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ICYMI GH's Josh Kelly Interview

Joining GH Came At Just The Right Time For Josh Kelly

Josh Kelly show biz dreams were sparked at an early age — 3 years old, to be exact. That’s when he made his stage debut in the coveted role of Froggy in a preschool production of Froggy Gone a Court’in’. “Other kids were, like, crying, peeing their pants, running off stage,” he recalls. “And I was like, ‘Guys, it’s not that hard!’ But more importantly, I remember everyone, in the audience, all our parents, they were smiling, happy, and listening to me for the first time ever! It was a great feeling, that I made them happy.”

Once hooked on that feeling, Kelly had to bide his time. “My parents said I wasn’t allowed to become professional until after high school because they wanted me to have a normal high school experience,” he explains. “But I always took drama classes and did regional theater if I could.” After high school, following in his father’s military footsteps, “I joined the Army, partially so I could do action movies.”

After four years of service and tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iran, “I asked my high school drama teacher, what theater school I should go to and he told me not to. He said, ‘You were good in high school and now you have a great life experience. So if you’re going to go be an actor, move where the acting is.’ So I came to L.A.” Upon arrival in California, he slowly but surely found his footing in the entertainment industry, working side jobs (including stints as a construction worker and a bouncer at a nightclub) while taking acting classes and, on the advice of a casting director, slimming down. “I just assumed I’d be the funny fat guy, but they said my face was symmetrical and I should lose weight and go in for leading man roles. So, I got in shape.” Eventually, he got an agent and, in 2006, his first real gig: the MyNetworkTV drama DESIRE, which also featured his future GH co-star Tanisha Harper (Jordan).

Kelly says he never doubted that he’d make it as an actor. “I think you have to kind of have blind ambition and just know that it’s going to happen,” he offers. “Honestly, it’s a lot like being in the Army. In my Ranger indoctrination program, our class started with 256 guys and only 21 of us graduated. And yeah, some of them didn’t pass certain things and failed certain things, but it was mostly just dudes quitting! And for me, quitting was never an option there and quitting has never been an option with acting. You kind of have to believe in your destiny. [My attitude was], they’re always casting different types of people, so there’s no reason why I can’t be one of those people someday.”

Kelly had been building up his resume with prime-time episodic work (UGLY BETTY, CSI: MIAMI) and was filming a role in Transformers: Dark of the Moon when, in 2010, he was offered the opportunity to join the cast of ONE LIFE TO LIVE as Cutter. “I didn’t really see myself doing a soap opera,” he confesses. “I’d watched GENERAL HOSPITAL when I was in high school because my sister watched it, but it never seemed like the genre that I would be fit for.” But his Transformers castmate Josh Duhamel, who’d launched his own career as ALL MY CHILDREN’s Leo, intervened. “Josh, wisely, was one of the big salesmen [for me doing the soap]. He was like, ‘You’re gonna learn a whole lot and you’ll be able to save up a little bit of money and you’ll be acting for a living!’ He was like, ‘You should definitely do this.’ And I’m so glad I did.”

While living in New York City wasn’t exactly his cup of tea (“It’s a little depressing; it’s either too hot or too cold; you have to crane your neck to see the sky”), he had a blast playing cunning Cutter and developed strong friendships with his co-stars (see sidebar). His career continued to blossom, with a two-episode arc on ARMY WIVES as Anna Chlumsky’s on-screen husband in 2012 that so caught the attention of Lifetime execs, “which is part of the reason that I booked UNREAL.” On that series, a peek behind the curtain of a fictional, BACHELOR-esque dating show, he played cameraman Jeremy, but a few seasons in, “I asked to leave because I felt like my character had done his tour and didn’t need to be on the show anymore.” Plus, being under contract to that show, “I wasn’t allowed to be on another TV show, and that is limiting.”

More prime-time work followed, including a five-episode run on the NBC drama MIDNIGHT, TEXAS, but by 2021, Kelly was itching to dig into a more substantial project. “I wanted a challenge,” he explains. “I missed having storylines with interesting characters and working more regularly.” So he reached out to his old OLTL boss, Frank Valentini, now GH’s executive producer, and before long, he was suiting up to play Cody Bell, Dante’s former summer camp pal who was revealed (albeit not yet to Mac) to be the secret son of Mac and the late Dominique. The gig has certainly granted his wish to work more regularly. “On UNREAL, I did 30 episodes total in five years. I did 30 episodes last month on GENERAL HOSPITAL!” he marvels. “But I wanted that challenge.”

Kelly, who marked his first anniversary as a Port Charles resident in May, is finding his footing both with his character and his colleagues, from hiking with John J. York (Mac) to Evan Hofer (Dex) attending his birthday party to talking about anime with Tajh Bellow (TJ). He’s particularly loving that his storyline has dovetailed with that of Sofia Mattsson (Sasha). “She and I did a movie together a couple of years ago [Lifetime’s MY HUSBAND’S SECRET WIFE] and it’s always neat to work with someone you’ve already worked with and had a good experience with,” he notes. “Amanda [Setton, Brook Lynn] is another one — she actually played my sister [Kimberly] on ONE LIFE, so that’s another fun crossover. She and I have a really good rapport, as well, and I really enjoy working with her.

“I’m really happy here,” he concludes. “I’m really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to the future storylines from the hints that I’ve gotten. I think it’s only going to get more fun at work.”

LIFE Force
Josh Kelly cherishes the tight bonds he forged with the actors he worked with on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. What he calls “the Eagle clan” consisted of “me, Tom Degnan [ex-Joey], Brittany Underwood [ex-Langston] and Kristen Alderson [ex-Starr]. I lived at my uncle and aunt’s on Long Island a good portion of the time I was on the show and they all came and slept over. We had this epic Kelly family Christmas party and we made, like, sheet forts and had Nerf fights. Kristen and Brittany really brought me in to the show and made me feel comfortable and Tom and I were dressing room roommates and became besties. We’re still really good friends; I was in his wedding.”

When he reprised Cutter on 2013’s short-lived online reboot, Kelly made another good pal. “I got to become good friends with Tuc Watkins [ex-David] on that journey, which was a lot of fun.” The men bonded at the bar at the hotel where they were staying while shooting in Stamford, CT. “The people who were guests on THE MAURY POVICH show stayed at our hotel, as well,” Kelly explains. “So we had a revolving door of very interesting people at that bar! It was me and Tuc and, like, people having paternity tests. They were really fun people to talk to.”

* Kelly auditioned for the role of Y&R’s Billy Abbott in 2006.

* The actor was originally hired by OLTL to play Joey Buchanan, but two days later, the show decided to switch his role to Cutter and cast Tom Degnan as Joey.

Just The Facts

Birthday: April 25

Provenance: “My dad was in the Navy so I was raised was all over. I was born in Japan, my first memories are in the Philippines. Then we went to Maryland, then Maine, then Guam for middle school and then Maryland again for high school, and then Georgia for the Army. And that’s where my parents retired too, so I still go back there.”

Gutter Talk: Kelly is in a bowling league, but laments, “I’ve been on this league for months now and I haven’t gotten better. My score is staying right at like 155. I’ve bowled higher when I’m not on the team!”

Won’t You Be My Neighbor: “Sofia [Mattsson, Sasha] is in the dressing room next door to mine, which is good, and Maurice [Benard, Sonny] is across the hall. I decked out my dressing room, made it nice and friendly and happy. It’s a haven.”

Strip Stakes: Of making his Nurses’ Ball debut as part of Milo and the Magic Wands this past April, Kelly says, “I love to dance, but I don’t do choreography that often. It was kind of cool! It was like learning lines in a different way — like learning lines with your body.”

Viewing Parties: Kelly’s parents and sister have become regular GH watchers since his debut. “I’ll get text messages saying, you know, ‘Hope that stab wound heals up!’ They love me being on a show more regularly.”