Interview

ICYMI: Eric Nelsen Interview

Eric Nelsen’s Hot New Role On THE AFFAIR Is Only One Of Many Post-ALL MY CHILDREN Successes

“ALL MY CHILDREN was my first series regular contract role on-screen, so in so many ways it catapulted my TV career,” muses Eric Nelsen, who played the role of A.J., J.R. and Babe’s son on AMC’s 2013 Prospect Park reboot. Five years later, his TV career is humming along nicely ­— as is his film career, his producing career and his online career.

After AMC wrapped, Nelsen signed on to join the cast of the web soap THE BAY as Daniel Garrett, and also to serve as one of its producers. As a producer, he has netted two Daytime Emmys, and this past April, he took home his first acting trophy, for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Digital Drama. “Oh, my gosh, there are no words to describe how insane it was,” he says of the victory. “I had all my family in town, my mom, my grandma, my cousins, my in-laws — everybody was there! It was like ultimate pressure, because what if I didn’t win? But it couldn’t have gone better. It was truly a dream come true.”

One of many he has achieved over the course of his young career. “I just keep freaking out, basically,” he says. “The people I’ve gotten to work with are just incredible. Last year, I got to do a movie with Mickey Rourke, a movie with Bruce Dern, and before that, a movie with Academy Award-winner Chris Cooper and Liam Neeson. So many of my idols!”

Sara Donaldson Photography

He came close to a brush with daytime greatness on the set of Nightmare Cinema, the horror flick in which he co-stars alongside Rourke, which will premiere in July at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. “It’s an anthology piece with five different segments connected by a continued plotline,” Nelsen sets up. “It’s like an epic horror masterpiece, really. Maurice Benard [Sonny, GH] is in one of the segments and I’m in a different one, so we never actually got to film together, but I am looking forward to spending time with him at the premiere because several of my co-stars on THE BAY, especially Lilly Melgar [Janice; ex-Lily, GH], said he’s the most incredible man.”

Nelsen had a double dose of fun shooting Nightmare Cinema, because he had two characters to play. “One character is like this pushover nerd who’s kind of been stepped  on all over his whole life, and then the other character is the complete opposite, so it’s good guy vs. bad guy, and it was so much fun to do that transformation.”

Before he heads to Canada to promote Nightmare Cinema, he has another premiere to celebrate: the fourth season of Showtime’s critically acclaimed THE AFFAIR, in which he will play the recurring role of Bram (the season began on June 17). “I still can’t believe it,” Nelsen marvels. “I had worked with the casting director before on THE FOLLOWING, and he was like, ‘Eric, you have to read for this role, I think you’d be really great,’ so I put myself on tape; I was in L.A. and they were casting in New York. As actors, the self-tape thing is so common now and you so rarely hear back; your tape either gets watched or it doesn’t.” Suffice it to say, his did. “There were two scenes for the audition, and they had notes for me about this first one and wanted me to redo it. Then I got a call that they wanted to fly me to New York and I just flipped out! I sat down and binged the show from beginning to end and then I freaked out even more because the acting is so brilliant and the writing is so incredible.”

He had a great experience on set in Montauk, NY, “one of the most beautiful places in the world. All of my scenes are with Joshua Jackson [ex-Pacey, DAWSON’S CREEK] and it was just a joy to work with such a subtle, real actor. Joshua’s character has had addiction issues; he sees a lot of himself in my character, who is struggling with major addiction issues, and he takes on kind of a fatherly role. On top of that, Joshua is the nicest guy in the world.” He’s nervous about seeing the end results, chuckling, “Sainty, my wife, is like, ‘We need to have all of your friends over to watch!’ And I’m like, ‘I’ll be watching through two fingers!’ ”

Premiere parties are common in the Nelsen household, as he and Sainty are also becoming prolific producers, with credits including the 2016 Bryan Cranston film Wakefield, “another dream come true, because my favorite TV show of all time is BREAKING BAD and I’m a huge fan of Bryan’s.” Next up for the couple is The Last Whistle, which they are both producing and starring in, and started shooting in Texas in May. “We got into producing together because it was a way for us to do content that we want to do and believe in, and it’s an opportunity to work together. For us, at the end of the day, the person we really want to work with the most is each other, and what better way than to make it happen ourselves?”

But his heart remains in front of the camera. “I’m an actor; that’s what I do, what I love, and what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he asserts. And he’s grateful still for the lessons his time on AMC provided. “I learned more on that set than I had learned anywhere else in my entire life,” he says. “The amount of work that goes into daytime is insane and it taught me the most incredible memorization skills and how to think quickly on my feet and to make strong choices the first time because you only get one take. I’ve been able to utilize that in all my other projects since and truly feel that because of ALL MY CHILDREN, all my other projects seem easier!”

JPI

Just The Facts

Birthday: June 26

Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL

Wedded Bliss: Nelsen tied the knot with Sainty on November 29, 2013.

Furry Friends: The actor has two dogs, a pitbull/beagle mix and a goldendoodle. “Ralphie and Rudy are the loves of my life! They’re four years old and because we don’t have kids, they are our babies. I want to come back as them in my next life because they have it made.”

Ad Man: Nelsen has appeared in, or done voice-overs for, commercials for brands including Cheerios, Mountain Dew, Pizza Hut, Starburst and Toyota.

The One That Got Away: The actor was cast as Eric van der Woodsen on GOSSIP GIRL, but the part was recast with Connor Paolo when producers learned that Nelsen was only 15.

Gold Digs: Nelsen’s 2018 Daytime Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Digital Drama “is on my piano right now, so you can see it when you walk in my front door. But I just converted my garage into a film studio/office space and I’m going to put it in there to inspire me.”

JPI

DID YOU KNOW?

• His younger brother, Matthew Gumley, provided the voice of Benny the Bull on the hit children’s show DORA THE EXPLORER.

• He made his Broadway debut in 2008 in 13 The Musical; his castmates included Ariana Grande.

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