INTERVIEW

Nicholas Chavez On Joining GH

Nicholas Chavez made his Port Charles debut as Spencer Cassadine on July 1, but the Denver native’s journey to GH actually began back in April, when he sent in a self-tape audition. Shortly thereafter, “My manager reached out and said, ‘Hey, they’d like you to screen-test out in Los Angeles,’ which was amazing news and is kind of unusual in the industry, because it’s usually a self-tape, then an audition and then a callback and then you go screen-test. To jump right from A to Z was a pretty daunting experience, and it all happened maybe within the span of a week.”

Chavez had previously lived in L.A. in pursuit of his acting career, but when the pandemic hit, “That sent me packing and I came back to Florida,” where his family resides. “I took a few jobs just to save up some capital so I could make another run at Los Angeles as soon as the world reopened. I was auditioning, doing everything I could get my hands on, from independent films to features to TV to commercials and voice-overs.” The role of Spencer was the first time a soap had crossed his radar, and “the second that this opportunity presented itself, I was completely and totally ecstatic,” he reports.

At his screen test, Chavez recalls, “There were a ton of guys there. I mean, usually when you go to screen-test, it’s like four or five people. There were 12 to 15 guys there and they were all gorgeous. They were all just stunning! And so I’m looking around and I’m like, ‘Jeez, this is some stiff competition!’ I kept telling myself that all I can do is be who I am, ‘They’ll pick who they pick but I am who I am and that’s what I’m going to give them.’ I screen-tested with the tour de force that is Maura West [Ava] and that was just absolutely incredible. It was just such a welcoming environment and everyone was really supportive and Maura was so fantastic to work with. She’s a really generous actor and scene partner so she gives you a ton to go off of and it really helps make the scenes feel alive.”

He felt good about his efforts, “and once it was done, I called my manager and was like, ‘Hey, I think that went really well … and if at all possible, can you let me know if they pick me before I have to get on a plane back to Florida, which is on Saturday?’ Because I had booked a round-trip ticket. And within the next 24 hours, she called me and told me that I was going to be on the show.”

Getting the good news “was completely surreal,” Chavez beams. “It was one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I think I screamed! I completely freaked out. I had no cool about myself; there was no composure anywhere in this! I called my family and my dad kept smacking himself on the forehead. He couldn’t believe it. He was like, ‘Am I dreaming? When am I going to wake up?’ It was really cute.”

Landing the job also meant a fast move back to California. “It was so nuts. Like I said, I had that return trip booked thinking I might not get this job and I ended up not taking that flight and having to figure out where I was going to stay.” He crashed temporarily on a futon in the dining room of his manager’s bookkeeper. “She gave me a place to lay my head and some food to eat and she made sure I was showering every day before I went on to set [laughs]. She did a great job ‘momming’ me for those two weeks while I was going through what was a huge life change.”

He also had gobs of dialogue to memorize and years of Spencer history to wrap his mind around. “I had a call with Elizabeth Korte, one of the [writers], and she basically summarized 50 years [of GH storyline] into an hour-long conversation, which completely blew my mind! There was a lot to process, but I had been set up with a really great support team. [Executive Producer] Frank Valentini recommended an acting coach, who I started working with immediately, who has been absolutely phenomenal; we still review every single episode together.”

As part of his prep work, Chavez also familiarized himself with the performances of his predecessor, Nicolas Bechtel. “Nicolas is capitivating, no doubt about it,” he declares. “I’ve seen commentary online to the [effect] of, I have big shoes to fill — and I 100 percent agree. I think that during Spencer’s time in Europe, he really came into himself and became a man and has new opinions about the world and the way that things should be, so I think that we will be getting the foundation that we saw with Nicolas in his youth, but with a new perspective and a new vision in mind for his role in Port Charles.”

While Chavez had never watched the show before he was cast, “My grandparents were big fans of the show, so when I told them, they of course freaked out. And they had a big reaction when they found out that Laura was my grand- mother! They were very happy when they found out that I was going to be working so closely with Genie Francis [Laura]. And she, by the way, is the nicest human being on the face of the planet — just so lovely to be around, so encouraging.” Now that he’s airing, other relatives have became devotees, as well. “It’s really brought a lot of joy to my family,” he beams. “That’s been a lot of fun. I’m in Florida now visiting them while we’re on [a production hiatus], and we sit down every night and watch the latest episode of GENERAL HOSPITAL.”

It delights the actor to know that’s a scene being repeat- ed across the country. “For many people, sitting back and watching their favorite show is one of their favorite parts of their day, and so the fact that I get to be a small piece in that equation is an absolute dream come true for me,” he smiles. “Truth be told, it’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

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