Days of Our Lives character "Austin
Reed" cradles his TV wife in his strong arms, romancing her with candlelight and
kisses. Later for a scene at the gym, his body glistens with sweat as he finishes a boxing
workout, then wipes his handsome face with a towel. Soap star Austin Peck, who plays the
good-hearted boxer-turned-executive on NBCs No. 1 day-time drama, is well aware of
his female fans reaction to scenes like these. Twice named to YM magazines
"50 Most Beautiful Guys in the World" list, Peck receives so much national and
international fan-mail every month (nearly 2,000 pieces), hes employed someone to
But Peck is not entirely comfortable with all the attention to his
appearance. "The whole hunk thing?" he says shaking his head. "I dont
want that to be the focal point."
At 27 Austin Peck is much happier being known for his nearly one-year-old faith in
Christ. "Ill confess Jesus anywhere," he says enthusiastically, sitting at
a sidewalk table outside an eatery in Santa Monica, California.
After traveling the world as a high-fashion model, appearing in dozens of spreads for
Esquire, GQ, Vogue Hommes and British Vogue, he admits: "Im in a position where
people are curious about what I have to say. If I can confess Jesus with all my heart that
might mean something to somebody."
As if on cue a young mother seated at the next table overhears Pecks comments and
leans over to interject above the street noise, "Praise the Lord!"
Pecks face breaks into a grin. "See," he says, "just like
He chats with the woman, who confides that shes new to California and struggling
to find friends who share her faith. Peck is quick to recommend several Bible-based
churches in the area and even invites her to attend his own.
Its not until after he leaves that she finds out who he is. "A soap actor?
Really? She looks surprised, then shrugs, "I guess its his job," she says,
adding that hearing him speak so openly about Jesus greatly encouraged her.
Encouraging others is one of Pecks greatest joys these days. Now an avid
church-goer, he also hosts a weekly fellowship night at his home, what he calls a
"strengthening time" for Christian friends in the entertainment industrya
time to relax, talk, pray, laugh, eat, open up about personal struggles and "get to
know each other really well in the Lord."
At Days of Our Lives, Peck is pleased with the Austin Reed character he playsa
married man loyal to his wife, morally strong and forgiving. "Hes not (a
Christian), but he strives to be the best he can be, in his understanding of it,"
Peck muses. "He has a lot of Christian traits in a sense."
Even viewers think Reeds good. "I feel your character is a great guy,"
Nina from Houston wrote during one of Pecks popular online chats for NBCs TV
Central Web site. "But sometimes he can be too nice."
So what if the script someday calls for someone not so nice?
Peck, under a Days of Our Lives contract for two years admits hes not looking to
play only wholesome 7th Heaven characters. "You can play a bad guy as long as it
doesnt glorify what hes doing." he explains, pointing to examples in
Shakespearean drama. "All (Shakespeares) characters reap what they sow."
Applying this to the world of soap operas, Peck tells about anoter character on his
show, Sami Brady, a bad girl. "Shes always miserable, he says. "She reaps
all the time. Some people love her and think shes great." A wicked smile
crosses his face, "You know, those people love their sin."
Exactly the criticism from some Hollywood-boycotting Christians. "I would love
there to be more of a presence of God, of His laws and His commandments," Peck
responds. But he believes that change wont come through "finger pointing and
judging. I think what Hollywood needs more than anything is prayerunderstanding and
The power of prayer is something this man knows a bit about. He tells of a series of
introductions to Jesus: the years his Catholic grandmother read him Bible stories, the
time he met people passing out Christian tracts on the street, the day someone gave him a
tiny New Testament Bible that captivated his attention.
But it wasnt until his early 20s, while living in New York City and studying
acting, that Peck began to put it all together. It was at about that time he started to
struggle with rage, pent up anger and frustration that he attributes in part to feeling
lost after his parents divorce when he was four years old. At first Peck felt that
his anger gave him power. "Then Id find myself being abusive verbally," he
says quietly, "and almost sometimes physically."
His older sister, who had become a Christian, urged Peck to ask God for helppray.
He remembers one prayer in particular, "I was walking up 10th street and I said,
God my life is Yours. I give my life to You." He knew hed said
something very serious, and that he meant every word, but today laughs at his lack of
understanding. "(God) was like, OK, Austin, but you have no idea who I am. You
dont know my Son. See, before you can come to Me, youve got to get to know My
That would come later. First Peck landed the role of Days of Our Lives. Moving to Los
Angeles, where the show is taped, brought him geographically closer to his sister, whom he
credits with continually challenging him about his commitment to God.
"People may not think Im smart," he says laughing, "but I was a
tough nut to crack. I tested the Word of God for three years (before becoming a
One such test: He was talked into appearing on the cover of Playgirl magazine in
September 1996, shirtless, wearing suspenders and a mischievous grin. "From Days of
Our Lives To The Nights Of Our Dreams" the blurb printed over his left shoulder
teased. No nude photos accompanied the article inside, but Peck deeply regrets the
incident and vows hed never do it again. "They say the closer you come to the
Lord the harder the devil fights for you," he reflects. "I think thats
what happened to me."
Someone else was fighting for him too.
One day Pecks sister asked him, "Whats the most important thing in
"Myself," Peck answered, thinking it was some sort of trick question.
("I figured if you love yourself, then you could love others.")
"Why isnt it God?" his sister prodded him. "God says,
Youre either for Me or youre against Me. You either serve Me or
youre a slave of the devil. " That said, she left her brother alone.
"She was praying," Peck says, giving him time to think. Her words resonated
with something inside him. "I had this person that I wanted to be and I had really
gone so far from that kind of person," he says. "I had no strength to be that
He wanted peace, freedom from his anger, and he couldnt get the Gospel message
out of his head. He chose Jesus.
Today Peck says hes learning to "walk by faith not by feeling." asking
himself what Jesus would do when confronted with difficult situations.
He admits this new faith has not come without a price. As he speaks of lost
friendships, and the end of a four-and-a-half year relationship with his longtime
girlfriend, there is obvious sadness.
Though his now "single and looking" status may elicit cheers from female
fans, Peck says hes looking a different way than he ever has before:
"Shes got to love Jesus," he says emphatically. "Shes got to
These days Peck is seeing many things with new eyes. He cites a verse from the New
Testament, 2 Corinthians 2:15 ("For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who
are being saved and those who are perishing"), and says he sees his soul as a
priceless Ming vase, unique and beautiful, but not truly complete unless used for its
Once he filled that vase with sewer water and rotting, day-old grocery store flowers,
"the ones you just know are going to die," he says, shaking his head. "But
they look great when you see them (in the store), so you buy them anyway."
When he accepted Christ, Peck says, God dumped out the rot and filth, and rinsed the
vase clean, filling it with holy water and fresh flowers that will never die. "We put
ourselves in sinful situations," he says. "God has the mercy and grace and love
to save usand turn it into good."