Marc Samuel photographed by Clinton Gaughran for TheBacklot
Remember a few years ago when serials like All My Children and Guiding Light were disappearing and we all thought the daytime soap was an endangered species?
The gays might not be able to take all the credit, but the success of the WilSon gay storyline on NBC’s Days Of Our Lives has helped the long-running soap see its ratings climb 12% since 2011 in the all-important women 18-49 age group as well as 10% growth in total viewers. NBC also recently announced that DOOL was renewed through 2016, so that iconic hourglass won’t stop running anytime soon.
And while Salem may soon see its first gay wedding since lovers Sonny (Freddie Smith) and Will (Guy Wilson) became engaged this week, Port Charles, the fictitious setting for General Hospital, has also been busy getting on the gay bandwagon.
The ABC soap, which just celebrated 50 years on the air last year, now has on the front burner its first gay love triangle involving Lucas Jones (Ryan Carnes), Brad Cooper (Parry Shen) and Felix DuBois (Marc Samuel).
TheBacklot grabbed some time with Samuel to shoot some photos of the charismatic Chicago native, talk about his character Felix being integrated into the world of the show and why Felix is the man for Lucas. We also found out more about Samuel’s starring role in the comedy film Hot Guys With Guns, written and directed by Doug Spearman.
TheBacklot: When you joined General Hospital, did you know it was a gay character going in? Did they kind of lay all of that out?
Marc Samuel: Yes, they explained that Felix was not only gay, but he was out, comfortable with his sexuality [and] it wasn’t going to be the centerpiece of his life in Port Charles. Frank [Valentini, Exec Producer] and Ron [Carlivati, Head Writer] wanted to slowly introduce and integrate Felix into the community. So it wasn’t ‘oh he’s the gay guy’ as much as ‘oh that’s Felix,’ as you would describes everyone else, by their regular character name.
Has acting on a soap changed you as an actor?
Absolutely. Between that and continuing on in class I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned in my classes and just do it faster. And that’s a dream. That’s a dream for any actor, not only to be able to go in and be comfortable on the set, but to be able to go,”okay did that work? Did that not work? Why? Okay, let me switch it really quickly and do this.” It’s wonderful. So I’m grateful for it. I asked the universe to help me with dialogue and in walked General Hospital.
Tell me about Felix and what’s going on in the show right now.
Right now there’s a love triangle a’brewin between Lucas, Felix and Brad, played by my good buddies Ryan Carnes and Parry Shen. Those are my boys.
Why do you think Felix is the better man in this triangle?
I think Felix is the better man because he has been going through a lot of growth through this process. He and Brad have been getting to know each other. They’ve been there listening to each other. They’ve been telling the other about…how do I articulate this so that it makes sense…they’ve been each confronting the other about their shortfalls in the hopes of improvement…and they’ve known each other longer even though it started out kind of rocky between Brad and Felix. They’ve been kind of in each other’s face for a bit. All of a sudden Lucas comes in and he’s trying to move in. I think Felix needs love, man. Felix has been denied for so long.
I know a lot of times they really drag the stories out– that’s just the soap way. But are things going to get physical soon?
I imagine there will be. I can’t say specifically, but I can tell you yeah, there’s going to be some stuff going on.
Will we see Felix mixing with some of the other characters on the show? Outside of the triangle?
Well I think they did a really good job at balancing out Felix’s own expanded storyline as well as his place amongst the other people in the community. I got to really give it to Ron and Frank. They really stuck by their plan and their word that Felix is a part of this community. He’s tight with Carly. He’s tight with Sabrina. He gets along in and out with Patrick. But he’ll be in scenes with other people all the time. He’s popping up in a lot more scenes.
Just now, I realized the triangle is a nice mix or races. One black, white and Asian.
I didn’t even think of that to be honest with you. I’m going to give a high five to GH for that too. Those things are hugely important because when someone looks at the television set and they see themselves or a representation of their ethnic group, their religion, even their state. They’re like ‘oh man, they’re looking out for me.’ It makes you want to participate and be a part of the show.
Who on the show have you not worked with yet that you’d like to, either character or actor?
I’ve been saying this in lots of different interviews. I want to work with Maurice Benard. I want to work with Sonny. I don’t know in what world or situation he and I would cross paths but that brother is so cool. I also want to work with Sean Blakemore. I love that dude.
Let’s talk about Hot Guys With Guns. What’s the update with it? I talked to Doug Spearman last summer when it was on the festival circuit.
It’s absolutely coming out. It got distribution by Wolfe [and] it’s not only going to be released in limited release in theatres in April, home and purchase in May of this year, but Doug’s already working on the sequel. And there’s some other good stuff coming along with it too. They’re shopping it around for some other options of showing it.
What did you hear when you were going around the country with the film?
It’s been getting such good response. And what I’ve particularly enjoyed about some of these festivals is depending on the demographic, you’ll get a whole different experience in terms of the laughter, in terms of what they react to. There are some jokes that everybody just falls out at. I’ll just say ‘dentist’ and leave it at that. But everybody has their own thing on it and it’s really cool to watch it and cool to get these certain questions from different people. Whether you’re in Phoenix at Desperado or you’re at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Toronto, it’s like you just get a whole different reaction but it’s all been pretty positive.
Was acting always your path or was it something you kind of fell into?
I knew from age five that I wanted to do it. But I had a father who used to do stage back in Chicago whose dream was also to be an actor until he decided his dream was to have a family. I’ve gotten so much good advice from him, but he is a huge influence. Especially for the acting, he was an influence on me. And because he had gone through it, I’d gotten all sorts of great advice.
By the time I moved to Los Angeles, I was so paranoid about making the right choices that I over prepared, which I think wound up being okay because it bought me time…I’m always in class. I’m always working. If I’m not doing something on the show, I’m doing something to improve the other stuff I’m doing, whether it be voiceover, a kick over to the commercial acting, or just keep it moving.
What else you’re working on?
I have a short film that I’ve done with Eric Roberts. It’s going to be coming out called Trust Me. Then, of course, just hitting the road with the soaps and stuff. Right now it’s pilot season so everything changes every week. The soap has been a fantastic way to practice and improve, become more efficient, to learn, and to be able to make a living to doing it while you’re getting better. I mean I’m a lucky guy. I was already happy. Now I’m happy and lucky.
General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC. For more on Hot Guys With Guns, follow its Facebook page.