At the recent Hollywood Show, an autograph convention in Los Angeles, formerly famous faces you hadn’t seen on TV or in the movies in years or decades met with their fans. Among them sat a still-ruggedly handsome Greg Evigan, who, unlike many of his peers, has never really stopped working.
Since his breakthrough in the 1977 rock ‘n’ roll drama “A Year at the Top,” Mr. Evigan has appeared in nearly 100 TV shows and films including “BJ and the Bear,” the 80’s sitcom “My Two Dads” (with Paul Reiser) “TekWar” and “Melrose Place.” And last year he starred in the holiday film “Once Upon a Holiday.”
He spoke about his love of comedy, what it was like working with a monkey and his hit-writing son Jason.
Question: What is the best part about meeting fans?
Answer: They ask you the best questions, and you both get a chance to reminisce about something that is obviously personal to them. I get to relive a couple of those moments that we went through when we were making the shows.
Q:What is the strangest thing you’ve ever signed?
A: In my life? (Laughs) Probably a breast. Just one. After you got through with the one, it was getting old. (Laughs)
Q: Looking back on your career, what are you favorite moments?
A: They’re all great. I haven’t had too many bad experiences working with people, which is great. I would say “My Two Dads” is probably the one where I had the best time. Getting up to do a comedy in the morning, even though you may not feel like laughing at nine in the morning, is a great process.
Q: Do you prefer the comedy over the drama?
A: I love both, but the comedy was a great experience for me. Before that I only did the drama. Just to get to do a situation comedy was great.
Q: When you did “BJ and the Bear,” you worked with a monkey. What was it like to work with an animal every day?
A: It was incredible because he was a young guy just getting his feet wet in the business. You know what I mean. (Laugh) I think he was 2 years old. For him, the whole thing was brand-new. For me the show was brand-new. Then they pretty much put us together on a hill for the first day of filming. We both picked a few pieces of grass, hung out with each other, and he ended up at my wedding years later in a tuxedo. He was going to be the ring bearer, but my wife wouldn’t have that. She said, “No way we’re letting him have the rings.”
Q: Did you have to deal with animal smell when you filmed in the cab of the truck?
A: I think the trainer kept him pretty clean. Gave him a good cologne. I don’t know what the cologne was, but it was some feral mixture.
Q: Were there any roles you turned down in your career that you wish you hadn’t?
A: A couple. I was offered the TV show “Knight Rider.” [Show creator] Glenn Larsen offered me “Knight Rider,” but I wouldn’t have done “My Two Dads” if I had done that. I wouldn’t have been able to switch from the drama to the comedy.
Once I did “BJ and the Bear,” I was that guy — typecast as the truck driver with the chimpanzee. Getting to do comedy was special.
Q: How did you get casting directors to see you could be more than “the truck driver with the chimp”?
A: It really wasn’t me, it was Michael Jacobs, the producer of “My Two Dads.” He wrote songs for “A Year at the Top” with Paul Shaffer. He remembered me from the show. He said, “You’re the guy for this role.” I turned it down at first. He convinced me in the office [by saying], “Greg, this is gonna be great for you. You’re gonna work with Paul Reiser. He’s a great comedian.” And I said, “All right.”
We went right to the network that afternoon. Right in. Did the whole screen test. It was one of those things that happened so fast. Most of the things that I’ve done, the bigger things, happen really quick. You hear stories of people waiting around for years. With me they happen quick.
By the time I got home the message was on the machine from my agent: “Call me! You got the part.”
Q: Have you have always done both acting and music?
A: I started out in music. And I always keep the music going. I co-wrote the theme for “My Two Dads” and scored a couple movies.
My son, he’s the guy now. He’s killing it as a songwriter, writing for all the biggest singers. Last year he had five top 10 [hits] on the radio.
Q: What are you working on these days?
A: Still out there. Did a movie in January. I’m writing. Got a couple scripts I’m seeing some action on. One that sold. A sci-fi show. Another one along the lines of “24” meets “Homeland” and “The Americans.”
Just out there trying to reinvent always. Still doing the music as well. I recorded an album years ago with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra I’m trying to get released. We did it at Abbey Road. My goal is to get it out this year. If I don’t, I might have to smack myself in the head.
Q: You were always loved by the women. How did you handle that attention?
A: I was single until I did “BJ and the Bear.” Then I got married the same year. That probably saved me.