Soap Opera Digest: You have such a beautiful on-screen mother/son relationship with Rebecca Herbst, who plays Liz. Tell us about working with her.
William Lipton: She is so incredibly kind and incredibly talented. I have learned so much from her every time that I’ve worked with her. She’s my onstage mom, you know? My mom and her, they work together to make sure I’m okay. She’s so good at what she does and her many years here have provided such an innate talent for portraying Liz on the show. Becky, I have such great respect for her and I’m so honored to be able to portray her son.
Digest: Tell us what it was like to work with Roger Howarth (ex-Franco) as your on-screen stepfather, and about your off-stage dynamic with him, as well.
Lipton: I absolutely adore Roger. He is such a talented actor and he has been such a great source of acting experience that I have learned from and he’s just been always incredibly caring of me, making sure that I’m okay. We’ve talked about a million things — about soccer, about music, about our lives — and it was very tough filming those scenes [surrounding Franco’s death]. He’s an incredible human being, he’s incredibly talented and I feel so honored that I’ve been able to work with him.
Digest: Your work on the show in recent weeks, with the material surrounding Franco’s brain tumor and murder, has been so terrific and garnering so much praise. Let’s start, first of all, with the day you had to shave your head on camera. How did you find out that that was going to happen?
Lipton: I was doing a scene in Elizabeth’s brownstone and I remember Frank [Valentini], our executive producer, he just said out of nowhere, “William, we’re shaving your head.” I was like, “What?!” I hoped that was a joke but it wasn’t and I was very happy to do whatever was necessary to support the show.
Digest: What stands out to you about seeing Eden (McCoy, Josslyn) come at you with those clippers when the scene was actually being filmed?
Lipton: My heart was pretty nervous, but I think I was more at ease because we had hairstylists, professionals, on standby.
Digest: Are you someone who really liked [your hair] longer, or you’re cool with it being short?
Lipton: You know what, I’m one person who believes that sometimes change is good in someone’s life, a little mix-up. I was getting a little bit comfortable with my hairstyle before, so I was happy being given the chance to experiment with a new style.
Digest: Who do you think was more nervous, you or Eden?
Lipton: I think Eden was very, very nervous! I remember talking to her afterwards. We were all together, Sydney [Mikayla, Trina], Eden and I, and we were kind of recollecting how she was, like, extremely nervous to like, mess up, and I was like, “You’re shaving my head — there’s no messing up!” And it’s growing back fast.
Digest: In the buildup to Franco’s death, Cam got a lot closer to his stepgrandfather, Scotty, played by Kin Shriner. Tell us about working with Kin.
Lipton: Oh, my goodness, he is so fun to work with! That man, he is just full of fun. We’re always laughing when we’re working together. Of course, we’re professionals, you know? We’re staying on task. But he’s been so kind to me. He’s put me on to a lot of great comedians. He likes quoting W. C. Fields a lot; he always says, “It’s too hot for Port Chuck!” all the time. He’s just a man with swagger! I hope I get to embody at least a fraction of his coolness when I grow up.
Digest: And what about what it’s like to work with the legendary Genie Francis (Laura), who plays your honorary grandmother on the show?
Lipton: She is so sweet. When I first worked with her, it kind of slipped my mind that she was Genie Francis, which I think was a good thing. Otherwise, I would have maybe been freaking out, she’s so legendary! But she is so incredibly kind and gentle every time we do a scene. She is Cameron’s grandmother, you know? There’s no disputing that. Again, another great individual to learn from in terms of acting. She’s so controlled with her scenes and it is an absolute honor to be able to work with her.
Digest: Fans were just gut-punched by the scenes where Liz told Cameron that Franco was dead.
Lipton: Those scenes, I was incredibly honored that the writers trusted me with that story because those are difficult scenes to portray and get right. I have my own process to get in that headspace in order to perform the scenes to the best of my ability, but it also comes with the help of my amazing co-stars. Becky was so amazing during those scenes and I felt like once I got in the correct space and felt the sadness that Cameron needed to feel in that scene, it all tumbled out. I’ve had some practice before; Cameron has been going through a lot, as you know. He lost his friend Oscar, and then he lost Franco the first time when he was kidnapped by Shiloh, and I think a lot of the emotions that Cameron expressed were a culmination of all this loss that he had felt…. Dev’s passing was so sudden, and so was Franco’s. Those are different elements that are involved with that sadness and anger, especially with someone who’s like the first real father figure that Cameron has had. His biological father died, and Lucky and Jason, they were not there for Cameron during his most formative years. Franco, who was actually there to support him, [was] this extremely important figure in his life. There’s a sense of anger, a sense of loss, a sense of desperation, a sense of wishing that it’s not true — that all comes in together to create a complex picture of Cameron’s state.
Digest: You also had these really intense scenes [when] Cameron sneaked into the morgue hoping to prove that Franco wasn’t really dead, but of course, ended up seeing the body.
Lipton: I actually have a funny story [about] when we were blocking those scenes. As you know, I pulled out the body tray where Franco is in, but when we were rehearsing and blocking it, he was not there, so I was just kind of opening it, making sure I had control over it, and I remember one time when we were doing the scene, making sure everything’s okay, I opened it, and then Roger’s just lying there dead! I was like [startled], “Oh, my gosh, what are you doing there?! I wish somebody gave me a heads-up!” It was very freaky [laughs]. And he was just like, “Yeah, whatever.” I was really freaked out! But yeah, for those scenes, I very much wanted to make sure that there was a different sense of sadness, because Cameron’s first discovery of losing Franco was filled with anger [and] I felt like the morgue scene was more characterized by just absolute defeat…. That moment that he sees Franco lying dead, it’s crushing, it’s a crushing sadness. Roger was a great scene partner during those scenes; he was an excellent dead person! It was very real. So was Becky. Those were tough scenes to film.
Digest: In the wake of losing Franco, Cameron had an encounter with the ghost of his biological father, the late Zander, at the cemetery, and you got to spend a day working with Chad Brannon.
Lipton: When I read that script, I was like, “Oh, my goodness, this is going to be such a great episode!” [I] was extremely excited to see what that would be like on the screen. We just worked together so well. He’s so incredibly talented and it was such an honor working with him in front of the camera and just working with him outside of the camera, running lines with him and getting to know him…. It was an incredible day at work.
Digest: A grieving Cameron performed a song at Curtis’s club. Tell us about the song.
Lipton: The song is called “We Weren’t Done With This Yet” and the hook is very much stating the feelings that Cameron is feeling. He had this father figure that he was so ready to have an entire lifetime worth of relationship with, through the ups and the downs, that was already starting to progress, because so much of his time knowing Franco was pushing him away [and] when he finally let Franco in, there was just this incredible relationship and incredible sense of respect and love that he had been missing in his life. I wanted to write [the song] with the overlying metaphor of painting because Franco was an art therapist. It was very much describing our relationship as a story being painted on a canvas and how the painting that has been painted seems empty now in certain spots because it’s not finished; we weren’t done with this yet, and the story that we were supposed to make together was cut short, and it’s unfair and it’s hurtful. It’s a lot of raw emotions that Cameron has and I was super, super-honored when [GH] reached out and asked me to write the song.
Digest: Cam has experienced so much loss in his young life. How do you think the loss of Franco will affect him going forward? Lipton: It’s going to be very, very detrimental. I think that Cameron, if he is not able to heal properly with accepting the support from the loved ones that he still has — his mom, his brothers, his friends — then he’s going to be in trouble. I think that if he doesn’t approach this healing in the right way that he’s going to find himself in a lot of pain.
Digest: Do you hope that GENERAL HOSPITAL will be a part of your life for a long while?
Lipton: It’s such a family here, I never want to leave. I hope that they always have a place for Cameron in some way, no matter what, because it’s an honor to be here…. I hope that Cameron sticks around for a while!