Lorenzo Lamas ‘75: Actor to author to scenic helicopter tour guide

Lorenzo Lamas, 58, plays El Gallo in “The Fantasticks” at Theater Center. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Lorenzo Lamas, 58, plays El Gallo in “The Fantasticks” at Theater Center. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Lorenzo Lamas, who graduated with the class of 1975 at the northern campus, has acted in soap operas, TV series, action movies, and most recently on broadway. But that’s not all. Now you can read his autobiography “Renegade at Heart” while Lorenzo flies you in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon on a scenic tour, with a picnic and all. Read more about Lorenzo in the New York Times article he was recently featured in.

But there’s little menace in El Gallo, the suave magician-narrator Mr. Lamas is playing, through Nov. 13, in “The Fantasticks,” the longest-running musical in the world. (Jerry Orbach originated the role and its signature number, “Try to Remember,” way back in 1960.)

At 58, Mr. Lamas still has the soft eyes and buff body that endeared him to generations of hunk watchers who know him as Lance, the playboy heir in the ’80s nighttime soap opera “Falcon Crest,” and later as Reno Raines, the “outlaw hunting outlaws,” in the ’90s TV series “Renegade.”

Onstage, he’s been in “A Chorus Line” and, in Texas, in another run as El Gallo in “The Fantasticks.” Offstage, there’s been tabloid attention to his personal life, including his five marriages and his son’s legal troubles.

Mr. Lamas recently sat down inside the 199-seat Theater Center to talk about his return to the stage and how he found new life in the air. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Do you enjoy being a theater actor?

I only started doing stage in 2006. If you’d asked me 15 years ago, when I was doing television, if I’d ever be onstage, I would have told you absolutely not. It frightens the hell out of me.

What did working on soaps teach you?

There were days when I had 15 to 30 pages of dialogue that I only got the night before. That was a tremendous amount of work for me to get to the point where I felt confident as an actor.

You’ve also had an extensive career as an action movie star. Why go that route?

I really wanted to be the American James Bond when I was starting out in the business. Then I got “Falcon Crest,” and the film portion of my career took a back seat. But toward the end of the ’80s, I was offered a chance to do some action movies that were shot in Canada and went straight to video. That fulfilled my James Bond desires.

What do people recognize you for?

The ladies remember me from “Falcon Crest,” and the guys remember me from “Renegade.” Although there’s crossover in both, most of the guys that come up to me or that want to say hello watched me as kids on “Renegade.” Many of them wanted to buy a motorcycle because of my character, or grow their hair long, or wear a duster, or be a badass, start karate. It’s really a wonderful feeling to have where you’ve given people a purpose to do something that’s good for them, whether it’s exercise or riding motorcycles.

You’ve been very open about your personal life in your new book ——

“Renegade at Heart.” It was basically my cathartic answer to the call of so many tabloids and newspapers throughout the years, wanting to hear my side of the story. I always felt that when those tabloid stories came out, if you answered their questions or picked up the phone, and they said this is so-and-so from Star magazine, and they’re ready to run a story about what a rotten father you are, I never wanted to take that interview.

You’re a pilot now, too.

I got my first pilot license, an airplane private pilot license, in 1997 for the purpose of going to pick up my kids, who were living with their mother in Arizona, and I was in L.A. It was easier than to put them on a commercial flight. It was purely practical.

Five years ago, I said I have to think about doing something else. I’m just not working enough as an actor. So I went back to school. My sister lent me the money. I got an instructor rating, and I started teaching people how to fly helicopters to build time. Once I got 1,000 hours, I was able to get, now, a full-time job flying helicopters.

Whom do you fly with?

I put six people in my helicopter with champagne and picnic baskets. We fly to the Grand Canyon. I serve them lunch. We’re there for 30 minutes, and I fly them back.

Do they know who you are?

Some do.

Are they surprised?

They think they’re being punked. [LAUGHS] They read my name tag and say, wait, Lorenzo Lamas? Aren’t you an actor? I go, yes, but I’m not playing a role. This is what I do. It’s been a wonderful second career for me.