“An interview with Lorenzo Lamas” by Chris “Cucch” Cucchiara
It’s 6:58 p.m. and I am prepared but nervous. I’ve done my research. I’ve Googled, Bing Celebrity page searched, made notes from IMDB’s pages, and even dragged up the music the 1985 music video “You Look Marvelous” featuring Billy Crystal doing his best Fernando Lamas. I’ve been in touch with Lorenzo’s publicist and he is scheduled to call at 7:00. The computer and Skype are set up to record and I’ve just gotten off the phone with my daughter to run a last minute test of the setup. (It never hurts to be double check your tech.) It’s then that the ridiculousness of the situation hits me. “Why the heck would Lorenzo Lamas call me?” “This iconic actor who’s spent more than a decade starring on hit television shows, was married to a Playboy playmate and pilots friggin helicopters is going to call me at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night to record a podcast interview?” It’s 7:02. My phone rings.
Cucch: First off, I have to say that I find your mere existence as a male intimidating. You have expertise in Tae Kwon Do and Karate. You are licensed as a fixed wing and helicopter pilot. You drive badass motorcycles as we’ve seen in Renegade and you have been referred to as “beefcake”, which is something I have never experienced in life.
Lorenzo: (chuckling) Now first of all I have to say that over the years I’ve had too much time on my hands which has allowed me to do all kinds of crazy stuff. But I will have to have my mom send you some pictures of me when I was eleven years old. They will make you feel a lot better because I was a short, fat kid. It’s all about people and how they influence you in your life. I had some very influential people that I was fortunate enough to have spent some time with growing up. The right people giving you the right advice and there is just no limit as to what a person can accomplish. That’s not to say that I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot because in my mind I still have much more to accomplish. But I do feel fortunate that I’ve had guiding help from people who’ve had my best interest at heart.
Cucch: Who were some of those people most influential in your life?
Lorenzo: Well certainly my dad in getting an image of what it is to be a man. It was quite an image. He had this huge voice and grand presence. He was latin so he was very vocal, very temperamental, very judgemental but fair minded also. So I had these big shoes to fill. So it was no small task to grow up in the shadow of this larger than life male figure. As a boy at times I thought I would never measure up.
My high school football coach was also vital. Like I’d said I was this overweight kid and not much of a jock at twelve and I got shipped off to this military school. There was this marine corps physical fitness test that all of the freshman had to do and I just failed it miserably. I couldn’t do a push up. I couldn’t do a pull up. I was miserable and just down on myself in the locker room and the coach said “Hey Lamas what’s going on? Why the long face?” I said “Coach I just feel horrible, you know? I can’t do a push up or a pull up.” He goes “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on a team.”. It was just those plain, simple words and the fact that they came from a guy who’d probably seen a thousand kids in my place through the years. He took the time to mentor me and so I did get myself on a team. In a couple of years I was wrestling and then played football and ran track. So by the time I graduated high school I had a much different image of myself and coach was a big part of that.
Cucch: One of your earliest successes was a nine year run on “Falcon Crest”. I saw an interesting fact that you were the only cast member to appear in all 227 episodes of the series.
Lorenzo: I had a good agent. I am not kidding you. It was actually contractual that I had to appear in every episode. I had a bad wreck in 1985. I wrecked a race car at Riverside Raceway in California and I was not actually supposed to be racing. That was in my contract. But I went ahead and snuck off and did this race and had a bad wreck. I fractured my shoulder blade and busted my collar bone and I had to come to work the next day and ask the wardrobe guy to come into my dressing room to help me put my jacket on because I couldn’t lift up my arms. So I even made it to work without the use of my arms because I wasn’t going to let on that anything was wrong. It was crazy.
Cucch: What is the most significant thing that you have learned about yourself in the past decade?
Lorenzo: It’s that when your worst fears come true and happen, you will survive them. Before my dad died that was my worst fear; that he would die and I would not have a father and that I would miss him terribly. And I got through it. Then I went through a bankruptcy in 2004. Because having had all these kids and ex-wives, I mean the last divorce absolutely wiped me out. That was my greatest fear, losing the means to support my family. But somehow I managed to pull it together and I did what I needed to do. Whether it was to fly to Chicago to sign autographs or to take a chance and do a stage play that I never thought I had the ability to do. You just do it and you survive. And so I think that the most amazing opportunity comes sometimes from things that you really hoped deep down would never happen. But you’re not challenged in life unless you’re faced with adversity. Adversity really makes you grow as a human and it certainly helped make me grow.
In the few days since speaking with him it has continued to astound me as I think of the generosity and humility of any actor or celebrity in Lorenzo’s position being willing to get on the phone or walk into a studio and pour out the details of their lives to strangers. How many of us are willing to be that open even with the people we are close to? These were just a few of the questions Lorenzo discussed with me. The entire interview can be heard as part of The Guy’s Perspective podcast episode 45 or by using the player on this page. I encourage you to listen.
My thanks to Lorenzo Lamas for this interview and to you for reading it.