Soap Opera Digest: When did you start thinking about leaving the show?
Bryan Craig: From the beginning, you know when your contract is up, and I guess we started seriously talking about it when my fourth-year option was coming up. There were a couple of big projects that I had gotten close on while I was at GH, and my manager and I just kind of made the decision that it was time to go back out there.
Digest: Was it nerve-wracking to give up the job security GH represented?
Craig: Of course! Giving up your weekly paycheck is always a scary thing, especially when nothing in this industry is promised. You can only live so long on the money that you have saved from the previous job, so it’s a little scary. I had some hesitation about giving up my day job, but Kelly [Thiebaud, ex-Britt, his fiancée] was just like, “Dude, do it! You’re going to be golden.” And I was like, “Okay! Let’s do it, then!”
Digest: Were you nervous about telling Executive Producer Frank Valentini?
Craig: Yeah, a little bit. Having that talk is never a fun thing to do, but we worked everything out. We gave them the time they needed to wrap up the storyline in a good way. Frank was very supportive and had no doubts that I was going to go out there and book a big show or film. He even said he had some friends at Lionsgate and would contact them and let them know that they just let a talented guy go back out there.
Digest: Who were the first people you told in the cast?
Craig: Maurice [Benard, Sonny], obviously, was the first person that I went to. Maurice was also a big supporter of me going out there and doing my thing. He and Chad [Duell, Michael] were two of the first people to know — and word spreads pretty fast there, so within a week, I think everyone kind of knew what was going on.
Digest: How did you find out what the plan was for writing Morgan out?
Craig: Frank pulled me aside on set and told me. It’s one of those storylines that is going to trickle down to all the characters close to [Morgan] and give them really good material, so I was all about it. I was happy with it.
Digest: What was shooting the car explosion like?
Craig: The day of the explosion was actually really quick and painless, but the explosion itself was quite surprising; no one expected it to be as big as it was. I was thinking, “I’m going to have to do some acting here. They’re going to go for a close-up when I step out and it explodes.” But I didn’t really have to act much because I almost s–t myself! The explosion was so big and it was only about 15 feet away from me!
Digest: As we speak, your final day there is right around the corner. Do you think it’s going to feel weird?
Craig: It’s already weird! Instead of, like, the schedule that you get as a series regular, I got a separate email [for my last day]. And I cleared out my dressing room! When I was taking stuff off the walls that have been there for, like, four years, and taking it out to my car and bringing it home, that was probably my biggest realization of, “This is done now.”
Digest: When you think back to 2013, to the Bryan Craig who was putting that stuff up on the walls, how would you say you have changed?
Craig: In a lot of ways. I was, what, 21 years old? I was just running wild, completely! As an actor, I have grown just from being on set and constantly working. As a person, I’ve learned a new work ethic. I’d never worked that often and with that much material ever in my life. I learned to prioritize, to be more responsible. I think I’ve grown up a lot in the three-and-a-half years that I’ve been there.
Digest: A lot of people leave a show with some new friends, maybe an Emmy if they’re lucky, but it’s very rare that a guy gets to leave with a fiancée on top of that!
Craig: Yeah! A lot of great, extra things came out of taking the job at GH. I think I took as much from this experience as I could. I went in there with goals and I met them and a few pleasant surprises happened, as well.
Digest: What were those goals?
Craig: Honestly, my one big goal was to win an Emmy. I don’t know, if I didn’t win last year, if I would be leaving right now, because it would really feel like I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to do there.
Digest: Do you consider the bipolar story to be the highlight of your run?
Craig: Well, I fought from day one not to be that soap opera dude that has his shirt off all the time for no reason, that pretty boy. I argued not to be in the Nurses’ Ball. I really tried to show what I could do so I’d be given stuff that had some layers to it. Giving me Maurice and Maura [West, Ava] to play opposite, there was so much potential to do really great stuff, and I felt like I earned the bipolar storyline. I’m not trying to sound cocky in any way, but I think I deserve heavy material like that and I think they gave it to me because they know I can execute it and handle it. And I’m so happy that they did. I think at first, they were going to take me in that [direction]; I remember having my shirt off a lot in the beginning. I came in, this good-looking guy, and the question everyone asks when they hire a good-looking guy is, “Can this guy act?” I had to prove myself. Maurice believed in me and knew what I could do from day one, so he also pushed for me to get good material and it was great! We won an Emmy off of it, so there you go.
Digest: Were you ever frustrated waiting for your turn in the storyline sun?
Craig: When I first got there, it was a new job, so I stayed in my lane and I did what I was told. I just wanted to make people happy. I think the first time people went, “Oh, wow,” was the wedding scene that we had [the disastrous party after Kiki and Morgan’s quickie marriage where Sonny exposed Morgan’s lies to his bride]. And when I got nominated my first year there, I was like, “Wow. This plan to win an Emmy is coming together a lot quicker and better than I thought it would!” That’s when things really started opening up creatively for me there.
Digest: What scenes are you most proud of?
Craig: The stuff that I am really proud of is [when Sonny and Carly had Morgan committed]. I don’t know that I’ve ever been that connected to the material, where it didn’t feel like acting; I felt like I was there and it was real and my parents were really committing me to a mental institution. We got a standing ovation from everyone on set and people were just blown away by that stuff, so I’m hoping it’s good enough to take home a second Emmy this coming year! The other side of the TV is a little lonely [laughs]. Who knows what’s going to happen, but that would be incredible.
Digest: Who do you foresee staying in touch with?
Craig: Definitely Maurice. He let me so much into his personal life and I’ve let him so much into mine. We talk about things off camera that a father and son would talk about. I really, really hope to work with him on other stuff in the future. Chad and I have also been really good friends. We hung out a lot during his breakup with Kristen [Alderson, ex-Starr/Kiki] and we’ll always stay in contact.
Digest: What will you miss, and what won’t you miss, about GH?
Craig: What I will miss … is my paycheck [laughs]! No, I’ll miss doing creative, character-driven scenes with actors that I really enjoyed working with. What I won’t miss is the time that we had to do those scenes. It’s exciting to know that now, I will have a lot more time to get someplace emotionally or study the material or perfect something.
Digest: What comes next, once you’ve officially wrapped at GH?
Craig: Off the Emmy, Innovative Artists signed me and they have been sending me out like crazy. We’ve been getting very close to some shows and some movies. Right now, the director is viewing my tape for an independent film where I’d play a guy who gets involved in a white supremacist gang. So, I think what’s in store for me next is going to be very different from what people have seen from me at GENERAL HOSPITAL.
Digest: What would you like to say to the GH audience?
Craig: Everyone that has either supported me from day one, or maybe I’ve grown on them and now they support my work, they drive me and make me want to be a better actor. Honestly, even the people that don’t like me motivate me. You may never change those people’s minds and that’s not really what I care about; I just use it as fuel to keep getting better and keep pushing myself. But I love all my fans. They’ve been amazing.
Digest: Are you planning a good-bye party?
Craig: I’m so focused on getting that next job, it’s not even a thought in my head. I’ll celebrate once the next job is locked down.