During his 14-year stint on All My Children (where he played Ryan Lavery), Cameron Mathison kept himself pretty busy with side projects. He’d guest star on shows like The Drew Carey Show and Hope & Faith and even hosted the SOAPnet series I Want to Be A Soap Star as well as the 2006 edition of the Daytime Emmy Awards. Following ABC’s cancellation of AMC in 2011, Mathison continued to keep himself busy with various projects – including appearances on Desperate Housewives and Drop Dead Diva, TV movies (Holidaze, My Gal Sunday) and became a contributor to Good Morning America.
Mathison was born in Sarnia, Ontario and attended high school in Thronhill before heading to McGill University in Montreal, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering. The actor/host found returned to Canada to host W Network’s new home renovation series Game of Homes, where he guides teams of amateur home renovators as they compete to win the home they are renovating and also happen to be living in during the renovation.
The TV Watercooler caught up with Mathison to talk about this new series, saying goodbye to All My Children and whether or not he’d take on a new soap role.
You’ve been pretty busy since All My Children ended – the gig at Good Morning America and the TV movies. What made you decide to do Game of Homes?
I bounce around a lot from projects and mediums. I’m a host, actor and correspondent. One of my favourite things to do, even before I met my wife [Vanessa] and now with my wife, is that we buy, design and sometimes flip houses. It’s a real pastime for us and I have a structural engineering background.
This project came around during a time in my career where I really wanted to try to incorporate something like that – something that I love to do. I got a call that there’s this show being developed and they wanted me to audition to be the host.
The timing was just right! But the hardest part about this job is not being able to get my hands dirty. That’s actually why I pitched the concept of the online companion series, Cameron’s House Rules.
While Game of Homes only airs in Canada, Cameron’s House Rules is open to your fans across the U.S. to watch. The digital series sees you being challenged by Vanessa and your kids, Lucas and Leila to transform the garage into a family room for weekly movie nights.
For Game of Homes, there are four teams of two who are living and renovating a space. I come in and deliver challenges to the contestants. I thought, what if the tables were turned on me? Where I’m back in the comfort of my own home and I’m proposed with a challenged by my family and I’ve got to renovate a space? I’ve got to convert our detached garage in Los Angeles and turn it into a family/media room.
We had to do it in 5 days. I had to live in it and sleep in it – but not every night because of the fumes. It was just so much fun to have the kids involved and we worked with a great production team, Hodgee Films. They’re a great group of guys who shot and directed this.
Cheryl Torrenueva and Jeremy MacPherson are judging Game of Homes but there is also an impressive list of guest judges. Love It Or List It Vancouver’s Gillian Harris was in the premiere and you’ve got the Property Brothers coming up.
Yes, we’ve got some great guest judges. Apparently, the people at W know a few people, which works in our faour! Gillian Harrison and Todd Talbot each have a wealth of information. Of course, the Property Brothers (Drew and Jonathan Scott) do as well. Kortney and Dave Wilson come in as well, as do Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan.
Each week, we have a new guest judge or group of judges and it’s very different what each guest brings to the table. They’ve all got different things that they like to emphasize. They each judged different rooms and it was really neat to learn and listen to their own perspectives.
Did any of the contestants surprise you more than the other?
Truthfully, after the first reveal, I wasn’t surprised anymore. I knew what they had to do and how much time they had to do it in, but I didn’t think they could all actually do it to the extent of what they did. I really did think there would be some half-finished rooms. But after the first week, seeing the transformations that happened, it didn’t seem that anything was a surprise anymore. It’s amazing what you can do when your back is against the wall and you are on television – it’s amazing what you can step up to and do with a little pressure.
Let’s flashback to All My Children. Those fans took the initial cancellation pretty hard. Were you in talks to join Prospect Park’s online reboot?
Yes – I was fully invested in the online reboot. I was bummed when the show got cancelled. I loved my life there. I was working at Good Morning America and I think they [Prospect Park] wanted me involved early on so I could talk about it [on air]. And I did. Here’s a guy who loves his job and out of nowhere, this show gets cancelled.
They even moved it to Los Angeles first…
Yeah, first they move you up to L.A. to try to save the show. Then, they cancel it in L.A. It’s was like a gut-punch. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend who you are madly in love. Then they say, “Oh no, let’s get back together. Let’s do this online thing and we’d love you to be front and centre.” I went on Good Morning America and announced it. It was big news. Then it went away. It’s like I got dumped twice. It was like, “Forget it. I’m done now.”
Months went by and they came back and said, “We’ve really got this online thing figured out and we’re going to do it again.” I said no. “I can’t do it.” I had gotten a little space by that point and started branching out and did other projects.
Let’s flashback to AMC. The fans took the initial cancellation pretty hard. Were you in talks to do the online reboot?
Yes — I was fully invested in the online reboot. I was bummed when the show got cancelled. I loved my life there. Just because I worked at Good Morning America, I think that they wanted to have me involved in the project early so I could talk about it. And I did. Here’s a guy who loves his job and out of nowhere this show gets cancelled. It was really hard . I was so happy that the online show finally did happen for the fans. It happened for a season, I’m not sure how many episodes.
It lasted a few months.
And then it went away again. But at least it was a little splash. But, I do think it made some people more upset.
Was the original finale changed when the online version was announced? There were rumours that Greenlee (Rebecca Budig) and Leo (Josh Duhamel) were going to reunite.
That was never the case. She had her dream sequence with Leo and my character had his dream sequence with Gillian (Esta TerBlanche). We just kind of tied up loose ends.
So Greenlee and Ryan were supposed to end up together in the end.
Ryan had quite the number of pairings, even Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane.
To Alicia Minshew’s Kendall, Melissa Claire Egan’s Annie… Tons of them!
Any favourites? Who do you think was the best pairing for Ryan?
When I first arrived on the show, by far, Ryan’s best pairing was with Gillian. That was one of the most powerful love stories on the show during that time and certainly my career as an actor. We had a great connection. It was a cool story where we really changed each other. Gillian was a really snotty spoiled brat and Ryan was this conniving con artist and jerk.
In the later years, it was never quite the same for Ryan until Greenlee. She had her Leo, who was her first love. But was he her true love? Gillian was Ryan’s first love but his true love was Greenlee.
Have you received any offers to do another soap since AMC ended?
The Young and the Restless talked to me a bit about the role of Adam Newman but then word got out online and there was a big hoopla. I didn’t even audition, there were just talks. I liked that role, so I was considering it but not after it leaked. I didn’t want to touch it.
Would you consider General Hospital? Rebecca Budig just started airing there.
Have you seen her on it?
She’s a schemer. She’s pretending to be Jake’s wife… But he’s really Jason – with Billy Miller now in the role.
Awesome! He’s the new Jason!
There would also be Ryan’s connection to Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan), but who knows if Ryan can even appear because of all the drama with Prospect Park and character rights.
Yeah. I would love the Lavery tie-in, but it would get messy. I would have to see what the character was. It’s been a long time and I’ve made moves in other directions in my life and career. It would have to be either recurring or a really good character. I thought Adam on Y&R would have been a good challenge.
Just Hartley got that role.
I hear he’s doing a great job.
You’re also working with Alison Sweeney (ex-Sami, Days of our Lives) on the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder movie series (based on the books by Joanne Fluke) for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Can you talk to us a little bit about that project?
She’s awesome. It’s based on a series of books and will be on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel in the U.S. It’s fun! I play a hard-nosed detective from the big city and she’s a super sweet small town girl who’s a baker. All of Joanna Flukes’ novels are based on different baking aspects, so this one was the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Hanna Swensen [Sweeney’s character] is just kind of meddling in these mysteries and I’m the detective who thinks that she’s getting in the way but ultimately ends up helping my character solve the case.
It’s a fun dynamic. Often in these movies, you kind of force these relationships really quickly but this will be a series of movies.
How many are you going to be filming?
The second one hasn’t been locked in yet but they are taking it one at a time. It’s the way they do it… movie wheels or whatever they call it. I think that they want to shoot nine or more. But it will fully be subject to whether or not the fans like the first one.
Has a Canadian broadcaster been lined up yet?
I keep asking about that… I hope so. I don’t know the answer to that yet, but I do think that’s the plan.