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John Schneider On 'The Haves And The Have Nots,' Soap Fans And No Longer Being A Good Ol' Boy

Oprah Winfrey’s good name has been linked to Lindsay Lohan as of late, so how about a positive change of pace?

One of the most successful OWN shows is “The Haves And The Have Nots,” which recently aired the midseason finale of Season 2 in the United States, is finally coming to Canada.

Oprah teamed up with Tyler Perry to bring his stage play “The Haves And The Have Nots” to the small screen. And if you're a soap fan, this is the show for you. The series centres on the powerful and wealthy Cryer family and the hired help who work in their Savannah, Ga., mansion.

HuffPost Canada TV spoke with the lovely John Schneider, who plays the despicable Jim Cryer, and he revealed the soap he watched while growing up, what’s so great about working with Tyler Perry, and how much he relishes playing the bad boy.

HuffPost Canada TV: It’s about time “The Haves and the Have Nots” hit Canada.

John Schneider: I’m shocked that “The Haves And The Have Nots” is getting to Canada so quickly. I think "Smallville" took three years. "Smallville" took way too long to get there.

“The Haves And The Have Nots” is soapy goodness. Are you or were you ever a soap fan?

I was on a soap called “Loving” back in 1990.

Hold up. I watched “Loving.” What?

Yup, yup. I was Larry Lamont. What a great soap name, right?

[Laughs] That’s fantastic.

I was doing “Grand Hotel” on Broadway at night and Larry Lamont from “Loving” during the day.

Who was Larry Lamont?

[Laughs] I don’t even remember. I was some soapy guy, but I had one of those great soap experiences where when my contract was up, I think I went in the next room to use the bathroom and never returned [Laughs]. When I was a wee little kid, I used to watch “Dark Shadows” all the time so I was a Barnabas Collins fan. Other than that, I’ve not been a big soap watcher; I watched my brother and his wife go all goofy when they visited me on the set of “Loving” because right across the hall was “All My Children.” They were like two puddles where my brother and sister-in-law used to be. What I’m experiencing with “The Haves And The Have Nots,” because it's a nighttime soap, is that the soap fans are very different.

They are rabid.

They are. They are.

There’s no other way to describe them.

And we’re real, completely real to them.

Oh, yes, you are. You are no longer John, you are Jim.

[Laughs] Why? Why do you suppose that is?

I think a nighttime show may be a little different, but with a traditional daytime soap, it’s on every day, these characters are in their homes every day and the audience just really gets involved.

They’re pretty involved in this one. It’s been a wonderful time. I’ve had a great time playing this kind of guy. What fun.

It must be a blast for you.

Obviously. In that regard, yeah. It’s great on many levels to be Jim Cryer. He’s a powerful guy, he’s a wealthy guy, he’s full of himself. It’s so different from “Smallville” or “Dukes [of Hazzard]” or anything from way back when that I’m just loving every minute of it.

None of this "good ol’ boy" stuff.

“Dukes” is still going, it’s still floating around on CMT and doing very well. But I’m loving people’s reactions to “The Haves And The Have Nots.” Especially in airports. In airports, people will come up to me, “Oh, you're that judge! You're something else.” [Laughs] It’s good to be known as something else rather than the Boy Scout all the time.

Have you had any crazy fan encounters where people get mad at you or hate you?

No, they love me. It’s kind of interesting. Some people treat seeing me as if they just won a car on “The Price is Right.” The feet get going and the hands start flapping and it’s really quite amazing. It’s a little scary, you can’t have more than two or three of them at the same time because someone might get hurt. But it’s great fun. I’m loving it.

What is the best part about playing the bad guy? Because he’s bad. I have yet to see a redeeming quality about Jim.

He is bad. You gotta dig pretty deep. The best part is as Jim Cryer, working with Tyler, I can pretty much do or say anything that comes to mind. We stick to the script but if something inspires me to be even meaner … for example, I think in the first episode, I threaten my son. But then I kiss him before he leaves which wasn’t written, it just kind of came out. And I think that’s great. I think anyone but Tyler Perry may have cut that out. But I think it makes him far more human, but at the same time he just threatened to kill him.

Jim’s relationship with Katheryn is very … business-like, to say the least. They must have been in love at one point, but how did they get to where they are now?

Wow, how does anybody get to this point? I think they’ve grown accustomed to one another, they take one another for granted.

Do they like each other?

I think on a parental level, they like one another. On a business level, I think Jim’s success has outgrown the usefulness for Katheryn’s family. And when that happens, if someone invests in your company and your company turns into Pixar, there comes a point where you needed the investor and now the investor needs you. I think that’s what’s happened to Jim and Katheryn. But she just irks me. We’re not loving to one another.

Oh, God, no.

Hardly. And it doesn’t get any better. But she just won’t shut up. She just won’t stop pestering Jim. I think it’s very true to form here. Things happen, if the crap hasn’t hit the fan as it does in the first episode, then maybe Jim and Katheryn would have pulled one another aside and had an actual adult conversation. But the tragedy brought on by Jim has interrupted their married life and now they have to deal with this. They haven’t had the conversation where they can actually get along; now they’re having to deal with things that are very, very bad for the family and very, very bad for the careers, very, very bad for the public image. Just bad. There’s no time to deal with Katheryn and Jim. We’ll see what happens. But it’s one train wreck after another. Which is kind of like life, isn’t it? What do they say? Life is something that happens when you’re making other plans. And I think that’s very, very true in "The Haves And The Have Nots" and, sadly, I think, that’s very, very true in John Schneider’s life, and, hopefully not, in yours as well and the readers and the viewers.

Jim is clearly an unfaithful guy and we get the impression that Katheryn knows all about his affairs --

Well, now, arguably, this was a prostitute, this was not an affair. [Laughs] I’m justifying Jim’s behaviour. That’s what they say, they say don’t have a relationship, just have a prostitute because then it’s over at the end of the meeting. Well, not in this case. I think Jim was trying to -- listen to me, my God -- I think Jim was trying to do the right thing by not having an affair. He’s had affairs before, I’m sure. He was obviously unfulfilled at home, nothing go on there, for either one of them. He tried to do a little less of a bad thing and of course now it bit him in the ass.

What’s more important to Jim -- women or political power?

I think power of all kinds. Power in a conversation, any power. Being able to manipulate a situation, not necessarily to his advantage but being able to manipulate it. Kind of Donald Trump-ish. I don’t know that Donald Trump really cares about what the outcome is, as long as he’s in charge of it. Seeing whom he can steer in which direction and how far he can push them.

Let me break away from “The Haves and the Have Nots” for a sec. I’m not a horror fan because I’m a total wuss but tell me about your film “Smothered” — without freaking me out.

Oh, no, it won’t freak you out. You know the normal storyline of a horror film or a slasher film is the young, beautiful college folks go camping and get systematically killed by the person in a mask. So that’s how it normally is. In "Smothered," it’s a group of horror icons who are actually playing themselves -- the man that played Jason, the man that played Michael Myers, the man who played Leatherface -- all these folks are having a terrible trade show weekend. They’re not making any money. So they get hired for $1,000 apiece to go haunt an RV park and they get systematically picked off by the beautiful, young, voluptuous girl so now it’s her turn. So the tables are turned on all these folks and they get killed in various unusual ways, not the least of which is being smothered by her rather enormous...

[Laughs] It sounds funny, not super-scary.

It is scary. I would say the first thing it is is funny, the second thing it is is heartfelt because you care about these people, and the last thing it is is scary. But it is scary. I’m very excited about it because when horror films work, they work really, really well and then we can finance all the rest of the movies we want to make. And I’m hoping now that we have some great reviews, the producer is shopping it now. Hopefully it’ll be out this summer and have a wide release here and there, I think it would be great. We’ll see what happens.

“The Haves and the Have Nots” premieres in Canada with back-to-back episodes on Tuesday, April 8 at 9 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET on OWN (Canada). Season 3, comprised of 20 episodes, is currently on-order with OWN.

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