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ICYMI Michael Easton Interview

GH’s Michael Easton (Finn) reflects on the various chapters of his Port Charles run

Easton made his GH debut as John McBain, the cop he played on ONE LIFE TO LIVE from 2003-12. Recalls the actor, “When ONE LIFE TO LIVE ended, we were all very saddened by that. It was sort of like the party broke up and everybody was, metaphorically speaking, wandering around aimlessly at 5 a.m., not knowing what to do with their lives.” After relocating to California from New York, Executive Producer Frank Valentini, who had been his boss at OLTL, approached him (along with a handful of other Llanview expats) to reprise McBain on GH. “There were some things that I really loved about it. It didn’t feel like a square peg in a round hole because they had done some things to make it work that I thought were very interesting, like, one of the things they worked into it is that Anna had trained him at the FBI.”

Easton also had a ball reteaming with Kelly Monaco (Sam), who had been his leading lady when they played Caleb and Livvie on PORT CHARLES. “I thought it was interesting that they talked about [feeling like they shared a past] connection. I don’t know if they ever defined what that connection was, but I think that happens occasionally; you meet someone and it feels like you’ve met them before, or engaged with them or encountered them before. That was kind of fun.”

McBain’s OLTL-originating disdain for Roger Howarth’s Todd continued on GH, but, admits Easton, “It was always hard hating Todd. Trevor [St. John, ex-Todd/Victor; Tucker, Y&R] is my friend and Roger is my friend and it’s always hard to hate your friend!”

A lawsuit between ABC and Prospect Park (which had acquired the creative rights to ONE LIFE TO LIVE) mandated that Easton stop playing McBain, and he soon returned as a new character, Silas Clay, brother to his former PC alter Stephen. Easton cops to feeling “a bit of a disconnect” with Silas, whose storyline (and life) came to an abrupt end when he was murdered by ex-mother-in-law Madeline. That GH has subsequently revealed Silas to be the father of not one but two characters (Nelle and Willow) amuses Easton, who says, “Katelyn MacMullen [Willow], who is so lovely and a really terrific actress, came to me one day and said, ‘I think you’re my dad on the show!’ I was like, ‘Uh, what?!’ I need a scorecard to keep up with this guy! He’s certainly had a very active life since he’s been dead.”

Easton had been gone from the show for a year when Valentini invited him back to play another new character. “It was one of those things where you walk on the lot knowing you’re not going to buy the car and you end up buying the car,” the actor says. “I was really adamant [about not saying yes] but Frank suggested, ‘Just listen to what the writers have to say.’ ” The show’s then-head writers, Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante, lured him in with their vision for the dapper, idiosyncratic doctor known as Hamilton Finn, whose closest friend was his bearded dragon, Roxy, and who was harboring a secret drug addiction. “It became almost like, ‘I can’t turn this down, it’s gonna be so strange and it’s either going to fail massively or it’s going to be something that would be kind of interesting to watch for a period of time.’ ”
One of the specifics he was given about Finn that particularly appealed to the actor was the character’s unlikely friendship with Jane Elliot’s Tracy. “They told me, ‘His only friend is going to be Tracy.’ They said they had watched me interact in a couple of scenes with Jane; they said, ‘We really like how you pushed each other and think this would be fun. You’re going to save her [as Finn] and you’re going to become really good friends, and even though you don’t seem to care about anything other than yourself and your own issues, she’s going to kind of get you.’ I thought, ‘Well, this is great!’ It was just something that you wouldn’t expect.”
Also unexpected? The Finn/Hayden romance. “They told me, ‘We don’t know who we’re going to put you with, we’re just going in and we’ll see what happens.” So, Finn and Hayden was a nice surprise. “Don’t tell her I said this, but I’m very fond of Rebecca [Budig, ex-Hayden] and she’s an amazing actress. She’s lovely and kind and I thought the fun of it is that it was two people who were not supposed to be together.”

Over time, and as Finn moved into a romance with Anna, Easton acknowledges, Finn’s quirkiness has been tamped down. “It’s gotten away from that [original concept] a little bit,” he notes. “Maybe it was distracting or something like that.”

The actor relished working opposite Finola Hughes (Anna). “I look back at all the incredible actresses I worked with and I have to be the luckiest guy in the history of daytime,” he smiles. “Finola is an icon there, and you’re aware of that when you’re working with her. We did a lot of playing with the words; she’s the kind of actress who will just go with anything you do and I went with whatever she did. It was a fun kind of Sullivan’s Travels-type of relationship in the beginning, a lot of back-and-forth banter.”

Ultimately, he thinks the weight of the Peter August drama was “Fanna’s” undoing. “It’s hard to have a relationship with somebody if they don’t know if their memories are theirs or their sister’s and they don’t know if they had a kid with the bad guy [Faison] or not,” he sums up.

Also in this time frame, Finn and Hayden’s daughter, Violet, arrived on the scene in the form of Jophielle Love. “I honestly do feel like her dad,” he says. “She just comes onto the set with that smile and it makes you happy.”

Both Easton and his character are still feeling their way through Finn’s situation-ship with Rebecca Herbst’s Elizabeth, but there’s nothing ambiguous about the actor’s opinion of his co-star. “She’s amazing,” he declares. “She is so present with you in scenes. She looks at you and you just get lost. I think that’s the real thing in this [genre]; you have to believe that there’s no one there, it’s just the two of you, and the great thing is when you get a partner you can get lost with and nothing else matters, not even the words matter. Rebecca has had some really difficult material and she’s incredible in every scene.”