Brett starred as patriarch Ned Logan in this family drama set in post Civil War Kentucky.
These are a few of his favorite things…
Scene: The end of “Homecoming” when I’m with my daughter, Lexy.
Line of dialogue he said: In “Homecoming” when I tell my daughter Lexy what my wife sounded like. “I guess you could say she sounded like the wind going through the trees in spring. Or a stream going around a bend over rocks. She sounded like love feels.”
Line of dialogue another character said:
Something derogatory about Charlotte! (laughs). Actually, one of my favorite lines of dialogue was in “Homecoming” — the wishing tree, when Lexy talked to God and said, “So look, if you make it where my pa can come back, I’ll do anything you say. I’ll go away. I’ll ship out to sea. Just make him come back.”
Easiest cast member to play jokes on:
Jeremy or Ron!
Describe Ned Logan in a few words. What traits do you feel you have in common with Ned? How are you different?
Loyal. Patient. Loving. Strong. Imperfect. I think traits I have in common with him are…imperfect (laughs) and perfectionist. (Hear audio clip) I am extremely loyal — as Ned is — to a fault. And the one thing I seriously don’t have in common with him is I’m extremely impatient, whereas Ned has the patience of a saint.
Miss Forrester was played by your real-life wife, Michelle. Did you give her a hard time for having to act so clumsy and lovesick around you?
No, that’s how she always acts around me! (laughs). It was fun for me to work with Michelle because she’s so funny in real life. I think probably the hardest thing for her is that she doesn’t realize how funny she is, so she was concerned with trying to make it work and she didn’t need to — and inevitably she would find it. Michelle isn’t a klutz or anything, but the ambiance that it requires, she had already. She’s naturally a very sweet, cute, adorable woman, and that’s what Miss Forrester was. Working with Michelle, obviously, was a dream. We’re married, we’re on location and I get a lead in a series and she was getting to work on the show too. You can’t get any better than that. In two actor’s lives, that’s the ultimate — that they can work together and be together and not be separated. Because in my mind, that’s the biggest pitfall of marriages in Hollywood – it’s the separation between couples that causes divorces.
Soon after the show premiered, Legacy web sites showed up on the Internet and people worldwide were talking about the show. What was that like for you as an actor?
It is a little overwhelming that that’s a capability in today’s technological society. But I didn’t, at the time, pay a lot of attention to it, because when they’re airing one show and people are responding to it, we’re probably three shows ahead of them shooting another story. I appreciate what fans have to say, but what I do isn’t really affected so much by what other people think, as much as the people who hired me and what their desire is for me to do, and hopefully me trying to accomplish that and being a good “soldier.” I showed up and did what was written and was required of me, hopefully. And if they were satisfied, then I was satisfied. My goal is to please my employers and hopefully to also have some impact in the show with the characters I’m playing.
Can’t believe everything you read…
The thing about the Internet and the response you get from people – if I lived and died by that, not that I don’t appreciate it, but it’s like the old adage, if you’re going to read the reviews, you better read the bad ones and the good ones. If you’re going to believe the good reviews, you have to believe the bad reviews. It’s just someone’s opinion, and you can only put so much stock in it. I’m terribly flattered when people like what I do, and terribly flattered when the critics like what I do, as an actor, but on the same level of understanding, I can’t look at it and go, “Well, that’s good and that’s bad, so I’m going to only choose to believe the good or choose to believe the bad.” I just take it with a grain of salt and keep doing what I’m successful at, which is acting. And I hopefully can continue getting jobs doing that, regardless of what public outrage or public sentiment is. You just have to do what you do. You can’t please everybody. But it is overwhelming, the whole concept of the fact that you can do something and then the world, basically, can respond on a computer and say, “That was great! I liked this or I liked that.” That’s pretty amazing.
Did you and Chris Abbott discuss the future of the show beyond the first season?
At the time, we had talked and I know Chris had some ideas about future episodes and I can’t remember now what they were. I do know that the “Homecoming” episode was an episode that sort of came about from several conversations with several different people: Chris and me and I think one of the editors, actually, about the daughter that Sarah Rayne played, Lexy, not knowing her mother. And that’s sort of how the “Homecoming” episode came about – which was the one where I was in the coma and you actually see my dead wife and me together, in my dreams. That was one we had talked about and she was developing.
“Ned Logan became my friend that day…”
The one we didn’t get to do, that was my idea – and the network, I think, was a little afraid of doing it — was the Civil War episode. I kept emphasizing that it wasn’t going to be about the Civil War, it was going to be about two men on a battlefield after a battle. One is seriously injured and they’re from opposing sides. One’s from the South and one’s from the North. It would have been through an evening, in darkness, so you don’t have to shoot all that Civil War stuff and have a lot of other people. So, it would be like a two-man show. Through the process of the night Isaac has my gun and at some point I get my gun back and I can kill him and I don’t. He’s helping me recover through the goodness of his heart, because I’m seriously wounded. When dawn comes, he gets me up and I don’t know what he’s going to do and he starts walking with me and I think he’s going to take me off and execute me. He makes me a crutch out of a tree branch and he walks me out and says, “Keep walking 200 yards that way and you’re going to hit the Southern picket, the fence line of the Southern Army, and you’ll be safe.” So, he saves my life and I turn around and thank him and say, “Listen, when all this malarkey is over with, if you ever need a job, you come to Kentucky and find the Logans and you got a job.” He showed up after the war and became my best friend because of that. This was an idea I really, really wanted to do and I actually threatened to try to write the script myself. I thought it would be a really powerful episode, but we never go to do it. We never got to that point.
Turning Legacy into Melrose Place
The network wanted to “soap opera” up the show a bit, “Melrose Place” it, as it were, by bringing on the woman who played my new wife. It’s just what happens on television – they [the network] don’t understand something or don’t know what to do with it, so they try to make it a little bit more commercial to make it work, in their eyes. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. And to my chagrin, and to Chris’ chagrin, they pulled the show before they even tried showing those episodes to see if it would improve the ratings. I don’t know why they made us do it and then not even show it during prime time. They waited until the summer to burn those episodes off. It didn’t make much sense at all to me, but it’s their company and they can do what they want with it. It’s their party and they can cry if they want to.
Fans said you had the “best hair in prime-time” during this show. What was up with that?
I think it’s funny! (laughs). I don’t quite understand it! I have this very straight hair. I’ve got a cowlick in the front and a cowlick in the back and I guess that’s why I get that wave in the front of my hair, but yeah, I guess people like my hair! (laughs) I always kind of hoped they liked my acting a little bit more than my hairstyle! But I think it’s very sweet they think that, but I really don’t have much to say…it’s just hair. (laughs) And it’s kind of short right now!
If the show had continued, how do you think Ned would have dealt with things in the second season?
Had the show gone on for a second season, I think what would have happened is that Charlotte would have been discovered as the bad seed — that she had set the whole thing up. And because she was previously married, our marriage would have been annulled. She wouldn’t have been in the story any more. I think that Ned would have learned that whatever had happened was a huge mistake and one that he wouldn’t make again. I think he would have finally realized that the most important thing to him was his family, his children, and if he had met another woman, he would have taken things very slowly. But, that wouldn’t have been up to me. All I could do is what they wrote. I think probably, in my heart of hearts, if I really examined this as an actor, had they [the network executives] then come around and said, “We’re going to do this again.” I would have said, “Well, then you should probably get another actor to play the part, because that’s not what I signed on for and the last time it failed miserably.” And they probably would have fired me and got someone else to do it.
The father-daughter relationship between Ned and Lexy struck a strong chord in the viewers. Talk about that relationship and your chemistry with Sarah Rayne.
I think Sarah Rayne was the best actor on the show. That’s not taking anything away from the others, who were fine actors. Whatever chord she struck in me was powerful, maybe because I have a young daughter like her. Sarah could just look at me and say a line and I believed it and it struck a chord in my heart. I felt an affinity for that relationship and was deeply moved by her performance. And whatever she did, I always responded to. Maybe that’s what viewers saw on screen. In my opinion, I think the relationship between her and I was probably the richest on the show. I would work with that girl any day of the week — any time, any where. I think she’s marvelous. And she’s a good kid. She’s not like a lot of child actors, she’s a very well-rounded, sweet girl, whom I just adore. She’s remained to be a very good friend of ours, both her parents and her. She’s still so sweet to my daughter — I just can’t tell you how much I adore that little girl.
How difficult was it for you to portray Ned so differently in the last four episodes?
I looked at it like, “this is just something Ned is going through.” I tried to find a way to make that real. That’s all you can do as an actor, is to try and play what the script tells you to play. And obviously, Ned had fallen in love with this wicked woman. He was blind to it. So, from an actor’s standpoint, knowing what I had been playing, I thought of it as a challenge. But I also was disappointed — as an actor, not as a character — in the direction that it was going. But, as a performer, all I can do is play what was on the page and try to make it real. I don’t want to rip any individual for having made Ned do that, because that was something that was sort of forced upon the entire company. It wasn’t Chris Abbott’s fault and I think the network thought they were making the right decision. In afterthought, I don’t think it mattered one way or the other. They canceled us before we could even get to that point.
If a TV movie was made to tie up the loose ends, what would you like to see resolved and what direction would you like to see Ned take?
I think if you were to make a TV movie of this to resolve it — and then it would never be seen again — I think what would be really interesting is to have Ned stricken with a life-threatening disease such as pneumonia or something. It would be about him saying goodbye to his children and giving them what he could of his moral outlook on life and what to expect in life. And at the same time, have him constantly having conversations with his dead wife. And the last moment would have been him passing away and the kids all crying and my oldest son, Sean, saying, “We’ve been given our tasks, so let’s get to it.” And he’d become sort of the father figure of the show. And the last shot would be me and my wife dancing in a field. That’s what I would do. I mean, the love of his life is Libby. And that’s who he missed and that’s why he hasn’t remarried. He wants to raise his children, but if he’s going to die, then he’d be setting for them the tasks of what to expect in life and what he needs them to do to carry on the Logan legacy. It would only be right that the last thing you see is him with the love of his life and living happily in heaven, or wherever that may be, in my mind.
The other side of the equation — is that if you were going to make a TV movie of the week based on the last episode you saw, it would be about the fact that we would discover all the horrible things about the woman I married. And me seeking forgiveness from my children for putting them through that. And being found innocent of the charges of murdering John Turner. Our marriage would be annulled because obviously she had been previously married. She would go to jail and the last scene of the show would be me with my children at my wife’s grave. Me asking my children’s forgiveness and then me at the grave asking Libby’s forgiveness for being so blind. I think — and this was in my preparation for this character and what I discovered through my process of playing the character for one season — the pulse of Ned was Libby. She was a character in the show, in my mind. Everything he did was based on “What would Libby do and how would Libby feel about this?” So, in my mind, she became a character.
What was your first reaction when you found out that fans were forming a campaign to save the show?
I was very moved by it, but I was more hopeful that Chris, who said she was trying to take the show to other networks, could sell it. The problem was that she took a show that was — even though it was probably the best show UPN has ever had on their network — perceived as a failure at the lowest of the five networks. None of the other networks wanted to pick up a failure from the lowest-rated network on the air. They didn’t want to take a show that had failed there and try to put it on a more successful network. I don’t think people at those other companies were interested, and that was my hope — that they would say, “You know what? This show is worth saving. Let’s put it on our network and prove to UPN that it could be a success.” That didn’t happen. I had more faith in that prospect than I did in the fact that there was a fan response to UPN because UPN had already made up its mind. I knew they were disappointed and they had hoped the show would do better, even though we did what they had expected in terms of numbers — or at least that’s what they told us. I’m not sure why the show was canceled. I was very moved and touched by the fan’s response. Obviously, I was hopeful that it would have some impact. But these companies – I don’t think they tend to listen to the fan response as much as they do the commercial buyers and the marketing people who sell the commercial time. But the campaign was very sweet and meant a whole lot to me. It really did. It meant a lot to me that you, Ramona, and Sandy got involved and I thought it was really great, but at the same time, what can you do?
Why do you think people connected so strongly with the Logans and specifically, Ned as a father figure?
I’m not exactly sure, other than the fact that I think it was one of the most beautifully shot shows on television. I think that Chris Abbott is a marvelous writer who I think touched a chord with the people that watched the show. She knows how to write, and it was a family show with a fairly high moral content. The credit, I think, probably has to go to Chris, because Chris really loved Ned Logan. I think she truly felt that if she could have been in a family, this was the family she would have wanted to be in. Or if there was a father she could have, this was the father she would want to have. That’s what made Ned, I think, the man and the character he was – because she wrote him that way. Then, my performance hopefully added somewhat to it. But I would have to give her all the credit, because that’s what moved the people — the writing. I believe any good show starts with the writing — not with the actor or the casting. That comes second after the writing. You have to have a good script and you have to have well-rounded characters.
Ned was a good parent…
But from a performance standpoint, maybe people cared about him because he did sacrifice so much, because he was a single man who hadn’t remarried in over 10 years and his whole focus was trying to be a father to these children and to raise them the right way. And in this day and age, we all wish parents did that, because so many parents don’t. They don’t spend the time with their children or don’t take the time to teach them what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s acceptable and what’s not. I think Ned Logan walked that line. He knew how to raise his children. Everything he did was based on what he thought his wife would do, whom he loved and thought was probably the most fantastic, wonderful woman who ever walked the face of the earth.
What was the most challenging scene to film?
I think, physically, the most challenging scene I had to shoot was the two-parter [“Emma” and “Search Party”] we did, where Lexy was taken by Jeremy’s mom, who was played by Melissa Leo. It’s the scene where I finally find the guy who rips off my son for those horses and I beat the crap out of him. That was probably the most physically challenging scene. It took a lot of energy and a lot of different cuts and to me, was the most difficult thing I had to do. Also, because we shot that in this wooded area – it wasn’t near a street or anything – we were really out in the woods. That day and the next day we were shooting in another place, by a dock, and we were in this high grass. Both my legs — all the way up to my butt cheeks — were covered in chigger bites. I have never been so miserable in my life, for about a week. They are horrible. I had chigger bites when I was a kid, and they were nothing like this. It was just horrible.
Describe your co-stars Grayson McCouch, Jeremy Garrett and Ron Melendez:
There’s a funny story about Grayson – the very first day, Grayson didn’t come to the read-through. I had just flown into town and they had all been there a few days and we had a reading. When I took the part, it was written for a man in his 50s and I obviously wasn’t close to that. I told Chris, “People are going to wonder why a man in his mid-to-late thirties has four kids.” She said it was a “period” thing — that fathers, in that day and age, got married when they were 14 or 15 and he could have had that many children. So, I said, “Okay, I’ll go with that theory.” So, I showed up and I tried to play it a little bit older than the age I was. The first day of shooting I wasn’t working, but I went to the set. They were shooting the very first scene, where they’re standing there in the road, timing the horses, and the girls are racing – it’s the scene that opens the show. I’m standing there and I say hello to some of the crew guys and Grayson kept looking at me and finally walked over very nonchalantly and said hi. I said, “Hey, I’m Brett.” He introduced himself and I said, “How you doing?” And he goes, “So, what are you doing on the show?” “I beg your pardon?” I said. He asked if I was playing William and I said, “No.” “Well, who are you playing?” he asked. I said, “Well, I’m your dad.” He goes, “You’re kidding me!” “You better get used to it,” I told him (laughs). He was really taken aback by how young I was. Grayson, in real life, was 26 or 27 at the time and there was no way he could be my son, even in that period. So, that was our first moment. Then later, he came up to me and said, “You look like my dad! I really think of you as my dad now because you look like my dad.” And his dad was a little older than I was, but when I met him I went, “Yeah, I can see it. I can see that I could have been your dad.” Because his dad looked like me, but just 10 or 15 years older. Grayson was great.
Jeremy Garrett… (laughs). I used to always pull stuff on Jeremy that was really sad. I initially became very close to him and I used to do stuff to him. The Assistant Director would be trying to get him out of his trailer and he’d be dancing or doing something and I’d go over and knock on the door and he’d open it thinking it was the AD and he’d go, “What? Oh, Brett, hi!” And I’d say, “What are you doing? Jeremy, they want you on the set right now.” So, he’d hop to it and go running to the set with me and we’d get there and start our work. So, I’d get that set up so that then one day I’d walk up and say, “Jeremy, what are you doing? They need you on the set right now. They’ve been calling for you!” So, he would go running off to the set and then of course, he’d find out I was joking. I felt very close to Jeremy, because Jeremy reminded me a lot of myself when I was about his age. He’s a very sweet guy, but he also has a temper and was also very emotional. He really wanted to do good work and was very curious about it all, but was also someone who could overreact sometimes to things when he didn’t need to. And I would do the same thing. So, I sort of had an affinity toward him, because I saw a lot of myself as a young man in him. This was good for the role, because I thought Ned was probably like him when he was a young man. His character loved horses and was also the trainer.
On Ron Melendez…
I had worked with Ron once before. He was really glad to see me when I showed up. He and I had done a movie of the week together. I was very fond of Ron and tried to teach him how to golf. It was sort of like pouring water into the ocean – it never filled up! (laughs). He had a difficult time with his golf game! But Ron and Jeremy and I would always golf together. Jeremy is a very good golfer. He hits the longest ball I’ve ever seen. He hits the driver like I’ve never seen. This guy kills the ball! The three of us would golf a lot.
Oh, those practical jokes…
But the funniest thing that ever happened was – one day, Heather, my assistant, had pulled my car around to my trailer because I was wrapped and was going to leave the set. She comes into the trailer and I think we had even called you and we were on the phone with you and all of a sudden we came out and the car was gone. She had left it running, sitting there, and Ron and Jeremy had taken the car and hidden it. So, I started yelling at them. “Where’s my damn car? What did you do with it?” And they were like, “What do you mean, we don’t know what you’re talking about, man!” I said,” I know you guys took the car. Where is it?” So, anyway, they had parked it around the other side of the trailer. So, Heather went and got it and they were calling them to the set for rehearsal, so they went to rehearsal. Then I went to their trailers and got their car keys out of their trailers and I moved their cars really a long ways away from the set (laughs). I then, at that point, realized we all had those NexTel phones, the ones with those two-way radios on them. So, they each had one of those. I switched theirs. I gave Ron’s to Jeremy and Jeremy’s to Ron‚ And then I left (laughs). And they actually figured their phones out before they found their cars (laughs again). So, that was my practical joke on those two.
What was your favorite scene in which you didn’t appear?
The opening scene, with the girls riding the horses. That was my favorite. Even now, if I see that opening sequence, with the girls riding the horses through the mist, and you finally see them in petticoats and everything — it still gives me chills. I thought it was the most beautiful scene.
On William and Vivian Winters…
Some of my favorite scenes I wasn’t in had to do with Sean Bridgers (William) and Lisa Sheridan (Vivian) together. Those two – I just loved them. Anything Sean did, I just loved. I think he is such an underrated actor. He’s so wonderful. If I was producing, he is one of the first actors I’d call. He’s just fabulous. I love him. Anything he did made me laugh. Like the scene where they wanted to trade something, and he says, “Well, maybe we could trade land‚” and he’s trying to light the cigar…he’s just funny! (laughs). He’s such a sweet guy. We got to be good friends. I was actually at the birth of his son in Richmond. We videotaped it for him. I was really fond of him. Sean and I have stayed in touch. I miss him. And I think Lisa Sheridan is also underrated. She hadn’t done that much when she got cast in Legacy and didn’t know how good she was. She really didn’t know, and she’s such a good actress.
Was there a scene you kept messing up or just couldn’t get right?
The “Homecoming” scene when I was sleeping. No, I’m just joking! I actually fell asleep in the bed while they were rehearsing and someone touched my hand — one of the actors, like Ron or Grayson — and I jumped, like “What? What?” Actually, I just can’t remember a scene I kept messing up. It’s been two years.
Did you keep anything from the show, or if you could have kept a momento, what would it have been?
I did keep a memento. I always keep my hat. In any western I’ve done, I’ve always taken my hat. If I could have taken anything else with me, I would have taken my family, the Logans, with me. I loved those characters. I thought they were just amazing.
The loss of Legacy…
I think probably Legacy ending was one of the most deeply scarring things that has ever happened to me. It truly set me back (Hear audio clip) emotionally, because I had invested so much in that character and really loved that show and it saddened me so deeply. Not that many people who knew me knew that, because I tried to hide it, but that’s the reality in our business. But I lived with that character for a year and was so deeply fond of Ned and all the other characters on that show — from the Winters to the Logans — just everyone. I loved Richmond, Virginia. I would have loved to raise my daughter there. But when that show ended I felt a great loss — greater than I probably have ever had in my history in this business. That was hard for me. Fortunately, my friend Howie Deutch hired me shortly thereafter to do “The Replacements,” so I had another job to go to, but I was devastated. It set me back in my heart a long ways. I still miss it. I still think about what it would be like if we were still doing the show and what it would be like if we were still there. There was warmth that existed on that set with the great crew. And Manfred, my good buddy, the D.P., who I got so close with — I miss him. I just miss all those people. I miss Chris Abbott. I miss her writing. She is a fabulous writer. She’s got great ideas and a really great sentiment about her. She writes really well-rounded characters who you care about.
What was the last day on the set like?
It was sad, but on the other side, we weren’t told we were canceled; we were just told we weren’t shooting the last episode. It didn’t look like we were going to come back, but there was a little hope. There wasn’t a bunch of angry people walking around. We were just sad that they were doing this. I was probably madder then anyone that they weren’t finishing the story line they had started with Charlotte. That upset me. The last episode is setting me up to go to jail. She killed Casey (John Turner) and I was upset that they weren’t going to show what Charlotte’s true character was. I was a little upset when I found out they weren’t going to shoot the last show. Chris, of course, came out to the set to tell me, because she knew I was going to be upset. But no one was like, “Okay, it’s done, it’s over.” None of us knew what was going to happen. We were just told we weren’t shooting the last episode and they weren’t happy with the show.
Relieved to walk away for a while…
Chris was saying, “Well, if they cancel the show, I’m going to take it to other networks.” I do remember a sense of relief, because I didn’t enjoy, as an actor, the direction the show was going. I wasn’t enjoying playing Ned Logan married to this woman — who I knew because of story outlines that were told to me — that wasn’t who she said she was, and that she was sleeping with other men and trying to screw me. I wasn’t happy about that. So, I was sort of relieved that I didn’t have to play that any more. I could walk away and get a breath of fresh air. Every day I would wake up and be in a crappy mood because I knew I had to go to work and do that. Legacy was one of the few series I’ve ever been on – Orleans was the other one – where I thought, “I could do this easily five, six, seven years. I could play this character and be really happy.” There’s the quality of the writing, the quality of the producer I was working with, and I was really excited about it. It wasn’t until the last two or three episodes that the Charlotte character came on that I went, “This is not good. I don’t like this.” It wasn’t as much fun. I had some hope — because Chris told me what the cliffhanger episode was going to be, which was we were going to find out the truth about Charlotte — that we were going to get back to the show that we had started. So, I was disappointed and elated at the same time, because I was tired and I was ready to walk away from the show for a while, hoping it would be picked up by somebody. Unfortunately it wasn’t, and the rest is history.
If you could tell Ned Logan goodbye and send him off into TV land forever with a few words, what would they be?
Don’t take any wooden nickels (laughs). No, it would be, “Work like you don’t need money, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like no one is watching.”