Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, 15 miles north of Los Angeles is the setting for Dr. Quinn. The “ranch’ is an accurate reproduction of a western town with a weathered saloon, a little church, a sheriff’s office and several horse paddocks. The facades of the building are bleached by the sun and the streets are very dusty. Tourists may watch filming and even borrow a horse. However, total quiet is mandatory during filming. A few girls stand behind the barrier and watch their idol, actor Chad Allen as he drives a little wagon in the scene. Afterward, Chad patiently signs autographs and then hurries to do our interview.

Still clad in western costume, with cowboy hat, in boots and spurs, he answers our questions maybe better: on the set of his screen mother “Dr Quinn’s” (Jane Seymour) bedroom

Bravo: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Chad:  I was born 20 years ago on June 5th near Long Beach in Southern California. I grew up and went to school there. At five, I had my first experience in front of the camera along with my twin sister Charity who looks exactly like me. Many people at that time had been telling my parents that we looked sweet. So they thought it would be alright if we did a few commercials and earned some money for college that way. So that’s how everything began. My first role was on the series St. Elsewhere. I was 8 at the time and I stayed on the show 4 years. Then other series came, Our House, My Two Dads, and (several) many guest appearances on other popular series.

Bravo: What became of your twin sister Charity?

Chad: She didn’t like acting that much and eventually left the business. She goes to college now in LA.

Bravo: Do you have any other siblings?

Chad: Yes I have an older brother, he is 22. Besides that I have a 28 year old half sister and two half brothers who are 29 and 32

Bravo: Are you a close family?

Chad: Oh yes. Although I moved out of the house at seventeen and see my parents (father Ed and mother Faith) only once a month,that is actually quite often compared to some of my colleagues. I see them as often as I can. They give me support.

Bravo: And where do you live currently?

Chad: I lived first in San Fernando Valley, then in Hollywood. But I hate Hollywood. Now I have a small house on the beach.

Bravo: What don’t you like about Hollywood?

Chad:    Hollywood is a crazy place especially if you work in the entertainment industry.
You simply can’t tune it out. You go into a restaurant and the waiters are actors. No matter where you go the talk is of film, television or music. You have to constantly explain what you plan to do next. I grew up on the beach, there I’m the most comfortable and can relax the best.

Bravo: Do you like to surf?

Chad: I got my diving license at 14. Next to skiing and acting, diving is my greatest passion.

Bravo: What fascinates you about diving?

Chad:  As a kid I was a big fan of Jacques Cousteau and his films. The variety of animals, the peace under water- that seemed like magic to me.

Bravo: When did you start on Dr. Quinn?

Chad:    We did the first episode in 1992. I was almost out of high school then. Now we’re in our third season.

Bravo:  Do you still enjoy the series and your role as Matthew as much as you did in the beginning?

Chad:   I love the show. It was an important decision for me because actually I had planned to go to college in New York. If it had been a soap opera I wouldn’t have taken the role. But the scripts were so well written I couldn’t turn it down. Now I know I made the right decision. I work on a ranch, can ride horses and live like a cowboy.

Bravo:  Were you able to ride before joining the show?

Chad:   I knew how to lead a horse and I had sat on a horse a few times, but I really learned to ride here.

Bravo: What do you like best about the character of Matthew?

Chad:  He has a strong personality (even though) because his childhood wasn’t easy. His father abandoned the family, his mother died when he was little, and then he had to take care of his younger siblings. That made him strong and responsible. I like that.

Bravo: Has the series changed your life?

Chad:  My life has changed a lot, but I don’t know if that is because of the series. I moved out of the house (my parents’ house) when the series started, that was a big change.

Bravo: What is your week like when you’re working?

Chad:  We have a very exact, totally full schedule. Five days a week between 12 and 16 hours a day. We do most of our filming outside for the series so a lot depends on the weather. It can happen that I have to get up at 5 am and wait 8 hours for my scene.

Bravo: What do you do while you are waiting all this time?

Chad:  I sit in my trailer here on the set, listen to music, read, write letters, poems and short stories.

Bravo: Is there still time left for a girl friend?

Chad:  A good question. Naturally I’d like to live a normal life. I sleep even less than my colleagues but even despite that there just isn’t enough time to form a relationship. Simple things like calling someone up can get very complicated.

Bravo: Do you do your own stunts?

Chad: We have stunt doubles but they are being used less and less. As I’ve learned to ride better I’m allowed to do one or another fight scene myself. For example recently I had a big scene with Joe Lando that we both did ourselves. That was cool. By the end we were sore all over because we had to do the fight 4 times but it was still fun.

Bravo: You supposedly teach apart from being an actor yourself. What’s that about?

Chad:  I’ve been in front of the camera for 15 years and I’m still taking acting lessons. That will probably stay that way. I formed a group with some friends - managers and agents - and together we are giving seminars for young kids all over America who want to become actors and are already enrolled in appropriate schools. In a weekend-long intensive seminar we show those kids what’s happening in Hollywood. Free of charge, of course.

Bravo: Would you have liked to have lived in the time of Dr. Quinn- more than 120 years ago in the wild west?

Chad:  Instinctively I would say yes since it was a time of heroes and adventure, so different from today. But I know I’m romanticizing The good old days and the wild west weren’t that good. They only look that way in movies. In reality people labored hard and got sick. Many died young, lost children, families were struck by epidemics. But all things considered it would have been fun to be a (cool) gunslinger like Clint Eastwood is in the movies.

Translation from the German by Mary Ann Marino
Edited by Dorothy Bansea

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