Getting To Know AMC's Jeff Branson (Jonathan)

Soap Opera Digest: You’re working closely with three of AMC’s heaviest hitters: Cameron Mathison (Ryan), Alicia Minshew (Kendall) and Rebecca Budig (Greenlee). How lucky are you?
Jeff Branson: Tremendously lucky! They blow me away. I’ve worked with a few people now besides them, and not to say that anybody’s unprepared, but they have an enormous line load, and every time they come in, they’re ready to go. At ALL MY CHILDREN, we rehearse by the windows outside of the dressing rooms, and even when we’re going to rehearse, they’re ready to go. They know it already; they’re doing it cold.Digest: What was your first impression of Cameron?
Branson: Totally wrong [laughs]! You make assumptions when you see people: “Look at that guy; I bet he’s totally full of himself.” I was totally surprised, happily surprised, when all of my assumptions were blown away. Cameron has made my transition into this [soap] world seamless. He’s the furthest thing from stuck on himself. And as an actor … I find that Cameron isn’t a “soap-opera actor,” you know what I mean? When he gives you a look, he’s really looking at you. Every time I speak to him in a scene and he speaks to me, he’s listening to every single word and adjusting in response to me. We do things in between takes if we shoot things more than once, just little things, change the blocking a little bit, and he’s right there rolling with the punches. He bends with the flow of a scene really quickly because he pays attention. One day, I had a large line load, and I got flustered; I got really upset with myself. Cameron told everyone, “Hey, come on, guys. He’s gonna get it this next time.” He’s not stuck in his head; he’s not ego-driven; he’s a total team player, the backbone of the team that’s playing the scene. His presence in the hair and makeup room and on the set when we’re doing scenes changes my day, it really does.Digest: You’ve just started working with Elizabeth Hendrickson (Maggie) as a potential on-screen love interest. Are you concerned about the reaction the BAM fans will have to seeing Maggie with Jonathan?
Branson: The BAM fans have gotten into the back of my head; they’re definitely on my mind. When Liz and I were downstairs working on our first scenes and we took it up to the studio, all of a sudden it changed. And it wasn’t because of camera shyness or direction because we had a wonderful director that day, Conal O’Brien. I think we were all really feeling the pressure because we respect the BAM fans, and Bianca and Maggie is a wonderful storyline, so we started second-guessing ourselves about what it really meant, what was happening between our characters. Afterward, we walked downstairs and were like, “What happened? We were great hallway actors; what happened when we got on-set?” And then we decided that the next time we went up, come hell or high water, everything be damned, we’re going to do what we need to do. We decided just to have fun with it.Digest: Are you having fun with Jonathan in general?
Branson: I am. I have a lot of background stuff to work with for Jonathan, the situation that Ryan left Jonathan in…. Ryan had to do what he had to do for him, but he left Jonathan in a bad home situation, and I think there’s some deep, deep, deep resentment there. It’s all been choked back, and I think it’s all gonna come to a head soon. And I love that! I love it. I want scandal; I want love; I want everything that makes for a tumultuous character with tumultuous relationships.