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The Van Hughes Interview – One Life to Live and General Hospital

Courtesy/Gsarts.net

Talk about your accidental soap star, who won over our hearts in such a short time that we were clamoring for more, as the curtain came down on the beloved town of Llanview and One Life to Live just over a month ago.  Van Hughes, the multi-talented young performer stepped into the role of Cole Thornhart after Brandon Buddy (the original Cole) had to bow out of his scheduled return to wrap up Starr and Cole’s long-standing love story.   But what no one knew, except perhaps then OLTL head writer Ron Carlivati and the shows’ then EP, Frank Valentini, was how integral Cole would be to the final episodes of the series!  Will any One Life fan ever forget the prison break and the fallout… Cole hovering between and life and death as he visited heaven… And then in the end being reunited with Starr and his child, Hope in Los Angeles?

But as One Life to Live came to a close, and Valentini and Carlivati took over as creative heads of General Hospital, one of their first orders of business was to integrate Starr Manning onto the canvas.  And this Friday, Starr (Kristen Alderson) along with Cole make their debut in Port Charles.  In this very special interview with On-Air On-Soaps, Van Hughes previews what to look for during his short visit to GH, and how he pulled off almost the impossible to make us love him as Cole Thornhart in such short order.

Currently, Van is starring in the touring company of the hit Broadway musical filled with the exhilarating and phenomenal music of Green Day, American Idiot!  And if you have not seen it, you have got to catch it live!  American Idiot puts raw emotions front and center in a highly theatrical and thoroughly satisfying rock opera that ignites the stage with hits such as 21 Guns and more.  We spoke to Van while he was in Chicago on break before his next performance of the musical, where he wows audiences nightly just like he did on our daytime television screens daily.

MICHAEL:

You are currently on tour with American Idiot.  How is it doing the show every night and stopping in different cities along the way?  And for those who don’t know, how did you come about playing your role in the musical?

VAN:

Photo Credit: Doug Hamilton

I was originally the stand-by for the three main characters, and then I ended up taking over on Broadway for two months the role that I am playing now, which is Johnny.  Then, I had the summer off.  I knew I was going to do the tour in the fall and then One Life to Live popped up, and that was strategically placed at exactly the two weeks before I started rehearsals for the tour.  So as soon as I saw you in New York, when you visited the set of OLTL, I dove right into the show again.  Now we have been doing the show for 8 weeks and the tour has a long way to go … we are just getting started!

MICHAEL:

… And you are coming to Los Angeles, March 13ththrough April 22nd performing in American Idiot at the Ahmanson Theatre.  So now many of your new soap friends will get a chance to see you live!

VAN:

Yes, we will be in Los Angeles for six weeks, and then we keep going on from there to other cities.  It’s kind of an L.A. or bust feeling in my mind.  I know there are dates in Seattle San Francisco, Dallas, Costa Mesa, and Tempe, Arizona.  I think all of those dates are after the L.A dates.

MICHAEL:

On the final broadcast date of One Life to Live (January 13th) Kristen Alderson was one of my very special guests on the Blog Talk Radio, One Life to Live Farewell Show.  She related to the audience how you stepped into the role of Cole.  She asked me what I thought of your performances, and I said, “I thought he did an amazing job.”  She told me you studied the You Tube videos of Brandon Buddy as Cole.  What was it like for you having to get in there and quickly play a beloved character, and tweak it, and make it your own?  Were you concerned that you took on the impossible?

Courtesy/ABC

VAN:

It was interesting.  It was my first time doing that.  The first step was to figure out what the hell I was talking about in all the scenes.  On soaps, you are often rehashing previous plot points in the dialog, and for me I had to reference things that happened years ago to the characters.  I was just trying to fill in the blanks!

MICHAEL:

You were probably going, “Who and what is a Marty?” (Laughs)

VAN:

Yeah exactly!  Why am I talking about my mom and dad like this?  I honestly had no idea!  They don’t really fill you in when you get cast for something like this, especially since this was such a last minute thing.  Then, I checked my Facebook page and Kristen Alderson had found me and reached out to say, “Hey, here is my phone number, and call me if you would like to get together, and talk before we start.”  So we did, and we got to know each other a little bit.  Kristen helped me out a lot with plot points.  I told her, “I know this is the end of a very huge thing for you, and I am not going to take this lightly.  It is not just a job for me; I want it to be really special for you, too.”  So we had that kind of vibe going into it, to just sort of make the best of it.  That is about all you can do, right?

MICHAEL:

Right!  And I felt like the pressure is really on for this guy.  The show was wrapping up 43 years of history, and was at the forefront of daytime television viewers mind, because it should never have been canceled in the first place.  The fans wanted to see the stories come to a satisfying conclusion, after the Prospect Park online deal fell through.  And then, Brandon Buddy was coming back to play Cole, and then he had to bow out.  But I have to say, Ron Carlivati, (then OLTL’s head writer) gave you a lot of riveting material to play and Cole had a lot to do! 

VAN:

Photo Credit: Bruce Gilkas

The greatest thing about being an actor is that people should take parts that they have no idea what they are going to do with it, because that in turn challenges you to dig down deep somewhere and pull something out of yourself.  I am kind of tired of doing stuff, where I already know what I am going to do with it.

MICHAEL:

 …. Which is what I think doing a musical every night might be like.  It has got to be tough!

VAN:

Yeah, it is, but American Idiot is my most favorite thing I have ever done.  So, I made a very personal decision for myself to say, “You know what?  I have not been on tour before.  I have not seen most of the cities we are going to be hitting on this tour, and to be able to tell this story every single night, and to look at people in the eye across the country telling them things that I believe are true, there is nothing better than that.”  So I just made a personal decision that this is what I wanted to do for these six months to just push myself, and it is hard.  It is an assault on my body, my mind and my spirit.  I am kind of drained all the time, but it is worth it for me.

MICHAEL:

What is it about playing the anti-hero Johnny in the musical that is so draining?  Is it because of the character itself, or because in the musical you are dancing and singing and running all over the place?

VAN:

Both!  I get to play guitar, which is something I have been doing since I was ten, and so that is really personal to me. When you are in musical theatre you rarely get to do something like that.  So to be in a setting that is really comfortable for me, which is the stage, and to be doing material that feels very personal to me, and especially this story which is about a kid who wants to leave his suburban town, where he thinks life is going nowhere, and finds what lies on the other side… which is kind of what I did, when I moved to New York City.  I am originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, which is near Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and so it was totally different moving to the big city.

MICHAEL:

…. And you are performing the music of Green Day, and that has to be amazing!

VAN:

Photo Credit: Doug Hamilton

Yes. The music is the main thing.  There is barely any dialog to the musical, and we are just up there singing these songs.   It almost never stops, and if you know the American Idiot album at all, it’s mostly those tunes in the show.  There are some thrown in from Green Day’s newer record, 21st Century Breakdown, like 21 Guns and Know Your Enemy.  Billie Joe Armstrong was one of my idols as a kid growing up.  So to be singing this, I did not realize how much of my performing is really influenced by him until I started doing his show.  It’s funny to read the reviews where people are saying that I am a Billie Joe look-a-like, or that I act just like him.  I was not intending to do that; I was just trying to be myself.  It’s kind of funny to me, because I never thought of it that way, like I was doing his mannerisms or anything like that.

MICHAEL:

It’s cool!  You have got to have had a pinch yourself moment!  And then, in another pinch yourself moment, what did OLTL tell you happened with the role of Cole? How did you land the part?

VAN:

It was a last minute call from my agent to get down to the studio as soon as I could that day.  I had met the people at One Life before, but it was not for this role.  I can’t even remember what role it was for!  So the reason they called me was that they had an old tape of mine from a year ago, and executive producer, Frank Valentini responded to it.  I was one of two guys that they called in for the role.  Then within 30 minutes, I was the only guy available to do it!  I had been saying “no” to every thing all summer, because I wanted to rest and take a load off before I started this tour.  But OLTL said to me, “No. It works out perfectly for you.  It’s just these two weeks.  It’s right before the tour is going to start and it’s the final episodes of One Life, and it will be this epic thing.”  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  So, I just said “yes” to it.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

It was amazing, heartbreaking, and I thought the heaven scenes with you and Luna, and all of it, worked so well!  There were the scenes where Cole was trying to decide if he should stay in heaven or go back to earth, and then the scenes with Starr in the hospital where she is crying at his bedside.  Did you realize at the time, “I think I hit a home run with the material?  This is good!”  Or, did you not really know?

VAN:

First, yeah, it was heartbreaking.  I honestly did not know how it went.  Kristen said to me, “Well, how do you feel?  How do you think it went?”  And I am like, “I have no idea.”   I mean, I am not from that world where you just do a scene once and that’s it!  It is weird.  I had been on As the World Turns years before, and I always remembered after a scene going, “Whoa. That’s it?  Really?”  There is no time, and that is the magic of the soap genre and the art form.  There is something so transitory about it and real.  You have no idea what the other person in the scene with you is going to do, and that is probably what is going to be captured for the show.  What I am used to is rehearing everything a million times and thinking about it over and over again for weeks and months.

MICHAEL:

How was working with Susan Batten (Luna, OLTL)?

VAN:

She was great.  We have some mutual friends.  She was really cool.  And I guess because Luna was friends with Marty, she was there in heaven with Cole.  Susan is a very sensitive person.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

It must have been tough being at One Life for the additional reason that the show was winding down. There was the dwindling hope that the show would continue online, and the atmosphere must have been very sad on the set.

VAN:

I only felt it being sad the very last day of taping.  I was actually seeing people crying after their scenes and hugging the crew and exchanging phone numbers, and it was like watching an end of an era.  But all the times before that, everyone was so welcoming to me and just saying, “We know they are throwing you in above your head. You just have to trust yourself and you are awesome.”  Everyone was really patting me on the back, because as soon as I got to the studio …

MICHAEL:

… Yeah, I bet they were glad!  I bet they were yelping, “Thank God, There’s a great Cole!” (Laughs)

VAN:

Bob Woods (Bo) was saying to me, “You are really helping us out, you know?” (Laughs) I felt great being there and working with the cast.  I was just trying to do the best work I could with the time that I had, and to do justice to the character of Cole and what happened before, because I did not play it before.  I kept trying to keep the history of the character always in the back of my mind.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

What was it like working with Kristen Alderson?  She is one talented young lady.

VAN:

It was incredible!  From the first minute we talked on the phone, I knew this was somebody that I could relate to.  I didn’t think it was going to be hard at all, and it really wasn’t!  We had a great time those two weeks.  We shot the GH stuff and that was even more fun, because I was even more comfortable with the format and with Kristen.  The dialog was a bit lighter at first.  It was not quite starting off with the high-stakes emotional stuff.  So I am anxious to see what it looks like, because I did feel more comfortable about doing it.  I shot two episodes worth of shows.  I went to L.A. on my day off from the tour and worked.

MICHAEL:

Everyone is concerned how they are going to play this out … because they just got Starr and Cole back together at the end of OLTL, and now what is Cole going to do on GH?  Dump Starr?

VAN:

It is not anybody’s decision what happens with us.  It’s an accident, let’s put it that way.  There is something that has nothing to do with either one of us, but you know how it goes in the soap world.  People keep coming back and they are never really gone, and people are never really broken up, and so I like that prospect and the potential to play Cole Thornhart here and there.

MICHAEL:

So they are going to do something to keep you apart!  They are not going to blow you to smithereens, which often befalls residents of Port Charles?

VAN:

Well, they can’t really blow me to smithereens, or there would never be the potential for me to come back, but I like to keep my options open.  And in the context of soap operas, they always find a way.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

How was working with Frank Valentini, now that he is at the helm of GH?

VAN:

Going to GH and seeing Frank, and how he has taken over is amazing to me.  He tries to get faster days going so they can get through a lot of pages in the script.  He does that really well.  I think the actors really like him at GH.  Frank was definitely very hands-on in the scenes I was doing there.  I was impressed how he stepped into a completely new family and become the head of it, by the time I saw him next! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Did you notice the difference in size of the two studios?

VAN:

There is just so much more room in the studio in Los Angeles as compared to One Life’s in New York.  At GH, they can really spread out, and the crew is so efficient there.  It was an easy day and it was fun.

MICHAEL:

Did you work with anyone else during your short visit to GH besides Kristen?

VAN:

I can tell you, I did not work with Kassie DePaiva (Blair) or Roger Howarth (Todd).  They were not there, but I worked with the little actress who played Hope.

MICHAEL:

That must have been interesting for you too, when they said, “Oh by the way, when you come on to One Life to Live, you are also a father!”

VAN:

Courtesy/ABC

(Laughs) I know, and that was one of the biggest things with me of, “How am I going to wrap my head around this?”  The little girl has been on the show since she was 4 months old and that was interesting, because she is part of triplets, even though they mostly always use the same girl, the triplets are always there. (Laughs)  It’s kind of an interesting vibe to have these three little kids, who did not pay any attention to what I said, but in the scenes, she would say her lines at the right time and that was it. (Laughs)  I thought it looked good in the end, but when I was performing the scenes it was like, “I don’t know this kid at all and I am supposed to be embracing her!”  And the thing of it was, the kid did not know me at all, and she was just going along with it going, “Who is this guy?” and of course, she was grabbing me. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You cry very well by the way on camera, so we were all happy!  (Laughs)

VAN:

(Laughs) That’s nice.  It was challenging and I have not done anything like that before.  I just try to get better and better the more I do stuff.  I did all kind of preparation for scenes like that, because I am not an emotional person, in general.  They said to me, “You are going to be on a soap opera.  You are going to have to change that.” (Laughs)  I started reading books about my childhood and unlocking emotions, and it really helped me a lot, and even with the material I am doing in American Idiot.

MICHAEL:

Would you do another soap opera?

VAN:

Of course, I would.  It seems like it worked.  I can’t really see myself and how it works.  I just have to get that feedback from other people.  I would love to do it, and it is very challenging and rewarding work when you wake up at 5 in the morning and are like, “I have 40 pages today. Let’s do this!”  I get that side of it and the amount of work every day is a new challenge.  I like that a lot.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

When was the point in the process of the two weeks you taped One Life, or was it after the fact, that you realized and understood that you are a part of this iconic show that was wrapping up 43 years, and you were part of the big ending of the show? 

VAN:

I guess I realized it when they first told me on a certain level, but it wasn’t until I actually watched it, and saw the whole thing coming together, because I did not know what the other scenes were.   I did not get how my story was going to fit in with the other characters arcs.  When I was in Toronto and had just opened the American Idiot tour, some of my cast mates and I would get together and watch One Life during the day.  It wasn’t until that moment where I went, “Oh my God!  This is a really epic ending. Everyone was yielding a gun!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Prior to seeing you on One Life to Live’s final weeks, I remember catching a clip of you and the touring company of American Idiot performing on a New Years Eve show in Toronto!

VAN:

Yes.  We performed on CTV in Canada on New Years Eve!  It was a spectacular and it was a Time Square-ish type of event.  It was massive.  There were tens of thousands of people who we were performing in front of who had been freezing their asses off all day!  I was standing out there at the commercial break just waiting to go on.  I was standing out there in the middle of all these people.  You can tell that they were so hungry for something, and then I would have them wave their hands and then ten thousand hands would wave back at me in an instance.  It’s a great moment that never gets old.  You think, “So many people!  So many heads!”

MICHAEL:

It’s kind of empowering though, wouldn’t you say?

Courtesy/ABC

VAN:

It is.  It is.  But it really had nothing to do with who we were, but it was about New Years Eve and about something else.  We were just there sharing the celebration with everyone.

MICHAEL:

Did you ever hear from Brandon Buddy after you were selected to be his replacement on OLTL?

VAN:

No, I never did, but I know he is in touch with Kristen Alderson.  I know she told me the other day when we were talking, that he said something like, “Mad props to Van”.   I think he hadn’t watched the episodes yet, but was glad it got done.  But I have no connection to Brandon, except watching him on You Tube as the original Cole.

MICHAEL:

Since you are a musician and a singer, do you want to record an album?

VAN:

I have always been into music.  It was either acting or music to go full force on.  I realized I had studied theatre and acting more than I had studied music.  So it made more sense that I do this for college and enter theatre.  But the thing about the music business right now is that it is kind of sad.  What is really happening with it at all?  I don’t want to get my hopes up in that aspect, but I have been songwriting a lot, and there is a musical I have been writing with some guys in New York.  So, when I get back, hopefully, we can try to get that up off the ground.  It features a kind of modern hipster rock music of today, not your normal musical.

Photo Credit: Babylon & Beyond photo

MICHAEL:

So we will get to see you this week on GH!

VAN:

This Friday, I will be on General Hospital.  My first episode is Kristen’s first episode on the show, too.  Cole and Starr are beginning their new life, and something will happen, yes!

MICHAEL:

I can’t wait to find out how Starr and Cole, of all things. wind up in Port Charles!

VAN:

Yeah, it’s a dozy.  It’s explained.  I guess I am on the show to explain why we are in Port Charles. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Many fans were singing your praises after your performances as Cole in the final weeks of OLTL.  Did you receive viewer feedback, and did fans reach out to you after your episodes aired?

VAN:

Courtesy/IMDB

I do have a personal Facebook account, and people were messaging me on there.  They were saying they had watched One Life to Live for a very long time and connected with me.  Then some people that I knew, that I didn’t know were One Life fans, were really excited to see that I was on the show and enjoyed it.  Then, Kristen told me that the fans she was in touch with on Twitter, as well as her mom, told me that fans were very complimentary and supportive of the new “Sole”, as they were called.  And actually, that made me feel really good, because I, at first, did not know what to think of it.

MICHAEL:

You did great!  And we were all basket cases, (myself included) as One Life came to a close.  As you know, I covered the show for so many years, and it was so hard the day I visited the set and saw you, and had to say goodbye to everybody.  I think you touched a lot of people’s hearts in a very short time.  When I got back from the trip and then watched everything play out on the air shows I thought, “This is really good.”  So, very special kudos go to you!

 

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MEG
MEG

I really enjoyed Van as Cole .I didn’t like COLE B4 ,BUT I COULD HAVE LIKED HIM IF VAN WAS PLAYING HIM. AND I LOVED THAT CLIP FROM AMERICAN IDIOT.

Amanda
Amanda

I just caught Van on a Royal Pains episode and honestly thought he was related to the Jackson kids! He looks so similiar to Joshua Jackson (older brother to Jonathan Jackson, GH) maybe even twins or something! Google it!! It’s crazy!!!

kara anderson
kara anderson

they are mot twins

Jo
Jo

This lovely guy could play Jonathan Jackson’s younger brother in something. He looks so much like Jonathan IMO. He did a great job as Cole on OLTL. I don’t think he will have any problems getting more acting work.

kara anderson
kara anderson

there are good

andrea
andrea

I hope Sonny kills Gole. I do want to see vans musical.

Jan
Jan

You have no idea what wish to say, or maybe you do.

DEE
DEE

Someone is going to end up at the HOSPITAL wonder which one COLE OR STARR?

Megan
Megan

I was such a huge Sole fan. At first I was disappointed when hearing Brandon wouldn’t return, and as much as I would have loved that, Van did an impeccable job taking his place. Seeing how much effort he put into it and wanting to get it right is just incredible. Thanks Van <3

CTwildheart
CTwildheart

I agree with Megan…I really wanted to see Brandon come back as Cole. BUT, Van did a fantastic job! I look forward to seeing him in many more things.

Hummingbird
Hummingbird

Thank you so much Michael again for providing this interview for us. I wasn’t a BIG Sole fan, until Van stepped into the role. The man was absolutely FANTASTIC! I can not wait to see him again on GH. I was alittle nervous about what Van/Cole’s exit would actually involve something final. After reading your interview, I’m feeling much better about it. Starr & Michael will obviously happen in the aftermath, but in the end I think Cole will return to Starr & Hope someday. Soul mates on soaps often have the beauty do that, right? Love that 😉

Jan
Jan

First of all hes really not Cole BUt I can live wth it because I want Sole together.

Sheryl
Sheryl

Thank you michael for another great interview, I think Van did a great job and I’m looking forward toseeing him and everyone else fromOLTL on GH. Lot’s of luck to all of you.

Crystal
Crystal

I love Van, I preferred his Cole over the orginial and probably would have grew to like Cole again if he had been cast as Cole months again instead of towards the end but I’m going to be angry at RC if he brings Cole back to reunite with Starr especially if the show does end this fall because a OLTL couple should not get a happy ending on GH. It’s not fair to GH viewers who never watched OLTL especially the ones who will become fans of Starr’s GH pairing. It would be one thing if Cole was going to be a long term character but since he’s not, his love story with Starr needs to be resolved for good.

jessica
jessica

I really like sole and hope . the were the best. the were my favorite story line. i hope they stay togerther. I miss the other cole. I can”t wait to see on gh. It should be a good one

MBmomof3
MBmomof3

Thanks for another great interview! I thought Van did a great job as Cole. I am a fan of “Sole” and Brandon Buddy’s version of Cole, but I was very pleased with the way the storyline played out and the talented actors involved.

I would love to see him in American Idiot. It is my favorite album of all time. And that’s saying alot, because I love music even more than soaps!

Nia
Nia

Great interview! I was not a fan of the original Sole, but Van really knocked it out of the park for me at the end of OLTL. He is a talented young man and hope to see his star(no pun intended) to continue to shine bright.

jeff
jeff

Never seen him quit watching OLTL but he killed with stars lil girl in his frist show on gh so is this a storyline for star and micheal together on gh with todd going after sonny and micheal and star in the middle of it all ????

Paul
Paul

good interview right here.

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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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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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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General Hospital

General Hospital Delivers Super-Sized Promo: The Truth About Wiley To Be Revealed

This week, General Hospital is going full-tilt set to deliver the moment that fans of the show have been waiting for since back in September 2018, when on one fateful night  …

(Cliff Notes version here) Brad and Lucas’s adopted child dies, Nelle gives birth in the woods with an assist from Liesl. Brad and Nelle comes face to face on the road; the two switch babies and keep the long-held secret that Brad and Lucas are actually raising Nelle and Michael’s bio-son. Meanwhile, Willow thinks she is Wiley’s birth mother, having no idea, that her baby died with Brad.

Julian has been in on the secret, and when Brad finally revealed to Lucas the truth about Wiley, it caused their car to crash (Remember: Kendra who in the other car, who was trying to kill Alexis) which has left Lucas with only fragmented memories of that night.

Realizing everything is getting too close for comfort for the truth to come out; Brad accepts a job in Portland and is moving with Lucas and Wiley, while Nelle is selling her shares of ELQ to Valentin to get out of dodge too, so she can follow them, we think.

But in one of the best promo’s we have ever seen for a daytime drama series, as you see below; will Lucas remember and reveal the truth to Michael?

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From the cast credits at the end of the promo, to the setting up of the tale, this is one promo not to be missed.  Check it out below.

Now, let us know, how you think the truth will come to light that Michael will find out he is Wiley (AKA Jonah) biological father and that their was a baby switch? Will it be as teased in the promo, or some other way? Comment below.

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General Hospital

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Valentin’s World Crumbles; Anna & Finn Put On The Brakes

Yesterday’s episode of ABC’s General Hospital featured emotional performances by James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), Finola Hughes (Anna) and Michael Easton (Finn) as it looks like a significant shift may be coming for their characters on the Port Charles canvas, or is it?

Valentin has overheard Nina (Cynthia Watros) telling Ava (Maura West) that she kissed Jax (Ingo Rademacher), which further sends him into a tailspin.  He is still reeling from the fact that the DNA results, that he had run, proved that he is not a Cassadine, as Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) had claimed and revealed.

When Valentin enters Ava’s art gallery, he gets a moment alone with Nina where he tells her he doesn’t know who he is anymore.  Nina tells him he is free now to start over and concentrate on his daughter, Scarlett, but that she will no longer be a part of his life.

You can tell Nina still has feelings for Valentin and cares about him, but is it more? Or, is she now going to move on with Jax? Well, after a pep talk, of sorts, from Ava, looks like she may just go after Jax and see where things may lead with him.

Later, Valentin is drinking and gets his gun and is ready to kill Jax, or so it seems.  He heads out to go confront Jax in his office.  Next, we see Valentin shoot Jax with Josslyn (Eden McCoy) and Dustin (Mark Lawson) looking on.  However, we soon learn that this scenario was all in Valentin’s mind, as we come back to present time and Jax, Dustin, and Josslyn are all talking and wondering what Valentin wants.  He covers and tells Jax he just came to tell him he wasn’t a Cassadine.  Still later, Lulu is filled in about Valentin.

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Meanwhile, Brad (Parry Shen) meets up with Nelle (Chloe Lanier) and tells her that he and Lucas (Ryan Carnes) are moving away from Port Charles.  He admits to her that he told Lucas before the accident, about baby Wiley being Michael and Nelle’s bio-son.  She is pissed.  Nelle realizes he wants to move Lucas and Wiley away to keep from triggering Lucas’ memory of the car crash.  Later, that prompts Nelle to leave Valentin a message that she is ready to sell her ELQ shares to him as she needs to leave town ASAP.

However, when Nelle places her call, Vakentin does not pick up; instead he is on the floor drunk, and opens a box with the Cassadine ring in it, and lo and behold, we see a woman appear, who by all accounts will be Helena (Constance Towers) since we know Towers is making a visit during February sweeps.  Will Valentin be talking to a dead Helena about the lies perpetrated on him … or is something else going on? Stay tuned for today’s episode.

Courtesy/ABC

Elsewhere, Anna is angry that Finn betrayed her with confirming information to Jason (Steve Burton) and his stance on her son Peter’s dirty deeds.. Finn says she’s just so blind to the truth about Peter and he is a dangerous man; after all, Peter kept Jason locked up for years.  Anna says Jason will now retaliate and try to kill Peter.  She is overcome with terror and upset that no one will give Peter the benefit of a doubt.

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It’s clear she wants a second chance at being Peter’s mother and can’t see past that. With that, the duo is at a crossroads. Finn goes to get his daughter, Violet and packs a bag and moves of their place and heads to the Metro Court for the night.  He tells Anna he has to protect his daughter.  Of course, when they get to the Metro Court, they run into Peter (Wes Ramsey) and Maxie (Kirsten Storms).  Finn is not happy.   Will Anna and Finn reconcile? Will Peter finally, finally get his comeuppance?

Share your thoughts on what you would like to see happen for Valentin, Nina, Jax, Anna, Finn, and Peter via the comment section below. But first, check out these scenes between Finn and Anna.

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DAYS Eric Martsolf and Stacy Haiduk chat with Michael Fairman at Day of Days 2019; during their conversation the on-screen dup talk about the latest developments of Brady and Kristen within the series time-jump and more. Leave A Comment

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