GH’s Wes Ramsey On Playing A Villain

Is it harder to “get into character” playing someone whose personality is such a departure from your own? “The gift has been playing a flawed character for longer than any other in my career. I can trust in what I’ve already established over the years, like the resentments, the vulnerabilities, etc., and continue to build from there, so a lot of the preparation feels comfortably second nature at this point.”

When you meet fans in person, do you ever sense that people are surprised by how different you are from the character you play? “All the time. They’ve been so used to something so specific associated with, say, my eyes or my smile and are quite shocked at how I really am when they meet me.”

How do you calibrate just how “evil” to be in a given scene? “I try not to get weighted down by all the drama. It can be like quicksand at times, hard to maneuver in, so I look for ways to humanize and justify the behavior from a place that’s grounded and rational, whenever possible.”

Has it been fun to get to lean into Peter’s villainy more openly in recent months? “Actors love the opportunity to dive deep into rich material and the journey of Peter August has been a heightened one to say the least. When the house of cards tumbled at the wedding earlier this year, Peter was not only betrayed by those closest to him that he’d learned to love and trust for the first time in his life, but he also learned of his mother’s true identity being Alex Marick, not Anna Devane. I believe Alex’s words the one time she met with Peter have been reverberating through him ever since, settling his identity in a way. So combine that with a lifetime of trying to outrun the legacy of Cesar Faison and you can safely say, whether something in that moment was broken or perhaps born, something most definitely shifted.”

What have you found more challenging, playing Peter when he was pretending to be squeaky-clean, or playing Peter now that the mask is off? “They’ve both had their challenges and their rewards. It’s safer to hide behind masks, but when removed, while liberating, you have to really understand what lies underneath the mask too. Answering that can have its own set of challenges.”

Do you think Peter harbors guilt about any of his bad actions? “Besides losing his child or hurting the woman he believes he’s destined to be with, guilt is a wasted emotion for Peter. One that his father taught him will only weaken you.”

When Peter laughed maniacally at the irony of the setting the Tan-O on fire with matches from a Tan-O matchbook, was that scripted or your choice as an actor? Because it was awesome! “Thank you! It was not in the script. Acknowledging that the matches were actually from the establishment he was about to burn down was a discovery I made for myself in the moment of rehearsal and my director, Gary Tomlin, loved it, so we went with it. By the time we filmed it, Peter was simply relishing the wicked irony of it all with humor. Organic moments springing from the creative process, actors live for that stuff.”

How do you go about establishing trust with an actor you have to get rough with in a scene, as you recently did with Cynthia Watros (Nina), say? “We’re professionals, we bring that trust right onto the floor with us for rehearsal. Ask any questions we need answered for additional information which adds to the comfort, iron out any kinks we discover with the blocking of the action or stunts and then when we collectively understand what’s happening, we just let it fly.”

Did you apologize to Roger Howarth when Peter had to murder Franco? “Profusely. For any fans listening, we don’t choose what our characters do or don’t do. Those decisions are made for us and — whether we like it or not — we have to tell the story that is scripted for us.”

Is it ever mentally taxing to take yourself to the dark place required to play Peter? “It can be. It is a gift and a privilege though to be able to do what we do. I get to go home to a beautiful and compassionate partner [Laura Wright, Carly] who understands what it takes. Our puppy Kimba really helps, too.”

Do you ever find it hard to justify the bad acts the writers script for Peter? “No. If you dig deep enough, you can always discover that small spark you need for yourself. And with one small spark, you can burn a whole forest down.”

Anything else you’d like to say on the topic of “not being a bad guy, but playing one on TV?” “I love being an actor and trying new things in my work. I love the opportunity of playing a controversial character who can be a catalyst for exciting things on GH. To all the fans who have been supportive and enjoyed this roller coaster alongside me, I feed off your energy and appreciate your enthusiasm. To anyone who has had a difficult time with my character, my portrayal or even separating me from the character, just know that Peter August and Henrik Faison only exist in our collective imaginations we share together and that I, Wes, am wishing you abundance and prosperity. And if I’m ever given the opportunity, I’ll be nice to you. It’s how I was raised.”