours at a stretch, and it’s hard. It’s just hard,” he says.

Critchlow calls his career as an actor easy by comparison.

“I never have a problem going to the ‘Days’ studio,” he says with a smile. “I’m doing what I want to do. It’s kind of like Wayne Gretzky. The guy would play hockey whether he was getting paid or not.”

“Days of Our Lives” air weekdays at noon on NBC.

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