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Jesse Soffer

Jesse Soffer

The young actor joined CBS's soap opera "As The World Turns" in the role of "Will Munson" in August 2004. Soffer made his film debut at the age of eight in Matinee. His other film credits include the role of Bobby Brady in The Brady Movie and A Very Brady Sequel, Safe Passage with Susan Sarandon, and Silent Alarm. Soffer previously left the set of Guiding Light, where he started the role of Max Nickerson in 1999. Also on television, Soffer was seen as a regular on the ABC series Two of a Kind. He has also appeared in The Royale, From the Mixed Up Files... , My Family, and Wings. Soffer is originally from North Tarrytown, New York and currently resides in New York City. He is taking classes at New York University and loves soccer. Jesse Lee Soffer was born on April 10, 1984.

Where There's A Will: Meet Jesse Soffer

Fans might remember Jesse Soffer from back when he was known as Jesse Lee, playing Bobby Brady in 1995's THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE and 1996's A BRADY BUNCH SEQUEL, as well as for his well-received portrayal as GUIDING LIGHT's troubled Max in 1999. But after choosing to leave GL, Soffer disappeared. He's back now, this time playing AS THE WORLD TURNS's troubled Will — and all grown up (mostly).
SOAP OPERA DIGEST: What have you been doing since leaving GUIDING LIGHT?
Jesse Soffer: I kind of decided that finishing high school had to be a priority, and I put myself through boarding school in Washington, Connecticut. And it was honestly the best decision I've ever made. It was the best four years of my life. It was like college, but in high school. It was coed, and I lived with all my best friends in the dorm.

DIGEST: After you graduated, did you want to go straight back into acting?
Soffer: I did. I deferred from a couple of colleges and I planned on being in school, but I wanted to give acting a shot, so I took a year off and auditioned for a lot of stuff. It was kind of going slow and I was on my way to Drew University and then I got this. So I sort of put [college] off again and now I'm taking a couple of classes at NYU. Maybe I will end up there some day, but I'm going to take it slow because this is too great an opportunity.

DIGEST: What did they tell you about Will?
Soffer: They didn't tell me much. When I went in to audition, they gave me some lines, but it wasn't actually for Will, it was for someone else, because they were trying to get a feel for people. And I did a good job, so they gave me the Will sides, and they said, 'Okay, Will is in a psychiatric hospital and he murdered someone, but he's not crazy, he's just under his mother's influence' [laughs]. I don't know where it's going: Maybe he's crazy, maybe he's not. So far, he seems like a really honest, sweet kid whose mother has way too much of an influence on him.

DIGEST: Have you seen the last Will, Brett Groneman?
Soffer: Because I asked for the tapes, I only saw the wedding sequence where she [Rose] actually dies.

DIGEST: Physically, you really resemble him.
Soffer: People have been saying that he would look like me when he grows up, which is kind of cool.
DIGEST: You've been working with the big names on the show — Martha Byrne (Lily), Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara), Roger Howarth (Paul).
Soffer: Yeah, it's been great to jump into it with them, because they're all so skilled and they know exactly what they're doing. Colleen has been playing her character for so long that she knows exactly who she is and she can turn it on at a moment's notice. So it makes it easier for someone like me to get the tone for a scene, because you can just feed off someone who's that good.

DIGEST: Was it intimidating?
Soffer: It actually wasn't. Believe it or not, the day of my audition, my mother came with me because we have family in Brooklyn and when I came out of my audition, my mom was talking to Colleen. So I met her and she said, 'Who are you trying out for?' I said, 'This kid, Will.' And she said, 'That's my son!' And so we started chatting and after that, it kind of clicked. My first day, she showed me around, and I wasn't intimidated at all because I felt like we had already known each other. It was really cool.

DIGEST: Was it hard to get back into the soap groove?
Soffer: It was a little hard to get back into it, because on soaps, you do 75 pages a day, whereas on movies you might do two pages or something like that. But I got back into it kind of quickly. It's a skill; once you've got it, it comes back. It's all about what's actually going on. Not necessarily the words, but the emotion of it.

DIGEST: You've changed your name for this role.
Soffer: My middle name is Lee, and I was always an actor as a kid, before high school. Right then and there was when I stopped. Now I feel like I'm out of school and taking this more seriously. And if this is going to be my career and if I am going to do this for the rest of my life, I'd like it to be me, you know? My real name, who I really am.

Jesse Soffer Is A Good Will Munson

As Will Munson tries to put his life back together following a deeply troubled period of his childhood, JESSE SOFFER brings the character into his next chapter of life. CBS.com chatted with this talented actor about Will’s past and future in Oakdale.

CBS.com: How did you land the role on ATWT?
JESSE SOFFER: I had graduated from [high] school and I was taking some time off to act. I had auditioned a lot over the course of my year off and I wasn’t doing too well. I was thinking maybe it’s time to go to college. Towards the end of the summer, I got a call for an audition and that’s what happened. I heard that [Executive-in-Charge of Production] Mickey [Dwyer-Dobbin] remembered that I had been on Guiding Light [Editor's Note: He played Max Nickerson]. When they were looking for Will, she mentioned my name and so they called my agent. I guess I got really lucky!

CBS.com: What did you decide as far as your plans to go to college?
JESSE SOFFER: I’m just taking it slower. This is such an opportunity and this is what I want to be doing with my life. Usually you go to school to end up doing what you want to do, but I kind of skipped that part. I definitely still value education and I’m taking some credits. I will finish someday.

CBS.com: What are you studying in school?
JESSE SOFFER: I want to study Psych or Philosophy. I don’t really want to [study] Theater. [My] education I want to be different. You always have to have something to fall back on, too.

CBS.com: You’re no stranger to soaps, having been on GL. How has your experience here been different?
JESSE SOFFER: I was a lot younger when I did Guiding Light. I was still a kid in the business and it was kind of stressful back then. I didn’t really have enough time between schoolwork and doing the show to make friends with anybody there or really make it my own. Since I’ve been doing [ATWT], it’s just been incredible. I’ve been having the time of my life. Everyone’s been really warm. It’s much more of a career now than it was back then. I take it much more seriously now.

CBS.com: Since you were on Guiding Light, you appeared in a couple of movies. Did you relocate to L.A. during that time?
JESSE SOFFER: Every time I did a movie, we would relocate for a couple of months, but it was always temporary. All the movies that I had done, I auditioned for in New York.

CBS.com: Are you are originally from the East Coast?
JESSE SOFFER: I’m an East Coast guy, yeah.

CBS.com: Do you see yourself ever going out to L.A. permanently?
JESSE SOFFER: I don’t know what’s in the cards. I know that I love being on this show, I love the people here and I’d like to do this for a while.

CBS.com: Will has a troubled past. What is ahead for him as he tries to fit in to society?
JESSE SOFFER: He does have a lot of trouble fitting back in. He’s always the lost puppy. [Laughs] I think that he knows that it was really his mother’s influence [that lead him to kill Rose] and he’s not really an evil person. He deals with that still. He still has regrets about what had happened. I think that his brother and the rest of the family are really going to have to be there for him. All in all, I think he’ll make it through.

CBS.com: Were you drawn to the character of Will because he was so troubled?
JESSE SOFFER: Yeah, it is a lot of fun. It is the first time in my career that I get to show the not so pretty sides of emotion: the anger, the rage, he’s so hurt all the time and he’s so guilty. It’s sometimes challenging but it’s a lot more exciting.

CBS.com: There was a recent about face in Will’s behavior and he has started to champion for his mom once again. Do you think he has forgiven Barbara?
JESSE SOFFER: No, no, I don’t think he’s forgiven her at all. Even after he saved her, he still thought she set it up. He’s just [standing up for her] because he doesn’t have it in his heart to leave her alone. I don’t know about them ever becoming a happy family again.

CBS.com: He made a pretty bold move by insisting Barbara move in with Hal.
JESSE SOFFER: Yeah. Who knows what he was thinking! [Laughs]

CBS.com: How does Will feel about the rest of his family: his dad, his sister, and his brother?
JESSE SOFFER: I think he still worries a lot how they feel about him, if they really are accepting him. But he really appreciates the love that they’ve shown him and he knows that’s what it’s going to take for him to be totally rehabilitated.

CBS.com: How do you like working with Roger Howarth [Paul]?
JESSE SOFFER: Roger’s awesome. Roger’s real cool. He’s a great actor and a great guy. We have a lot of fun.

CBS.com: You and Colleen Zenk Pinter [Barbara] have had some pretty intense scenes as well.
JESSE SOFFER: Yeah. From the moment I got the part, Colleen kind of took me under her wing and showed me around the studio. She’s been great. She really showed me the ropes. She’s also a great actor. Working with the two of them and the other great people on the show, they’ve been doing it for so long that in a scene, they bring you to the next level. It’s awesome. It makes my job a lot easier, too, since they’re so amazing.

CBS.com: Do you think Will will have any more interaction with Lily and Holden?
JESSE SOFFER: I don’t know. Holden was accepting of him, Lily obviously wasn’t. There are always going to be issues there [since] Rose was Lily’s sister.

CBS.com: Do you see Will having a romantic relationship with anyone in the future?
JESSE SOFFER: Actually, there hasn’t been much talk about it so I couldn’t tell you. In all honesty, if I was a girl, I wouldn’t want to date some kid who murdered someone. [Laughs] Who knows? We’ll see.

CBS.com: If you had to speculate, what do you think the future holds for Will?
JESSE SOFFER: It would be nice for him to get a girlfriend. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

CBS.com: Do you ever talk to the writers about what they have planned for your character?
JESSE SOFFER: No, never. I pretty much get the scripts and then I’ll see them a couple of weeks before [we tape], but that’s it.

CBS.com: What do you do when you’re not working?
JESSE SOFFER: I love to read. I’m a big reader. I love reading philosophy, science fiction, I like classics. I play basketball and soccer. I hang out with my friends a lot. I love going to movies. I mean, this is the business I’m in and that’s why I fell in love with it.

CBS.com: Are your parents supportive of your acting ambitions?
JESSE SOFFER: Very supportive. You’d think a mom would say, “No, go to school first, take your time.” She said, “You know what? School is going to always be there. This is a great opportunity.”

CBS.com: You got into acting at a young age. What sparked your interest?
JESSE SOFFER: I wanted to do commercials from a really young age. When I was six years old, I watched TV endlessly. I asked my mom if I could do it and she didn’t know how to get it started. We had met someone kind of randomly who turned out to be a manager and I got started that way. My first gig was a Kix cereal commercial.

CBS.com: What are some of your long-term goals as far as your career?
JESSE SOFFER: I’d love to get back into film someday. I don’t know if that means going out to L.A. or anything. Like I said before, I’m absolutely loving this. So who knows how long I’ll be doing this.

 


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