Magazine Feature / People

Real-life lawyer plays serial killer on soap opera

It looks like Sean Moynihan has two lives to live after all.

In the early 1990s, Moynihan (JD ’04) was a regular on the soap opera “One Life to Live.” Now, he’s a Denver deputy district attorney living a “normal” life.

But, most normal attorneys don’t get calls from television writers asking if they’d like to return for a 10-episode stint.

“I was a little shocked,” he says about the call asking him to return as his character Powell Lord. His episodes recently aired on ABC.

The last time viewers saw Lord, the killer and rapist was sent to a psychiatric hospital. “He was a college boy who got involved with some bad college boys. He’s certainly done some bad things,” Moynihan says.

That was 15 years ago.

“I haven’t heard from them [since then],” Moynihan says. “I kind of moved on.”

It’s a far cry from the life he has now. He lives in Boulder County, Colo., with his wife and two young children.

After “One Life to Live,” Moynihan moved to Los Angeles and guest starred on shows such as “Caroline in the City” and “Sliders.” But the L.A. lifestyle proved to be unstable. So he moved to Denver and applied to DU’s Sturm College of Law.

“I’m glad they gave me a shot; they gave me an opportunity,” he says of DU.

“It was a very rich and rewarding experience,” Moynihan says, adding that he got to apply himself much more than he did as an undergraduate at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “For three years, I had the luxury of dropping out from the workforce and jumping into learning the law.”

That jump landed him in the Denver district attorney’s office. Moynihan took off about seven days this spring to take two separate trips to New York City to film the shows.

“I enjoyed walking along the streets of New York again,” he says. “For a brief moment, I was a professional actor; I was no longer a lawyer.”

It took some warming up at first, though. “The first few episodes I was a little nervous, a little stiff,” Moynihan says. “The more I did it, the more I loosened up.”

He hadn’t been acting except for a few local events “just for fun,” he says. And he hadn’t really planned on it, either.

“It was like going back into a time warp,” he says. “It was really bizarre.”

But a good bizarre, he clarifies.

Does the soap character have one more life to live? “There are no plans as of now. I viewed it as a lark. But if they were to inquire again, I’d certainly consider it.”

Perhaps he should.

Powell Lord got shot in his last episode, but it wasn’t clear whether he lived or died.

“I certainly miss [the show],” Moynihan says, “but I have a good life here, too.”

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