Spotlight On: Patrick J. Gibbons (Wyatt, GH; ex-Sam, ONE LIFE TO LIVE)
From 2010-12, and again when the series was rebooted online in 2013, ONE LIFE TO LIVE fans knew Patrick J. Gibbons as sweet, bespectacled Sam Manning, the biological son of Victor Lord, Jr. and Margaret Cochran, who Blair was raising as her own. The young actor recently notched a second soap credit, appearing on GH as Wyatt, the Port Charles scout who stumbled upon Peter in the cabin where Obrecht was holding him hostage.
“I was super-excited and I loved being on it,” declares Gibbons, whose sister, Anna Gibbons, is recurring on GH throughout the summer as a nurse. His Port Charles gig was orchestrated by Executive Producer Frank Valentini, his old OLTL boss. “We got an email from Frank saying that we could have a couple of episodes on GENERAL HOSPITAL sometime in the summer,” Gibbons explains. “Frank is like family to us; I really love him. I hadn’t seen him since August of 2016, when my family went to visit him at the studio. That was really fun and it made me so happy that I got to see him again.”
Gibbons had hoped that he would have some other Llanview reunions, as well, specifically with Roger Howarth (Franco) and Michael Easton (Finn), and did indeed end up sharing GH scenes with them. When he got his first scripts, he says, “It brought back a lot of memories from ONE LIFE. And I knew who Franco and Dr. Finn were, so when I saw their names in the scripts, I got really excited. Roger was like my hero when I was little and knowing that I would get to see him again was great! I felt the same way about seeing Michael. I did a lot of episodes with him on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, and Roger and Michael and I work great together.”
Upon landing in Los Angeles and heading to the set with his mom, the East Coast-based Gibbons reports, “When we walked in, right away, I saw Roger. I think he was surprised to see me, although he might have known [I was coming] from the scripts that we’d gotten beforehand. But we were both excited to see each other. And then we found Michael’s dressing room and I got excited about that. I saw both of them when I visited in 2016, too, but that was a while ago. They were both surprised by how tall I’ve gotten. So was Frank! He said, ‘You’ve grown a lot!’ But I just loved walking down the hallways because every time, it brought back memories of walking to my dressing room at ONE LIFE. It’s crazy, all the big actors I saw just sitting in their dressing rooms!”
But an even bigger star sighting awaited him. “What was really crazy,” Gibbons sets up, “is that one time I walked into the commissary and I saw John Stamos [ex-Blackie] in there. My jaw dropped! My sisters and I used to watch his show [FULL HOUSE] every night, and I still do. It was just crazy to really see him. I went up to him and said, ‘Hi, my name is Patrick. I saw you and I just really wanted to meet you. I watch your show every night at 9 o’clock on Nickelodeon.’ He was super-nice. He said that he saw me on set and that I was a good actor. He talked to me for, like, 10 or 15 minutes and he was just so awesome. He didn’t have any ego.”
Fan Fervor: Gibbons couldn’t believe his eyes when he encountered one of his favorite stars, John Stamos (ex-Blackie, GH), at the ABC commissary.
When it came time to work, Gibbons marvels, “Being on set was amazing because the GENERAL HOSPITAL set is just so much bigger than ONE LIFE’s was. It was such a great experience for me.” His memorization skills were a bit rusty, but Gibbons was diligent about ensuring that he knew his material. “It was tough on the first day, but I got it after the first few times of reading the lines. I worked hard on them because I really wanted to do them well when I got on set, so I asked my mom to [run] them with me a lot.”
He was happy to have Valentini on set with him. “Frank was directing most of the episodes and it was really fun,” Gibbons enthuses. “He was teaching me a lot of new things. Like, one time, I was on set and I didn’t have a pen, and he said to me, ‘Always have a pen with you.’ So, I learned, if there is something new in the scene, like if Wes [Ramsey, Peter] or Kathleen [Gati, Obrecht] or Roger or Michael wanted to change something or I got a new action to do, I would write it down,” not something he did as an 8-year-old playing Sam.
“I really love him,” says Gibbons of GH Executive Producer Frank Valentini.
While he especially cherished working alongside Easton and Howarth again, he also enjoyed his new scene partners, Ramsey and Gati. “Wes is a really good actor and so is Kathleen,” he praises. “She has a lot of good expressions on her face! When I walked in and found Wes’s character, Peter, I felt like Spidey Sam again,” he says, referring to Sam’s Spiderman-inspired story arc from 2011. “It was super-fun.” And as a surprise bonus, he discovered that he would be sharing scenes for the first time with James DePaiva (Dr. Bensch), whose wife, Kassie DePaiva (Eve, DAYS), played Sam’s mom, Blair, on ONE LIFE. “It was so awesome to be on set with him! My mom was texting Kassie about it.”
Just Like Old Times: The young actor enjoyed his reunions with former OLTL co-stars Roger Howarth (Franco, l.) and Michael Easton (Finn).
His favorite scene, he says, “was the one where I was in the chair with Roger and we were talking about Peter in the cabin. We were just having a big conversation and I said, ‘Dr. Franco, you have to listen to me,’ and I was talking to him about Dr. Obrecht’s shoes.” The wild on-screen circumstances he was playing did lead to an occasional giggle fit, however. “I did laugh on set a couple times,” he conceded. “One time it was because I had crunched up s’mores and stuff was getting everywhere; and when I was hiding under the bed in the cabin, sometimes I would laugh because I would fall out from under the bed. It was really fun.”
All in all, “I was there for two weeks and shot four episodes and it felt like they just flew by. I was just 5 years old when I started on ONE LIFE and when it was over and I was 8, I was like, ‘What the heck just happened?’ And GH went by even faster! I really just didn’t want to leave after the last episode. When we got off set, I was saying to my mom, ‘Can we just stay a little longer?’ To stretch it out, I walked over to the commissary, even though I just ate, just so I could stay at the set longer. I just really enjoyed being on set, all the people, the cameras pointing at you, and knowing that one day, it is going to actually air and you are going to be able to see yourself on TV!”
Family Valued: On ONE LIFE TO LIVE, Gibbons, pictured in 2011, played the on-screen son of Kassie DePaiva (ex-Blair). “My family keeps in touch with her; we have a really close relationship and we talk to her almost every day.”
He did manage to keep his emotions in check when saying good-bye to Valentini and his other GH pals. “It was actually not that bad because they all made me feel good, they were all saying that I did a good job,” he reflects. “Whenever I got off set with Wes, he would always give me a fist-bump or a high five. And then Roger, of course, is always great to me, same with Michael. The hardest part was that my sister is out in L.A. [for the summer] and I didn’t want to leave because I didn’t want to leave her there. But it’s so cool that I got to be on the same episode as my sister.”
Gibbons would, of course, welcome the opportunity to return. “I would be super-excited to come back,” he nods. “It would be great to see all my old friends again, like Roger and Michael and Frank, and my new friends, like Kathleen and Wes.” In the meantime, he plans to spend his summer hanging out with his new Schnauzer puppy, Henry (“He’s a great dog; currently, he’s kicking Willie, my other dog”), “looking for a new agent, I have a lot of hockey camps to go to, and also, I’ve been taking voice lessons for about two months. I’ve also been taking guitar lessons since I was four, and I’ll be doing more of that this summer.”
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