Stuart Damon took his last breath as Alan Quartermaine last month in a heartbreaking story turn that shocked GENERAL HOSPITAL fans, castmates and the actor alike. Damon weighs in on those difficult last scenes and the surprise reprieve — the opportunity to portray Alan’s ghost — that’s got him hoping his days in Port Charles aren’t numbered.
Weekly: Was it difficult mustering up the emotion leading up to Alan’s death?
Stuart Damon: It wasn’t hard. The funny thing about myself is that, as an actor, when I’m asked to lay my soul bare, it’s not that difficult for me to do. Maybe it has come of just living. The scenes were very emotional. I know for a fact that Leslie (Charleson, Monica), John (Ingle, Edward), Natalia (Livingston, Emily)…they all had a very tough time. They had so much stuff to say to me when Alan was unconscious. It was extremely difficult for all of them, emotionally, to say it. John was particularly disturbed by having to do it.
Weekly: How did you handle those scenes?
Damon: I had some serious work to do. I had a lot of work to do with Natalia. I had quite a bit to say to her. She’s such an emotional girl, anyway. When you leave yourself open, that kind of emotion is very catching. You have to maintain your own line of character.
Weekly: Despite the fact that Alan had to die, at least the character went out with a bang of a storyline. Did you take comfort in that?
Damon: It was the most exciting thing I’ve had in years. To just show up to work and have such a purpose and so much good stuff to do was so wonderful. I hadn’t worked that much or that consistently since the drug storyline in 1999. It has been a fabulous experience for me. I forgot how exciting it can be to be an actor and have some stuff to do instead of just being…I don’t know what the heck even to call myself. The function that I had in the show was just one in the family that said some lines. I wasn’t really doing anything. I didn’t really have a purpose. I have, of course, had a very important purpose over the last couple of months. It’s been exciting for me, and I’ve loved doing it. I didn’t feel any differently doing this stuff than I did when I was 30 or 40 and just came to the show. It’s been a fabulous experience.
Weekly: Was the idea for Alan to reappear as a ghost always the plan?
Damon: No. When Alan died, it was done. There wasn’t supposed to be any ghost. There were no plans for that whatsoever. That I can tell you for a fact.
Weekly: Do you have any idea why things changed and how the whole ghost thing came about?
Damon: No. But there was so much coverage of the fact and so much shock in the magazines. Then, things started to turn around. Out of me just leaving the show and being dead, all of a sudden I heard that there were going to be a few ghost appearances.
Weekly: So far you’ve only had scenes with Jane Elliot (Tracy), correct?
Damon: Tony Geary (Luke) is in the scenes, too, but his character can’t see or hear Alan. Only Tracy can see and hear him. Alan is haunting her, because she forged his will. He’s kind of stuck halfway, because of her greed. He can’t get an entry permit [into heaven].
Weekly: How does playing Alan the ghost compare to Alan the living, breathing human?
Damon: It’s written in a completely different manner. Alan’s ghost is very casual and easygoing. I’m having fun as the ghost tormenting Tracy. Great fun.
Weekly:A lot of your co-stars spoke out when word leaked that Alan was being killed. What are your feelings on that outpouring of support?
Damon: I’ve always known that people liked me, but I never knew quite how much they liked me. I don’t know how to describe the love that I have in my own heart for all these people, but I just could not believe how much it is returned in kind. I was dumbfounded, to tell you the truth.
Weekly: Have you been equally affected by the outraged response from GH fans?
Damon: There was been such an outpouring on the Internet. And the phone calls I heard about! It was tremendous. It was unbelievable. Once again, I was shocked. You don’t have that kind of close touch with the fans. It’s always indirect. This was directly about me to the show and to me. I never received so much fan mail. I’ve been signing pictures for weeks. It’s extraordinary. It’s like taking a member of your family for granted. Then, all of a sudden they’re going to go away, and you say, “Oh, my God!”
Weekly: Now, lo and behold, you’re not going anywhere.
Damon: The good news is that I’m still there. I’m just hoping against all hope that, some way, I’m going to be able to stay with GENERAL HOSPITAL, because it’s such an integral part of my life. I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t think that they know, either.
Weekly: Would you be content just appearing as Alan the ghost from time to time?
Damon: That would be okay, too. Maybe I could get other [work] to do and pop in occasionally. That would be fun. That would be all right. I would still have my identity maintained with the show. That’s terribly important to me. My heart is there at GENERAL HOSPITAL. It’s meant so much to me over the years. It’s totally changed my life.