Patrick Muldoon had his brains sucked out by a bug-eyed alien in “Starship Troopers,” and perhaps more appealing he’s been both a kindly heartthrob, Austin Reed on “Days of Our Lives,” and an evil heartthrob, Richard Hart on “Melrose Place.”
Shirtless scenes on soap operas require attention, but Muldoon sees more than body sculpting in his fitness routines.
We all know the chiseled physique from daytime TV, but when did this all start? Were you active as a child?
I grew up in a family of lifeguards. My father was a lifeguard before becoming an attorney. I used to play under his tower in Cabrillo beach in San Pedro. My grandfather was a lifeguard too, and I spent so much time on the beach. All the guys there were big into weightlifting; it was such a competitive athletic environment for me to grow up in, and it rubbed off.
You had an impressive football career as well. Tell me about that.
I started playing football at the age of 6 and absolutely fell in love with it. I went on to play high school football at Loyola, which was a really big football school, then I went to USC to play for the Trojans, and I did fairly well for being a smaller tight end. I was 210 pounds, and without the extra weight I got run over in college. I was competitive, but for scouting I was always up against Junior Seau in the linebacker position, and I wasn’t competitive against that guy. He ran over me a lot and it got me thinking I wasn’t big enough for this, so I ended up going into acting.
Your “Days of Our Lives Character” was a boxer. Is this art imitating life?
Yeah, they’ll write a character and incorporate things about the actor. Austin Reed is a musician and a boxer, and [I] dabbled in both of those things.
I got into boxing and martial arts because after football you go through a bit of a depression. Once football is over, it’s over forever, and I really missed having a sport, having something competitive to do. My father and grandfather both did a bit of boxing, and Muhammad Ali was my idol, so I bounced from gym to gym and started picking things up.
In one of the “Days of Our Lives” episodes I boxed against a real professional boxer who was the nephew of Tim Witherspoon, who was heavyweight champion of the world for a while. It definitely made for more realistic scenes in the show.
And it’s grown from there, hasn’t it? You’re getting more and more into combat sports.
I’m back into Krav Maga after some years off. It’s not really a martial art but is a combat system created by the Israeli army. It’s full body, so you need to know things like jiujitsu and kickboxing. I’ve been working with Darren Levine in L.A.
I go in spurts. I like to switch things up every couple of months so I don’t get bored and to give that part of my body a rest. I’ll hit boxing hard for two months and then switch to Krav Maga, then I’ll go into weight training for two months. I got into lifting weights mostly for football. It’s hard for me to lift weights for cosmetic reasons. For me weights always had to have some kind of athletic purpose.
Did those shirtless scenes motivate you to work out on days you don’t want to?
Yeah, but that motivation is mainly fear. Fear can be a great motivator. When you get a script and it says “five days from now Austin takes his shirt off,” fear is the motivator. So you’ll be hitting your gut and training hard, but it’s also a wake-up call to diet.
I don’t get that crazy with it, though. If you maintain yourself within certain boundaries, then you don’t have to do those extreme things to the body. At the base of all of this for me is that, even though I’m an actor, I’m an athlete at heart. But still, I like to enjoy myself. I love bad food, but if I have one bad day, then the next day I try to be really good. If you play you gotta pay.