Where are They Now? Michael Brainard (ex-Joseph "Joey" Martin, jr.; 1988-91, 1994, 1995)

Brainard Launched the Youngest Martin Into the Big Leagues


Michael Brainard (ex-Joey)

In 1988, All My Children’s Joey Martin had a lot of growing up to do. So did new portrayer Michael Brainard. Only a month shy of what should have been Joey’s tenth birthday, then 23 years old Brainard got his big break when he took on the role of the youngest Martin son at the annual Martin family Thanksgiving dinner. “The other guy playing Joey [Michael Scalera], he was playing the part two weeks before I got there. They grew him up to my age,” Brainard said.

“I remember the first scene I had was when Michael’s [Knight, Tad Martin] then girlfriend [Susan Pratt as Barbara Montgomery] came over for Thanksgiving dinner at the Martin House, and I had to open the door,” Brainard said. “She was so beautiful, and I was supposed to be in high school. So, when I opened the door, my jaw hits my chest I am just starring at her. So, Tad comes up to me, closes my mouth, hits me on the back of the head and tells me to put her coat way.”

The comedic interactions with onscreen brother Knight solidified Brainard in his new role. “I tried to lay on the humor whenever I could get away with it, Michael was a big help,” Brainard said, “sometimes I wouldn’t tell anybody I was doing it until we were taping. Sometimes, I was reminded how lucky I was to be there!”

Brainard was lucky to be in New York and working. The California native was only just signed with an agent when he landed an audition with All My Children. “The role I originally auditioned for was David Rampal. I auditioned at the time as Trent [Bushey, ex-David]. There were three of us from LA and three of us from New York. We went in and screen-tested and I did my best James Dean impersonation,” Brainard said. “I did not come away with the part. I was disappointed.”

But good news was waiting for Brainard when he landed in LA. “My agent told me, ‘I have good news and bad news. The bad news is you didn’t get the part of David. The good news is you will start as Joey Martin in three months.” After his Thanksgiving episode cameo in 1988, Brainard would not make another appearance until 1989. “I was a member of the Martins, so I knew I was going to stick around longer, but I was competitive. I wanted the other part.”

Brainard and Michael Knight's (Tad) scenes were always filled with comedic goodness. Also Pictured: Maurice Bernard (ex-Nico), Matt Servitto (ex-Trask)

The time off gave Brainard some time to adjust to life in New York City. “I had no friends, no family, and I had to do everything myself. They gave me some money to make the move. It was a small amount of money. Living in New York on $3200 a month, even back then, it was difficult to live on. “ Brainard said. “I was thinking about getting a job at Gray's Papaya and go sell some hot dogs!”

Brainard also struggled with limited airtime. “If you put all the shows Joey did, I am sure David did more in his three months on the show, and you got paid by the show,” Brainard said. “The first year, I was working once a week. I was lucky if I had two days put together in a week.”

“I was super poor. It is hard to imagine, but I was. There would be times I would go two or three weeks without work. I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hanging out in Central Park,” Brainard said about his first year as a working actor in New York.
Joey’s lack of storyline could have been related to the behind-the-scenes shifts at All My Children. Executive Producer Stephen Schenkel retired after suffering a heart attack. “He retired and they brought in Felicia (Minei Behr). I had no idea what they had planned for me. But, they kept me around.”

Behr had wise morsels for Brainard’s portrayal. “She told me, ‘You are young and you are stupid,” Brainard said. “Having been as young as I was, stupid was something I was familiar with.” Brainard looked to other actors as an influence on his new character, “When I was as young actor, I watch all of Jack Lemmon’s movies. I mimicked his bumbling sense of humor for Joey,” Brainard said.

Brainard and Behr’s relationship lead up to a comedic moment at the All My Children 20th Anniversary Party at New York’s Tavern on the Green. “It was black tie affair and everybody was to be dressed to the ‘9’s.’ Every male had a tuxedo costume in the costume room. They were going to wear the one they wore on the show to the dinner,” Brainard said. “I went in and asked if they had anything I could wear. They were like, ‘You don’t have a tuxedo! You are Joey Martin. You have rugby shirts and jeans.’”

"I had no idea what they had planned for me. But, they kept me around.”

-Brainard on his first year as "Joey"

“I showed up in the nicest clothes I owned: a black pair of slacks and a Cosby sweater. In all the photos, I am the only one wearing a sweater,” Brainard said about his wardrobe decision. Brainard stood out in the crowd, especially to his new boss Behr.

“Felicia saw me and was like, ‘It was nice you made it. You know all the guys are wearing tuxedos.’ I replied, “If I had a storyline maybe I could afford one.’ Brainard said. “She just looked at me and steamed off. It was true though. I could not a afford to buy a tuxedo, or even a rental.”

“I had authority problems, I don’t anymore. With Felicia it was about her trying to groom me to fit in a square hole. There were never arguments of screaming matches,” Brainard said. “There was just a kid who was famous before he should have been.”

Brainard did a lot of growing up on the set. He sough guidance from some of the older cast members, like Walt Willey (Jackson Montgomery). “I was always pushing myself as an actor to do more with what I was given. Walt told me, ‘Do What got you here. Play what got you here.’” Brainard said. “Being so far from home as I was, Walt was always there for me when I had family problems and I could not be back with them. Walt was an ear for me. He was like an older brother.”

“If someone was trying to be funny and holding court on set, Walt would make sure they were laughing at him in the end. Michael (Knight) would sometimes get involved, but he was not as competitive,” Brainard said. “I would sometimes say something and would be shocked if they thought it was funny. But, I could never keep up with them.”

Fellow young thespian James Patrick Stuart (ex-Will Cortandt) and Brainard became fast friends. “We were the same age, on a hit soap opera. We had a lot in common. Walt and Patrick were good friends too. I would see them plenty of times jamming in a living room somewhere.”

Brainard felt lucky to be part Pine Valley’s first family, the Martins, with original cast members Mary Fickett (ex-Ruth Martin) and Ray MacDonnell (Dr. Joe Martin). “They were very much the patron and matron saints of the show. Back then, there was also Susan [Lucci, Erica Kane] and Ruth [Warrick, ex-Phoebe English]. They were all very tight knit and close, but it did not take long before you were part of that family,” Brainard said.

Brainard's first big story revolved around his onscreen mariage to Emily Ann (Liz Vassey).

“I had a lot of scenes with Ray and Mary. They always had their lines down. They wanted to rehearse with you on the side. They were willing to talk to you. I learned all my good habits from them,” Brainard said. “Ray is such a gentleman. So much about being at work is waiting around for the next task and enduring inane conversations. Conversations you would never get into if not for the situation. With Ray, they were never inane. He was always attentive.”

“When I went back for the anniversary shows, they were my favorite people to go back and see,” Brainard said.

Brainard and onscreen brother Knight were famous for their comedic interludes. “Working with Michael meant I was trying to find something funny in that moment. We would bat things back and forth. Michael was a big help,” Brainard said. “It was said that he was going to leave [in 1991]. He was a good friend. It was sad he was not going to be around anymore… and the rating dipped when he left. He was very popular.” Knight would return as Tad in 1992 and has remained with the program ever since.

Much of Brainard’s characterization of Joey came from director Henry Kaplan. “You have your favorite directors, but you only get to work with them once a week. I would have great conversations with Henry Kaplan,” Brainard said. “If you had the time, he would talk to you about your character’s direction. Even though he was a notorious asshole, he was a benevolent asshole. There was nobody I have ever met who did not love that guy. He was gruff. He was short. He did not work with fools.”

As Joey began to air more consistently Brainard began to be recognized in public, but not to the same extent as some of his co-stars. “Maurice Bernard (ex-Nico Kelly) was on the show playing Nico. He was a year or two older than I was, but in a different category since he looked older. He was Nico, the owner of a nightclub. He was seen in a certain light, and all the girls would love him and scream like he was a rockstar,” Brainard said.

“I would stand out there [the studio] with him and nobody, at least for the few couple of weeks I was taping, would recognize me. But, they would be ripping his hat off and running away, kissing him. Crazy stuff,” Brainard said. “Once my shows started to air, well it never really happened to me.”

“I was never comfortable with people screaming and tackling me down, and sending me naked photos, which was nice, but what was wrong with these people?!” Brainard said about fans’ reactions. “It was a very difficult thing to fathom. I certainly did not think I was worthy. But that was part of the job.”

Brainard and Vassey's summer storyline marked the end of their runs at the program. Also Pictured: Greta Lind (ex-Katie)

Brainard finally became a younger leading man in the summer of 1990 with his onscreen romance with Emily Ann Sago (Liz Vassey). “Felicia knew I was working hard and a good guy, and so far as her giving me something, I fit into this. Here I was, a good character. Let’s use him,” Brainard said.

The program met controversy when the storyline had Emily Ann going insane after learning she was the child of a prostitute and a pimp. The actors were careful in their approach to the storyline. “It was her choice to play it crazy. I tried to play that stuff straight up,” Brainard said. “That storyline went on for four months and we only got scripts two weeks in advance. We did not have an idea where it was going. We did not know it was going to play into her trying to stab me with a knife.”

At the conclusion of the story in 1991, Brainard was again facing an uncertain future on the show. “It gets really young adult oriented in the summer when the school children were out of school. David and Melanie [Rampal, Paige Turco], they were a summer thing and they were gone. With Emily Ann, it was a summer thing that carried on to September. Then they had to move on,” Brainard said. Emily Ann was sent to Oak Haven Sanitarium after her descent into madness.

“She (Vassey) was at a point in her contract where they could release her. It was either bump up her salary or let her go. They let her go. Then for me, I waited it out until my contract was up and they gave me the phone call to go down to the office too. Not everyone can be a Michael Knight.,” Brainard said. “I was very grateful for Felicia keeping me around as long as she did, and she did not have to. When I left I was able to rectify a lot of my bad habits.”

“I was happy. I was going home to California. I did not fight them,” Brainard said. “My last day was the last day for Charlie [Brent, Charles Van Eman] too. It was kind of uneventful because two people were leaving.”

Back in California, Brainard started auditioning but needed to refocus. After the casting director form The Young and the Restless called his agent because he did not take a screeentest seriously, Brainard put himself back in gear. His agent sent him to read for the role of Ted Capwell on NBC’s Santa Barbara. “I promised I would turn it around… and I got it. It was for Paul Rauch. He made me wait to see more people, but they still gave me the part,” Brainard said.

“Santa Barbara was the impetuous to Passions. It let soaps go crazy,” Brainard said. “I also got to be the sexy guy. I did not have to be the preppy and goofy Joey. I made it a point to play the opposite.”

"You don’t have a tuxedo! You are Joey Martin. You have rugby shirts and jeans."

- Wardrobe's reaction to Brainard's request to borrow a tuxedo.

Brainard relished working the laidback California culture. “There is always this tension of the set in New York when you get to the end of the day. There were people who had trains to catch: cameramen, makeup artists, boom operations. If you went over a certain time, they had to wait an extra 45 minutes at Grand Central. If you went after 8:00pm, they were waiting until midnight,” Brainard remembered. “In California, there are rules that you have to follow to keep your job, but it seems like people were more laid back.”

Life as an actor was not always easy. Brainard’s fondest memories on set did not have to do with the story he was working on, but what was going on around him in the real world. “I was there onset when the news came down that we invaded Iraq the first time. I remember James [Kiberd, ex-Trevor Dillon] coming down the hall asking if I had heard. In 1988, Tieneman square happened. We watched all the live feeds from China. We had the network feeds and could watch five screens on one tv. That was a heavy day. It had to effect the work,” Brainard said.

Sometimes the reality of the situation was even closer to home. “I was onset at Santa Barbara when Magic Johnson announced he had AIDS. A Martinex (ex-Cruz Castillo) was as big fan, he has season tickets, and he knows Magic. He stuck his head out his door, and look down at me. He could not say a word,” Brainard remembered. Work onset would continue despite what was going on around them.

So was the case with the LA Riots. “We were on the Burbank side. We ended up working. Minds and eyes would freeze on the television, with all the violence. I remember watching a man having his head cracked open by a brick,” Brainard said. “If you ask about hard days on set, these are the days… when the real world refused to be ignored.”

Santa Barbara was cancelled in 1993. Brainard saw it as a sign for him to reevaluate his career options. “At the time, I was completely out of the radar of television. I was learning different things. I was enjoying a different life,” Brainard said.

That did not stop All My Children from tracking him down for a very special event: the Silver anniversary of the program in 1995. “They tracked me down at home, one of the people on set knew my number,” Brainard said. “A lot of the people there were in the same boat. There was this dazed look that we were all back here, working. I couldn’t believe I was back either. It was like falling off a bicycle and into a dream.”

The weeklong celebration that drew back over a dozen All My Children alumnus concluded with Fickett’s announcement that she was going to not renew her contract with the show. “We did not know it was her last day. I don’t know if anybody did. She worked a little after it,” Brainard said. A year later, the show recast the role of Ruth with Lee Meriweather.

Brainard with his Santa Barbara family Eileen Davidson (ex-Kelly) and Jed Allen (ex-CC).

“When it comes to it, fans do not want to see anyone other than Mary Fickett,” Brainard said about the recast. “But there is a story and you need to tell it. What else can the show do? Kill her off? Have Ray marry someone else? The show, they still need a matriarch.”

“Sometimes a soap, it is like owning the Boston Red Soxs. You have to make decision to run the team, but you also have to pay the piper if you do something the fans do not like. They are a big part of the equation,” Brainard said. “There is a prevailing view that the fans would like what you give them.

In 1996, the show also recast the role of Joey, now going by Jake, with Michael Lowry. Brainard was not approached to fill the role.

Brainard continues to act in Los Angeles. He is a constant in the local theatre scene. Like many in the industry, he is also starring in direct to web material. He continues to star in movies, and most recently returned to serial television with MyNetworkTV’s American Heiress. “I was waking up every morning and driving to set. It made me want to do it [a series] again,” Brainard said. “I haven’t said that in a long time.” Brainard has also made a name for himself as a woodworker. In 2007, one of his pieces was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Calendar Section with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice star Kate Walsh.

Brainard has not ruled out a return to daytime television. He said, “I love acting. That part of the job was fun. I love to work.”


For more on Michael Brainard check out his Website
For more on Joey Martin check out her Quick Guide Biography
Interview conducted on August 12, 2008