In 2016, Jeffrey Vincent Parise bid his final adieu to Port Charles, which he’d called home off and on since 2013. The “on” kicked off in September of that year, when he was introduced as Sabrina’s mob-connected ex, Carlos Rivera; the “offs” occurred in May 2015, when Carlos was seemingly shot dead by Anna during the show’s live episodes, then again in May 2016, when back-from-the-dead Carlos was fatally stabbed by Julian, then yet a third time in September 2016, when his run as Carlos’s surprise twin, Dr. Joe Rivera, came to an end after just a few episodes.
The actor took the vicissitudes of his GH employment in stride. “I’m just a big believer in allowing timing to do its thing and accepting what’s happening,” he muses. “I was extremely grateful that Frank [Valentini, executive producer] had tried to bring me back and tried to make Joe work. I mean, I think everybody has their own feelings as to why Joe didn’t work out, but I think he did serve his purpose. He came in, he took Teddy,” Carlos’s son by Sabrina, “and created sort of an open possibility for something maybe in the future. So, Carlos was dead, but the legacy of Carlos wasn’t dead.”
Of course, having his next gig lined up before he wrapped at GH helped soften the blow. “That’s what was so special about this, and why it felt like it was completely meant to be,” Parise says. “Because the day I shot my last episode of Joe was the same day that I flew out to New York to start on THE DETOUR,” TBS’s critically acclaimed sitcom from the husband-and-wife team of Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, starring Jones and Natalie Zea (ex-Gwen, PASSIONS), which, in its second season, will heavily feature Parise — coincidentally, also as a character named Carlos.
His past affiliation with Zea helped him land the gig. “Five years ago, I did a fun little movie with Natalie called Sweet Talk,” he explains. “We were the two leads, and we had a blast. It was in a couple of festivals but it kind of came and went. Natalie and I remained friends, which was the best thing that came out of the film for me. Suddenly, last year, I get a call that they had been auditioning this character for a while, they had gone through the New York choices and were looking in L.A., and she recommended that they see me. She even said, ‘Actually, he’s playing a Carlos right now!’ So, I put myself on tape, and the rest is history.”
If the name Carlos continues to be a lucky omen in his career, well, he’ll take it. “This is now the third Carlos I’ve played!” Parise marvels. “The first was in a movie called Callback: The Unmaking of ‘Bloodstain’. It had a movie within a movie; my character was a schizophrenic who had just been released from the hospital, and he went off his meds and got cast as a character named Carlos in a movie [laughs]. So, that was number one, and then GH, and then this one! When I found out the character was a Carlos, I had a good laugh. It felt like — ‘Carlos, you just can’t kill him!’ You kill him twice on one show, he’s going to pop up in another show! And this Carlos is even more Carlos than Carlos was. This Carlos is not as deadly as Carlos Rivera, but he still is dangerous. And he’s a much better dancer than Carlos. He’s got moves, this Carlos!”
The actor was thrilled to reunite with Zea when he reported to work in New York. “We’ve been in touch through the five years since we last worked together, and there was a familiarity there that just made it that much more fun. But when I first showed up on set, knowing how much of a hand that she had in [getting the gig], I mean, how do you thank someone for such an incredible opportunity? For days, I couldn’t stop smiling at her.”
One of Parise’s fondest memories from the production was partnering with Zea for a dance number. “That was really exciting to do because they brought in a Broadway choreographer,” he enthuses. “That was so much fun, and Natalie and I had danced in the movie we did five years ago, so it really felt like old times. But for me, the entire thing was just one big highlight.”
This was not his first foray into prime-time (over the years, he’s notched episodes of series as diverse as CSI, MONK and MAD MEN), but after spending so much time in Port Charles, he was struck by the budgetary differences between daytime and nighttime. “There’s a lot more freedom in having a prime-time budget,” he notes, “from the choreographer to the the dialect coach to the accommodations, which were just amazing. I stayed in an incredible hotel that had floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Manhattan. And I had tons of days off to go to museums and galleries, so not only was it an incredible job experience, but it was an amazing personal experience, as well. I’d never spent that much time in New York, around a month and a half.”
Since wrapping up THE DETOUR, Parise grins, “Everything’s been great! I’ve been painting a lot [check out his work at www.jeffreyvincentparise.com] and enjoying the Cali lifestyle.” He’s in contact with several GH pals. “I keep in touch with Dick Burgi [ex-Paul] a lot; we’ve become really good friends and talk at least once a week. Bryan Craig [ex-Morgan] and I keep in touch, and we had a great celebratory experience because we did fan events in New Jersey and New York, and he had just booked his movie right after leaving GH, so we were both on this very similar level of celebration. I’ve seen Ryan Paevey [Nathan] since I left, we hang out, and I see Vinessa [Antoine, Jordan], too. One thing I always loved about working on GH is the people. They were such quality people and I made life-long friends from that experience.”
Not to mention, a bevy of loyal fans, who, he hopes, will tune in when THE DETOUR kicks off its new season on February 21. “The fans have always been so supportive,” he praises. “It’s touching. On GH, you were not acting into a void. [With social media], it was almost like you were doing theater, and after every episode you walk out into the lobby and people are there to talk about your performance, what they liked, what they didn’t like. It meant a lot to me.”
Jeffrey Vincent Parise didn’t have much opportunity to develop the role of Carlos’s twin, Joe Rivera, on GH. Reflecting on his portrayal now, Parise says, “He was everything Carlos wasn’t. Although he obviously looked a lot like him, I did change the physicality, the way he spoke. We trimmed the hair, trimmed the beard, slicked it back, the whole deal. But personality-wise, Carlos acts from the inside out. He’s very reactive and acts from a primal place, I think, whereas Joe acts from the outside in. It makes for a more thoughtful character, but that doesn’t always make for as exciting of a character. He didn’t come out blasting like Carlos did.”