Though William Moses has a host of prime-time and movie credits to his name, taking on the role of GH’s Jeff Webber marks his first foray into daytime.
Still, the actor’s ties to the genre run deep. “I have six brothers, and my eldest brother [Rick Moses] was on the show in the early ’80s,” reports the soap newcomer. “He played Hutch, the hit man that was after Luke and Laura. And I have been around a number of the actors, personally and professionally. Genie Francis [Laura], her father was an actor and my mother was an actress and we both had the same agent. Years ago, when I was doing the PERRY MASON MYSTERIES, she came and did one [1993’s THE CASE OF THE KILLER KISS]. Another person with that agent was Eric Braeden [Victor, Y&R], who I knew as Hans [his birth name], because he used to come over to our house when I was a kid!” He even has a connection to Jeff’s original portrayer, Richard Dean Anderson, who was on GH from 1976-81. “In, I think, 1983, we did THE BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS together,” he chuckles. “So I knew Richard when I was in my early 20s. I think we won that year, actually, with the tug of war!”
At that time, Moses was making a name for himself in the world of prime-time soaps as Cole Gioberti on FALCON CREST, a role he played from 1981-86. “I was going to USC, studying international relations, got a movie, and as I was wrapping up the movie, I got a chance to audition for the pilot of FALCON CREST,” he recalls. “I started two weeks before my 21st birthday, and that was the beginning of my career. All of a sudden, I had a career! I worked with incredibly seasoned people. I’m eternally grateful for the actors who helped me, and helped me learn what it is to be an actor — Jane Wyman [ex-Angela] in terms of having a professional work ethic, Susan Sullivan [ex-Maggie] and David Selby [ex-Richard], as well; they set examples for me professionally that have stayed with me to this day. I have a lot of wonderful feelings about it and a lot of wonderful friendships from it that are still alive and vibrant to this day and I’m so grateful for the journey that show launched for me.”
When GH reached out to him about coming aboard as Jeff, Moses says, “It felt like a full-circle event in my mind. I was actually away on vacation when they called and I said, ‘Okay, yeah, let’s do it!’ At this point in my career, I’m a working actor and where the work is, is where I go! It’s what I love to do, and to have the chance to work on a great part in a new medium created a wonderful professional challenge, in the best kind of way.”
Upon hearing who he’d be playing, “I thought, ‘Jeff Webber, that sounds famil-iar,’ ” the actor reports. “So I did what everybody does these days and Googled GENERAL HOSPITAL and went, ‘Oh, okay, Richard Dean, I remember that.’ I started doing some research, but the way the show works is that one week before you start shooting, they give you your material — and it was a lot of material — and that’s when I was like, ‘Okay, where am I, who am I, how do I fit in?’ They gave me one of the writers to talk to for about 40 minutes and that’s how I got the backstory of everything. And then you just jump in headfirst and go for it — you get on set and go!”
Joining him in that endeavor was one familiar face — Denise Crosby, who played Jeff’s wife, Carolyn, is a longtime friend who Moses describes as “a solid pro and a good person and easy to be around; she has everything that you want an actress to have” — and one unfamiliar one: Rebecca Herbst, who plays Jeff’s estranged daughter, Elizabeth. Moses quickly became a fan. “The first thing you can see right away is just how proficient she is in this genre,” he praises. “I went, ‘Okay, I’ve got a good partner to work with, which is exciting!’ We worked the first day, which was like the bath of fire because it’s so fast and so quick, and then we worked the second day, which was even longer — Rebecca and I had 40 pages of dialogue — and by the end of it, your brain is kind of mush and you’re kind of mush, but we did have a chance to talk in the hallway and she’s just a lovely young woman and a really gifted actress and a really nice and caring and friendly person. I’m delighted with her work as an actress, and as a human being, she seems to be just wonderful. You can’t be anything but pleased that you’re getting these kinds of people to work with!”
Moses wasn’t aware that fans had been clamoring for Jeff’s return for years, or that Jeff’s reunion with Elizabeth was so hotly anticipated by fans, “but maybe that’s a good thing, because I probably would have felt like, ‘These shoes are too big to fill!’ ” he muses. “But my reaction to learning that is, ‘How great!’ The thing that excites me most as an actor is, is there a rich emotional source for a character? With Jeff Webber, there are a lot of nice, strong things for me to play that make for a challenging and wonderful role. My mom was an actress in Hollywood and my dad was an ad man — he was the original ‘Mad Man’ — but he moved when I was very young and was not in my life, so there’s a personal well of things to draw upon [in playing Jeff], as well. This is a role that I’m getting more excited about playing daily.”