INTERVIEW: Catching up with Christopher Tavani, As the World Turns' Luke Snyder
Posted Sunday, May 17, 2020 6:27:29 AM
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Fans watched actor Christopher Tavani grow up on As the World Turns as the young version of Luke Snyder, but he tells Soap Central that the real growing up came after he left the CBS soap opera.

As the World Turns' Luke Snyder became one of daytime's most iconic characters, rising to national attention as half of the male-male Luke and Noah pairing -- one of the first gay couples in the genre. But long before Luke came out, he was a child who suffered some severe soap opera drama, like being kidnapped by his biological father, Damian (Paolo Seganti); being wrongly pronounced dead after an explosion; and being held captive in Malta by his greedy uncle, Dante (Luca Calvani). During this time, the character was played by Christopher Tavani, who was part of the ATWT family from 2001 to 2005.

In a fun trip down memory lane, Soap Central caught up with Tavani to get his memories of playing the younger version of Luke, what it was like to work with big Oakdale stars like Michael Park (ex-Jack Snyder), why he temporarily left the acting world after departing his ATWT role, and what he's up to today.

Soap Central: You were super popular on As the World Turns, but after leaving the show, you took a step back from the professional world and instead went to college and lived a "normal life." Why did you decide to do that when your career was just getting started? That was a bold move!

Christopher Tavani: I agree it sounds crazy! I actually did audition for a few months, namely for Bruce Willis' The Hostage, but I wanted to have some time to grow as a regular kid. The show took me away from a lot of important family parties, and it was difficult to keep friends. I'm happy I decided that. I have a group of about ten friends from my childhood that I still talk to every day. I think it's important for actors to take time off. After all, it brings humanity to every role you do. Emma Stone would agree -- she said that to my brother, Jeff, when they worked on Battle of the Sexes together.

Soap Central: What made you decide to move to L.A. and return to acting?

Tavani: I actually have some family in the business. My uncle, Thomas P. Smith, is a pretty well-known assistant director who's worked on Her, Being John Malkovich, and Little Miss Sunshine. And my brother, Jeff Tavani, who's worked on Ron Howard's Made in America, Ricki and the Flash, and The Americans, is an up-and-coming assistant director, as well. Also, show biz is all about relationships. I knew the minute I was ready to come back to the camera I had to be with Thomas and Jeff in L.A.

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Soap Central: Your fans are super happy that you're back in the game and hope to see you on their screens soon! I know the shutdown has really affected the industry, but do you have anything in the works at the moment?

Tavani: I have a very small role in Anastasia: Once Upon a Time on Amazon Prime and this super intense cinematic commercial I did for FirstNet where I played a firefighter. That commercial was with Oscar-winning D.P. and a friend of my uncle, Linus Sandgren, and Adam Berg directed me. It was just a commercial, but it was shot more like a movie. Unfortunately, yes, the shutdown has even caused my talent agency to go out of business, so I'm currently looking for a new talent agent.

Soap Central: Oh, man, we're sorry to hear that and hope you find one soon! What kind of roles excite you the most?

Tavani: Veritas, meaning goddess of truth in Roman mythology, is a word I associate with roles I enjoy most. David Fincher-esque films excite me. I enjoy roles that show some of the qualities of real people. Whether that be a gritty, messed-up role or a role where the character has a major breakthrough. I want my audience to be able to relate to my character, and hopefully, it tells them something about themselves. I want to affect people and relay an important message about the human condition.

Soap Central: I'm sure that your time on As the World Turns must have been so much fun. You were a hot young star in New York, which sounds like a dream! So was it a dream?

Tavani: Totally! The cast of As the World Turns was super friendly and super fun. If you've ever wanted to be an actor, you could relate that any full-time acting job is a dream. Doing something as enjoyable as acting and getting paid for it is the best thing ever invented.

Soap Central: Luke had a very troubled childhood -- to put it mildly! Were there any scenes that were particularly challenging for you?

Tavani: There were certainly some difficult scenes, especially the ones involving special effects, gunshots, fire, et cetera. Mainly because that was my first time working with those! I've since grown accustomed, but a loud bang or a big fire took me out of character back then. Now, I've learned to use it to my advantage.

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CBS: As The World Turns: my character Luke Snyder and his father Holden reminisce about good times before being kidnapped. Noteable actors beside me: Jon Hensley (also seen in Beverly Hills 90210 and The Bold and the Beautiful) @HensleyJon @cbstv @thesoapcentral #astheworldturns #atwt #soapcentral #daytimeemmys #emmys #lukesnyder #malta #soapopera #actorchallenge

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Soap Central: Michael Park [ex-Jack Snyder] has always been talented, as I'm sure you remember from working with him, but now he's a big star with credits like Stranger Things to his name. What was it like for you to work with him, and did you guys stay in touch?

Tavani: Michael Park was one of the friendliest guys off camera. He and I would play PlayStation and eat from the green room snacks when we had some downtime. He and my mom ran into each other awhile back at a sushi restaurant in Nyack, NY, but other than that, we haven't had any contact. I've been reaching out to him over the past few years, but I'm sure he's such a busy guy nowadays.

Soap Central: You also worked with Martha Byrne [ex-Lily Walsh/Rose D'Angelo] quite a bit, who's also gone on to some pretty cool shows. What do you remember about working with her?

Tavani: Martha is one of the most talented actors I've ever worked with. I remember a million things, but specifically how well she handled playing Lily and Rose. In show biz, having a great actor in front of you can really help you. She's one of those actors that make acting not only easier, but more enjoyable.

Soap Central: The character of Luke went on to become iconic, being part of the show's Luke and Noah romance. Is there a part of you that is like, "Dang, I wish I hadn't missed that opportunity!"?

Tavani: Absolutely! I would've been elated to continue the Luke legacy, but I'm happy for my successors. I trust [that former ATWT executive producer] Christopher Goutman made the decision that was going to serve the story best, and I'm okay with that.

Soap Central: Did you know that Luke would eventually be coming out when you left the show? And do you remember any hints or indications while you were playing him that the character was probably gay?

Tavani: Actually, I was told a few weeks prior to my release which direction my character was going in. To be honest, I don't remember specific hints in terms of character traits. I think they wanted it to be a complete surprise to the audience, as well.

Soap Central: Many people say that they learn a lot from being on a soap opera. Did you learn anything from your time at ATWT that you bring to your work today?

Tavani: Working alongside some legendary actors certainly makes you learn a lot. Specifically, I learned to adapt and move honestly through a scene and not strongarm it. We're in the business of storytelling, and when it comes to drama, it's gotta be believable. I think that believability comes from listening to your fellow cast members while you're doing a scene and reacting honestly to what they're saying as opposed to what you think you should say next.

Soap Central: Do you still get recognized as Luke?

Tavani: I have a bunch of friends that call me Luciano because they like to be funny, but no, I don't get recognized as Luke. I stay tanner and more athletic nowadays. I used to have a little pudgy belly, and the wardrobe assistants would have to use a rubber band to keep my pants on! I blame Martha for showing me how to make a quesadilla in the green room. [Laughs]

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Throwback to me on set shooting the feature film "Anastasia: Once Upon a Time." Dean Cundey (@deancundey) is a mastermind! #featurefilm #anastasia #deancundey #jurrasicpark #actorslife #hollywood #romanovfamily #anastasiaonceuponatime

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Soap Central: Would you be open to starring on another soap opera if the opportunity arose? And if so, is there a show or any specific actors you would love to work with?

Tavani: I'm happy and willing to consider any work that comes my way. Honestly, just to know someone wants to hire me is always a thrilling experience. I loved working on ATWT, but I'm gravitating towards film now, and I don't think I can have both. Soaps aside, I'd love to work with Meryl Streep. Who wouldn't?! She sang happy birthday to my older brother on set once, and I've always admired her honesty in her work. She's so real.

Soap Central: Before I let you go, what is one thing you've always wanted to do but never had the courage?

Tavani: I've always wanted to try stand-up comedy. I'm a huge stand-up fan. I listen to it every time I drive somewhere over 20 minutes. Jerry Seinfeld has a really good one on Netflix right now. I have a few jokes, but I have yet to get up on an open mic. Maybe someday!

Soap Central: Is there anything else you'd like to add that I didn't ask you about?

Tavani: Yes, while I took some time off to build some humanity in my life, I earned a degree in cell biology from Binghamton University. I was the president of both the chemistry and the biology club. I held seminars to inspire young kids to love science. I think it's little traits like that that set actors apart from the masses. Nowadays, everyone says they're an actor.

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