INTERVIEW

ICYMI Cameron Mathison Interview

When ALL MY CHILDREN, the show where Cameron Mathison had spent the better part of 12 years playing Ryan Lavery, came to an end in 2011, unemployment wasn’t a big concern. He already had another gig (as a correspondent for GOOD MORNING AMERICA), and over the years, his professional plate only became more crowded, from hosting (ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, HOME & FAMILY) to prime-time guest shots (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, HOT IN CLEVELAND) to a bevy of Hallmark movies (perhaps most notably, the MURDER, SHE BAKED series, where he starred opposite DAYS’s Alison Sweeney, Sami).

Despite his post-soap success, Mathison’s affection for the genre remained strong — and thoughts of GH began cropping up at the oddest time. He explains, “I start my day with a meditation routine, and GENERAL HOSPITAL kept coming up in my mind. I would pay attention to that and send positive energy to my friends there,” a list that includes not only actor pals like Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Finola Hughes (Anna), but the show’s executive producer, Frank Valentini. “Frank and I go back to 1997, when I first showed up in New York and he was working at ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Our lockers were close to each other at the gym we both worked out at on the Upper West Side, so I would go to him and talk to him about stuff at ALL MY CHILDREN and he would give me advice.”

His history with Valentini inspired him to make a fortuitous call as HOME & FAMILY was coming to an end in 2021, creating an opening in his schedule. “I’d always had so much respect and admiration for GH and the quality of its writing and its actors, but I never wanted to be presumptuous and call Frank and say, ‘Hey, man! How about a role for me?’ It’s not my style. But because Frank and I have a friendship, I felt like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to put it out there!’ ” To Mathison’s surprise, the exec jumped at the chance to add him to GH’s roster. “When he reacted positively and quickly, I was like, ‘That was way more than I thought was going to happen!’ ”

Seven months into his GH run as Drew,  Mathison is thrilled he made that call. “I’ve been lucky to be busy all these years on the hosting side as well as the acting side, but I started in daytime and I love it. I love the energy of it, the pace of it, the ability to play many different sides of a character. Especially a character like Drew, who is such a good-hearted guy but has the potential of being programmed and doing things that are well out of his element. He’s got the adventure side, the Navy SEAL side, the tender side with his daughter, the history with Sam — there’s so much to it that makes it really exciting for me.”

As eager as he was to sink his teeth into the role, he had plenty of nerves afoot when he reported to the studio, from wondering how he’d handle the workload (“When I left ALL MY CHILDREN, a really big day was maybe 30 items; at GH, we do 60 to 70”), to being prepared for an uphill battle in winning over fans (“I know that replacing someone” — in this instance, Drew’s original portrayer, Billy Miller — “is tricky, and you never know how it’s going to go”). Now that he’s more settled in, he declares, “The damn honest truth is that I am so happy there. I tried to come in and be as respectful and humble as I could and I’m just super-grateful that the fans are giving me a chance. I’m having so much fun paying Drew and I promise the audience that I am going to continue coming in with respect for the show, the character, the writing and that I’ll continue to just do my best.”

Having weathered some tough times in his personal life in recent years (he battled kidney cancer in 2019 and lost his beloved mother to brain cancer last year), Mathison is grateful not only for a job he loves but for his family, kids Lucas and Leila and wife Vanessa, with whom he’ll celebrate 20 years of marriage in July. “We went through some tough times maybe 15 years ago,” Mathison admits, “and she really stuck with me. Relationships are hard, but we were both willing to work on it and get closer and learn from it. And she is such an incredible mom, it blows my mind. I got really lucky. When we met, she was more focused on aesthetics, I was more focused on aesthetics, we were both kind of up to no good as far as like, the party scene, just kind of nuts, and the fact that we both had a similar willingness to shift and change our approach to life and what was important to us, it’s just really rare. Really rare.”

Asked what his younger self, the one who landed his AMC role back in 1997 shortly after making the transition from model to actor, would think of the man he’s become, he takes a thoughtful pause, then says, “I think the guy who booked ALL MY CHILDREN would be so proud of me. I don’t mean just about work or whatever; I think it’s pretty damn cool that I’ve been able to continue to work in such a tough industry, but I think he’d be proud of what I’ve been able to do on a personal level — what’s important to me, my morals and my family and my kids, me being a loyal and devoted husband and family guy. I think it would surprise him! I honestly believe that deep in my heart at that age, I wanted this in my life, but I wasn’t making any steps to achieve it! I think he’d be really proud of the guy that I’ve become.”

Keeping The “Dream” Alive?

Fans of the Sam/Drew romance were hoping to see their “Dream” team reunite with Mathison in the role, but for now, it appears that Sam is sticking with Dante. “I love both of those guys, Kelly [Monaco, Sam] and Dom [Zamprogna, Dante],” grins Mathison. “I like them a lot together, too.”

Even if coupledom isn’t in the cards, Drew will remain connected to Sam via their daughter, Scout, and Mathison is glad for any chance to share scenes with Monaco. “Working with Kel has been amazing,” he raves. “I don’t think it could be going any better. We’ve known each other a long time but never really worked together; I think we once hosted something at Super Soap Weekend or maybe it was something with DANCING WITH THE STARS [they are both alums of the competition show]. Working with Kel, I feel like there’s really good chemistry. She’s fun, she’s playful, she’ll surprise me in the scenes. She had really good chemistry, obviously, with Billy [Miller, ex-Drew], but I feel like it’s a good dynamic and I really get the sense that it’s different from what Sam has with Dante, and that’s important. And Drew is respectful of that. There are definitely feelings there, I’m not going to say there aren’t feelings, but Dante’s an amazing guy and Drew knows that, and just wants the best for her.”

Did You Know?

Mathison holds a degree in civil engineering from McGill University.

He won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Male Newcomer in 1999.

He appeared with the partner Edyta Sliwinska on the fifth season of DANCING WITH THE STARS; they came in fifth, with the trophy ultimately going to race car driver Hélio Castroneves.

Just The Facts

Birthday: August 25

Hometown: Ontario, Canada

We Are Family: Married Vanessa on July 27, 2002; they share son Lucas (born April 20, 2003) and daughter Leila (born July 7, 2006).

Puppy Love: Mathison’s beloved Doberman, Red, is “the biggest wimp you’ll ever meet. He looks incredibly dangerous, but he’s the worst guard dog because complete strangers could come onto the property, find the key, go into the house and he’d hide in the bushes. At the dog beach, he gets bullied by little white fluffy dogs.”

Dressing Room Neighbors: “Kin [Shriner, Scott] is right across from me, Katey [MacMullen, Willow] is right beside me, and Roger [Howarth, Austin] is on the other side of me. I really dig him. I like his energy, his laid-back way; I’ve always been amped, although I’m a little more relaxed these days, and he’s just kind of chill. I’ve never seen that guy get worked up about anything.”

Contact Lens: The actor keeps in touch with a slew of his former ALL MY CHILDREN co-stars, including Rebecca Budig (ex-Greenlee; ex-Hayden, GH), Melissa Claire Egan (ex-Annie; Chelsea, Y&R), Alicia Minshew (ex-Kendall), Jacob Young (ex-JR; ex-Lucky, GH), Thorsten Kaye (ex-Zach; Ridge, B&B), Susan Lucci (ex-Erica), Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley), Mark Consuelos (ex-Mateo) and Eden Riegel (ex-Bianca). “I set Eden up with her husband, Andrew Miller, my oldest and best friend, so we’re basically pseudo family.”

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