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The Hunter Tylo Interview – The Bold and the Beautiful

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

It’s Taylor’s time!  That is the mantra around The Bold and the Beautiful set these days, and in particular for long time series stalwart Hunter Tylo (Taylor Hayes Forrester)!  As fans know, a mega-shift happened for the first time in the 25 year history of the canvas, when two of the core four … Susan Flannery (Stephanie) and Ronn Moss (Ridge)… decided not to re-sign with the show and have since been written out.  Ridge is somewhere out of the country tootling around Europe. Stephanie died on-screen of lung cancer.  Those departures have paved the way for some complicated and excited stories ahead for Tylo, and what looks to be a potential new love interest in John McCook (Eric Forrester).  Will Taylor become Stephanie 2.0?

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Hunter Tylo in her dressing room to find out what is behind and what is driving Taylor these days, as she tries to pick up the pieces after Stephanie’s death which has also re-ignited her long running feud with Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang).  As Hunter fills us in, a subtle metamorphosis has begun which could ultimately lead her to become of all things … the matriarch of the Forrester clan! But will it really happen? There are lots of single eligible women on B&B who would like to get their claws into Eric Forrester!

How does such a beloved star, such as Hunter, deal with balancing languishing on the back burner to a front-burner story?  How has she coped with the loss of her long-time cast mates?  These questions, and Taylor’s questionable psychiatric practices, involving Katie (Heather Tom), are just a few things we touch upon in this fascinating interview with one of daytime’s all-time most fascinating stars, Hunter Tylo!

MICHAEL:

Before Susan Flannery left the show, you had a heartbreaking moment at the goodbye party, when Taylor hugged Stephanie.  How was it for you being part of that episode, and saying goodbye to Susan? 

HUNTER:

Courtesy/CBS

That last day, when we were taping Stephanie’s going away party, I was dreading it.  It was just one of those things where you feel like you have to get dressed for a funeral, or something.  The only thing I could do is keep reassuring myself that Susan is O.K.  She is healthy and she is going to go on to do other things.  I even asked her several times, “Are you sure now?  Maybe you will work this out?”  And she said, “No.  I really want to go do other things.”   So I had to make sure she was O.K.  Once I knew it was something she really wanted and needed, I could understand that.  It is a lot of work being on a soap, and she has done this for so long.  She deserved it.  So then I was able to bolster myself through it.  I understood what this meant for her as a woman moving on with her life and enjoying her life now, because she has worked her rear off.   But when we got to the last scene – where Stephanie is saying goodbye – I believe she added the line, “Please forgive me.”  That was hard, that was really hard.  It was a hard day, and it was so much so that even when we were done filming I had a hard time saying goodbye to Susan.  She actually did have more scenes to shoot the following week, but I was not in that week.  So I did not want to make it any more difficult on Susan, because she was not finished yet.  We later shot those vignettes for the video they gave to Stephanie, where each character said something to her.  They let me sort of adlib in some of my own thoughts.  I said, “You are my hero,” which is true.  I got to express it that way to Susan.  I did not know that Brad Bell (B&B head writer and executive producer) decided to write it … that Taylor would not be with Stephanie on her death bed moment!

MICHAEL:

Was it shocking to you that it was Brooke who was with Stephanie at the end instead of Taylor, given all that Brooke had gone through with Stephanie during Stephanie’s last-go round with cancer?

HUNTER:

I knew whatever the reason would be, with the long history there, there was going to be some pay-off.   I did not know what it would be, but now looking at what he has done with the story … it’s genius!  It’s absolutely awesome, because it motivates so many things for Taylor.  It brings out so many things in her that have been dormant.  I think it also infuses Taylor with this drive to now do every single thing that Stephanie ever told her to do, that she would always battle with herself morally about.  Whether it be right to take her place?  That is a great question.  As well as, should Taylor forget about what other people think or feel?  So now it’s really cool!

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MICHAEL:

Did you have a meeting with Brad Bell (B&B executive producer and head writer), where he informed you that after Susan departed the show that he had major plans for you as Taylor to stir the pot… sort of as a next generation Stephanie?

HUNTER:

No.  I never like to know and never really worry about it.  If an actor truly puts their hand into that creative mix, I think that now the actor has an agenda.  So to me, I treat it as if it’s like God unfolding our own lives.  Whatever happens to me I need to react to it on-screen genuinely.  There is a tendency for actors to go to the powers-that-be and go, “Look, I don’t want to do this, because my character is going to look bad.”  I feel if you don’t trust where the writing is going to go; you are going to set yourself up for disappointment … a lot!   Our characters have to lose too, in order to come back and win. In soaps, the power has to go back and forth, and that can be hard to take when you are working and you want to have that drive to come in and perform the material.  Sometimes it is hard to come in here when your character’s is on the downside. You don’t really get too excited where you might go, “Oh!  I have got to do this stupid scene?” (Laughs)  I like that Taylor had a down period where she was losing, losing, losing, because it really does give her some place to go now.  It does breathe some life into this show, because we lost two major characters.  We needed to have a dynamic change.  I don’t know if that is just how life plays out, because we did not know that Susan and Ronn Moss were going to leave.  Or, if it’s just Brad’s genius to reserve certain characters and bring them back when it’s time.  All I can say, it’s working out really well. I think it will be a nice way of having the show come around full-circle.

MICHAEL:

So, since you did not talk to Brad directly, what was your first clue when you saw the scripts that Taylor is becoming somewhat manipulative?

HUNTER:

She is not manipulative; that is the thing.  She is very much a psychiatrist-type of person.   Taylor will rationalize herself into anything, and then she will believe it.  There are some things coming up that will be shocking that will definitely make Taylor fans happy! These are some things the fans have been complaining about for a long time.  I had no idea things were going to go to this other place until I saw the script the day before we taped it!  There is an incident where Stephanie left Taylor and Eric without saying goodbye, and so they bond over being denied closure.  That was the first moment where I went, “Hmmm. What is happening there?”  It’s been very true to life, and true to the personalities, true to the history of the show, and true to all of the things that were set up.  This also sets up nice dynamics for Katherine Kelly Lang’s character of Brooke.  When Brooke and Taylor go at it, it really gets a lot of people wound up.  I said this brings the show around full circle with everything Stephanie was fighting for, and now the battle has been set for these two to really go at it.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

If Taylor and Eric were to become a bonafide couple on the show, how would you feel about it?

HUNTER:

I love working with John McCook (Eric).  He is just the happiest person ever on set.  He is the funniest person on set even with his old jokes! (Laughs)  We love that! (Laughs)  I can see Eric and Taylor as a couple. Whatever has held them back in the past romantically is that they have always had a respect and affinity for each other, or their love for Stephanie.  Once, a long time ago, they toyed with this pairing and everybody felt like, “Taylor would not do that.  She loves and respects Stephanie too much.”  They put the kibosh on that storyline.  I am happy where the story is right now.

MICHAEL:

I have to say, Taylor did some very bad psychiatry on poor Katie!  She literally was telling her how badly she was suffering from post-partum depression and such, over and over again! (Laughs)

HUNTER:

Yeah, well you don’t usually tell the patients their worst fears! (Laughs)  Then again, there are many people who have gotten into psychology careers who have taken on that choice of a job, because they have real issues of their own that really never did get resolved! (Laughs)  You can actually get psychology licenses from online courses, and so there are some bad psychologists walking around out there.  I think Taylor is one of those people who glazed by some of the analytical things she needed to do towards the end of her PhD. (laughs) I think maybe she put on a good act, and then of course, as all of her personal traumas happened to her with losing Ridge and the death of her daughter, all of Taylor’s baggage came out!  Things weren’t really resolved for her.  Taylor has her issues.  I think that is what makes her an interesting character, though.  It’s kind of a cool to see a character that doesn’t have her act together!  If Taylor really had it together, who would care?  You have this character who is telling everybody how to do things, and then you watch them screw up their own stuff.  Taylor can give the medicine, but she can’t take her own!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

So what did Taylor want?  Does she want Brooke with Bill?  So therefore, somewhere down the line she can go after Ridge all by her lonesome with no competition from her rival?

HUNTER:

No. What Taylor was doing was warning Katie that Brooke is up to her old tricks, and she is going to start coming on to her husband.  Taylor already had that figured out, that Brooke would start feeling needy because she lost Ridge, and all of a sudden, there would be a little kiss between Brooke and Bill.  And … Taylor was right!   I think Taylor planted one too many fears into Katie, though!

MICHAEL:

So Taylor wants Bill and Katie to stay together?

HUNTER:

She wants Bill and Katie to stay together.  Taylor is just trying to tell Brooke to mind her own business.  But then, again Taylor isn’t minding her own business! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What did you think when Ronn Moss made the choice to leave B&B after 25 years? After all, he was your on-screen love interest for many, many years!

HUNTER:

Courtesy/CBS

I was shocked!  When I heard about Ronn and Susan, I thought they must be at an impasse contract wise, or Ronn is really bored and he will just take a couple weeks, or a couple months off, and he will be right back.  I think over the holidays is when it really sunk in for me more.

MICHAEL:

It’s great to see both you, and John McCook, being given some front-burner material to play!

HUNTER:

Viewers are going to see a whole new strength with Eric Forrester. And for John McCook that is great, because for a long time he was in the background of the show, too.

MICHAEL:

Taylor’s son Thomas (Adam Gregory) did not get the CEO position in the end at Forrester Creations!  What do you think about that plot point, and how it ultimately affects Taylor?

HUNTER:

I have got to say, when we were watching the deathbed video that Stephanie left us, I literally got mad!  I screamed, “What?  Oh, my gosh!”  Taylor’s son had been set up to lie by Stephanie to set up Brooke, which got them all in trouble, which then caused Taylor to have the disastrous wedding, and then Stephanie pulled the rug out from under Thomas.  I was so mad!  But I have got to say, that is how genius it was of Brad to have Stephanie do so many annoying things.  It leaves us so much to play, and somewhere to go.  Now of course, Stephanie’s picture is hanging right over the fireplace and now we have to look at her all the time! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Oh, but wait!  Taylor will have her picture up above the mantle soon at the Forrester mansion!  She will be the one to go, “Let’s just take this old picture of Stephanie down!”  You’ll see! (Laughs)

HUNTER:

Do you see the dynamic though?  For years, Stephanie was trying to tell Taylor to do something that she did not have it in her to do, and then Stephanie took Brooke under her wing.  It totally makes these characters true.  Now Taylor is exactly in Stephanie’s shoes when the show first started.  She had lost her husband.  She had lost everything and Brooke was taking everything, and that is what made her fight.  Now of course, Taylor would want to step up and Taylor actually takes on the persona of Stephanie!  That is what I have chosen to infuse Taylor with.  We will see Taylor change in many ways.  I actually have Taylor taking on Stephanie’s mannerisms, and the way that Susan would say certain line, and it’s been kind of fun.  All I need now is one of Stephanie’s pant suits! (Laughs)   I told wardrobe this!  I told them, “Just give me a pant suit and broach!”  And so wardrobe said, “No.  Let’s just put her in the jacket of the pant suit and heels.”   I said, “That is an awesome! That will be just back in Brooke’s face!  Perfect!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Is Taylor going to be a much more aggressive mama bear when it comes to her kids, Thomas and Steffy?

HUNTER:

I think Taylor is feeling this is her moment to be the mama bear and the matriarch, and to step up to the plate and start fighting for her kids.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Does Taylor want her pregnant daughter Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) with Liam (Scott Clifton) … even though Liam is the most indecisive male character ever seen on B&B?

HUNTER:

She does want Steffy with Liam, even though she wants to slap Liam. (Laughs)  I can hear Susan Flannery’s voice in my head when we would be running lines with Ronn Moss going, “Well, Ridge is really pretty, but he’s not smart!” (Laughs) I get the same feeling when I see Liam in these scenes where he can’t decide between Hope and Steffy! I am like, “C’mon already!”  That is the beauty and the frustration of the characters on our show, and what they have to overcome.

MICHAEL:

Did you watch the final scenes between Susan Flannery and Katherine Kelly Lang, when Brooke sang Stephanie through to her passing?

HUNTER:

I did not see it, but I heard it was breathtaking and touching.  I don’t even know if I would have made it through it.  I don’t know how Katherine did it.  I know I am glad I did not have to say goodbye to Ronn or Susan on-screen.  For me, I think it would take me a few days to recover from after playing those moments out, because you do have to go to a place of loss, and it’s hard to recover from that psychologically, a little bit.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Have you and Katherine discussed what is happening between Taylor and Brooke now?

HUNTER:

No.  Once we realized the rivalry was back on, we had to quit talking and chit-chatting in the make-up room.  We have to, and that is what is sad about this for our job and to service the storyline.  We can actually get to know each other well, but when you are two characters in a rivalry you have to really watch it, because then any comfortability will show through on camera.  We have to put distance between us and not bond too much. We cannot look comfortable with each other.  We need to look like we are in a place of competition.   Katherine and I try to work with each other as actors.  We will run lines and we respect each other.  For example, trying to talk about what is going on with politics on television, we can’t do because we can’t bond on anything.  It sucks, I have to say.  I really like Katherine.  As people, and as women, we have a lot of common.  We both love horses, we love cooking, and we love to do stuff with our kids.  So it t becomes a kind of a shame when the storyline gets like this.

MICHAEL:

Can we expect a roll in the mud, or chocolate cake fight in the near future between Brooke and Taylor?  Fans love that!

HUNTER:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Oh, I don’t know!  We do love that, and I am clapping right now. (Laughs) We have had the mud fight, and we have had the coy-pond fish fight.  We will come up with something really good, messy, and super sexy!

MICHAEL:

What are fans saying to you on your Twitter account about Taylor’s latest behavior change, and where her story is going?

HUNTER:

I have not been on it in for a little awhile.  Since the end of October 2012 … my life has been insane.  Everybody in my family has a birthday.  Then it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then there are more birthdays!  We just had my daughter Katya’s, and my oldest son’s birthday in January.  Usually in the spring I will get back on Twitter, and then it will be a good time for me to interact with the fans more.  I do know though, that whenever Katherine and I would banter with each other on Twitter, we did it in character! We found out that was a huge mistake, because it started pitting the fans against each other.  We had to regroup. For a while we had to un-friend and un-follow each other, and now we are friends on there again. We had to let the fans know, “Look. Wait a second. We can’t have you bad-mouthing.  Now it’s going into personal lives.  When it does that … that is not cool!”   Twitter is a weird real world.  People want to joke, but when people tend to make it too close to home with anything that is a touchy subject, people mistake what someone intended, and then that becomes bad. 

MICHAEL:

But let it be noted, the Brooke and Taylor fans are intense!

HUNTER:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

The Brooke/Taylor fans are intense!  I think we are going to see this happen again, but what I want the fans to know more than anything is this: Katherine and I really do respect each other.  We love each other as people.  They should not get our characters confused. The thing is that we love doing the scenes we do. We do know how to goad each other and push each other’s button.  We do know a little about each other in real life that we know how to get to each other emotionally.  So the fans may see on-screen intense emotions when we are talking, but there is nothing that they need to get so wound-up about that they say something ugly.  I would not want anyone to say anything ugly about Katherine.  She is a sweet and adorable person, and she works her butt off!  We all go through different things in our lives, and no one needs that Twitter stress.  I am excited about where the characters and the show are going.  I hope we can all keep encouraging each other to watch the show and get excited about what is going to happen next, and those types of things.  I think the fans are going to be really excited, and that which drove them to watch B&B in the first place, I think they are going to feel excited about that all over again.

MICHAEL:

How is your daughter Katya doing after her battle with Retinoblastoma so many years ago?

HUNTER:

She is doing great.  Fifteen years later, that is how old she is.  She is a survivor and a fighter.  I had a lot of faith in her, but I wondered how it would all turn out, and so I am just really celebrating her life.  Isabella just turned 16 and that was really scary, and we won’t even go there! (Laughs)

Courtesy/Amazon.com

MICHAEL:

Will you ever consider writing a follow-up to your first memoir, Making a Miracle? So much has happened in your life personally and professionally since the last book.

HUNTER:

I was working on a follow-up, but there have been so many changes that all of a sudden my life got really busy again.  I will go back to it.  I would like to write some more encouraging things to people based on my life experiences, and now there is even more to talk about.  So we will let things keep unfolding.  There will come that right time to put it all together.  I have notes that I have been keeping about everything.

MICHAEL:

Did you make a New Years Resolution for 2013?

HUNTER:

You are going to think this is weird and boring, but mine is to get back to do doing all my ballet and gymnastic stretches.  It was something that I thought just because I am becoming a certain age that I was not going to stop; doing my hair fun, or dressing fun, or working out or riding bikes.  I have always liked to ride a mountain bike, but I always thought there must be some period where you go hang that up.  But now, I have been doing it more than ever, like riding through mud puddles and all sorts of crazy stuff.  So far I am happy to report, that I have kept my resolution and I have been doing my stretches every single day. 

Courtesy/CBS

MICHAEL:

In closing, what should Taylor fans watch for in the months ahead?

HUNTER:

I would say to watch to see how many things Taylor does that Stephanie always told her to do.  I think Taylor always thinks she has all the answers and she has an agenda, but I do think she will have her heart in the right place.  However, now I don’t see Taylor compromising or giving up on things she really wants these days.  I think she has already done that enough in the past, and has seen where it has gotten her! (Laughs)

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gilda
gilda

Great article, I have always followed her work.

Jean Lockyer
Jean Lockyer

What work?!!!

gilda
gilda

Movie, book, All My Children, etc. She’s a lovely person.

Claudine Squares
Claudine Squares

I think Taylor is a poor excuse for a psychiatrist. She can’t keep herself together. She could not raise her baby ! She gave it to Brooke to raise.

P
P

Love Hunter and her portrayal of Taylor!

B&B Fan
B&B Fan

Taylor can’t carry this show. Bell is making a big mistake giving her more air time. Many will tune out because we don’t want to see her on our screens. And putting her with Eric is another huge mistake.

Margot
Margot

I certainly agree with you B&B Fan.

dannielle
dannielle

i agree terrible mistake

TayFan4Life
TayFan4Life

Haters Get over it!…It’s Hunter’s time to shine…she’s been in the background long enough!…if you don’t like it too bad…change the channel…you must be insane to think brooke can carry this show on her own…she is nothing without Stephanie or Taylor to fight with…If Hunter leaves it’s a wrap for this show I truly believe…this show cannot stand to lose anymore main players like Taylor.

Jean Lockyer
Jean Lockyer

To be honest, I’m over the B&B. It has become so boring, Liam and Steffy are really not doing the series and favours. They bore the crap out of me. Perhaps I’ve outgrown B&B or it’s outgrown me. Either way, I don’t bother to watch it anymore. Hunter Tylo is the worst actress I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness

Tay Fan 101
Tay Fan 101

LMAO!!! Haven’t the ratings gone up lately? Enuff said. Bell knows what he is doing! Gooooo Taylor!!!

B&B Fan
B&B Fan

NO the new ratings out are down with Taylor on our screens we lost 125,000 viewers from the week before. So NO Bell doesn’tknow what he is doing but will soon once he sees Taylor is not bringing up the viewership but making it go down. And Brook can carry this show way better then Head bobblng and Arms waving Taylor anyday.

Tay Fan 101
Tay Fan 101

New ratings are 2.6. Sorry, but yes that means the rating did go UP from 2.4. Sorry, but I doubt Bell cares that some people don’t like it. He knows who is important to the show and who is not. And I am also sorry that you think Taylor/Hunter is ‘carrying the show’, because no one has been saying anything like that except YOU. Thanks for acknowledging her impact.

Right
Right

On the contrary. I was not sure about the pairing with Eric at first, but now I am convinced that the show has found a replacement for it’s matriarch. It’s perfect.

kelly-ann jones
kelly-ann jones

who should carry the show brooke logan
what has brooke dont for the show ohh yea he return tanked the ratings that week
the thought of her getting stephanies shares caused outrage resulting in the bb call line crashing the thought of stephanie dying in her arms caused outrage from fans the only mistake was pushing brooke front burner
brooke logan a washed up cat kitten who can only play 1 type of rolls

Gillian
Gillian

I’ve been watching BB since AMC was cancelled. I find Brooke and the Logans’ feelings of entitlement annoying and think it is refreshing to see Taylor with a backbone.I fastforward through most Hope & Brooke scenes.

David
David

Great interview! I like Hunter Tylo but i’m very disappointed by Taylor! Taylor is not Stéphanie! She would be with Thorne or Bill! Not Eric! I don’t understand Bradley Bell! The Bold and The beautiful become an incredibly stupid soap opera. Marcus, Dayzee, Maya, Katie are deadly boring! Where are Deacon, his son, Amber, Kristen, Felicia, CJ??? Fortunatly, Rick, Brooke and Bill are here!

linda
linda

i think taylor is a pure ecuse for a doctor an please dont put her with eric she has interfered with every ones life shes just a poor excuse for a women or doctor

barbara
barbara

taylor has always been a poor psychiatrist and doesn”t have much insight into her own feelings-she has always been jealous of Brooke and repeatedly misjudges her-she should be as kindhearted as Brooke .I don”t think she is -she is so blind to her own lack of insight

Pam
Pam

I totally agree with you Linda. I can’t stand Taylor. She thinks she is so high and mighty, and all she is , is a trouble maker. Taylor thought it was just fine for Steffy to break up Liem and Steffy but not for Hope to go after what was taken away from her. Taylor should move to Paris and go after Ridge and leave Eric alone.

k/kay
k/kay

Hunter Tylo is really a very nice lady when she lived in LV I lived in her area also and would run into her from time to time I am glad she is getting screen time again. Brad Bell has to realize their are some of us out here that are worn out with the triangle for two years of Steffy/Liam/Hope I remember when they were going to go down that road of Eric & Taylor but backed off for good reason then, but now it feels right just once let Taylor win it all. So in other words it is back on my DVR.

k/kay
k/kay

I would also like to thank you Michael for helping straighten out this rumor that KKL & HT did not get along two soap columnists actually three tried with the help of soap fans to start a war back when Ronn Moss left it was tacky. Thanks again for asking the right respectful questions. You are indeed a gentleman with the soap actors!

CC
CC

How classless of Hunter Tylo. She seems to be the one unable to separate the character from the actor. Susan and Kelly played enimies for years, yet are close in real life. come now Ms. Tylo. Your jealousy is shining through, loud and clear, lol.

k/kay
k/kay

Maybe you might want to do some research on Ms. Tylo she and Kimberlin Brown/Sheila became very best friends they went into business together etc then when Ms. Tylo and her husband Michael were thinking about getting a divorce Ms. Brown testified against her saying she was an unfit mother. I think I personally would think twice before I became close to a co-worker again. It was very nasty and I would not want to go thru that again.

Tay Fan 101
Tay Fan 101

There is no rule that states any actress needs to be friends with any co-workers off camera. If that were the case, no one in Hollyweird would have jobs. Who needs phony work related friends? I am sure Mrs. Tylo has had more than her fair share of those. LMAO! She hasn’t been employed in this business for over 20 years for nothing. Obviously, she knows her business well. To hell with friendships! Keep the money and keep it moving!

Robin
Robin

Michael does it again. GREAT interview!!! Very revealing. That said…I HATE TAYLOR, ALWAYS HAVE, ALWAYS WILL! And she’s nothing like Stephanie (who was likeable, Hunter!!!) Taylor is an entitled, preachy, holier than thou, self serving bitch! Ok, feeling better lol. The character is so unlikeable and unrelatable. Stephanie was evil but fun and likeable. I really miss her!!!!!!
Hunter is right when she talks about her character being someone who rationalizes her bad behavior then believes the rationalization. Liam is spineless and Steffy seduced him while he was engaged. Remember Taylor?? Bring back Bridget and Nick! OMG I need to a life lolol. Great interview.

Deb
Deb

It is about-damn-time! Ok Hunter, I’m sticking with this for awhile longer ONLY because you are getting a serious storyline … If Hope and Liam walk down the aisle a 5th time that’s it! The Hayes/Forresters need to move to the front burner for a LONG time … (OMG I just saw Brooke meet Carter … so I guess she has a new one to have sex with!) She is so condescending all the time and second guessing Eric about HIS choices at the company! Ugh … you still need a scen where you get to slap her! (for all the Team Taylor folks out here…we’d slap her and her fake phoney daughter too! All the Best Hunter … you are my (51), and my (70+ YO) parents’, favorite!

Dawn L. Hayes-Stewart
Dawn L. Hayes-Stewart

Actually had the pleasure of meeting Hunter and (now-ex) husband, Michael Tylo, years ago. She is a completely lovely, down-to-earth person who really appreciated that I didn’t call her by her character name (I actually forgot it for a moment!). I think it’s great that her character is getting a chance to be the pseudo-bad girl for a change. You can only sit back and take “stuff” for so long, in life and in soaps. So Hunter – don’t “go gentle into that good night” and we cheer you on!

Cathy
Cathy

It would be a blessing for Taylor & Eric to be together! They belong together and I know Stephanie would approve. I think this is what she wanted all along.

Tay Fan 101
Tay Fan 101

Thanks for the article Mr. Fairman…..Taylor/Hunter are the reason that I watch this show and I LOVE watching Taylor shine in all of her new material. It is about time the show started to put her character on front burner again. I had almost given up on this show. This shake up gives me something to look forward to.

Dolphinrocks
Dolphinrocks

Taylor is the only reason that I have endured the B&B over the years.When Hunter left the show I stopped watching until I heard that she was returning.I am loving the New Taylor and loving that she has a back bone now and that she is ready to take on the world..Ya never mess with a woman scourned and it’s great to see Taylor take on everyone who has wronged her and her family.I also love Steffy and Thomas..If Taylor and Eric get together then so be it..Bring it on..Team Taylor all the way..It’s great to see that Taylor front and center where she belongs…We love our Taylor….

oldsoapfan1969
oldsoapfan1969

I been watching this soap since the the very first day. I always loved Taylor’s outlook. Since Stephanie died, Taylor flipped a script. The way she is now on the show isn’t Taylor! It’s like she should take her own advice like she gives to her patients. Take into consideration you wouldnt tell your patients to do the things your doing. They will tend to look up to you (on the show) and see your not following your own advice.

Shari
Shari

I’m another Hunter/Taylor fan and love this article. Thank you Mr. Fairman.

I used to DVR to either watch part, FF’d the rest, or delete it completely, now I’m watching live and love that Taylor is front-and-center, with a story. It’s a long time coming. I see Taylor as a Mama Bear, just like Stephanie used to be, so I can definitely see the comparison.

I’m not sure why anyone would have a problem with another character becoming front-and-center, isn’t that what soaps are all about – BALANCE.

Hunter Tylo/Taylor is a very important part of B&B and it’s about time she is acknowledged.

Tayfan4ever
Tayfan4ever

Great article! I am so excited and looking forward to seeing Hunter front and centre once again on B&B!! I have watched the show since Day 1 and the best thing that ever happened to this show was bringing on the character of Taylor portrayed by Hunter Tylo.

Wanda
Wanda

I am for Brooke all the way!!

mmb
mmb

Thanks for the interview.. honestly.. u interviewed Don, KKL, John and Heather before this and I wasn’t interested in what they had to say abt their characters on the show. those characters do nothing for me. i am not interested in brooke incest for the nth time, nor am i interested in watching Bill strut his stuff ard. stallion?? give me a break!! i dnt care if katie recovers or dies, all I have been interested is in Taylor, cuz she is BEAUTIFUL of BnB. Hunter Tylo is an amazing actress who portrays Taylor best and I only watch BnB for her. I am more than thrilled for her to finally get the well deserved screen time.. abt time! and abt time,, taylor fought for herself and claimed what is rightfully hers!!

And i feel sorry for all the haters who bash an actor because they are obsessed with a fictional character of Brooke. very sad to see people stoop so low.

GO HUNTER TYLO!! UR TRUE FANS HAVE UR BACK AND WILL SUPPORT U ALWAYS!! TAYLOR ROCKS AND THERE IS NO BNB WITHOUT HER. without taylor, brooke will just look like a lost cow in the meadow.. more than she already is 😉

Crispy829
Crispy829

So ready to see Taylor/Steffy & Thomas come out on top (FINALLY!!!!!) for a change. It is long, LONG overdue from all Brooke & her whiny getting their way far too long. I’m sick and tired of Brooke always being justified, propped up and put on a pedestal as the queen, with her pion children never taking responsibility for their actions and always expecting things to go their way. Brooke is and always will be needy, and her children, Rick and Hope are no different. I’m Team Taylor all the way; looking forward to them emerging as the family to control the next phase of Forrester Creations. Stephanie in her evil ways new what she was doing by stripping Thomas of her shares. She knew that he has what it takes to emerge w/o benefit of using stupid tactics but talent to get him to the top. She knew that Steffy would wear her name and personality proud. And as for Taylor being the “Mama Bear”…..I say BRING IT OWN!!!!

Now I’m still on the fence about a Eric/Taylor relationship. I don’t want Taylor to be a Stephanie number two. I want her to be her own woman. If they are going in the direction of a romance between Eric/Taylor, please don’t rush it. Ease some of us like me into it. Don’t slam us with the nastiness just yet because right now it’s vomit worthy. And I’d like to see Eric grieve a little more and Taylor to continue being the true Mama Bear insuring that her children are not cheated out of their “true” legacy.

Here’s hoping the Hayes/Forrester clan reigns supreme for a while.

Desi
Desi

I love B&B but Taylor needs to get a grip on reality and realize that Stephy is getting a dose of her own medicine. It’s about time that B&B wrap up this story line with Liam/ Hope / Stephy , it’s getting real old fast. Get creative writers “Yawn”

TeamTaylor
TeamTaylor

What a great interview! Hunter is what got me hooked on this show!! It’s about time she is finally up front and center again where she belongs. She is a one of the show’s long time veterans, and much needed. Believe me, Hunter’s fanbase is worldwide and just as big as anyone else’s. We watch for her. For the longest time, Brooke has been on screen every single day. It’s time to share the limelight.

Taylor_Fan
Taylor_Fan

Thank you for this interview Mr. Fairman!!
The only reason why I still watch B&B is because of amazing Hunter Tylo as Taylor.
I am so happy that Taylor is finally front and center again, standing up for herself and her kids. Go Taylor!!!

Danielle
Danielle

Taylor is the reason I started watching the show and it is about time she got a good story. I think many of the Brooke fans are so selfish — Brooke is already the show hog and has been for years and they begraudge Taylor (and Hunter) being front and center for a while—- many people don’t like Brooke and I am glad that Bell offers us a choice. I would NEVER support a woman/character who would screw her son-in-law for a year and do what she did to her own daughter. That is disgusting — but that is exactly who Brooke Hogan is.

Honestly, given Brooke’s long sordid history on this show, it is surprising that she has any fans at all. She has been despicable since day one.

HunterFan
HunterFan

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview. Im a day 1 viewer and Im thrilled to see Hunter/Taylor back on my screen. I had tuned out because the stories were so predictable that the Logan’s were always going to win. Glad to see Taylor and her children for once just may stand a chance unless Brad pulls the rug out from under us. Hunter Tylo is a beautiful person inside and out and her class comes shining through in this interview.

Gale
Gale

I have always enjoyed watching Hunter Tylo playing Taylor. She is an amazing actress. It is great to see her on the screen more. I’d much rather see more Taylor and less Hope. I can even tolerate Brooke more than I can Hope. KKL and HT are both exceptional actresses.

Skyla
Skyla

Great interview, I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve always been a fan of Hunter Tylo since I was a kid and admire her as a person very much for how much strength & grace she has, and how she’s come through so many hard times. I believe she put alot of that into her character Taylor but the writing did not always allow Tay to stand up for herself. I am so glad they are finally doing that. So many people I know are tired of The Logans always come out on top when for the most part they are some of the most manipulative people on the show. It’s time for Taylor and her family to come out on top for once and I for one am excited to watch. I was close to tuning out of B&B recently when they started propping Hope again over Steffy, feeling like I was gonna watch a redux of Queen Brooke & Cinderella Taylor, but seeing the recent changes I’m excited about the show again. I can’t wait to see how this plays out and hope that Taylor will finally for once come out on top, it’s time for the nice girl to get some happiness for a change.

WasATayfan
WasATayfan

I have been watching B&B for many years now, I used to be a Taylor Fan and when she was dead in a scene I got sad and was on strike with the show until they brought her back, but now I am not a Taylor fan. She is a hypocrite and acts as if she is too holy. She makes it seems as if she doesn’t break a glass. She is always so meddling and her character makes it seem as of she wants to be like Brooke. She hates her so much, yet deep inside Taylor wants to be as desirable as Brooke. Now, her interview sounded as if it was Taylor herself speaking. She cannot separate her true life with her character. I can totally sense that she envy’s KKL in real life. If Taylor becomes the new Stephanie Forrrester, I am on strike again. The show is becoming more predictable by the minute, I just watch Y&R and I’m done with soap world. If Bell continues with this merry go round storyline and putting Taylor as the new Stephanie, all I can say is Goodbye B&B, I can do something better with those 30 mins of my life a day…

HunterRocks
HunterRocks

Sounds like a typical Brookie pretending to be a Tay fan. LMAO! Very transparent and immature. Nice try. I am sure Bell will be crying in his soup over you as he continues to write more fabulous storylines for the lovely Hunter, who can carry her own stories, has a huge fan base and can act. She has shown so much perserverance and it is nice to see the powers that be recognize her ability by moving her to the forefront. THANX BELL AND STAFF FOR RECOGNZING TAYLOR IS A POWERHOUSE. Please let her wear the pantsuit and broche!!!!

Right
Right

Great interview. HT appears to be a very professional, very focused actress. Her performances are always enjoyable. Looking forward to see more of her.

Misha
Misha

Great interview with Hunter! Taylor will make a hell of a matriarch for the show

JJ Phoenix
JJ Phoenix

Excellent interview there Micheal , LOVEEEE Hunters Wok the main reason i watch lov it lov it lov it i can actually start watchin bnb again

Sandy
Sandy

If Taylor is on my screen more often, I will stop to watch. I’m so tired of her whining.

Jake
Jake

Thanks for the great interview Michael! I Love HT and Taylor, glad she is getting more screen time!

daring sally
daring sally

The show does have some boring characters on it now. Marcus and Dayzee and Amber can all go away and no one would be the wiser. Boring is an understatement. Hope should have remained virginal and soft-spoken. Why mess up a good thing? The writiers need to get on the ball with this show before it slip down a volcano. Bill and Brooke should have never kissed. They should have made him a villian but one that loved his wife with all of his heart. Brooke is not all that. Get her a man from some other planet and leave Katie alone.

Jean
Jean

taylor needs to go. if she hooks up with Eric i will quit watch the show.

Brandy
Brandy

I’m not being disrespectfull to Hunter Tylo but I don’t think she is a good actress .
Katherine Kelly Lang is a underated actress her story lines are horrible in spite of that her talent shines. I think she has such natural beauty very beautiful women. I’d like to see her with Eric and keep the story line genuine. I think the show would be better without

General Hospital

GH’s James Patrick Stuart Talks on Valentin’s Downfall and Potential Rise to Power

After all his bravado, machinations and lies to keep the woman he loves, and believing he was the rightful heir to the Cassadine fortune, suddenly it all came crashing down for Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) on recent episodes of General Hospital.

Payback can be a bitch, but for Valentin; who’s past has been fraught with numerous physical and emotional tribulations since his childhood, he now finds himself at the lowest point in his life; losing Nina (Cynthia Watros) who’s now taken up with Jax (Ingo Rademacher), realizing he is the biological son of the evil Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers), and not Mikkos, and having all his best laid plans and misdeeds backfire.  (Remember, he shot and “killed” Nikolas, and set up the ruse that led Sasha to pretend she was Nina’s bio-daughter.)  Now, enter Nelle Benson (Chloe Lanier), who could very well hold the ticket, to Valentin’s rise to wealth and power all over again.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with James Patrick Stuart to get the lowdown on: those heavy and emotional scenes opposite Constance Towers, working with Cynthia Watros as his newest Nina, if Valentin might really kill Jax the next time he thinks about it, and what about a potential relationship between Anna (Finola Hughes) and Valentin?

Not many can play bad as good as James in this industry.  He does it so effortlessly and still brings out the humanity in the guy that has t-r-o-u-b-l-e written all over him.  Here’s what James had to share about all of Valentin’s recent dramatic moments, a tease of what’s to come, and much more.

Photo: JPI

Valentin’s world has imploded at the moment.  When did you initially find out that he was going to turn out to not be a true Cassadine heir?

JAMES:  Well, there were some clues dropped by Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) back when we did the gallery auction where Helena’s portrait went up in flames.  Frank looked at me and goes, “Hey, Jack Nicholson it up.  Have some fun!  You’re not going to be feeling pretty good for a while.”  (Laughs)  I’m like, “Oh … what are the plans?”  He pulled me aside and goes, “Yeah, you’re going to lose Nina, but you’re going to try to take over ELQ.  That’s when I started to go, “Wait a minute!  That sounds to me like Valentin’s losing his money.”  (Laughs)  With the character of Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) coming back; it’s pretty great.  I think the writing was on the wall there.  I put it out on twitter the other day.  I said, “Look what they’ve done to my boy.”  Somebody chimed in, “They gave him a storyline!” (Laughs)

Who doesn’t love to see you, James Patrick Stuart, play tortured soul?  They audience loves to see you get the opportunity to go to those depths in your performances.

JAMES:  It’s been really interesting for me.  I’ve had a lifetime of playing bad guys because the line was always shorter. (Laughs)  Everybody wants to be Tom Cruise, but the Alan Rickman’s of it all, to me, were what was so interesting.  Early on, you play one dimensional kind of twisting of the mustache, tying a woman to the train tracks.  After a while, you start to watch the truly great actors.  They start to take you on a ride.  If you’re paying attention, you start to feel what it would be like to be that damaged, and that’s why you do it.  Then you start to see the vulnerability. To me, I thought, “This is a great time in my life because I’m ready to do that.” A lot of people say, “I don’t understand.  I feel like that makes no sense. because why would I root for a person who behaves like this?” and that to me, I feel is the greatest compliment of all.

So much happened recently to Valentin in one fell swoop; he overhears Nina telling Ava (Maura West) she kissed Jax, then he envisions shooting Jax and then he is drinking himself into oblivion and he gets a “visit” from Helena!  But … the scenes between Valentin and Helena really summed up the bitter truth for him, wouldn’t you say?

JAMES:  Yes.  In the “Helena” scenes, it all basically is revealed.  It all comes down in a moment where he “sees” her.  I think he realizes with the DNA test; he’s not the person he thought he was, but he certainly had no idea that he had her blood in his veins.  The truly tragic moment of the evening is when it dawns on him that he has a daughter with Helena’s blood in her veins.  Now, he would kill her a thousand times over in that moment.  He can’t do it.  He’s fighting phantoms.  That’s the bottom below the bottom, and things got worse than he ever thought they would get.

Courtesy/ABC

Does Valentin have any idea then, who his biological father could be?

JAMES:  I don’t think so.  I don’t believe so.  I know I don’t.  I think once he realizes that Helena is in fact the mother, I think he’d rather just go into oblivion.  I think at that point, he’s out of answers.  Enter Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) …which is wonderful because I think the world of Nancy, and she saves the day.   Alexis basically talks him out of hurting himself, telling him to count his blessings that he is not a Cassadine, etc, which was a really sweet moment.

I assume, when you have this kind of material to play, it must be exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time?

JAMES:  I think that’s exactly right.  As an actor, I think you want to do this stuff.  Maura West and I compare notes all the time.  I think it can be kind of emotionally draining.  You do feel it, and I felt it when I had spent a lot of time with Nina and Valentin, and when the actresses changed, and we brought Cynthia Watros in.  I worked twice as hard to make sure that Cynthia’s landing was as easy as possible, and I really grew attached to the Nina and Valentin connection.  So, when Jax steps in, Cynthia’s love life means nothing to me, I don’t care about that, but Nina’s love life means a lot to me!  And it bums me out, and I don’t know that I’ll actually be watching any future love scenes between them as much as I love them both!  I have a deep attachment to the Valentin connection to Nina.  So, the lines get burred because we just play these characters so long.

Photo: JPI

What was it like sharing those tough scenes with Constance? No one can play icy, evil villainess like her … and yet in real life, she is such a gracious and kind-hearted woman.

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GH's James Patrick Stuart Talks on Valentin's Downfall and Potential Rise to Power

JAMES:  In real life, Constance is such a sweetheart, and she’s so grateful to be there.  She was so ready to work, and rehearse, and play, and find the stuff, and she was great.  I’d been in scenes with her before.  Last time, we didn’t really talk to each other.  I was with the hump.  I was being Valentin pre-surgery.  It was some sort of moment in a graveyard, but this time we actually got to interact with each other.

You look at Valentin, and he’s not had the greatest life.  Do you bring his entire back-story into your performance; such as when he was deformed with the hump and how he had to literally reconstruct his life both in the physical and in emotional ways for many years?

JAMES:  Absolutely.  It’s the brokenness that he’s making choices from.  He was never truly and authentic person to begin with which is why his love fell apart.  He’s always been faking.  He’s always been putting on a show.  That’s not sustainable in matters of the heart.  It was unbelievably easy for Jax to swoop in, because it was inevitable that things were going to fall apart.  Of course, that anger and that brokenness were what lead him to want to kill Jax.  There’s no question.  He was prepared to do that.  If you look in the eyes in the fantasy sequence in the shooting, he just wanted to watch him die.  He wanted to watch the light go out in Jax’s eyes.  He was so furious … and even more tragic is … that was all he could think of, and somehow, he realized in that moment that wouldn’t work, because he’d lose his daughter.

Photo: JPI

Anna and Finn (Michael Easton) just kind of busted up.  Do you think Anna and Valentin will hookup? There is a connection and a history between the two of them whenever they seem to be in proximity of one another.

JAMES:  Personally, I’m waiting for that.  I hope so!  There is a finesse and elegance to that woman, and not only that, there is an effortless to the connection between Valentin and Anna, if one can say that about one’s own coupling.  I love to look at it!  I think we go together like a wink and a smile.  I just find that chemistry really great.  I think that’s mostly Finola, though.  She can probably have chemistry with most anything.

Valentin was going to leave Port Charles with Charlotte (Scarlett Fernandez), after Nikolas revealed all and the fallout began.  Interestingly enough, it was Anna who came to Valentin’s side and tried to talk him down from fleeing with his daughter and showed such compassion for him!

JAMES:  Wasn’t that great?  She was the one who got him.  She was the one who was able to calm the beast.  There was no one else he would have listened to.  In the moment in the police station, after Charlotte had been kidnapped, and there is that moment where Anna has that bruise, I thought it was such a tender moment.  I just said, “If I kiss my finger and touch your wound?” and she’s like, “Do it.”  It was just this moment where we had been bitter rivals and enemies for so long, but he just adores her so much it’s undeniable that he sees her wounded and wants to make it better.  It’s floating out there waiting to be done.  I know that everybody knows it.  It’s just a matter of what the right away to go about in the writing would be.

Photo: JPI

So, you’ve worked opposite two acting dynamos in the role of Nina – Michelle Stafford and now, Cynthia Watros.  Was the transition difficult for you when Cynthia came to GH?

JAMES:  It wasn’t.  It was scary because Michelle Stafford wasn’t just one in a million, I mean, she is one of a kind.  The last thing in the world that I would ever want to consider doing myself was recast that actress.  So, my deal was (and I’ve said this to Cynthia) I said, “I have no control over this.  All I can do is make the landing as easy as possible for Cynthia.”  We did a lot of photoshoots together, and I had flowers waiting for her, and I did everything possible to make sure that she knew that she had a friend and that she had somebody that was going to make it as easy as possible.  It was rough because a lot of the trolls on social media were just awful to her… just brutal, and she goes, “I have thick skin.  I can take it,” and then a week later, she goes, “I’ve closed all my social media accounts!”  (Laughs)  It’s been fun to watch those guys turn around and go, “You have a really special person.”  That wedding stuff was just incredible!  She came so prepared and she knocked it out of the park.  Cynthia has been wonderful.  I love them both.  I love her the reddest, and I love Michelle the bluest, and together I love them the purplest.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s interesting that all the women in his life such as Anna and Nina, all have a soft-spot for Valentin; even though they don’t necessarily want to be with him.  These ladies are just drawn to this dysfunctional guy.

JAMES:  Don’t you think?  Is it that you want to help him, you want to fix him, you see the potential, you want to help him despite himself?  I think that’s what it is.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Valentin’s still going to try to win Nina back, or is that done? 

JAMES:  I don’t know.  I do know that the Valentin I know will never shake Nina, and when he loves, he loves forever.  He can be simultaneously in love with Anna whenever she’s near.  I don’t believe he ever truly got over Nina hearing his story and his brokenness and still loving him twice as hard.  Years ago, there was a moment where he said to her the stuff that he’s never said, and Michelle beautifully kissed my tears away and said, “You’re beautiful” to me.   I think in that moment his fate was sealed.  I think he knew that this was his woman forever.  So, I just don’t think that that goes away.  I think he will always carry a torch for Nina, for sure.

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Y&R's Eric Braeden "40 Years As Victor Newman" Celebration (PHOTOS)

Do you see Valentin becoming darker and darker now that he had found out he is Helena’s offspring?

JAMES:  Well, yes and no.  I remember watching these scenes and we’ve done a lot of this stuff, and you know how easy it is to sort of go, “Let’s go dark, let’s go dark, let’s go more dark,” and after a while, I go, “You know, maybe he does learn something.  Maybe there’s hope for this guy after all.”  Of course, more bad stuff will happen to him, and he will do more bad stuff, because that’s just who he is.  A leopard can’t change his spots, and those are his survival instincts, but there are some new colors, and it’s all a direct result of all of just these horrible things that have happened to him… mostly learning that he is part Helena and he can’t undo that.

Photo: JPI

We saw that Nelle (Chloe Lanier) called and then goes to see Valentin, because she wants to sell her shares of ELQ.  So, obviously he has the potential to become really rich here which is what would give him his power back.  How do you think that will go over with the rest of the Quartermaines? (Laughs)

JAMES:  (Laughs) A lot of the Quartermaine actors have been asking me that in the hallways of General Hospital!  Isn’t that interesting how he’ll just sort of switch families? (Laughs)

Of all the people, just as Valentin’s life is in the gutter and he is at his lowest, who should show up with a sort of lifeline, Nelle! How will he go about attempting to gain control of ELQ?

JAMES:  Valentin knows he has to get the majority shares to gain a control of the company, and he has to do it fast before people see that he’s doing it.  So, that’s where Michael E. Knight (Martin Gray) has been.  He’s gallivanting the states rapidly accumulating shares.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s been so fun seeing you and Michael Knight on-screen and on a daytime soap together again, as so many remember you as Tad Martin and Will Cortlandt on All My Children.  How has it been getting the chance to work with Michael?

JAMES:  My God, are you kidding me?  He taught me!  He’s the guy who taught me.  I didn’t know how to do this.  Nobody instinctively knows… this is a very unique art form.  It’s more Jazz than anything else, and he showed me how to do it!  Walt Willey (Ex-Jack, AMC) showed me how to do my hair, and Michael Knight taught me how to break down a script!  And, what’s so funny is he is still doing it.  In a scene on GH, when he threw in that line, “From now on, you pay in advance,” I just about fell on the floor!  I thought, “There he is!  That’s the Michael I’ve always known and loved.”

Photo: JPI

Who would have thought that you guys would get to share scenes like that again on soaps?  You just never know in this life who may be wind up back in your orbit.

JAMES:  It’s incredible.  That’s what we say all of the time… “Who would have thought?”  You could never plan something like this and that we’d still be doing it at this point.

Now with Lulu (Emme Rylan) learning that Valentin is not a Cassadine, and Nina apparently moving on to a relationship with Jax, what do you think it will mean for their relationship in raising their daughter, Charlotte?

JAMES:  I think in the short-term, Valentin’s shelved any ideas of getting her out of Charlotte’s life.  He’s sort of putting out the fires in his own personal life.  Charlotte needs a mother in her life, and he’s quite willing to share custody as they always have been.  She seems to be looking at this as an opportunity to paint him as an unfit father, and she wants full-time custody.  So, we’re back to that again.  It looks to me like Lulu is kicking Valentin while he’s down.

Photo: JPI

It was so nice to see you, and some of your GH co-stars such as: Steve Burton (Jason) and Maurice Benard (Sonny) show up for Y&R’s Eric Braeden’s (Victor Newman) 40th anniversary on set celebration at CBS.  It was quite the event; speakers galore, and so many from our industry and beyond in attendance.

JAMES:  It was pretty profound.  Eric has always been kind to me.  I only worked with him on one movie, a western, called The Man Who Came Back, and that was probably 12 years ago.  He has been so complimentary of me in interviews and in his book.  So, if he does that with me, I can only imagine how many dear, dear friendships he has.  So, the fact that everybody showed up like that from the president of CBS Entertainment to local councilmen, and that they were willing to do be there for 2 hours was really proof of how much they love him.  Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I don’t even think was working that day, came in for it and spoke at the event. There was so much respect shown for Eric and what he has meant to this medium.

Photo: JPI

Your album The Apple Tree was so well-received, and everyone always loves seeing you get the opportunity to sing on General Hospital as well.  Will you continue to put out more music in 2020?

JAMES:  Yeah, that’s the plan.  I have another one that I’m working on.  I have a bunch of songs.  I’m in no rush to get it out.  Unfortunately, I lost Glen Roven, who wrote the cello part for Book of Love, passed away right after the Nurses’ Ball where I played Book of Love, which is really heartbreaking, and then, Michael Sherwood, who helped me with a number of songs on the record passed away right after The Apple Tree came out.  So, I’m a little gun-shy.  But, I’m planning on having something out by December for Christmas.

In closing, what would you say the fans should look forward to in the weeks ahead from Valentin?

JAMES: Look forward to that moment where Valentin is so low that there’s nowhere to go but up!  The comeback is going to be one for the books.

So, what do you think of how Valentin’s life hit rock bottom?  Do you think he will ever win Nina back? Do you think he will takeover ELQ? Share your thoughts on James’ recent performances and his thoughts contained in this interview via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Wally Kurth Talks DAYS Dramatic Twists That Gave Justin a Heartbreaking Story, a New Romance, and Unforgettable Moments

If you have been watching recent episodes of Days of our Lives, soap opera vet, Wally Kurth has been turning out the performances of his daytime career.  In one of the most heartbreaking weeks we can remember, DAYS took us back to ‘Mother’s Day’ one year ago, prior to their time jump, to show us how Justin’s wife, Adrienne (Judi Evans) died following a car crash, it’s aftermath, and assorted other key plots for the characters of Salem.

For decades, Wally Kurth along with Daytime Emmy winner, Judi Evans created the on-screen love story of Justin and Adrienne on DAYS, and while they were off the canvas for quite some time, they remained one of the most popular duos in the history of the show.  Saying goodbye to one daytime love story opened the door for another, and now Kurth has been paired with another Daytine Emmy winner, Mary Beth Evans (Kayla).  The romance of Justin and Kayla is really going to be tested with the recent return of Stephen Nichols who seems to have Steve’s body overtaken by the mind and soul of Stefano DiMera.   What will happen if, and when Steve, Kayla, and Justin enter into a romantic triangle?

But as daytime viewers know, Wally is not only recognizable for his role as DAYS Justin but that of General Hospital’s Ned Quartermaine.  Kurth has the distinction of being on two separate soaps (sometimes even airing on them at the same time), playing two different fan favorite roles.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Wally about: being handed the ball in the emotional storyline on DAYS that has had him acting his heart out alongside Chandler Massey (Will) and Freddie Smith (Sonny) that could just land him a Daytime Emmy nomination in just a few months.  Plus, giving us a glimpse of what is was like to tape all of those tear-filled scenes, his reaction to his latest romantic pairing, and having the gift of acting on two soaps at this stage of his career.  Here’s what Wally shared.

Photo: JPI

Let me just say; I’m all cried out watching your performances now.  I can’t cry anymore. (Laughs)  Did you watch everything back from the week-long flashback to Mother’s Day that changed the course of so many lives in Salem, and in particular, with the death of Adrienne?

WALLY:  Oh, yeah.  It was hard to watch.  It was interesting because the show must have been long as there were a couple of scenes that I was actually looking forward to seeing and they didn’t air.  One was on the Thursday episode and the other was on the Friday episode.  I remember seeing something about Matt Ashford (Jack) not having his scene air with Jack and Adrienne, and I wanted to tell him: “Hey, it was all around.”  It was probably just a little too much material to get it all in.

What do you remember doing that didn’t air?  Was Justin in even more tears?  (Laughs)

WALLY:  If you can believe it! (Laughs)  There was one scene with Sonny at her gurney that I really broke down.   There was a scene on Friday after Will leaves.  It’s a scene between Sonny and Justin talking about what Will had done that I thought was pretty intense, but that’s alright.  It’s part of the deal.  Shows run long and they’ve got to make decisions.  It’s all good.

Photo: JPI

What do you remember about the day you had to shoot those death scenes with Judi Evans?

WALLY:  It’s interesting.  I made a decision that I’m not going to go about those scenes with the normal method: thinking about something really, truly terrible in my life because first of all, I’ve never lost a woman I’ve been with for 30 years.  So, I decided just to use my imagination and use the words in the script, and just go there.  It was certainly a lot more fun.  I didn’t second-guess myself.  The words were beautifully written, and I just sort of played the scene; rather than try to regurgitate some kind of past memory and/or try to imagine one of my children dying or my wife dying.

You didn’t do “substitution”!

WALLY:  Yeah, I didn’t substitute.  I guess for people who don’t understand this kind of method in acting; you can substitute things in your real life, your personal life to help you feel something called upon to do in a script, and I’ve done that before.  I’ve done that a lot, actually.  I did that when I was first on the show with Judi.  But, on that day when Adrienne died, I didn’t.

Photos: NBC

It was so sad, and when they had the clip of a young Wally as Justin, meeting Adrienne for the first time, it was a sweet moment.  Justin sees her crying and is apparently smitten.  Did you see that flashback?  

WALLY:  It’s a famous one!  We got to talk about it, and the handkerchief in the scenes when she died.  I think in the scene that was cut, there was more about the handkerchief and that I gave her the handkerchief and that I needed a handkerchief now and Sonny gave me his handkerchief.  Years ago, I remember Al Rabin (Ex-director, DAYS) saying, “When you see her, she’s unlike anybody you’ve ever seen before.  That’s it,” and I went, “What?” and he said, “Yeah.  That’s it.”  So, I said, “Okay, she’s the one,” and I went in and just played that.  Like, “I don’t know who this woman is.  She’s crying on the bench.  She looks pretty miserable, but I’ll just try to talk to her” and that was Justin and Adrienne’s love story: coming in like a white knight and rescuing her.

You and Judi had worked together as Justin and Adrienne on and off for decades.  So, is there any sadness in saying goodbye to that on-screen relationship?

WALLY:  Yes, but in between it all we took like a 19-year break.  So, it’s not like John (Drake Hogestyn) and Marlena (Deidre Hall) who have been on continuously.  We fell back into that very comfortably.  It was 1987 when we were doing that scene at the park where she is crying.  Hello! That was 33 years ago!  And … oh, my God … the leather tie, the hair.  I had serious hair.  I remember that. (Laughs)

You had serious hair.  But … we all did!

WALLY:  It took longer just blowing my hair out than getting on make-up to hit the set.  I remember that little tweed jacket, and the black leather shoes.

Photo: JPI

What were we all thinking back then!? (Laughs)  It must have been hard for Judi on the day while you were grieving over her body?

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WALLY:  I remember Judi told me it was really hard for her, and I can understand it.  She’s such a good actress who really listens, so she’s always really affected.  We can be running lines in the makeup room, and if it’s an emotional scene, she can start crying.  So, she’s obviously really in touch with her emotions.  It was really hard for her to listen to Freddie, and me, and Matt and Mary Beth, and everyone tell her how much they’re going to miss Adrienne.  She was so good and professional.  She just kept her eyes closed all the way through the breaks.  She didn’t sit there and talk to us in between.  Probably, in her mind, she’s just trying to play dead.

She told me in the interview feature that I did for the DOOL app, that she intentionally didn’t want to see you and Freddie before those scenes.  

WALLY:  Yeah, that’s true.  I’m just thinking about that, and it really did help because we could just stay in that place and she never jumped up and went, “Hey!”   That’s just her professionalism.

Photo: JPI

When you originally found out that DAYS was going to kill-off Adrienne, and that they were going to do a time jump which paired Justin and Kayla, romantically, what was your reaction to all of that?  Was it like, “Oh, story for me!?” and/or did it make you feel bad about the character casualty in order to make that happen?

WALLY:  I guess, selfishly, you’re only thinking of yourself – when you’re selfish, and I did think like, “Wow.  That sounds like an amazing story,” and then I’m like, “Oh, well that sucks for Judi, and that’s going to be kind of crazy,” but then I also realized quickly (because I know Judi, and I know how much she loved playing Bonnie) that if they choose to bring her back, they could bring her back as Bonnie.  But yes, I thought about that as well, but mainly, I thought that this is something new.  As an actor and as an artist, you want a new challenge.  For Judi and me, we were just sort of playing the two greatest parents to Sonny.  Pretty much, that was our role.  We were happily married.  We hadn’t really had a story in about a year.  I mean, I’m mister lawyer in town.   At least for me, and it turns out, this has been an amazing story to play.  I have to say; never in a million years did I imagine Justin with Kayla.  So, it wasn’t like I was campaigning for it.

I know in daytime that sometimes actors campaign to be paired with certain actors on their respective soaps,

WALLY:  Yeah, so I think we were both surprised.  I worked with Mary Beth on General Hospital and of course, we are dear friends off set.  We thought that was probably going to be the hardest part, because we’ve been friends for so long, and it’s kind of nice that when you do a love story that you do have to kind of go there, and feel comfortable, and be excited, and it worked out.  I thought we both brought out qualities in our characters that really conveyed that a really good friendship morphed into a true love.  Justin and Kayla helped each other through this difficult, difficult time, and then…

… Then Stevano shows up in Salem!

WALLY:  Yup!   People fall in love.  That’s what happened, and then of course Stephen Nichols comes back, and all hell breaks loose.  I have to say, the audience is in for a really fun 6 months coming up.

Photo: JPI

What have you thought of Stephen Nichols portrayal as Stefano?

WALLY:  He has been amazing!   I told Stephen, and he appreciates it.   I don’t think anyone could do it as well as Stephen’s doing it.  I mean, when he blew up the other day in front of Anna (Leann Hunley), he sounded like Stefano.  He sounded like Joe Mascolo (Ex-Stefano)!  I think he’s done a really good job of pulling it off.  Only a really gifted actor could pull it off, and I believe it when he plays it.

You made a comment on Twitter to me about “the boys” (Freddie Smith and Chandler Massey), after I named the three of you Power Performance of the Week.  What can you say about Freddie in the scenes where he has to say goodbye to his mother, Adrienne, and then Chandler for his scenes with both Freddie and you in the aftermath, where he tells Sonny and Justin he was the responsible party that caused the crash that took Adrienne’s life?

WALLY:  Freddie went for it, and you have to.  He did, and I was so proud of him.   When Will tells Sonny that he was driving the car and he caused it, they were so in the moment.  They didn’t rush their emotions.  They took their time, and it was just totally believable, and not a false move, and then when I came in, it was just a really nice scene between the three of us, because I was checking in with Sonny, and then I was checking in with Will, and things took turn from there and it felt really solid.  I was very proud of it.

Courtesy/NBC

Then, when Justin tears into Will for the death of his wife, and Will goes, “I wish it would’ve been me.”  It was so intense; everyone was good in that scene.

WALLY:  I wanted to send out a tweet to everybody from that episode who were                       wonderful in it including: Stacy Haiduk (Kristen), Eric Martsolf (Brady), Paul Telfer (Paul), and Casey Moss (JJ)…

Oh, my Gosh, and then Casey was so heartbreaking learning of Haley’s (Thia Megia) death!

WALLY:  Good lord.  Three deaths in one day!

You’ve been on soap operas for a long time.   It was a lot to take in as the viewer, but it made for a riveting and can’t-miss week of episodes.

WALLY:  It was amazing that the show pulled it off.  It could have been really too much.  I thought that the production pulled it out.  It wasn’t too much.  That’s probably why scenes were cut, too.  It might have just been too much; all of that just grieving over dead bodies.

What is the reaction you’re seeing to all of this on social media?  The fans have been very favorable to the performances.  You’re in such an interesting position, because you’re on two soaps (DAYS and GH) and you’re able to have these two distinct and different characters to play. What’s that been like that you’ve been able to bounce back and forth for so long in your career from Salem to Port Charles, and back again?

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WALLY:  I couldn’t have planned it, obviously.  It just worked out that way; having created both roles, one 33 years ago and one 29 years ago.  I’m sort of integral on General Hospital because I’m sort of the lone patriarchal Quartermaine, and they want to keep that family going. So, that has been really kind of cool that I can keep breathing air into that legacy, and they’re recently brought in Amanda Setton as Ned’s daughter, Brook Lynn, too.  Then of course, with Days of Our Lives, they brought me back on as an attorney in 2009, and that was really out of the blue.  I hadn’t been on the show in 19 years.  So, to get a call to come back and be an attorney in town was just great, and at the time, I needed a job.  I kind of have to say, I owe Ken Corday (executive producer, DAYS) twice in my lifetime. He hired me as an actor when honestly; I could really use a job.  My first job was Days of Our Lives, and I was driving around in a moped then.

Photo: JPI

Speaking of Amanda Setton (Ex-Kimberly, One Life to Live) how do you think she is doing with the part of GH’s Brook Lynn?

WALLY:  She’s great.  She’s experienced, and nowadays you really have to be experienced on soaps.  We go so fast.  Unfortunately, the newbies take some time and have to get on track, but it’s a world of one takes and we go so quickly.  It really helps to have an actor who has done it before and isn’t daunted by the speed.

Speaking of keeping the legacy of the Q’s going, the one and only Jane Elliot recently came back to GH to reprise her role of Tracy Quartermaine. What was it like having her back on set to work with?  

WALLY:  It was great!  I hope she’ll make some future returns.  She had a good time.  The show is really much better with her.  I was just thrilled.

Photo: JPI

You must be grateful that Justin and Ned are still alive and kicking!

WALLY:  I love working on Days, and I love the crew.  I love the cast.  Both casts and crews from both soaps are fantastic.  I feel like the luckiest actor in town.  I don’t complain, and I won’t complain.  It’s interesting, when I was an actor on one show, I would complain, and I hear other actors on shows complaining about one thing or another.  I just don’t have a right to complain.  On my days off, I used to be the guy who would look at my lines the day before.  I probably could still do that, but I don’t want to.  I like spending a heck of a lot of time with my scripts so that when I go in there, I really know it.  I have a lot of different ways to play with it, and I get to be creative with it, and I pick that.  I don’t take that for granted.  So, every day when I get to work, I’m excited to be there, and I put a lot into it.

Photo: JPI

So, do you think we can foreshadow you winning a Daytime Emmy this year, or next year, or both for the performances we have seen and those yet to come?

WALLY:  (Laughs) I feel like I’ve already won an Emmy by having two jobs.  Honestly, I’m having the time of my life.

Do you think the audience will see Justin grieving still for Adrienne? With the time jump, in theory, we missed a year of that part of the mourning process.

WALLY:  You will see it.  But yes, you’re right.  You don’t see Justin the first three months, or the week after, or the weeks after.  However, more comes up for him that I think  will be very satisfying to the audience.  I know it’s been very shocking to the audience to see where Justin is at.  Most of the complaints I get are like, “Really?  It’s been three months, and you’re already making out with Kayla?”  People were kind of offended by that.  By the way, my wife is also offended by that.  (Laughs)  She was like, “You’d better wait longer than three months!

Photo: JPI

Did your wife watch your scenes when Adrienne died?

WALLY:  Yes, she did.   She liked them.   But she would say something like, “It’s hard to see you crying over another woman.”  I know she doesn’t really enjoy me making out with another woman and saying how much I love her.  I don’t usually show her all of the really romantic stuff, but I thought she’d be okay with the death scenes, and she was, but I am sure it was kind of strange for her.  She is a lawyer, not an actor.

Since she’s a lawyer, does she ever give you legalese tips for when you have courtroom scenes on DAYS?

WALLY:  She does, and I’m usually like, “Is there anything I can cut here?” and she usually goes, “Honestly, no.  You’d better say it.  I think it’s honestly pretty well-written.  You’d better say it as written. It’s pretty accurate.”

Courtesy/NBC

The other moment I wanted to bring up to you that was like the “perfect scene” is when Justin visited Will in prison and told Will to not give up on life. I think that was such a beautiful scene and performance.  I hope that is in your Emmy submission.

WALLY:  Thank you.  I was very proud of that.  I appreciate that, Michael.  I know you watch a lot of these, and, it is in my Emmy submissionIt was beautifully written.  I think the writers have really handed me just some wonderful stories to tell, and wonderful dialogue, and I used every word of it, and I feel very blessed.  As actors … you can work your ass off, but you really do also need stories to sometimes shine, you know?  I thought the writers really gave me a lot of great material to work with.

Photo: JPI

If they keep giving you more material like this every week you’ll be named the Power Performance of the Week, and then everyone will think something corrupt is going down! (Laughs) 

WALLY: They’ll think I’m paying you off, Michael! (Laughs)

So, what have you thought of Wally’s performances? Were you surprised at the Justin and Kayla pairing? Were you shocked at Adrienne’s death and what went down? Comment below.

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Eastsiders

Van Hansis and Kit Williamson Talk The Final Season of ‘EastSiders’, Their Journey As Thom and Cal, & The Impact The Series Has Made

It captivated the LGBTQ audience, expanded from there, and was a passion project and labor of love for series creator, Kit Williamson (Cal) along with his husband and co-producer, John Halbach as they tirelessly brought the digital drama EastSiders to life.  Over 4 seasons (and 7 years in and of production) fans of the series were brought: riveting characters, real, witty, and intelligent writing, and beautiful performances that leave you either crying, laughing, or just plain in awe of their depth.

Williamson brought in As the World Turns favorite, Van Hansis (Ex-Luke, ATWT), from the beginning of the creation of EastSiders, to play his on-screen other half, Thom, and over four seasons we have seen Cal and Thom’s relationship grow apart, come together, have a very open sexual relationship, deal with addiction issues, and anxiety in the day and age we live in; while giving us a glimpse of a set of characters who all are struggling with something … or trying to love someone, or just trying to love themselves.

In four seasons, EastSiders went from a show on YouTube to now a popular series streaming on Netflix.  And as season four of the series was finally released back in December of last year, fans of the show were clamoring to know if Thom and Cal will have their happily ever after? Well, if you saw the emotional final episode, you kind of know the answer to that, or do we? But just when you thought EastSiders was a fait accompli, Williamson and company released a behind-the-scenes documentary of the season that is also a must-see! (Check it out below).  And this week, EastSiders scored nominations in the Queerties Awards for the Best in LGBTQ media and culture. Van Hansis scored a nod in the Digital Performance category along with EastSiders cast member, Stephen Guarino, and the series is nominated in the Digital Series category. You can vote for the Queerties now through February 21st here.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Van and Kit in a full circle moment for all of us.  We conducted the first interview these two talented gents ever did to publicize the series seven years ago, and we couldn’t let EastSiders go without one last look, one last goodbye, and to talk to the heart and soul of the story itself.  So here, we put a bow on it, and chat it up with Van and Kit in this very special EastSiders wrap-up.

Photo: EastSiders

So, 7 years ago, the three of us met at a coffee shop in West Hollywood, California and you had this little show called Eastsiders, and we do your first interview ever about the show.  Now, 7 years later it’s grown into what it has become.  What did you think of this whole journey from the beginning to the end?  Did you have any idea that EastSiders would take off like this, and did it exceed your hopes and dreams?

KIT:  Personally, I had no idea that the show could have this many lives.  I really just set out to make something cool and to put it on the internet.  At every stage of this, I wondered, “Is this it?” and it’s been wild to see how it’s grown.  As I’m thinking back on it, you are right! It was the very first interview that we did with the show … period.

VAN:  I was thinking the exact same thing.  It was!

Photo: EastSiders

When artists in any field create something, you never know how it’s going to be perceived by the public.  I think your perseverance and how you went about it was so smart that you garnered an audience worldwide.  So, what are your thoughts about how the series wrapped up with season four?  Because I had heard, Kit, that you extended the storylines.  Is that true that the season was longer than what you intended it to be?  

KIT:  So, we ended up having the penultimate episode be an hour long because I just kept writing new scenes for people and discovering things on set, and I think that kind of speaks to all of our desire to not say goodbye to the characters.  It’s a very long goodbye, you know?  Also, I can’t imagine getting to the second to last episode of a series that I was watching, and if I loved it, wanting the episodes to go by quicker.  So, it felt like something that I could tactically do at the end there.  Van, what about you?  I know in the behind-the-scenes documentary that we filmed, stuff like, not even knowing what a web series even was when we first started doing this, came up! (Laughs)

VAN:  Oh, yeah! (Laughs) When we started I was sent the script from an acting teacher.  I loved the script.  I knew I wanted to be a part of it no matter what. I had no idea what it would be.  To see what it’s become is amazing, and to be a part of what it’s become is amazing, and that is literally all mostly Kit.  He has done so much with this, and he’s put so much of himself into it.  I feel fortunate to see some of the behind the scenes stuff that sometimes you don’t get to see as an actor on a show.  We need more Kit Williamson’s in our lives, because it takes someone like that to make this happen and to make it go worldwide from literally YouTube.  So, as far as the ending …  I love where it ends off and where all of the characters sort of end up.

Photo: EastSiders

Kit, are you ready to do an EastSiders reboot?  Are we coming back to visit Thom and Cal 5 years later?

KIT:  I have said that I don’t know that I’m done with these characters yet.  Van and I have had conversations about that.  I think that the show is definitely finished is this format.  Trying to shoot and independently produce, 6 half-hour, ensemble events like this, and to do it right, and to keep growing and scaling it, is just not really sustainable, but it’s been a hell of a ride.  I’m glad that we went on it.  To speak to what Van was just talking about; I really think it’s just alchemy.  It’s a set of perfect circumstances coming together that we all met at the right times in our lives, and Van Hansis, in particular, is the spark that ignites the show.  I don’t think that the show would have had the success that it did if: we hadn’t had the chemistry that we had, and if Van’s fan base hadn’t gotten so excited about the show. To be able to kind of grow and create something that people are excited to see is really empowering.  Knowing that there is somebody out there who wants it, who is waiting for it, is gratifying.

Photo: EastSiders

Van, what did you think about Thom’s journey throughout season four?  The audience is like, “Please ask him already.  Pop the question,” and Thom is holding onto that ring!  Do you think he realized that he had what he wanted all along in Cal?  

VAN:  I think in the end he does, but I also think he doesn’t know where that journey is going to go.  Very much like … he knows that what he has is something golden and precious, but I think that he doesn’t know how to hold onto something like that.  Throughout the series, with Thom and Cal especially, they know that they love each other, but they don’t really know how to love each other in the best way.  I don’t know if that story is fully finished yet, but I think that they’re really very much on their way to figuring out what it means … and what it means especially to them.  I think especially as queer people, you don’t have a set of outliers that are given to you, especially, queer people our age.  I think the whole series has been not just about Thom and Cal, but every character in the show figuring out what is their relationship and to be able to create their own, and not give a care about what society thinks of them, which is really kind of fun.

KIT:  One of the most recurring themes of the show in terms of motif is cartography: drawing the map of the world together as a couple.  We had that Daniel Zaitchik song at the end of season 2, Map of the World, that also reprises this season.  There’s a lot of discussion of directions and destinations that I think is something I really wanted to get at because I think as queer people, we often don’t have the benefit of being able to just go down the road laid out for us by our parents.  We have to chart our own course.

Photo” EastSiders

I was watching all the comments on social media, and do you realize how many people said (including myself) that they were in tears and needed hankies at the ending of EastSiders? They just were a ball of mess at the conclusion of the show; which speaks to the investment we all had with the characters.  Did you see how people were so emotional and how they were reaching back to you? 

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KIT:  It’s been so cool.  I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of messages.

VAN:  Yes!  I also want to go back to Kit.  That’s his writing.  There are so many amazing shows that go out with a whimper.  I have followed so many shows that I absolutely love, and the final episode comes about, and I’m like, “Wait.  That’s it?  That’s what we get?”  Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is a podcast I follow, he talked about how well it stuck the landing.  Everybody gets a sense of an ending.  Most of them are happy, or all of them are happy actually, and for these characters, you’ve stuck around with them since we were on YouTube, and the audience deserves to see their favorite character have some sort of hope.

KIT:  Yeah!  I like to say happy with an asterisk.  An Eastsiders happy ending is a little different from a traditional happy ending.   They all have things that they still need to work through, but I didn’t want to leave any character in a sense of uncertainty.  I wanted to make sure that all of the loose ends of the story we’ve been telling the last 7 years were tied up.  I do think that there is definitely more story there, but I do think that’s life.  Everybody’s story continues past what you are allowed to see.

Was your final scene together that you taped the proposal in the club, or was this shot out of order?

KIT:  Van’s last scene was actually the scene with Richard (Bryan Batt) in episode 5, when they’re reflecting on everything.

VAN:  That’s a good last scene to film.  I had to come back last January to film just the material with him and with Traci Lords. So, no, our last scene together was not the proposal, it was the scene at the restaurant together towards the end,

KIT:  Yeah, the restaurant itself.  We did that out of order.  We had to shoot the bathroom scene where our characters have our big come to Jesus moment.

Those scenes were great.  Traci Lords was wonderful, by the way.

VAN:  Oh, she’s so good.  I love her.

KiT:  The scene that really gets me the most this season was Cal and his mother in the bed, and the discussion they had between them.

Photo: Eastsiders

When you watched back the ending with the proposal, what did you think?

VAN:  I thought it was great.  I posted something on Instagram like, “I get to be in a romcom!”

KIT:  It’s your Drew Barrymore moment!

VAN:  It was!  That’s what I wrote!  It’s my Drew Barrymore moment.  I’ve never gotten to do something that joyful.  Kit, I have a question for you.  Was some of that confetti in the final scene CGI or was all of that there?

KIT:  It was all there!

VAN:  Really!?  I don’t remember.  I was just so deep into your eyes that I don’t remember all of that confetti falling on my face.  It looks amazing.

KIT:  It was at the end of the night.   We only got one shot at that scene.  That was one take, and it ended up perfect.

Photo: EastSiders

 

In season four, you really expanded Jeremy’s role.  Matthew McKelligon was wonderful in the story you provided him.

KIT:  Yeah!  I really have tried with all of the characters to subvert expectations.  With Willam Belli (Douglas) and Stephen Guarino’s (Quincy) characters, their introduced as kind of the commedia clowns and then revealed to be the lovers, and with Matt’s character, he’s introduced as the “other woman”.  He’s literally called “Jezebel” all throughout the first season and then starting in season 2.  I think a lot of people were probably surprised that we are still following this character.  Jeremy doesn’t just disappear from the story when he stops sleeping with Cal and Thom.  I think to be able to follow his trajectory as he’s going on a radically different path than I think he even expected was really fun for me … and for Matt.

Photo: EaatSiders

Kit, a moment I recall on your social media posts, was when you said you’d just watched the sex scenes you were in and you were like, “I hope my mother doesn’t see this.”  Were you really embarrassed?

KIT:  Yeah, I did a reaction video when I watched it.   I will be honest.  You disassociate when you’re editing something because you’re looking at it as a frame-to-frame perspective, and then I had a little distance from it and watched it on Netflix for the first time, and that was the first time it really sunk in that I was like, “Oh, that’s a sex montage starring me.”

Van, when you were seeing the story of EastSiders progress through the years, and how Thom and Cal were sleeping around and with multiple partners, did you ever have a moment of, “What’s happening here?” Or, were you like, “Oh … cool!?”

VAN:  That started in the 2nd season, but I wasn’t like scandalized or anything by it.  What I love about the show, and what I love about the 4th season especially is that there are basically 4 narratives of gay male relationships, like queer all encompassing, but specifically looking at gay men.  Each one is different, and I think if you are in this community, I think you’ve seen these types of relationships, and you fall into one, or you don’t, or you fall between them.  So, I wasn’t like, “Oh, my God, you’re having a sex montage in the 2nd season,” no.  I’m not like some Victorian lady who is fainting on a chaise when someone is shirtless.  The thing that’s funny to me is that this isn’t shown more.

Photo: JPI

Van, you know from portraying Luke Snyder on As the World Turns, on a daytime soap, that as a gay character they often tap dance around so much in the writing!

VAN:  Yeah, I do.  I lived that, and that’s what honestly pisses me off.  That this program is afraid to show something.  It’s because they’ve probably done tests of what people are comfortable with, so it’s like, “Okay, we live in this society where people are uncomfortable with X and X and X and X,” and really, why?  People just need to live their lives.

Kit, do you have a favorite scene that you’ve written in this entire 7 years of the creative lifespan of EastSiders?

KIT:  I would say season 3 episode 5, the “What do you see when you look down?” conversation between me and Van as Cal and Thom.  To set the scene a little bit: it’s the culmination of days of talking on the road trip when you run out of frivolous things to say to each other and the real stuff comes out.  My character is asleep, and he wakes up to find that Thom is kind of drinking by himself in the camper, and they have this conversation to really get to the heart of what both of them are most afraid of, not just in their relationships, but in their lives. You sort of get to realize that this fear has been shaping their decisions from the very first season, that they have been leading with fear, and that is something that maybe they can work through as a couple, that they can maybe address together.  I think that moment for me is the moment that I knew that Thom and Cal were meant to be together.

Photo: EastSiders

That was the scene where you both were in tears inside the camper?

VAN:  Yep.  That scene is on my reel.  That is one of my favorite scenes that Kit has written also.  I would say for me, my favorite full-on episode is probably the first episode of season 3.  The bottle episode in Palm Springs.

KIT:  I love that episode, too.

VAN:  I think that what you do so beautifully is that it is just so funny and uplifting, but you do get those undercurrents of the reality in the relationship with Quincy and Douglas. I think that is where we see them go from sort of the clowns into the lovers, and I love the way that you put that.  We see them get a little bit more grounded.  So, that’s my favorite episode, but I love that scene in season 3, but I love so much from the series!  In season four, I love the scene with Jeremy’s foster daughter.  It’s not like a huge deep scene or anything, but the stuff that you brought out of that little girl … she is just incredible.

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KIT:  Scout was just so brilliant.  If she wants one, that kid has a career ahead of her.  I have every confidence that her family is supporting her in whatever she wants to do because they’re just incredible.

Kit, in EastSiders, you wore so many hats within it.  Would you ultimately want your next projects to just be acting in front of the camera, and not worrying about producing and writing it?  Did you like doing it all?  It’s a lot to take on.

KIT:  Yeah, they’re different itches to scratch.  I would like to have less responsibilities as a producer in terms of the day-to-day responsibilities and nuts and bolts of things.  I would love to never print a set of sides or stock ‘crafty’ ever again.  I would love to have those sorts of things taken off of my plate, but ultimately, my goal is to be a showrunner, and that means that I want the buck to stop with me.  I want to be the person who is ultimately responsible for not just the creative vision, but the execution of that vision from concepts to finished product.  But, I want to do all of it.  I find it really empowering to wear fewer hats.  I think a great career model that’s emerged for me in recent years is Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  I love everything that she does.  I love that she is creating shows that she’s not acting in, she’s acting in shows that she’s writing, she’s punching up the new Bond movie, and she is acting in projects that she has nothing to do with as a writer.

How do you feel the door had been opened for you because of the series?

KIT:  Oh man, I’m getting a lot of opportunities, and I’m really, really grateful for it.

In the LGBTQ community, what do the guys say to you, and how EastSiders has impacted them? Do they ever say, “Thom and Cal showed me this?” or “I’m so glad this was portrayed?” 

VAN:  Yeah.  I got something on Instagram about a week or so ago from a guy who was really freaking out about being in an open relationship, and he was like, “Thank God for this show.”

KIT:  Definitely anytime I’ve been outside of New York or LA and in a gay bar or a gay space, somebody has come up to me, and I definitely love it because the whole point of this is to get people to engage with your work.  That’s the reward; is knowing that people are watching.  I actually have a “gratitude folder” on my computer where I save some messages that people have sent to me.  It’s something I started recently, and I wish I’d been doing it since the beginning, because I always try to write back to everybody that writes to me about the show, and if I missed some, I’m so sorry.  It was an accident.  I can read you a few.  One says, “I live in a very conservative family, in a developing country, El Salvador.  Thanks to EastSiders, I understood that discovering my sexuality wasn’t something to be ashamed of and that all expressions of love are equally worth it.  You guys basically saved my life since I thought about suicide many times.”  In other messages, many people told me that the show gave them the confidence to come out to their friends or family, or that it made them feel less alone in countries where being gay is illegal.  I have a message from someone in Saudi Arabia, someone from Iran, Nigeria, Mississippi, where I’m from.  I get a lot of messages from Mississippi, because I’m so outspoken about how coming from the south shaped me.  It’s just really overwhelmingly satisfying.  As a kid there weren’t any openly gay people around me, so the first gay people I ever met were characters on TV, and it made me feel, like maybe, I could have a life worth putting on a screen someday.

Photo: Eastsiders

Let’s go back in time. Van, what was your first impression of Kit when you met him?

VAN:  I feel like I met him through his writing first, because I had never met him when I got the script.  I remember we met at a coffee shop in Los Feliz in Los Angeles.  Kit was very professional, and I remember there was a question if I was going to play Thom or was I going to play Jeremy? I think I was sort of gravitating towards Jeremy at that point, but you were like, “No, you’re a Thom,” so I was like, “Okay.”  (Laughs) I remember leaving. feeling that it was very much like a business meeting, but that went away really quickly when we just got to know each other.  You came across as a lot more serious than I thought whoever wrote the script would be.

KIT:  Oh.  Cool.  I love that.

Kit, what did you think of Van when you first met him? 

KIT:  Well, I was super nervous, and I definitely wanted to convey that this was something that I took really seriously.

VAN: (Laughs)

KIT:  So, I’m glad he got that.

Photo: JPI

I get that you wanted to come across very professional.

KIT:  Yeah, because it was my first time directing so I wanted to come ready, and the first thing I thought when I met Van was, “That’s Thom.”  Literally a sentence comes out of his mouth, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah.  Absolutely.  This is absolutely correct.  Thank God.  We have our lead.”

VAN:  I love the role of Jeremy, but I’m so glad I played Thom.

KIT:  Honestly, a lot of people were almost a lot of different people in this thing.   At one point, John Halbach, was going to be Thom.  John, at one point, was going to be Jeremy.  We didn’t have a casting director.  I was in grad school.  I had no clue what I was doing, and I keep on coming back to the idea of alchemy.  We accidentally made gold because we did not know what we were doing.

How did you know about Van?

KIT:  Through a mutual acting teacher in Los Angeles, and of course, I was familiar with As the World Turns and all of that, but I didn’t know him, and it never would have occurred to me that I could even reach out to somebody at his career level.  So, it was very, very fortuitous that we were connected.

Photo: Instagram

Kit, you have a gazillion followers on Instagram.  Do you ever have a moment with yourself like, “God, I have to do another post today to keep this going?”  

KIT:  It’s a hustle, and it’s a balance that John and I are both constantly doing our best to navigate, because we started it to bring attention to the show, and now, sometimes people will recognize us from Instagram and not from the series, and that’s not what we are going for. (Laughs)

You’re Instagram stars!

KIT:  It’s a balance that we are trying to navigate.  You know, how many shirtless selfies is too many shirtless selfies?  At what percentage of shirtless-ness will you no longer be taken seriously?  But as Van pointed out, I’m a serious MF with a master’s degree and multiple Emmy nominations. (Laughs)  So, I take myself way too seriously, but I know that you have to play the internet like a video game.  You have to do certain things and get a certain response, and attention begets attention, and a lot of people have told me that they found the show by following me on Instagram.  So, it’s mission accomplished I suppose, but it’s something that we have to be really careful about especially as I’m moving into phase two of my career.

Did you guys submit yourselves for contention in the upcoming Daytime Emmys?

KIT:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Photo: EastSiders

You both gave two of the most memorable performances of the year in Eastsiders and within the digital drama space.  So, we’ll see how it plays out for you when the nominations are revealed.

KIT:  Thank you.  It’s really interesting because historically it seems like the Daytime Emmys have gone with more traditional soap narratives, and ours is definitely the weird kid on the block, but I’m really hopeful that this season we will have a good showing because I really believe in Van’s performance.  I believe in all of the actors.  I believe that they’re all operating at their series best … to put it that way.  I think everybody is just sitting in their power and owning their characters in a way that was really, really cool for me as a writer to see.

It was amazing.  Congratulations.  I guess this is our wrap-up interview for Eastsiders … for now.

KIT:  Who knows… maybe this isn’t the end.  We’ll see.

So, will you miss seeing the journey of Thom and Cal on EastSiders?  If you watched the four seasons. did you have a favorite moment within it?  Share your thoughts on our conversation with Van and Kit via the comment section below.  Then check out the documentary of the “making of” EastSiders.

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