For the second May in a row, GH has killed off Carlos, who just can’t seem to catch a break on the Port Charles piers. Jeffrey Vincent Parise, who joined the show in 2013, reflects on the end of his run.
By Mara Levinsky
Soap Opera Digest: Last year, Executive Producer Frank Valentini took you for a walk to break the news that Anna was going to kill Carlos. How did you find out about death No. 2?
Jeffrey Vincent Parise: I had just done the jail scenes with Finola [Hughes, Anna], so I was flying high, and Frank pulled me aside. For a second, I thought he was just going to say, “Those scenes were really awesome,” and he said, “So, I have to talk to you.” It felt so much like déjà vu; I said, “No,” and he said, “Yeah, you’re going to die.” I kept saying, “You’re kidding. Come on, tell me you’re kidding,” and he was like, “No, I’m not kidding.” I was just like, “Oh, no! Why?” He said, “It’s just for the story. We kind of painted Carlos into a corner, and somebody has to die.”
Digest: Last year, Anna shot Carlos four times during the live shows. This year, it was Julian’s turn to play executioner, with multiple dagger stabs to the gut. What was filming his death like this time around?
Parise: It was over a period of a couple of days, the stabbing and the actual dying, and it became this very surreal experience. I felt like it was this sort of Truman Show-esque experience for me and I felt like I had a chance to actually go through a death. I knew this character and it felt like he still had places to go, like he still had so much to live for, that when the actual stabbing was happening I felt all of Carlos’s possibilities expiring in that moment. As it was happening, I felt the shock of it, as if somebody just turns off your lights or dimmed them almost to be off and you know they were going to get turned off. It was this just horrible feeling of, “Too soon, I’m not done yet, I’m not done.” And then, being on the gurney and having doctors looking over me… I just went there and it felt like I was dying in some sense. And a part of me was dying, this part of me, this character, this person, Carlos, that I’ve developed for the past years and lived with and within, was dying. And so it was a very profoundly emotional scene.
Digest: Was it easier or harder to let go this time, having been through the experience of leaving the show?
Parise: You know, it was strange at first, coming back. For the first handful of episodes, I didn’t even know personally if Carlos is alive or dead. So it was kind of like getting back together with an ex-girlfriend, where you’re asking yourself, “Can this work? Is it going to work?” And there’s sort of a reluctance to go forward because you saw how it ended once. It seemed a little easier this time because I had become so accustomed to living within the realm of uncertainty. I said to tell myself, “As an actor, this uncertainty is the life that you’ve chosen.”
Digest: What were the highlights for you of this most recent run?
Parise: I would say that it was getting to work with Finola, Maurice Benard [Sonny] and Dick Burgi [Paul]. Dick and I have talked extensively about life and men and women and acting and he’s just such a quality person. Spiritually, that guy goes deep, and his work shows that. He’s able to be strong and still, and within his stillness, there is so much activity. I felt like we gelled both professionally and personally. Acting across the cell from Finola, that was a highlight. I’m such a fan of hers. As an actor, all you have to do is connect with her and go along for the ride because she will take you there. She reacts to what you’re giving her, too, and it’s such a beautiful dance. To watch her do her thing, wow. I was watching her do her monologue in the jail cell and it was like watching a mini-symphony. Her ability to access her emotions in any given circumstance blows my mind. The thing that’s cool about her, too, is that she gives us everything, but there’s still a mystery behind her eyes. With Maurice, when we were doing those scenes in the church, at that point, I knew that Carlos was going to die. When I did those scenes with him, it brought me right back to three years ago, when I tested with him [for the part] and it just seemed like everything came full circle. Here I was, three years later, dressed as a priest in an Ecuadorian church facing off with Sonny Corinthos! The test that I did with him was the same situation, it was a boxing match where it wasn’t an upset, it was like one minute I had the advantage and the next minute he had the advantage and so on. That’s why I feel so incredible fortunate. It wasn’t just the character, it was the actual writing that they did for me.
Digest: Carlos wasn’t entirely without a conscience, but generally speaking, he was a bad man. He killed Duke! And yet, the fans love you.
Parise: Well, I think a lot of the credit goes to the writers for that, because they wrote him, ultimately, as a lover. And the funny thing about Carlos is, he had all of his love scenes with Sabrina outside of the bedroom. I think a lot of the GH fans were able to see Carlos’s complexities, and they didn’t just see him in black and white. Carlos grew into my favorite kind of character to watch and now, that I like to play, which is, yes, he does bad things, but he’s a thousand shades of gray. I got to exorcise all my demons playing Carlos, but also, he’s not just this horrible, evil person. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next with Carlos, there was never a dull moment. But I have to say, I don’t mind fans not liking my character. That’s just me doing my job, because he’s a bad guy.
Digest: There are some “Carlina” fans out there who are going to be quite bummed that there was no last moment for Carlos and Sabrina.
Parise: I know! What a trip that is. And we have the baby! It just seemed like there was so much possibility left for Carlos. I get that being an actor, jobs get done and you go onto another project, but it’s not only the people from the show that I’m going to miss, it’s the character of Carlos. But the ending, and everything leading up to it, I thought was really exciting and dynamic.
Digest: What were your last moments on set like?
Parise: When I finished my last scene, I was going to try to just leave, but I was called back up to the set to do a promo piece. Alice Volonino, our wardrobe woman, was kind of like, “Here, I’ll take your stuff,” and she was acting kind of strange. Then she walked me onto the stage and they had shut down production, and all the cast and crew was there, and they had a little going-away thing for me. It was funny because Carlos was stabbed with Helena’s dagger and Frank gave me the dagger to cut the cake with. It was awesome, and he gave this really wonderful and touching speech about Carlos and about me and I couldn’t have thought of a better way [to say good-bye]. Frank said, “You know, you were supposed to come on for a few months, and three years later you’ve done over 150 episodes. You’ve come into our artistic community and touched each and every one of us. We’ve learned from you and I hope you’ve learned from us.” He said, “We’re in a very busy week and we’ve been having 12-hur days, but I felt like we had to stop production for a few moments to acknowledge you.” I was fighting back tears.
For more with Parise, check out the new issue of Soap Opera Digest.