Michael Nader fairly leaps into the Dynasty set with a grin no one deserves to wear before the
sun has risen.
It is the day following a big football game, and Nader is winner of the first quarter pool among the
show's cast and crew. The fellow who organized the pool hands him a wad of bills totaling $200,
and Nader bounces it in his palm as if to make sure it's real.
Now the director is ready to start rehearsing. An assistant director calls out. "Where's Mike?"
"He's counting his money," another crew member says, chiding Nader with a slap on the back. "You
got a spot on a TV show and now you win the pool."
A little later, Nader says, "I was playing craps in Tahoe over Christmas and in 45 minutes - boom - I
win $800. I think I've been given gifts this whole year. I have to keep it in perspective that they're
just little gifts and not be obsessive about this crazy thing."
"This crazy thing," of course, is his co-starring role on Dynasty, playing the suave, wealthy Dex
Dexter, who arrived on the scene to woo Alexis Carrington Colby (Joan Collins). Although it isn't
what you'd call a large part, making kissy-kissy with Collins on a weekly basis certainly makes it the
most visible role of Nader's career.
When his working day as Dex comes to an end, and he and Alexis have sipped their last martini, and
he has removed the tweed jacket and unscuffed boots, and the prop man has unceremoniously
stripped him of Dex's solid-gold Rolex watch, Nader seems content to lad himself into his old VW
van and head for his contemporary Hollywood home. Nader, 39, lives there with his bride, Robin,
32, a production assistant whom he married in July. She is now full-time mother to their 3-month-old
daughter Lindsey Michelle.
"Family life," coos Nader, "is unbelievable. I'm experiencing avenues of love and acceptance I've
never known." Robin was pregnant before the marriage. "We accepted the responsibility of being
parents," Nader says. "Through the grace of God, it turned out beautifully." An Australian cattle dog
named John Henry is the other member of the Nader family.
The trappings of wealth, so prevalent on Dynasty; don't interest Nader. He lives simply, likes it
that way, and is deeply involved with self. He's introspective, self-analytical and what he calls
"meditative," What attracts him to his profession is that constant searching for the essential qualities
of human behavior, the same search Nader undertakes with himself daily.
He reveals only bits and pieces of what he finds. "My only personal sanity and insanity is defined
every day through a reflection of the day," he might say. Or, "If I ain't perfect, that's OK as long as I
keep the process going." Or, "A show like Dynasty or the income I get doesn't feed me in the
way that the inner process of my own spiritual workout does."
This is not a religious workout. "It's not from Catholicism or Judaism or Presbyterianism. It's just
knowing there's a power greater than the little human race," he explains.
To that end, Nader reads a lot of books. Which books? "Well, different books. I don't want to give
away my secret names." Why not? "Because it's a search."
Perhaps what started him out on his soul-searching was a somewhat tumultuous beginning. (Although
he will quickly tell you that the idea of anyone else analyzing his nature displeases him. "I don't want
to get into a month or two of sadness here and there in the family album," he snaps one day.)
Born in St. Louis, Nader moved with his family to Beverly Hills when he was a baby. "I come from a
divided family," he explains. His father, whom Nader describes as "a jack-of-all-trades," was the
one who "gave me a semblance of manhood," Nader says. His mother, with whom he lived, was in
show business. "She'd come out in a gown and sing. 'See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet'." His uncle,
George Nader, was a "50's B-flick star."
At Beverly Hills High School, Nader spent most of his time getting into trouble. "They had me in the
psychiatrist's office and remedial training with all the retarded kids," he says. "I was a bad boy in
"I like to put it this way," says his father, John Nader. "He had a personality all his own. I didn't ask
him, 'Why can't you be like other kids?' because I wasn't like other kid's, either."
Not only that, Nader also grew up on the wrong side of the tracks - meaning, in Beverly Hills, living
in an apartment building rather than a mansion like most of his schoolmates. "At fifteen, they had
Farraris and Porches in the garage. Me and my friends drove '48 and '49 woodies. We were the
Nader's main outlets were surfing ("You got a pair of trunks, the ocean, a board under you - and no
regulations") and movie-going, especially the films of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni.
"Max Von Sydown and Liv Ullmann blew me away," he recalls. While in school, Nader enrolled in
an acting workshop and was cast, thanks to his surfing prowess, as "background" (doubling, surfing,
dancing) in a series of '60s beach movies such as "Beach Blanket Bingo" and "How to Stuff a Wild
Bikini." He worked in a similar guise in Sally Field's 'Gidget' TV series.
Around that time, the drug explosion hit, and Nader wasn't immune. "We all went through it," he says,
referring to the range of psychedelic drugs and marijuana. "We're talking 15, 16 years old. We were
the first ones it hit on a mass level, the guys hitting 40 today."
Experimentation with drugs took Nader on a "spiritual quest," he says "It was never social. I was
more into private reading - literature, theological philosophy. My friends [and I], we all burned
the candle of life strongly and early." Four years ago, Nader forswore drugs and alcohol completely.
"I don't do any form of drugs or drink," he says. "I grew out of it. I lived through it… These days, I
don't need any sort of condiment to enjoy my life with."
Nonetheless, he hasn't found all the answers. Has he found himself? "Yeah. I'm growing up," says
Nader. "But I still do some foolish things. I'm uncompassionate, inconsiderate. But this is the only
day I've got until tomorrow. I'm gonna make and break a lot of rules. And each day that definition
makes me a little more aware of what makes Michael tick."
Nader also became active in drug-abuse counseling, of which he says: "I've been in the business
since 16. I've seen the ups and downs of all the gimmicks, the illusion and the heartbreaking reality,
and part of my gift is to give that [experience] away."
Nader lived most of his adult life in New York. He went there in his 20s to hone his craft with $20 in
his pocket. He was accepted at Lee Strasbourg's Actors Studio, and for the next 10 years he
alternately studied, performed off-Broadway and waited tables. "New York," he sighs, "ate me
alive." At one point, Nader actually bought into a restaurant, David's Potbelly, because he was so
familiar with the inner workings of a kitchen. A modeling career came next (he was discovered in a
shoe store), followed by a three-year stint on As The World Turns, playing a character he
describes as "a mysterious unknown entity." When his contract expired, he headed to Hawaii to surf
and to "reevaluate," finally returning to Los Angeles in the midst of the actors' strike.
"I came to L.A. for one season - to attack this area of the industry," he says. He waited tables again,
and then was cast as Alexi Theophilus on the short lived NBC series Bare Essence. That's
where Dynasty supervising producer Elaine Rich spotted him for Dex, whom she saw as "neither
black nor white, but with all the shadings."
"The role was almost tailored for him," maintains Rich. "He's playing opposite one of the strongest
actresses there has ever been. The actor who plays off her has to have strength. In his screen test,
when he stood in the door, there was an electronic presence."
Nevertheless, sharing center stage with Collins is somewhat a mixed blessing. She's a scene-stealer if
there ever was one. "Even Oliver would be overwhelmed by Collins' mannerisms." Observes Peter
Bunzel, a writer and former TV critic of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
David Ansen, film critic for Newsweek and once a Beverly Hills High School classmate of Nader's,
suggests that Nader's role as Dex may be mostly window dressing for Alexis. "Well, his hair is blown dry correctly and his teeth are gleaming," says Ansen. "He's not going to win any Emmys, but I don't think he expects to."
"Michael's a very good actor - as good as anybody on the show," says Gordon Thomson, who plays Alexis and Blake Carrington's long-lost son, Adam. "I think he's hard on himself - he doesn't always like what he sees. But Joan once said the show was like doing repertory theater. You get a chance to watch yourself and improve."
Collins is full of nothing but admiration for Nader. "He's a very romantic leading man and he has a
certain sinister edge," she says. "He's an interesting actor to work with." He is also, Collins points
out, "very sweet and warm. He's one of the few people I'm close to" on the set.
"It works out so well with Joan and me," says Nader, "because we both found each other attractive
right away. We both have a sense of humor. We could play together and it just carried over."
A member of the production company observes of their working relationship: "Michael's presence is
very strong and Joan respects him. I'd say he charms her more than stands up to her."
One afternoon on the set of Alexis's living room, Collins has questioned the director about a) the
cheap-looking phone book on her desk ("Haven't you guys ever heard of Louis Vuitton?" she asks)
b) the lack of hors d'oeuvres at cocktail hour ("is there going to be anything to eat - like caviar?" and
c) why the script has Dex inexplicably dressed for their date - which they ultimately don't make -
wearing a tuxedo.
"It doesn't make sense to me," says Collins. "Why is he in a tux? If we had date to go out to dinner,
he'd be in an ordinary suit… He's dressed up to go to the ballet, isn't he?" she ask director George
"I think it's all right." Says Brown.
Nevertheless, the discussion about the tuxedo continues. Until, that is, Nader saves the day by
thinking up an explanation. "I can say, 'No problem, there goes the ballet'," he suggests to Collins.
"That's it!" Collins says breaking into a smile. And the line is inserted.
In real life, Nader is more apt to eat a home-cooked meal than dress in tuxedos and miss ballet
curtains. He doesn't hang out with oil tycoons "The cost of that kind of life style - the chaos involved
- it isn't my style." Says Nader. And he climbs into his VW van and heads back to his house, his
wife, his baby and his dog.