By// Mariah Craddick
There’s no questioning the power of the Internet. Just ask High School Musical star turned Broadway powerhouse now soap king Corbin Bleu. Back in March, Bleu was the victim of an unfortunate Twitter death hoax that caused “#RIPCorbinBleu” to trend nationally. Thankfully, it turned out to be false, and luckily, he was a good sport about it. “I was just chilling at Six Flags,” he said, laughing it off.
The Internet doesn’t just kill celebrities off from time to time, it’s where people get their news and entertainment. The soap opera classic One Life to Live has caught on to this digital domination and, after going off of the air last year, is making its return as a web-only series on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes beginning April 29th. Bleu joins the cast as new character Jeffrey King, a fast-talking journalist working for the fictional newspaper, The Llanview Banner.
JETmag.com chatted with Bleu about this new role, more about his hapless Twitter moment and what it was like working with the one and only Snoop Dogg Lion for the show.
People obviously recognize you from the High School Musical franchise and you’ve had stellar success on Broadway with the shows In the Heights and Godspell. Now you’re stepping into a role that’s a little more serious and adult on One Life to Live. Was it a conscious effort on your part to step away from musicals to do a soap opera?
It actually wasn’t. The past three years I’ve mainly been working on Broadway and on films. The films that I’ve been working on really rung the gamut as far as characters and age ranges go. So I’ve been very lucky to be able to do that kind of stuff. I’ve always wanted to be able to tackle all different facets of the entertainment industry. When the opportunity came about to do this I thought ‘Wow, I never really got to do soap.’ And it’s a very different way of doing things, especially the amount that’d done per day.
How much do you guys shoot a day?
Anywhere between 80 to 100 pages. So I’m memorizing anywhere between 20 and 50 pages a day. That, to me, is a challenge so I’m really getting quite a workout.
So who’s your character?
My character’s name is Jeffrey King. Because soaps are so storyline based, it’s all about who’s connected with who and there’s different circles of story lines. My character gets the chance to be involved with several different circles. He works as a journalist; he has this quick-paced way of speaking. He’s very quick, smart, digital savvy and he’s the one trying to bring this newspaper, The Banner, into the digital age. Then, of course, there’s the younger side of him who hangs out with his roomies, screws around, drinks.
Soaps are sometimes so melodramatic to the point that they become comedic. Does it ever feel cheesy to you?
*laughs* Well, it’s interesting. I’ve been watching several different soaps just to gather vibes off of it and there are certain ones that tend to be really dramatic. But because One Life to Live is now on the Web, for Hulu and iTunes, they want to make it edgier. They want to make it for, of course the original fans, but they are really trying to bring in a younger demographic as well. So I got to tell you, it’s really not. I was expecting it to be cheesier and it’s not.
What other kinds of things are we going to see with this rebooted version of OLTL?
The original, most dedicated fans get the chance to see some of their favorite characters come back. And of course, a lot of twist and turns. A lot of things were left unanswered when it ended in 2012. So there’s a lot that will be answered for those fans and a lot of new characters for the new fans.
It’s impressive that the show has been on for so long, since the 1960s. And it’s still going!
Yeah! This is a part of television history, so to get the chance to put my stamp on it is pretty cool.
Especially now since it’s developing to the Web. Do you think more TV shows will take that route of becoming a Hulu or iTunes series, or Netflix?
It’s already starting. You have House of Cards for Netflix, which is doing extremely well. The way that people are viewing everything—how they get their news, how they communicate with each other, how they watch their entertainment—it’s all on their phones, their tablets, their computer or on their television hooked up to online streaming. That’s not even the future; it’s literally what we’re living in right now. So I think it’s really smart for OLTL to change to an online format.
Speaking of getting news online— Twitter tried to kill you off a little while ago. Do you know how that whole thing got trending?
Oh jeez! I was at Six Flags! I got a phone call from my mom. I was actually on a roller coaster when she called so I couldn’t answer. And I get off and my dad’s calling and when I answered it was just like a sigh of relief. It’s one of those things—I mean Twitter’s always killing off people. I honestly don’t know what else to say about it other than wow.
So Snoop Dogg or Lion—I don’t know what to call him.
*laughs* I know, I know. Let’s just call him ‘Snoop.’
Okay—so Snoop did the new theme for OLTL. Did you get a chance to work with him at all?
Oh yeah and it was one of the coolest moments of my life. He is the epitome of cool; you can’t get cooler than Snoop. We had a scene together and in the scene the director wanted him to go over and grab these jelly beans on the table. So, she goes up to him and says, ‘Snoop, do you like jelly beans?’ And he goes, (in a perfect Snoop impersonation) ‘Do I like jelly beans? I like jelly beans, lollipops, gum drops—’ and he just starts doing this freestyle about jelly beans! And I’m just sitting here next to him like, ‘This is the coolest shit ever.’
What do you hope to conquer next? Do you want to continue with television, venture into producing, or something else altogether?
I’ve actually been into the production side of things recently. We put out a film called Scary or Die which ended up being the No. 3 most rented movie in RedBox for some time. I also have another film that’s kind of a passion project for me. It’s called The Day I Died. It’s an anti-bullying film that we’re going to be launching on KickStarter. But really, it’s whatever my passion is at this point. I definitely want to go back to Broadway. I would love to get back into film, but I’ve been doing film for the past three years now. That’s kind of why I wanted to get into television. It’s nice to have a specific base for a little while because with film you’re always traveling. I’m lucky I get to travel all over the place, but at some point I knew I needed to plant my feet for a second. So this is really, really nice.
Tune into One Life to Live on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes for brand new 30-minute episodes. Follow Corbin on Twitter at @CorbinBleu.