Interview!

ICYMI Chad Duell Interview

Credit: ABC

In just a few weeks, Chad Duell will mark his seventh anniversary in the role of Michael Corinthos, a particularly impressive achievement given that the actor spent the early part of his GH career convinced that he was going to be fired.

“I remember those days very, very strongly,” grimaces Duell, who was 22 and relatively new to the biz when he was tapped to replace Drew Garrett in the key role of Carly and Sonny’s golden boy. Prior to being cast, “I wasn’t going through a crazy, trying time or anything, although I did have a point where I had seven bucks in my account and I had to borrow money and all that kind of stuff.” While he waited for his big break, he paid his bills (or tried to) as a delivery driver (“I’m horrible at directions, so I had to use my GPS everywhere I went”).

ABC

The actor had faith that he’d soon be able to quit his day job. “I had a feeling that something was going to happen because I was getting close early on [to booking jobs] and I had gotten a couple of Disney Channel shows,” he explains. “But I did not expect this! The last thing I was expecting was to be on a soap opera. GENERAL HOSPITAL just kind of came out of nowhere and turned into this huge, huge blessing.”

But “blessing in disguise” may be a more apt description of his period of adjustment to Port Charles. “I was really excited,” he says of booking the role, “but it was such a hard time for me, as well as being exciting. I was really freaking out when I started. I was doing really badly because I was so nervous; I sweated through my shirts and didn’t know what I was saying. I really felt like I was going to get fired. It was one of the most troubling times of my life, really, because I was so overwhelmed.”

The turning point, he says, came when he nailed his challenging courtroom monologue when Michael confessed to killing Claudia. “It was kind of a breakthrough moment for me because I had a lot of dialogue and I was able to get it in one take and do well with it. I could do those scenes 10 times better today, but everyone started applauding because they knew how hard it was for me, and that really helped my confidence start to grow, and I started to make Michael my own. Before that, I was just trying to get through the scenes!”

While it may not have been a fun way to kick off his now daytime career, he’s grateful for the struggles he had. “It helped me grow as a man,” he declares. “I’ve just grown so much being a part of this show, in a lot of ways, and that experience shaped me into a better version of me.”

Michael, too, has evolved in the years Duell has been playing him. “He’s gone through a hell of a lot,” the actor notes. “I can’t imagine any other character has had as much tragedy in such a short amount of time! A lot of people would have broken completely or jumped off a cliff after what he’s been through, but he’s been strong through it all,” which is at least in part the result of how Duell has chosen to portray him. “I wouldn’t have thought to play him that way or bring him in that direction if I didn’t feel like it’s real,” he offers. “I’ve gone through some things in my life and gone through heartbreak, although Michael’s gone through it to the extreme, and it really becomes like a battle scar; you’re stronger and wiser for having gone through it.”

The actor would, however, welcome some chinks in Michael’s usually stalwart armor, like when he came close to shooting Sonny upon learning that his adoptive dad had killed his biological one, the arc that earned Duell his 2015 Supporting Actor Daytime Emmy. “I would love Michael to have more of those kind of moments,” he enthuses. “He’s almost angelic when it comes to how he deals with situations, and I’d like to see him act out a little more, like someone would if all this crap happened to them — two girlfriends died, his father died, he got shot. I would like to explore that more and not be the good guy all the time, working for his family business and dealing with family problems and always getting his heart broken by women.”

Duell can’t help but wonder if some of Michael’s stoicism is a spillover from his own personality. “That’s how I am, in general,” he muses. “I’m pretty introverted as a person, and I guess I started planting those seeds a bit with Michael, unknowingly, because I also think a lot about situations and go, ‘Do I really need to say that and hurt someone’s feelings, when I can just get over it?’ I’ll analyze stuff in my head as opposed to just jumping in and being outspoken. We have similarities that way.” And in others, too. “He’s been through what, four or five relationships in seven years?” he chuckles. “That sounds like Chad, too, actually! I’ve been through five relationships in seven years!”

Duell, who has been romantically linked to former co-star Kristen Alderson (ex-Starr/Kiki) and B&B’s Courtney Hope (Sally), describes himself as a relationship-oriented person “to a fault; I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs with that stuff”, but with his 30th birthday approaching this fall, he says, “I’m going through more life changes, actually changing my life. I’m going to be doing a lot more self-fulfilling things and focusing more on myself — traveling more, taking different classes, learning different things.”

On the work front, he’s eager to take on more storyline responsibility. “I’ve kind of been commenting on or been a part of other situations, but I would like to have more of a fully Michael-driven storyline, something that I could kind of carry,” he acknowledges. “I talked to Frank [Valentini, executive producer] a little bit about that, but when I start feeling that way, usually, [the powers that be] see it at the same time, like, ‘Oh, it’s time to throw him a different angle.’ ”

So, even as he’s embracing the idea of expanding his personal horizons, leaving GH isn’t on his radar. “I could not be more blessed or more happy with where my career’s led me,” he assures. “This show has been such a huge part of my life, a huge part of my growth as a human being. I would like to be there, and around these people and the friendships I have there, for as long as I can.”

Friendship Circle

Michael has always shared a special bond with Jason, who named him and raised him as a son for the first year of his life. His former portrayer, Steve Burton, was a mentor to Chad Duell when he began on the show. “I miss him, and being around his energy and the friendship we had,” Duell says. “I have to start hanging out with him more and talking to him more! He lives in Tennessee, which makes it kind of hard, but he’s a good friend and he always will be.”

JPI

When Jason was recast with Billy Miller in 2014, Duell says, “It was strange at first, even though I was excited that they were bringing Jason back. But Billy is a really good guy. When Billy first came on, he bought all of us new gym equipment for the workout room. That showed me a lot about who he is, that he came onto the show and took care of all of us like that. I’m glad he’s in our cast, both as a person and as an actor. I don’t get to work with him very much, though. Before, it was kind of like Jason and Michael were attached at the hip, and now it’s more like Michael only sees him every now and again.”

Did You Know?

  • When he originally auditioned for GH, “It was as a love interest for Kristina. Even when they brought me back in to read with Steve Burton [ex-Jason], I still thought it was for that part.”
  • Duell opted to remain in the dark about Nelle’s connection to Carly to bring greater authenticity to the reveal scenes. “When people would start talking about it, I’d leave the room. I wanted to be able to play it completely blind, so I kind of found out about it when Michael found out about it, which was cool.”

Just The Facts

Birthday: September 14

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Puppy Love: His 2-year-old Bernadoodle, Bella, “is doing well. She’s very loving and sweet. She’s lying at my feet right now.”

Enjoy The View: “I’ve been watching SEINFELD a lot on Hulu, and I’m finally watching the last seasons of THE OFFICE, one of my favorite comedies of all time. Steve Carell gives one of the best comedic performances ever as Michael Scott.”

Technical Difficulties: “Roger Howarth’s [Franco] dressing room is right next to mine, and Marc Samuel [Felix] is next to me, too. Our hallway has the worst cell phone reception of all the dressing rooms. We get wi-fi, but we don’t get phone calls.”

Gimme Some More: “The two guys I would like to work with more are Michael Easton [Finn] and Roger. Franco’s a very interesting, fun character, so it would be cool to have a story with him.”

Kitchen Confidential: “I make a really good turkey and cheese quesadilla. That’s my specialty — that and ordering out [laughs].”

Perk Up: Duell has gotten props for his signature coffee preparation. “Whatever the coffee is at work, I put in half-and-half and one Splenda, and the amount of each that I put in makes it fantastic. I made one for Chloe [Lanier, Nelle] and she was like, ‘Holy crap, this is really good!’ ”

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