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Nicholas Chavez dishes about his fictional prison life

In 2022, Spencer served time at two different facilities, Spring Ridge and Pentonville. Which one do you think he’d give a more favorable Yelp review? “The facilities are certainly nicer at Spring Ridge, right? It’s minimum security, there’s no glass separating him from his visitors, you’re all able to kind of hang out in one space. I would say if I was going to choose where I was gonna spend a weekend, I’d definitely want to spend it in Spring Ridge, as opposed to Pentonville.”

How would you rate the wardrobe for each place? “The wardrobe in Spring Ridge was more of a ‘sweatpants and a T-shirt’ type of deal, which was nice and cozy. Spring Ridge was more like stay-away camp than anything else, you know what I mean? It was like a spa day, basically! You can’t really compare the nice, comfy sweats to the ill-fitting Pentonville jumpsuit!”

Spencer had a decent number of visitors while serving time, but he certainly felt isolated from the goings-on on the outside. Did you, as an actor, ever feel a similar sense of isolation because you weren’t interacting with the full scope of actors you normally work with? “No, because I know that over the course of the years that I’m on the show, I’ll get to interact with tons of people, so I’m just grateful to be working with who I’m working with at that time. Jeff Kober [Cyrus] and I had never worked together before Pentonville and then we got to do a lot of really great scenes together. I really enjoyed working with Jeff. He’s such a fantastic actor and I thought it was very cool, because he and I both won Emmys this past year, for us to get to share so many scenes together. I think he’s brilliant. He’s a really sharp actor who has a lot of ideas and this incredible ability to be present in a scene.”

I particularly loved the scenes with Spencer, Cyrus and Victor, his two powerful but shady great-uncles. “I thought those played out so awesomely! It was very cool the way they did that, and they gave me some dialogue that really set it up nicely when I lean in to Victor and tell him, ‘You may be all-powerful on the outside, but you have competition in here.’ ”

Do you think being a Cassadine made life harder for Spencer in jail, made him more of a target? “I mean, it was a good thing in a way, because he had his uncles looking out for him; that aspect of being so connected was good. It’s difficult for me to say if Spencer was targeted because he’s a Cassadine or if it was just because he was the new person in prison. We never really got into the minutiae of why Spencer had a target on his back, but you could assume it was because he was seen as this pampered rich kid.”

Of all the people who dropped in on Spencer, his visit from Trina probably meant the most to him. You certainly gave the “Sprina” fans all the gooey, man-in-love facial expressions they could have asked for! “That was really, really fun to do, and of course, Tabyana [Ali, Trina] is a joy to work with. It was interesting to play because there was the joy of seeing her right off the bat, but then those scenes went in a completely different direction and they actually ended up going at each other’s throats a little bit, which was cool. I thought that was great because Trina and Spencer are soul mates, but when you have a bond with someone that’s that strong, you don’t always see eye to eye on everything and it can create a lot of drama despite how much you love each other. That love, I think, propels a lot of tension.”

Whose decision was it for Spencer to sport facial hair while at Pentonville? “I just grew it and I liked it and they let me keep it. I thought that it was a good representation of the headspace that Spencer was in, because I think when you’re in a spot like that, you’re probably dealing with depression. And for Spencer, certainly he was dealing with anxiety about not being on the outside, not being able to assist with all that’s going on in Port Charles, not the least of which was The Hook killer. When you’re in that headspace, you naturally start to take less care of yourself, and that was a big part of that choice. But [the facial hair] was a Pentonville-only thing.”

Spencer was granted an early release from the sentence he was serving because Victor pulled some strings. Do you think he had mixed feelings about that? “Spencer got his freedom back, his agency back, and all the anxiety and depression that he was experiencing in Pentonville was soothed once he was on the outside. So, in that sense, it’s positive. But Spencer, of course, doesn’t like this never-ending sense of living under his family’s thumb and in their shadow. He wants so desperately to break away from how twisted and horrible they are, but he can never seem to get fully out of their grasp, and I think that makes him very self-conscious and pessimistic about who he’s destined to become.”