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GH’s Roger Howarth Talks Franco’s Childhood Abuse, If Friz Can Be Happy, And Bad Guys On The Soaps

Courtesy/ABC

He’s an original, respected by his peers, beloved by the fans of the soap opera genre, a Daytime Emmy winner, and can make any scene he is in intriguing and draw you into wanting to know what will happen next.  We are talking about General Hospital’s Roger Howarth (Franco)

This soap veteran who played One Life to Live’s Todd Manning and As the World Turns, Paul Ryan, has a history of portraying complex bad boys who have done some dastardly things, while yet, at times, displaying a heart of gold.

In Port Charles, Franco has had a violent and dark past (yes, the character had a brain tumor which explained most of his heinous acts), but with that comes an underlying danger that often rears its head for the character, as well as others. Earlier this year, GH viewers witnessed Roger’s heartbreaking performances as Franco came to grips with, and recalled the sexual abuse he suffered as a child by his abuser, Jim Harvey (Greg Evigan). This added yet another layer to Franco’s tragic past, while as fans know, the show has tried to find ways to redeem the character and make him someone to root for; which Howarth does a mighty fine job at doing any way, no matter what material is sent his way.

Coming up this fall, “Friz” fans are anxiously waiting for the nuptials of Franco to his lady love, Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst). Can Franco get out of his own way and find some peace and love as Liz’s new hubby? Only time will tell! Michael Fairman TV caught up with Roger to talk about: his recent tough and impactful storyline, his love and commitment to his craft, and the importance of bad guys on your favorite daytime dramas, and more. Here’s Roger!

You delivered Emmy-worthy performances during Franco’s storyline where he remembers his childhood sexual abuse.  How did you feel going through that as an actor?  Were you hoping that it was going to help explain more about the emotional make-up of Franco?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

ROGER:  I’m very proud of the work that we did, and I think everybody pitched in.  I liked being a part of a story that encompassed several different characters and everybody’s different points of view, and I think everybody was pretty well-represented.  In terms of an explanation … I just think it was my job as an actor to put myself in that situation and have the character live through it.  Whether it explains something to the audience, or not, isn’t something that I can control, so I didn’t really engage in that.  I do believe that their intention might have been to offer an explanation to Franco’s behavior, and his impulsiveness, and his deep-seated anger and his desire to control.  Historically, I think real people do kind of repeat behavior, until they remember.

Courtesy/ABC

I always felt GH has tried through various storylines to humanize Franco in some way, because of the horrible things that the character has done in the past.  They obviously want Franco to also be this leading man on the show.  With that, does it get muddied up, or problematic for you when trying to play the character? 

ROGER:  It doesn’t get muddied up for me, because I’m pretty much a worker-bee in that I get a script,  I learn the script, I perform the script, and the other actors and I are responsible for just our acting.  I do think that it might have presented a problem for the writers, and that they were trying to address what you’re talking about. But, I don’t think that fish know that they’re swimming in water, and Franco doesn’t know that the audience thinks he’s a bad guy. (Laughs). You, know what I mean?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

There was this recent scene where Franco is kind of pulled in to the situation at Ferncliff by Jason (Steve Burton) in an effort to help free Carly (Laura Wright).  It’s clear Franco doesn’t want to be there, and he is going back in forth with his conscious on this, and the right thing to do, and whether he should help Jason out.  Franco doesn’t know how far to go with it.  What do you think those of those kinds of moments?

ROGER:  Well, I wasn’t there when Franco and Jason were interacting, because it was a different Franco (played by James Franco).  I know that when Steve came back, the writers knew they had to address the fact that while Elizabeth and Jake (Hudson West), and the other Jason (now Drew, played by Billy Miller), had a perception of Franco, that they couldn’t necessarily ask the original Jason to see Franco, differently.  From Jason’s perspective, Franco was, in fact, the old Franco. So, from what little I know about the old Franco and the old Jason relationship, I think Franco has a real need for Jason’s approval.  In those scenes, I thought that here was a guy who was doing something and he wasn’t sure what was motivating him to do these things.  I thought that it was kind of cool and beautiful in that the pleaser and the killer are kind of different parts of the same person.  I think on a very basic level, he really wanted this other man (Jason) to like him.   I thought that was very human, so I liked that part.   It’s like, everybody else thinks he’s a changed man, so why does this one person just not see him for who he really is?”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

What do you think about the relationship Franco has with Drew, who was the brother he grew up with as a little boy, before Drew was taken from the family?

ROGER:  I think that is an important relationship for Franco to have.  Drew was a key to his past.  I think moving forward these two will have a bond, despite themselves.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think that if Franco found happiness and actually married Elizabeth, and it actually worked out, that he could deal with it?

ROGER:  I don’t know if that’s a Franco issue, or a human issue.  I think that people say they want intimacy, and they’ll do everything they can, and when they’re actually confronted with the possibility of it, they do sabotage, and they do run away, and they do find a way to screw it up.  I think that’s part of the hook.  Her perspective is something that I would hope would be written into the story, also.  Elizabeth has her past, and these two people are complicated.  I do think there’s something really sweet about the way that these characters feel about each other.  What I hope is that we’ve set up a dynamic that the audience is hoping that they can manage to be together.  I hope we are appealing to the part of the audience that doesn’t want to screw up their own lives.  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Franco is great with Jake, and Liz’s other children, as well.  Why do you think that is? 

ROGER:  I think there’s an honesty and spontaneity to him, and I think Franco’s developed those survival skills, because of his own history.  He relates to kids on a really honest level that I think some children appreciate.

What was it like working with Greg Evigan in Franco’s childhood abuse storyline?

ROGER:  Greg was fantastic.  He did a great job, particularly when Franco actually got to confront him.  I think he was very successful in having his character’s point of view be heard.  For as dark and twisted and perverse as Jim Harvey’s thinking was, that character didn’t know that.  What they wrote was a man who said that he really loved these children, and that’s really difficult to write, play, and be a part of.  I think Greg owned it and did a really good job, and I think he was committed.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Would you have liked to have had a scene with Franco and his father, Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner), where Franco went to his dad, and told him about the abuse he suffered as a child?

ROGER:  I do think that different roles provide different flavors, and there were some scenes in the park for instance, where Franco did tell Scott what had happened to him, and Scott’s reaction was very generous and supportive.  Franco told him what happened to him off-camera, because I’m guessing that the network thought there were some sensitive issues, and they never actually said the specifics of what happened to Franco, which is tasteful.

Courtesy/ABC

With what is going on in the world today with the news cycle, stories of sexual abuse are sadly more commonplace.  Do you think they wouldn’t get into more specifics about the abuse, because of this being a daytime soap opera and its audience?

ROGER:  I can’t tell whether they can’t say it, or they know who their audience is, and they can just point to it.  I think with the Bensch/Kiki storyline for example, they left things to the imagination.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I thought that it was so sad what Franco went through.  That a molestation of a little boy happened over and over again.   It must have affected you when playing out this story.

ROGER:  I did get upset and sad.  I just can’t imagine that one person would do that to another person.  As an actor, I’ve played characters that have done horrible things, and it’s surprising to me that people are so resilient.  It’s just so sad what we do to each other.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you want to see your character progress in his life, or continue to be tortured by his past?

ROGER:  I think that the dramatic tension of it all is: “Will these people figure out their stuff?” I think that is intensely human and beautiful.  Every relationship is problematic for one reason or another, so I really hope that there’s a rooting value.  I don’t think that there can be a rooting value without an obstacle.

Have you ever gone to the powers-that-be to tell them what you’d like to do, or see happen next with your character?

ROGER:  No, I don’t get involved in any of that.  I’m not the best judge of what we do.  I’ve learned over the years that we have to commit to everything, because sometimes the things that you think are problematic wind up being the fan favorite.  So, I’m more of the: “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it, and I’ll try not to screw it up.” (Laughs) They shouldn’t let the inmates run the asylum. (Laughs) Because then you get into a weird situation where you’re saying, “My character wouldn’t do that,” and that’s really limiting.  That’s the whole point of what we do.  It’s supposed to be challenging and out there and large-scale.  We are supposed to be really brave and accept the challenge.  We aren’t supposed to control where these people go.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Will you tweak the lines of dialogue in small ways to fit your character, if necessary?

ROGER:  Very rarely, and honestly, not as much as people think. I work really hard to make it appear spontaneous.  By the time it comes on air, I’ve said it forty-five times.  You just have to see that character think that thing for the first time on the TV, because Franco didn’t get a rehearsal.  He doesn’t know what’s going to come out of his mouth, and the stimulus are supposed to happen to these characters, and you’re supposed to watch them react in real time.  Franco is a spontaneous human being, and I do think there is a responsibility for some characters like Nina (Michelle Stafford), and Franco and Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) to have a different set of synapses. I’ll give you an example: Elizabeth is going to the stand for the Kiki (Hayley Erin) trial, and they wrote a line where she says, “I’m going up there,” or something like that, and Franco says, “Good luck,” and then he turns downstage and says, “Me too.”  They didn’t know that the guy at the “Me Too” trial can’t say, “Me too,” so I told them that I would like to say, “Me also.”   So, there was a conversation about it, and they just wrote a different line.   I didn’t just tell them I wasn’t going to say that.  So, there are some conversations.  There are fewer conversations now than there were in New York at One Life to Live, because our head writer at the time, Ron Carlivati, was physically in the building.  At GH, there is a three-hour time difference between L.A. and N.Y. where most of our writers live, while we are taping on the west coast.  So, who do you talk to?  For the most part, it doesn’t happen.  There’s a luxury for me to even change “Me too” to “Me also.”   I do think that we are supposed to come up to the floor with a set of ideas and a way to get it out of our mouths.  I do think that they give me a bit of a longer leash, primarily because they understand that I kind of can’t do it another way.

Courtesy/ABC

What do you think of Franco’s relationship with Obrecht? What does he really think of her?

ROGER:  I think he really appreciates her support.  I don’t think her at times, insanity, bothers him.  I think he appreciates it.  I think he doesn’t want Obrecht to do harm to people, but expects her to be peculiar.

How would you feel if they wrote that Franco did harm people again?

ROGER:  Great.  Then we will do that.  It could be.  It is a little strange, and it seems to me, that they’ve grown reluctant to have some of the primary characters on the canvas behave poorly.  I think we do ourselves a disservice when we bring in a fantastic actor to play the bad guy.  I don’t know why the child abuse of Franco wasn’t from his actual father, Scott Baldwin.  How cool would that have been?  I do think that soaps need bad guys.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

What do you think about the journey you’ve had as an actor?  Do you feel that you’re a better actor now at this stage in your career?  You started out, I believe, when you were found by an ABC casting search and development program.

ROGER:  There was something that brought in to ABC: Michael Weatherly, Laura Wright, Rebecca Gayheart, and Roger Howarth.  We all came onto Loving at the same time, and I was terrible, and they fired me immediately.  I really thought that it should be played the same way that you play Shakespeare. (Laughs)  I was abysmal. I look at it that I am half-way through.  I made it to halfway in my career.  I’ve got another twenty-five years in me.  I don’t know what that will ultimately look like, but I just like acting.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

You’ve never lost the passion for acting?  Some in your profession often sound jaded about it after doing it for a long time.  Do you still get the same thrill when you hit the set?

ROGER:  Every time I walk on a set, I think it’s amazing.  It’s cool what I do.  I love it.  I love what I do 100%.

So, are you looking forward to Franco and Liz’s upcoming nuptials? What did you think of Roger’s performances earlier this year when Franco recalled his sexual abuse at the hands of Jim Harvey? What did you think of Howarth’s comments about how key bad boys are on the soaps?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

 

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Deanna
Deanna

I have admired Roger for many years. He is a very gifted actor. The pairing of Franco and Liz. Roger and Becky are fabulous together. Looking forward to their wedding!

Carolyn
Carolyn

I love his facial expressions.

Sher
Sher

Great interview. Roger is my favorite soap actor .

Jenn
Jenn

Excellent read! That’s for posting this interview Michael. It’s always great to get perspective for someone as talented and intelligent as Roger Howarth.

Carolyn
Carolyn

I never saw Roger do an interview like this

Jenn
Jenn

He rarely does any interviews. When he does though, it’s always a great read.

mike
mike

The best actor on daytime.

Lucy D
Lucy D

What a smart dedicated actor Roger is. I am in awe of his talent and his dedication to his craft

Denise A Daniel
Denise A Daniel

I’m so happy you did this interview because Roger rarely does them. Franco & Elizabeth are hands down my favorite characters on GH. I’ve loved Becky since she first appeared 21 years ago. It never dawned on me that they could pair Becky & Roger but they are like lightning in a bottle together.
They can seamlessly handle the angst, the banter, the romance, the comedy. The journey of Friz falling in love was truly rare for today’s soaps. They had the classic slow build which is unheard of now. Six months before a kiss & 18 months before they slept together. I can not wait for their wedding.
Great interview but I wish you’d asked him about the partnership he has working with Becky. Maybe you can get an interview with Becky closer to the wedding.

Soaphound
Soaphound

Franco seems to be a polarizing character, but I like him and think Roger Howarth is a dedicated, creative actor. I hope they continue Franco’s evolving friendship with Drew; Roger and Billy are dynamite together. But heck, when is this wedding going to happen? Their engagement is lasting longer than many marriages.

Joanna Dotson
Joanna Dotson

Roger brings up some issues. He is a marvelous actor whom I have admired for a long time.

Jimh
Jimh

Still prefer Todd…

Pat Sasso
Pat Sasso

I love Franco. Bad guy or good guy you just like him. He is such a wonderful actor that he draws you into his character and you react. Remember Him from As The World Turns and I felt the same way. Like His new Haircut

Joanne
Joanne

Thank you for this article it’s so great to hear Roger’s perspective on his character and career. It’s easy to see why he is so well liked and respected in the industry, he really understands his craft. I would love to see a joint interview with Becky for the wedding!

Shan
Shan

Such an insightful interview! Roger’s answers go beyond the usual talking points and bring a unique perspective from the actor’s lens. I am hopeful that his fabulous work this year is recognized at the Daytimf Emmys.

Thx for sharing and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for an interview with his acting partner, Rebecca Herbst, soon!

Rodd
Rodd

Fabulous interview, fabulous actor! Never tire of watching what he does.

Kat lee
Kat lee

Roger is one of my all time favorites. I loved him as Todd Manning, which was my introduction to this actor. I won’t say That the cleansing of Franco has been easy on the fans of JaSam, which I’m unabashedly one. I often think that we all suffer from PTSD from the original storyline. I was never happy with the “brain tumor” story and the get a free pass from accountability, that was given to the character. Nor was I thrilled when they paired him with Elizabeth for two reasons, one, she is a rape survivor and two it grates that he is helping to parent Jason’s son. The last thing that bothers me about this storyline and character is that his victims (pre removal of said brain tumor) are expected to just “just get over it”. It will take time and smart and gentle writing for the fans to reconcile this. All that said, I can think of no other actor on this planet that could humanize and redeem Franco better than RH. Roger is the ONLY reason i am even giving it a chance.

su000
su000

Franco is too mushy wussy..
Roger can play a great edgy bad boy with a heart of gold.
This powder-puff Franco is a stale bore, he needs to get his darker bad boy side back and still hold onto his good side.

Putting Franco with Liz (the mother nun) was a bad move.
He was 100% more interesting/colorful/vivid/intruging with Carly and Nina; Franco and Liz are like toe-nail clippings BLAHHHH.

Franco should never ever be a mushy wussy stale bore, never.

BabyMarie
BabyMarie

I agree I have always loved RO HO wen he plays bad guy.. he doesn’t play a good goodie two shoe.. I 2ould love to see him to go back to being Dark again.. I don’t feel he should be paired with Liz who is a Rape Survivor.. I liked Franco with Nina and Ava him and honestly O Brecht would be great together.. my fav with him was Blair on OLTL.. please bring the Dark side back out of Franco..

Barbara
Barbara

Roger is a great actor but i would like him better with nina or ava.i am hoping franco and liz break up

BabyMarie
BabyMarie

I agree

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

I like his attitude very much–and he is articulate about the way he works–and candid and upfront with his opinions. I like that; however, he came on to play a character that he “set” the character before he got that. A bit unfair for him, granted.
BUT the violence that the writers have done to the true (evil, black and white) character is a barrier he can’t get over. So he does the best he can with what he is given. Too bad. They should have let the evil Franco lie–and brought him on in a totally new character on a blank canvas that he could put his own imprint on. He’s a talented and dedicated actor. But I don’t/can’t ever root for the current storylines (haven’t watched BUT will when Genie returns) that he is playing. Again, too bad. I love the humor bits that he throws in and his spontaneity. The totally dark original character along with the violation of the character by reviving him exemplifies a lot of what is wrong with current GH.

Tracy
Tracy

I am really unhappy with this interview! The majority of Roger’s scenes are with Rebecca Herbst but he didn’t pay her one compliment! He talks about Franco has changed but admits he doesn’t know much about the old Franco. Roger says he thinks the show is reluctant to have the primary characters behave badly – is he on another show? No way can he be talking about GH with their nonstop redemption arcs! Roger thinks the show does itself a disservice when they bring in great actors to play bad guys – the disservice is to the audience who gets stuck with a character who isn’t likable and again, those nonstop redemption arcs! I didn’t like the interview but the part that bothered me most was Roger suggesting that Scott should have been Franco’s abuser because that would have been cool! Cool for who? Not for Kin Shriner who would have had his entire character re-written into a scumbag! Not for the audience who have watched and loved Scotty since 1977! We have seen Scotty as the sweet and earnest young lawyer who was crazy in love with Laura Webber and devastated when he lost her to Luke. We saw Scotty become bitter after losing Laura and begin scheming. Scotty always competed with Luke and Scott entered into some shady activities but they were always about money or nailing Spencer and/or Corinthos. Scott adored Dominque and was crushed when he lost her to a brain tumor. Scott loved his kids; Serena, Karen and Logan and we NEVER saw any indication that he was an abuser! Roger is being horribly disrespectful in wanting to re-write the story of a GH LEGEND! Especially a legend portrayed by Kin Shriner who seems to be a friend and mentor to the entire cast!

rebecca1
rebecca1

I agree with you, Tracy. I have mixed feelings about this interview. First, it seems to me that the actors (I don’t know how many but judging from Laura Wright’s and now Roger’s, don’t take the time to learn the history of their character. They seem to play to whatever’s happening in “their” time. On a soap, particularly a soap which is a genre of continuity, a genre where audiences spend YEARS with certain characters, the actors should know who they’re playing and what happened in their character’s past. I’m still reeling from Laura Wright not seeming to know that AJ and Carly had a confrontation on the stairs years ago when she was pregnant and to this day Carly tells the lie that AJ pushed her. Laura Wright AS Carly has told that story, but yet in an interview I read with her when the interviewer asked if she thought it karma or interesting the way the writers repeated history; having Carly being the one accused of pushing Nelle down the stairs, Laura brushed over it, said she didn’t know about that and went on to another thought. Here, we have Roger saying, “So, from what little I know about the old Franco and the old Jason relationship, I think Franco has a real need for Jason’s approval. In those scenes, I thought that here was a guy who was doing something and he wasn’t sure what was motivating him to do these things. I thought that it was kind of cool and beautiful in that the pleaser and the killer are kind of different parts of the same person. I think on a very basic level, he really wanted this other man (Jason) to like him.” Ummm; yes. He did. He does. I mean, the whole thing about Jason and Franco WAS their history, how Franco tortured Jason and Sam, took Sam, made them think he raped her, made them think he ordered the rape on Michael, etc. So, I think Roger should know a lot more than “what little” he says he knows. And I think that Franco wanting Jason’s forgiveness, understanding and approval is obvious. Whatever happened to actors discussing motivation for their character’s actions, thoughts, etc? I know there are a lot of lines to learn and much more work than in a weekly show or a film; but before accepting a role (or upon accepting it) it would seem they should be fully aware of their character and their character’s journey. Since when was there “different points of view” in Franco’s childhood abuse story?” I don’t see Jim Harvey as having a “point of view.” He was a perv child molester and I didn’t get the sense that he was some innocent, deluded creature that thought he really “loved the boys.” No, all along they played it that he kept Franco’s mother scared to do anything because Harvey was menacing; we saw what a criminal he was. This wasn’t some sick, misguided soul. Yes;… Read more »

Lucy D
Lucy D

First, Roger mentioned Scotty as an example of using characters on the show as villains, not that specifically Scotty should have been one.

Second, he was hired to be a completely different version of Franco than James Franco was. They obviously were trying to erase most of the traces of that character, so not sure why Roger should have studied James Franco’s performance. Plus James Franco’s character was a disgusting person, created for buzz, not for story.

I think as horrible a person as Jim Harvey was, he did think he was doing something out of a perverted sense of love. His controlling Betsy was just part of the bargain.

As fro Becky, he said several times how the two of them had created this sweet story and that he actually thought Liz should get more of a POV.

rebecca1
rebecca1

Actually, if you reread the interview, Roger specifically said “I don’t know why the child abuse wasn’t from his actual father, Scott Baldwin, How cool would that have been?” There is no misinterpretation there.

Second: I know who he was hired to play. I know who Franco was in James Franco’s version and I understand how they redeemed the character in order to keep Roger on the show. I am a huge fan of Roger’s and was thrilled that in the midst of a bad decision to cast him as Franco, they found a way to turn it around (although there are fans who can’t seem to let go of the first version and won’t accept the explanations for his redemption.) Be that as it may; still not my point. I didn’t say he should have studied James Franco’s performance. What I DID say was that actors should know the HISTORY of the characters they are playing.

I don’t agree regarding Harvey’s twisted sense of love. If he was a great guy in all other respects; the last guy you’d suspect because in all other areas he was a stand-up, good guy, I’d say maybe. But he came to the show taunting Franco, he tried to make Franco think that nothing had happened in their past, he tried to turn Drew against Franco and told him that Franco had always been trouble even as a kid, he schemed against Ned and the city of Port Charles for his own gain. So, I don’t buy the poor, misunderstood pedophile. He was just a creep.

Can’t comment on Becky; that’s for Tracy to address if she feels like replying.

As for Roger? Loved him on OLTL and love him on GH. I also think he sounds like a very down-to-earth, intelligent person. Still think he needs to brush up on “his history.”

Lucy D
Lucy D

I did not say nor mean to imply that Harvey was misunderstood or anything but a horrible person. What I said was in his head he thought he was not a creep.

I

JMER
JMER

I agree with Tracy and with Rebecca1 as well. If not knowing history is the only way for these actors (and Roger is highly likable, no doubt) to navigate these scripts, that’s a red flag for this show.

Pam
Pam

Thank you for this interview. Personally I believe Roger plays better dark and not the goody, goody. He doesn’t sell good well at all. You see him light up when he is plays the darkness. I hope they let him go back to playing dark. No Friz wedding for me not a Friz fan at all.

Patrick
Patrick

“… He’s an original, respected by his peers, beloved by the fans of the soap opera genre, a Daytime Emmy winner, and can make any scene he is in intriguing and draw you into wanting to know what will happen next. We are talking about General Hospital’s Roger Howarth (Franco)” this is all very good and nice. TO A POINT . it’s a lot of “fluff” and “FOLD” I am once again throwing in the towel… on Roger Howarth’ Franco – AND – Michael Easton’ Finn. BOTH of them buoyed marqueed a star

END

they both once again… WERE stars in their previous respective show : “One Life to Live

Finn and Anna look like mother and son. this is the most disturbing part of thee show. that Frank Valentini , Shelley, and Chris ACTUALLY believe this pairing to be ????? !!!!! they are like brother and sister… the writing is not cute enough… for Anna… the come hither… the direct approach by Finn … the dalliance and word play are just so nauseatingly sweet.

Franco is always being catered to… no matter what the story.. be it timely… the molestation story came and went too quickly…

every since the Nurses Ball and RH return from vacation he’s on the front lines continually.. his person @ the hospital … nothing is working in and around him… save for Rebecca Herbst who, had Roger Howarth not had in his corner…

there’s so many disjointed story or lack thereof with no depth and no acting out of character to offer any meaning to this show

let me also add… this whole debacle with Laura Wright … HAVING THE OPPORTUNIY ????? to finally act something out ?????? she didn’t… she was safety netted and rescued by Jason. ALL the aura mystery ie: Laura Wright acting talent… has left the building… she’s once again ensconced with Sonny and Jason… these three amigos who are overly heralded as thee show.

this show stinks

there’s something wrong with General Hospital – Frank Valentini you are now nearing the end of your 4th year at the helm. YOU NEED TO BE FIRED or do your job and replace Shelley

Timmm
Timmm

I didnt know much about Roger coming to GH. I liked Todd. I was glad when James Franco and Franco died. THEN to resurrect him, WHY? So, I have always had a bad taste in my mouth for Roger’s Franco. BUT, him and Scotty are magic and him and Greg Evigan were the best! Now, as I read this interview, I see that this guy Roger LOVES what he does, respects his craft and lets the writers write and does his job! I admire that!

elm1951
elm1951

i have adored roger since his early days as teenage todd on oltl – no matter what character he plays he does not ever disappoint……………..very talented actor!!

Debbie Reider
Debbie Reider

Great interview! Roger has such an appealing way of speaking. He really draws you in. What a terrific actor and beautiful personality. Can’t wait to meet him in November. Totally stoked!

Patrick
Patrick

“…I think that’s part of the hook. Her perspective is something that I would hope would be written into the story ”

GEEZ – at least we may be seeing a glimpse of Roger Howarth “championing” Rebecca Herbst.. HIS only reason for existing on this dire show. ham any one

Patrick
Patrick

so much ^^^^ wordy went in to his discussion about his relationship or LACK OFF .. with either Jason or Drew. I mean really … with RH schmoozing hamming and “courting” the audience if you will.. is all that he’s doing. WHEN he helped Jason rescue Carly with his car… Jason basically dumped him off at the hospital… where Franco tried to offer his presence… she said nothing and they drove off !!!!! I was so floored and livid that this is what is going to continually happen… WHY would the writers extend any emotionally bonding with Jason ??? or Drew ???? Drew certainly has the emotional depth to trigger something between he and Franco… otherwise it’s easier for the writers to give Jason a punching bag. this threesome that’s been building A YEAR NOW .. since Steve Burton returned… has gone nowhere…zilch expectation . so much for the twins and older brother.. however one looks at… i’m just glad that this threesome is NOT WORKING… dag all the overload sucking up any and all airtime as it is… WHEW ! Jason and Sam and Drew SUCK… it’s apparent that this went south… couldn’t be happier. Shelley and Chris NEED to be held accountable. especially all the garbage they are writing about Anna and Finn

Kt
Kt

Loved this interview. Roger Howarth is so talented and so much fun to watch. So happy w the way Franco is written & I love his pairing w Elizabeth.

Maria
Maria

Roger is such a giving and intelligent actor. It’s no wonder why his cast mates speak so highly of him. He’s an actors actor. He’s unpredictable about how he’ll approaches a scene. But totally predictable that he will treat the scene and his acting partners with respect. Not many actors could have taken the character of Franco and not only humanized him but made him root worthy. The love story he and Becky Herbst are playing for us fans is unlike any other couple in daytime. My only complaint is we don’t get enough of him.

mealso
mealso

This interview is way too focused on storylines and fictional characters (in the big scheme of things, who cares?) than in what he THINKS and FEELS about the job. That would have been way more interesting than whether or not he believes Franco’s tumor could come back and make him behave badly.

Marjorie
Marjorie

I like the character Franco. He loves Elizabeth and the kids and wants them to be his family. Roger howart portrail of Franco for me is very good. I think it was a very good idea to bring up Franco’s childhood abuse because abuse of young boys is often forgotten in the media. GH has to be very careful about political correctness because if taken too far would destroy the essence of GH altogether. I’m not big on homosexuality and there has been more time given to those characters than usual.Keep as much normality in the show as possible please and GH could go on for a very long time.

Breaking News

Brandon Barash Replaces Tyler Christopher At DAYS

According to reports from Soap Opera Digest and Daytime Confidential, former General Hospital favorite Brandon Barash has temporarily replaced Tyler Christopher, in the role of Stefan DiMera at Days of our Lives.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Brandon played mobster Johnny Zacchara on GH from 2007-2016.

Because DAYS tapes well in advance; look for Barash to hit the air sometime in early 2019.

What are your thoughts on Brandon as temp replacement for Tyler as Stefan O? Comment below.

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Breaking News

GH’s Maurice Benard Takes On Role Of John Gotti In Upcoming Lifetime Movie

Who better to use their mobster experience playing the iconic role of Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital, and put it to good use, when taking on the role of a real-life mobster than Daytime Emmy winner, Maurice Benard?

As revealed over the past weekend, Maurice Benard is hard at work filming a Lifetime Movie based on the life of Victoria Gotti called “The Victoria Gotti Story”.

Sharing the news via his social media, Benard expressed: “Thank you lifetime and everyone involved 4 a Beautiful opportunity.”

Recently, John Travolta played the notorious New York mobster in the movie Gotti released earlier this year.

The infamous Gotti, had a wife and a daughter both named Victoria.  So as to which point of view the film is focusing on is yet to be released.

So what do you think of the casting of Maurice as John Gotti? Intrigued to see the Lifetime Movie when it debuts? Comment below

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the comment below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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