Soap Opera Digest: So, these past few months have brought about so many changes for Chase. In the buildup to his split from Willow, you had to play Chase as in the dark about her feelings for Michael. James Patrick Stuart (Valentin) recently told me, “It’s never fun as an actor to play a character who’s in the dark.” Do you agree with him, and what was your approach to playing Chase’s blind spot where his wife and best friend were concerned?
Josh Swickard: I can agree with JPS because I’ll just agree with him about anything — he’s the coolest person ever. I kind of played it that Chase is such an optimist and really is trying to see the best in people; even when they wrong him, he’s like, “I know there’s some good in you, I’ve gotta find it, but there is!” So, I think the way I portrayed him is that he was in the dark, but he was catching on. He knew something was off, but he kept talking himself out of the facts: “No, no, they would never, it’s not real,” and I’d just kind of shove it off and move on with my day. I think he had caught on a little bit but really kind of shut it down because of who he is and just not wanting to believe it.
Digest: Willow married Chase when he appeared to be at death’s door after Peter poisoned him. Did you enjoy the intensity of his many weeks in the hospital?
Swickard: I would say that’s my favorite storyline thus far. It added a level of physicality that I hadn’t been able to do on that show yet, with the wheelchair and learning to walk and the seizures and the coughing — it let me kind of go deeper as an actor and I got to discover some really fun things in the character that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise without that storyline. And it was a bigger storyline for me, so I was just very appreciative of the writers and Frank [Valentini, executive producer] for entrusting me with stuff like that.
Digest: Certainly, the circumstances of the story — not only Chase’s life being on the line, but the reveal of the Finn/Jackie affair and Chase thinking for a time that Finn was his dad, not his brother — allowed for emotionally deeper scenes between you and Michael Easton (Finn). Can you share what that was like for you?
Swickard: Oh, man. Just awesome. I love the levity in Chase and the goofball nature that he and Finn have in their rapport, that brotherly, punching each other’s arm [kind of dynamic], but the other side of that coin, man, when you get to bite off a scene like, “I’m dying and I want you there for my people when I go,” that stuff is so real and it felt like an honor. Michael Easton, he’s a class act in every way, and they gave us kind of the time, too, I felt, where we really got to explore it and play with it and if one of us was halfway through a take and we were like, “You know what, I can do that better,” everyone was cognizant of that. It was just neat. It was really special.
Digest: Now, I was talking to your good buddy Michael Mealor (ex-Kyle, Y&R) recently, and he told me about a scene where Chase was lying in the hospital bed, supposedly unable to move … and your foot moved. What do you have to say for yourself, sir?
Swickard (giggling): I saw that and sent it to Mealor and I think his reply was, “You had one job!” Now, Chase was always trying to wiggle his toes, and he always had some sort of mobility, and just because his foot moves doesn’t mean he can walk! There’s a world in which that makes sense! Now, did I intend for that to happen? Oh, man, no. When I saw that, I just started chuckling. You chalk those things up to, “Dang it, it’s unfortunate that we usually only have one take.”
Digest: One super-soapy moment you had to play was during the Chase/Willow wedding, when Chase had Michael put the ring on Willow’s finger because Chase couldn’t physically manage it. I need to know: What was your thought bubble during taping?
Swickard: That was my favorite scene maybe ever. It was so serious, but there’s a level — and this is not [said] in a disrespectful way — of comedy behind it. He fumbles his fingers, the ring falls to the floor, Michael has to get on one knee — it’s just the perfect storm of a soap opera! I mean, obviously, in the middle of the scene I was just torn up and the emotion of it really was there and it hurt, but directly before and directly after, you’re just kind of smiling and hamming it up as you’re dropping the ring and looking up at him with your sad eyes: “Would you please…?” It’s gold! Some people can knock soaps in a certain way because of that [degree of melodrama], but sometimes you just bite into it and you’re like, “This is the best part of it!” We have a genre where we can do the “Are you kidding me?!” moments and people love that! I learned early on, thankfully, with my career on the show that you can’t judge those moments. The first thing you learn in acting class is not to judge the character; whether you’re the Joker or Batman, you justify, not judge. There was one moment early on when I was at GH where I was like, “That would never happen!” First of all, if you Google anything, it’s happened somewhere! But second, I was like, “What a fun opportunity.” Some storylines are really normal and some are really wild and you just get to dive in headfirst, don’t look back. To me, it’s exciting and exhilarating and I just love doing it.
Digest: So let’s talk about Ms. Brook Lynn. A lot of people would be very happy if that relationship continued to develop. Tell me about working with Amanda Setton and building the bond between your characters.
Swickard: If there was a world where they ended up together, I could see it! I mean, Amanda and I love hanging out and we’re just good buddies and I think her character and who she is plays very well with Chase, you know? She’s just no-nonsense, no bull, “This is how it is,” and Chase is not, so seeing them together, they play well off each other. I honestly don’t know what the writers have in store, love interest-wise, for Chase, but if they went in that direction, I think that would be awesome!
Digest: What was it like to play the scenes where Willow and Chase ended things and she gave him back his ring?
Swickard: There was something special about that moment. It was one of those scenes where you kind of plan for it to go one way and it went a different way, but in a real way, if that makes sense. I love, as an actor, when you’re like, “Oh, this is going to happen, then this, then this,” and they say, “Action!” and it’s completely off your little playbook, and it’s just being in the moment. There was something beautiful about them closing that chapter — for now, because who knows what’s going to happen — in a sweet, sincere, real way. It was kind of awesome that it didn’t end with us throwing a flower vase at each other, it ended with, “Hey, what we had was cool and I will always love you for that.” I think that’s how everyone dreams of ending a relationship that’s not going to work, you know? You don’t want, especially with Chase and Willow, you can pull your hair out all day long — “Why did Chase do that? Why did Willow do that? Two ships passing in the night!”— but if you get down to it and you really try to empathize with them, it’s like, she did love Chase and it was super-epic and he was literally going to die tonight — what would you do? When you break the scenario down, you can intellectualize, “Yeah, I get it.” And to have it end like, “We’ll always have that time,” to me was really cool. I thought it was well done.
Digest: What’s your take on whether Michael and Chase could be friends again one day?
Swickard (adopts high, squeaky voice): Uhhh, yeah. I say it with that inflection, though! It’s one of those things that, I mean, you could always say, “That shouldn’t have happened until they were in the clear,” and that’s very true, so I think there would have to be a lot of grace on Chase’s part. But is Chase the kind of guy to give that grace? Maybe!
Digest: So, Austin was Chase’s talk-to when Chase realized the truth about Willow and Michael. What were those scenes like to shoot?
Swickard: Well, first, working with Roger [Howarth, Austin] is amazing because I think he’s a brilliant actor, so I enjoy scenes with him. It was fun! At first it seemed random; when I got the script I was like, “Whoa — okay, cool.” I’m really liking it and it’s kind of interesting having that kind of “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other” situation. I think that’s kind of fun.
Digest: On Twitter, a lot of fans seem quite interested in the possibility of Chase becoming a little darker in the wake of everything that’s happened to him. Would you be interested in exploring that?
Swickard: Oh, yeah! I don’t know what they are going to do, but yes, is my short answer.
Digest: You’ve also been working more regularly with fan fave Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) as Liz has become more intertwined with Finn. What has that been like?
Swickard: Amazing. I love her and she’s awesome and so sweet. It’s fun. I mean, I can’t go wrong with people in this cast because when you work with people a lot, like I do with Amanda and the other people I usually work with, that’s so fun because you build a rapport with them, you’ve got a flow that you guys get used to, but then, the other side of that coin is, “Hey, you’re working with Roger,” or with Becky, and all of a sudden you go, “I never get to work with these people!” and then it’s a whole different kind of fun, getting to explore and work with a new actor — new to me, not necessarily to the show. So, I love it. I think it’s great!
Digest: Is it exciting to you to be in the place you are in storyline-wise now, where Chase is sort of untethered from Willow and Michael for the first time in a really long time, which leaves your character open to so many different possibilities?
Swickard: Yes, it is exciting. I’m really at a crossroads with the character. Is he going to go with Brook Lynn? Is he going to go with someone else? Is he going to try to be single? Is he going to go dark? Is he going to be a really good guy? I don’t know! I genuinely don’t know, and I honestly kind of like that I don’t know. There’s something about getting a new script and diving into it like, “What’s gonna happen?” that I think is fun and whatever they choose, I know I’ll love it.