Five Years Into His GH Run, William deVry Is Finding New Reasons To Love Life In Port Charles
William deVry knows what it feels like to have a promising daytime prospect suddenly go up in smoke.
In 2003, he was cast as ALL MY CHILDREN’s Michael Cambias, and a few months into the gig, he recalls, “I walked into [Executive Producer] Jean Burke’s office and said, ‘So, what’s going on? I’d like to buy an apartment [in New York], but I’m not really sure if I should.’ She told me that I was absolutely safe to buy a condo, that I had a 96 percent approval rating with the focus groups, that anybody with a score that high is gonna be on a show in daytime for as long as they wanted. That was on a Tuesday — and two days later Jean found out that a shift was coming. She was probably going to lose her job and Megan McTavish was coming back [as head writer] with this whole new way that she was going to tell the story, and that was going to cost Michael Cambias his crayons.” Burke “very kindly” called him back into her office to give him the heads-up, and sure enough, Michael’s corpse was discovered hanging in a meat locker a few months later.
Deep Freeze: Fifteen years ago, deVry’s AMC run as villainous Michael (r., pictured with Cameron Mathison as Ryan) came to a sudden end. “That makeup job wasn’t fun, but it was certainly impressive!”
In light of this sobering experience, deVry did have some concerns about his Port Charles future back in 2016, when Julian, the character he’d played since 2013, took a dark turn — and we mean a dark-even-for-a-mobster turn — and, in a matter of months, went from exchanging loving “I do’s” with Alexis to holding a knife to her throat on the pier. “I don’t know that I was excited about it because of what I’ve been through,” he allows. “But Frank [Valentini, executive producer] reassured me. We talked about some other characters, like Franco and Jason, and we’ve never really known if Luke was a good guy or a bad guy; he reassured me that any character could be redeemed and taken out of a corner, if the writers believed in that character.”
Those startlingly violent “Julexis” knife scenes aired two years ago this week, and even by soap standards, it’s remarkable how far a cry the pub-owning, plaid-shirt-wearing, doctor-dating Julian of today is from that man on the pier. “That’s daytime TV!” proclaims the actor. “That’s the cool thing about it. There’s constant evolution, constant discovery, constant shock.In daytime, you’ve got to rediscover your character to keep it interesting and keep the customers coming back for more.”
If the feedback he got from fans at his last personal appearance, a month ago in Minnesota, is any indication, “the customers” are open to this latest iteration of Julian. “Half the audience misses [him with] Alexis, half the audience likes Julian where he’s at now, with the pub and with Kim. Some of them miss his edge and some of them like him as Mr. Nice Guy.” (Viewers seemed unanimous on one point: “They wanted to know why the love scenes with Julian are more tame than they used to be!”)
For his part, deVry says, “I enjoyed being Mr. Bad Guy with the edge — maybe not to that extent, where I was holding knives to people’s throats, but I liked being the other mob guy on the show. But quite honestly, I’m loving where Julian is right now. I think it’s important that there’s evolution in a character, especially from the extreme that Julian’s coming from. I think it is important that he strives to be a better person, especially since he made it such a factor in his relationship with Alexis that he wanted to be a better man. He’s slowly climbing out of this hole he was in and I think it’s important to see that struggle, to see him fall back down and recover, and I think it certainly adds a lot of layers to the character that we can play with in the future.”
While the future may well hold the “Julexis” reunion his most ardent GH fan base has long clamored for, Julian’s present has given deVry not one but two Daytime Emmy-winning love interests, Nancy Lee Grahn, Alexis, and Tamara Braun, Kim. “I’m working with two A-list actors. What could be better?” he beams. “He’s taking all these mistakes that he made with Alexis and he’s actually learning from them: how to better communicate, how to be more open and honest. I think this is huge for him!” Which could only benefit Julian in another go-round with Alexis, deVry notes. “I don’t think Alexis would take Julian back now, but I think in the future it’s a real possibility, given how they’ve been able to grow and heal.”
Just as Julian has been adjusting to his new relationship, deVry has had to find a new working groove with his co-star. “That’s true of every [on-screen] couple,” he says. “You have to find each other’s process and you have to respect each other’s process; you can’t just expect people to do it your way.” For example, “Nancy likes to run scenes at the studio, and Tamara and I like to run scenes over the phone the night before. I’m okay with both; both processes allow for off-the-cuff behavior and surprises, so we’re still able to play with [the material] and not be so structured. I think really, in the end, that’s what is important: to have a playful flow so that you can still find surprises and make discoveries while you’re playing a scene.”
Five years into his run, deVry’s passion for his Port Charles work hasn’t waned a bit; he still watches the show (“I like to see what’s working and what’s not working just as much as the fans do, and I think it’s nice to be able to walk through the halls and say, ‘Hey, I watched your scenes yesterday, great stuff’ ”), works hard on his scenes (“I like to be sure I’ve done my job as an actor to break it down line-by-line and analyze the scripts”), both signs of how deeply he appreciates that he’s still standing on GH. “I’m super-happy right now,” he declares. “It’s great knowing where you’re going to work every day. I love my character, I enjoy the people I work with, I love being 15 minutes from my house, I love the legacy of the show, the fans are great. It’s just nice to call GENERAL HOSPITAL home. I feel very lucky and fortunate.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: April 20
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
11th Heaven: The actor recently celebrated his 11th anniversary with Rebecca Staab (ex-Elizabeth, PORT CHARLES et al).
Daytime History: Tim, PC, 2002; Michael, ALL MY CHILDREN, 2003 (reprised for short stints in 2004 and 2006); Storm, B&B, 2006-08
The Middle Man: His dressing room is in between Tamara Braun’s (Kim) and Michelle Stafford’s (Nina).
They Don’t Make ’Em Like They Used To: When not watching sports, deVry’s TV taste runs vintage, “old black-and-white stuff like WAGON TRAIN, THE BIG VALLEY, BONANZA, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, HAVE GUN –
WILL TRAVEL.” Much to Kin Shriner’s (Scott) chagrin, deVry can watch them in his dressing room. “It frustrates him because he’s like, ‘How do you get all these old shows? I don’t get them on my TV!’ I’m like, ‘It’s a secret, Kin!’ ”
Another Day At The Office: The actor loves his new on-screen workplace, Charlie’s Pub. “Charlie’s is kind of like how I would decorate; it’s totally up my alley. The office [at Derek Wells Media] wasn’t my style — too modern for me. It never did feel like home. I’m more old-school.”
Man’s Best Friends: The actor’s significant other, Rebecca Staab, snapped this shot of him with two
of their five rescue pups.
Did You Know?
• His first professional audition was for the Florida Tourist Channel.
• He names James Patrick Stuart (Valentin) and Michelle Stafford (Nina) as two of the people he most frequently gabs with in the GH hallways, and adds, “I’m sad to not have Dom [Zamprogna, ex-Dante] around here anymore; we would always stop and chat.”
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Little by little, William deVry has turned his dressing room into the man cave-esque atmosphere he doesn’t have at the home he shares with longtime love Rebecca Staab (ex-Elizabeth, PC et al). “I try to keep it classy at the house!” he chuckles. “My dressing room is where I can kick back, watch the Dodgers. I’m not afraid to make it homey. About six months in, I started putting stuff up, and then two years ago, I really started adding things. I’ve got a lot of old photos of people that I respect, athletes or politicians or individuals with courage — Jim Brown, John F. Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth. It’s fun in there! Everybody comes in and has a look at what’s going on on the wall. The other day I was sitting in there with Tamara [Braun], and Max Gail [Mike] came in and he was like, ‘I was in your dressing room the other day and I noticed this and I noticed that,’ and he told a lovely story about a one-man show he did in New York about Babe Ruth. Kin [Shriner, Scott] loves it in there; he likes Veronica Lake and she’s up on the wall. Nancy [Lee Grahn] walked in just today and said, ‘God, your dressing room is so nice!’ As far as the old saying goes, ‘Don’t fix up your dressing room because it’s bad luck,’ well, you know what? Bad luck is what you make it. I’ve been known to walk under the ladder!”