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Daren Kagasoff (The Secret Life of the American Teenager)

Daren Kagasoff (The Secret Life of the American Teenager)

Daren Kagasoff plays Ricky Underwood on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. It's been a while since Ricky lived up (or down) to his bad-boy rep. Let's review: He's been a totally responsible dad to baby John. He's moved into his own place and been earning his own way (thanks to Leo on both counts), and he contributes whatever cash he can to John's upbringing. True, he did run away for a few days and freak everyone out -- but he had a motive: to find his mom and confront her about his childhood trauma. OTOH, things have been rocky with Adrian, and he's def not happy with Ben about that disastrous hookup. But Ricky played a part in that; after all, he did kiss Amy for "practice," which is why Adrian and Ben shared a furious agenda that night. But now that Ricky and Amy are sharing custody of John, they seem a lot ... friendlier. How friendly? Time will tell. And he's still Ricky; will this model-citizen thing last?

SHAKEFIRE (SF): 
What is the hardest challenge you faced from your time on the show?
DAREN KAGASOFF (DK): 
We would get the episodes probably the night before we would have to shoot and it would take seven days, so I guess getting the dialogue down was one of the most challenging things. But the writers were so good at doing their job and writing good scripts, so it actually got easier as the seasons progress. But I think that was the most challenging.
SF: 
There are lots of questions left up in the air. Is there anything you can tease us about the series finale and if many of our questions will get answered?
DK: 
Many questions will get answered, that’s all pretty much I can say. I know everybody wants Amy and Ricky to end up together, and I guess you guys will see if that happens.
SF: 
We all know that next is Delirium, so if Ricky were dropped into the world of Delirium, would he get the cure?
DK: 
Definitely not. He would definitely not get the cure.
SF: 
Would Ricky be friends with Alex or Julian?
DK: 
Definitely Alex, because I think their personalities are very similar. Yes, definitely Alex, I’d say.
SF: 
What is your fondest memory from the show?
DK: 
Probably the last day of shooting. We shot a lot of intense scenes, and to wrap up the show the way we did - I’ll never forget it. And all of the people that were there that day, you just don’t forget those types of moments, and thankfully I’m going to have that for the rest of my life, so probably the last day of shooting.
SF: 
Are you happy with the way the series ended for you and for what the outcome for Ricky is?
DK: 
Very happy, very happy. I think the fans will be happy too.
SF: 
You’ve had some great guest stars so far in the show. Can we expect any new faces this season?
DK: 
A couple. They’re definitely coming in and out as far as new relationships that occur this next season. I can’t really say who, but there’s definitely going to be some familiar faces that you’ve seen from other projects.
SF: 
Is there anyone that you would love to work with some day?
DK: 
Yes, there’s several. Probably Leonardo DiCaprio, I’d like to work with him.
SF: 
Do you respect the way that Ricky has turned out and are you happy with who he is?
DK: 
Most definitely. In the beginning, when Secret Life first started Ricky was just a high school kid that didn’t really take any responsibility for his actions, and was just was kind of floating through life. And ever since he had John with Amy things changed drastically, and I think he made the most positive decisions in his life to put his son first and his girlfriend first priority. So I’m very pleased with what the writers did with my character from the beginning to the end. I think he’s made a full circle and it was a pleasure to play and hopefully the fans will like to see that.
SF: 
Can you talk about what has been your favorite episode from the series that you’ve loved?
DK: 
Yes, I know I’ve been asked that question before and I said the day I won valedictorian of my class and I had to learn all these lines, it must have been a nine page monologue, and that was the most challenging because I had to talk to about 200 people that were sitting out in the audience. And it was just daunting, and I got through it and I got through it well, and that was probably one of my most memorable scenes.
SF: 
With the series coming to an end, what do you think you’ll miss most about your time on the show?
DK: 
Probably everybody that I worked with, the crew, the cast, the producers, everybody, because we were doing it for so long, we shot around, I don’t even know the exact number, I want to say 120-something episodes, so when you’re around these people for so long you form relationships, you form friendships, I mean, that’s what I’m going to miss the most, is just missing my cast and being able to talk and be open with them, because these are your best friends.
SF: 
With the series coming to an end what’s next for you?
DK: 
I’m going to be working on this pilot, it’s called Delirium. It’s for the FOX Network. We don’t know if it’s picked up yet. We haven’t even started shooting. But we start very, very soon, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the cast, and that’s basically all I can say.
SF: 
Do you have a favorite moment or behind the scenes memory from the series you can share with our readers?
DK: 
Yes. The boys on the show, Greg Finley and Ken Baumann, we all became really close and a lot of times interviewers would come on to the set and they’d go behind the scenes and show them the trailers or the sets. Kenny was most known for always screwing with me during all these interviews, because he’s way more intellectual than I and Greg are, so he would just screw with us in the interviews. I couldn’t really tell you what it is, because they’re pretty terrible pranks, but I would be basically blushing throughout the entire interview because I was so embarrassed.
SF: 
The cast has gone through so many changes in their real lives, how has the show changed you since you started?
DK: 
Well, I never knew I wanted to be an actor until maybe six months before I got the job, so it just has taught me you’ve got to work so hard for the things that you want in life, and things don’t come easy. And you can see it through the characters that were on Secret Life, whether certain things that happened in their lives they have to conquer and overcome. And as people, as myself speaking about me, there’s a lot of obstacles in this business and in life in general, so from the show I just got keep your head up high, work hard, be respectful, polite, and good things will come.
F: 
What’s the hardest part in balancing Ricky’s bad boy past and his role as a father on the show, and how does that affect you and influence your opinions of real life parenting?
DK: 
As far as Ricky, I think he completely changed. He was a bad boy, he will always have that toughness about him, but he was sensitive guy that always wanted to do the right things and he really was looking out for Amy and her best interests and John’s best interest. So looking at it from an outside perspective that’s what I think, say you do get pregnant at a young age, those are the kinds of things that I would expect from the father of the child. Thank goodness I’m not a parent right now, let’s just say that.
Peter Oberth
Interview by Peter Oberth
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