Tom Eplin

Go figure: The stars whose press agents hound us incessantly are usually the ones with the least to say. The ones who don't like interviews -- in fact, they run like hell from us reporters -- are often the most fascinating. And so it is with Tom Eplin. The actor, who delivers a powerhouse performance as Another World's Jake (the Snake) McKinnon, is notoriously press-shy. But when he finally agrees to talk, he talks!

Let's discuss this Two Jakes storyline. I was a little stunned to see yet another identical look-alike pop up in Bay City. What's going on here?

I don't think it's the same old evil-twin thing. I'm not going to be interacting with myself a lot. It's really just a facilitator for a future story. We needed some way to make Jake be a scapegoat when Bobby and Vicky come to their eventual "demise." The Fake Jake sees the real Jake only once -- and they don't ever come face-to-face. The writers are setting this whole thing up to make it look like Jake did away with Bobby and Vicky.

Still, it seems soaps rely too often on this easy way to move story. Or has the evil-twin contrivance become so common fans just accept it?

I'm not so sure. Some of the die-hards I've spoken to are not real happy with it. And I know some people had problems with Vicky Wyndham's Rachel/Justine story. I guess it all started in the Ellen Wheeler years. [Wheeler, Eplin's ex-wife, played twins Vicky and Marley from 1984-86 and won an Emmy.] She was such an incredible actress, she made it look so easy that everybody thought, "Well, we'll just have lots of twins now." But as much as some don't accept it, there are also many who realize I'm sticking my tongue in my cheek and trying to have a good time with it.

There is a lot of concern that Another World is being fashioned after Days of Our Lives. Do you sense this is happening?

I think it is happening to a degree and I don't disagree with that. There is a core group of actors on AW who constantly strive to be realistic, and I don't think those people are going to change. They will always find the reality in this show, no matter how outrageous the plots become. But the new [infusion] of energy and support from the network is a good thing. Quite frankly, I find some of the wild stuff I get to do so much fun that I cannot believe people aren't having a good time watching it. And we're talking some of the most preposterous things that could possibly happen. So I don't worry about this Days concern. It would have been a blast to play with Deidre Hall while her head was spinning around, you know? AW can become a Santa Barbara of the year 2000. We can do the preposterous storylines but also be a very reality-based soap and sort of make it all jive together. That kind of [hybrid]