This interview originally appeared in the March 2, 2010 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
October 2009 was a month Tyler Christopher will never forget. On the 2nd, he welcomed Jonathan Jackson (Lucky) back to Port Charles, and the next day, his wife, ESPN racing reporter Brienne Pedigo, gave birth to their first child, son Greysun James. But those aren’t the only changes in Christopher’s life since Digest last profiled him for a Where are They Now piece in 2000.
To recap, the popular star joined GH in 1996, did the obligatory three-year contract and left, as he explained to “seek new challenges.” Stephen Martines (then known as Coltin Scott) took over the role. On the personal front, Christopher split from fiancée Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda).
He returned to Port Charles in 2003, married and divorced Eva Longoria Parker (Gaby, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES; ex-Isabella, Y&R, see sidebar) and dated Natalia Livingston (ex-Emily/Rebecca, GH) on and off from 2004-09. But he knew he met “the one” when Pedigo crossed his path. “I’ve had complicated relationships –as everyone knows –but this wasn’t like one of those things,” he reflects. “It wasn’t like, ‘Wow, what have I been missing?’ I knew what I was missing, so once I had it, I knew what I had! We went out, and it was so easy and so simple. A month later, we were engaged.”
Easy also describes the feeling in the Christopher household since their bundle of joy was born. “We’re having such fun raising Graysun,” he beams. “I have a miracle baby because he’s such a good sleeper. Eventually, we’re going to shoot for one more, but I think that’s really up to Brie. Plans could change, but we’d definitely love to have more than one.”
Christopher’s home life is certainly more settled than that of his alter ego, Nikolas, who is currently embroiled in a love triangle with his brother and the woman they both love. Elizabeth. “Yep, we went there,” Christopher smiles. “There was talk of perhaps exploring that when Lucky was [presumed dead in 1999] in the fire and then a couple weeks later. I had to [leave the show].” He is a big fan of the controversial story, “although now I have to listen to how much people hate me for banging my brother’s girl,” he laughs. “I think the reason it works so well is that one staple of daytime is the majority of people watching have been here for years, and it’s imperative to cater to them. They thrive on characters that they grew up with, and the three of us are back together after a decade. I think that’s important to a lot of people. And that’s not to take anything away from [ex-Luckys] Jacob [Young] or Greg [Vaughan], or Coltin.”
That switcheroo of Vaughan for Jackson caught Christopher by surprise. “I’m friends with both of them,” he explains. “Greg’s Lucky wears his heart on his sleeve; Jonathan’s Lucky keeps it in, so I knew I was going to have to make some kind of adjustment. This was my first acting experience in Hollywood, 15 years ago, with Jonathan, and I know how he approaches the work. The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘How is he going to approach the story?’ But because I know his demeanor and we’ve remained close over the years, it wasn’t a huge adjustment.
The actor looks back fondly on his early PC years with Jackson. “I remember coming on the show and Jonathan knocking on my door and he’s like 14 and like, ‘Hey, man. You want to go shoot some hoops? They’ve got a basketball over in the props.’ Now he’s got two kids older than my kid. Even at that age, he and I could have an adult conversation because of how intelligent and grounded he was and, I guess, how immature I was. It was like I was 14 and he was 23! That’s why we got along so well. I don’t know what that says about me [laughs].”
However, not all returns work so effortlessly, as Christopher discovered earlier this year when Livingston came back to GH after less than a year as a new character. Despite everyone’s best intentions, the comeback fizzled. “What I think the audience liked about [Nikolas and Emily] was the innocence of the relationship, and when you bring in Rebecca, who’s got an ulterior motive and an agenda, the innocence is lost,” Christopher theorizes. “Everyone knows it’s the same actress, because that’s where the head immediately goes, but where is the innocence? Where is the big, gushy love story? It was more about, ‘Stay away from me. Who are you?’ That’s not what Emily and Nikolas were about. It was about destiny, and you can try to re-create destiny, but it turned out to be something else.”
As for his own destiny, Christopher reveals, “If you’re talking about my ‘bucket list,’ Rick Hearst [Whip, B&B; ex-Ric, GH] and I have the same thing: We want to retire, have a little bit of money, but a boat, and sail up and down the coast. That’s after my house and cars are paid for and my kids have gone to college!”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: November 11
Hails From: Joliet, IL
The Good Wife: Christopher married Brienne Pedigo on September 27, 2008
Hospital Admission: 1996-99; 2003-present
Favorite Sports Team: Ohio State Buckkeyes. “It was a rough reason, but they vindicated themselves with the Rose Bowl win.”
The Franco Factor: “I’ve been there so long enough, so nothing really shocks me. I’m waiting for Tom Cruise to come by. Let’s get him on the couch at Wyndemere. ‘I love Laura!’”
Founder’s Day: Helped co-star Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie) launch the 68 Cent Crew Theatre Company in Hollywood, CA, www.theatre68.com
Just Be Cuz: Derk Cheetwood (Max) and brother Drew Cheetwood (Milo) are Christopher’s real-life cousins.
On Appearing in Drag In The 2000 Film, Face The Music: “I do not make for an attractive woman. I wouldn’t date me, either [laughs].”