Réal Andrews Is Thrilled For The Chance To Visit Port Charles.
Last December, as Réal Andrews openly shared on social media that he was undergoing cancer surgery, he was maintaining his privacy on a matter pertaining to his professional life: After a 17-year absence, he’d been asked to reprise the role of Sonny-menacing Marcus Taggert on GH.
Given that no one knew about his imminent return to Port Charles, the outpouring of well-wishes from fans was especially meaningful — and unexpected. “I was just blown away by the response,” he says. “It was really humbling and powerful. I don’t walk around and say, ‘Hey, I was Taggert.’ I’m not that guy. I’m a big advocate of, as amazing as it was to be Taggert 17 years ago, that’s in the past, man. I always say, ‘Let’s make history instead of read history.’ To get that kind of support from people I don’t even know was just amazing, seriously. I knew, at that time, I was going to be on the show, but obviously I couldn’t say anything. I was like, ‘Oh, man, they’re going to be excited when I come back!’ ”
But not even that taste of how much he still meant to GH devotees prepared him for the onslaught of positive messages he got when Taggert did show up on-screen. “It’s really insane,” he notes. “I’m humbled in ways I can’t even express for how [viewers] are receiving me back. It almost brings me to tears. It has brought me to tears, actually, just in gratitude. I never imagined the response that I’m getting, to be honest with you. I just appreciate it.”
GH wasted no time in reigniting the potent Sonny/Taggert rivalry that helped land Andrews his original contract with the show. Recalls the actor, “When I walked into GH on that very first day, I was an under-five — and I was a huge fan of GH, as well, so I was in awe when I was walking down the hall and I was running into people like Alan Quartermaine. When I saw Maurice [Benard, Sonny] coming, I went to stick my hand out to shake his hand like I’d been doing with everybody else, and he just went past my hand and gave me a big hug. There was kind of an instant something there.” In their first scene together, “I think all I said was, ‘I’m Detective Taggert, PCPD, and you’re going down.’ But apparently, they saw something in the booth, and they said there had never been that kind of energy, or someone able to stand up head-to-head with Maurice, and they literally called up my agent right there and offered me a contract. So, that’s how it all started.”
While he’s thrilled to be reteamed with Benard, a close and trusted friend (as is his wife, Paula Benard, who, as of last year, is his agent), Andrews is equally pleased that GH is expanding Taggert’s milieu, connecting him to Jordan, among other surprise ties to the current canvas. When GH first approached him, “I didn’t ask questions — I was just grateful to be back,” he explains. “But once I was on board, I was very excited and curious to see where I was going and what I was up to. What’s great — phenomenal, actually — is if you remember, Taggert, 17 years ago, was pretty much one-note: He was after Sonny, he was taking Sonny down. He had a little bit of a [romantic] relationship here and there, but not much. And right from the get-go, the writers are writing Taggert with a lot of levels, many twists and turns, and from an actor’s point of view, that’s very rewarding and exciting. It’s not just the Taggert and Sonny Show. What actor wouldn’t want that, instead of just saying, ‘You have the right to remain silent…?’ ” After rattling off the complete text of the Miranda rights, he chuckles, “I haven’t said it in years, but it’s so embedded in me because that’s all I used to say!”
But it’s not just Taggert who has more layers in 2020 than he did back in 2003; the same can certainly be said of his portrayer. The actor, who will mark 20 years of marriage to wife Michele in November, is now a father of three. His firstborn, Marcus, made his debut in 2001. “I can’t remember if we named Marcus after Taggert or if they named Taggert after my son, because they didn’t say his [first] name for the longest time.” They are all delighted to see Dad return to GH. “They’re very excited for me for many reasons. They’ve seen how hard I’ve worked and it’s a blessing for my whole family, obviously, to be on a show like that. It changes the dynamics in terms of your financial situation, just keeping it real, so it’s blessings and gratitude all around, you know? They’re happy to see Dad happy. There’s a different vibe in my house right now; things have just changed for the better, in a lot of ways.”
Certainly, that includes the actor’s year-plus of sobriety. “When you go through the program [AA], you do a lot of soul-searching and a lot of work,” he observes. “You don’t really realize when you’re in it, but man, I left a path of destruction, for sure.” Getting clean has only enhanced the actor’s appreciation for his spouse. “She stood by me through all of that,” he marvels. I’m extremely lucky to have her — and not only is she amazing to me as a wife, she’s an unbelievable mother.”
Andrews’s personal growth post-Port Charles has made it all the more enjoyable to reconnect with his GH pals. “It’s 17 years but we didn’t miss a beat,” he smiles. “We’re more mature, our personal growth is at a whole other level, and our acting is at a whole other level, for all of us. I remember when I was on GH, back in the day, I never felt as grounded and as comfortable as I do now. I would always have my hand in my pocket because I wasn’t grounded, I wasn’t comfortable. But now I can stand in front of someone and just be. I noticed that about Maurice, too; he’s always been amazing, but we’ve all grown.
“Someone asked me the other day,” he continues, “what was the difference between AS THE WORLD TURNS and ALL MY CHILDREN and GH? They’re all amazing, but there’s something different about GH. The other two were more like a job, like going to work. At GH, from makeup to hair to wardrobe to producers to the camera people, it’s just fun, dude! That’s all I can say.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: January 31
Hometown: North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Daytime History: He played Taggert from 1996-97 and 1998-2003 (Mathew St. Patrick pinch-hit between Andrews’s stints, when Andrews appeared on the prime-time show SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, INC.), then moved to AS THE WORLD TURNS, playing Walker Daniels from 2003-04. After a 2011 stint on ALL MY CHILDREN as Agent Trumbull, he was DAYS’s Hal Michaels in 2016 and 2017.
The Family Way: Andrews tied the knot with wife Michele on November 4, 2000 and they are parents to three kids: Marcus, Nathan and Danika. “They’re all very different. Marcus is the jock, and Nathan is the genius, and Danika is Daddy’s little girl, even though she’s big; she’s very talented and likes cheerleading.”
What’s In A Name: His name (which is pronounced Rey-ahl) is French; his mom was tutoring French students at the time of his birth.
Running Man: Andrews was a track star in high school, but his Olympic dreams were shattered by
a hamstring injury.
Promo Code: The actor took his character’s good fortune to heart when he moved up the ranks at the PCPD. “I got a script one day and I got promoted from detective to lieutenant and I was so excited, I was so fired up. I called my mom: ‘Ma, Ma, I got promoted, I’m a lieutenant! She goes, ‘Son, you’re acting.’ I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. Right.’ ”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Before booking GH, Andrews played a boxing trainer on SANTA BARBARA in 1992 and a cop on DAYS (in scenes with Kristian Alfonso, Hope) in 1995.
• Maurice Benard (Sonny) was the best man at his wedding.
• Andrews was a Luke and Laura superfan back in their early ’80s heyday.
Andrews is on the mend after undergoing surgery last December to treat his prostate cancer. “I feel amazing, but the recovery — I would be lying if I told you that it was a lot of fun,” says the actor. “I have to wear these big-boy diapers, I’ve got pain down there all the time, but I’m grateful that I’m cancer-free for now. On the set, I got a little doughnut that I have to sit on and a bunch of fun stuff. Just keeping it real, I’ll say two things. One, it’s not a joking matter; yes, it’s one of the ones that they have the best results of, you know, being free of cancer, but that’s only if you catch it early enough. I was blessed that I work with a doctor and get regular blood tests. My PSA [levels] went from 1.2 to 6.7 in a month and if I wasn’t getting checked, I wouldn’t have known.”
Andrews, who has owned gyms and worked in exercise and fitness, notes, “I trained for that surgery the way I used to train for track meets or train for fights. It’s challenging. If you ever have to have surgery, treat it seriously. A lot of people have the mind-set that they’ll get in shape after surgery. No, it’s the other way around: You need to show up in the best shape that you can.”