INTERVIEW: General Hospital's Nicholas Alexander Chavez on Spencer facing fatherhood, his love triangle with Esme and Trina, and some possible Ice Princess fun

Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 4:48:16 AM

Is Esme really pregnant? How would Spencer deal with being a dad? What about Trina? General Hospital's Nicholas Alexander Chavez answers these pressing questions and more in a new Soap Central interview.

It seems dang near impossible that General Hospital fans could love Nicholas Alexander Chavez (Spencer Cassadine) any more than they already do, but we have a pretty good guess that that is exactly what will happen the more they get to know the young star.

Soap Central recently spoke with Chavez, and we haven't heard such thoughtful, intelligent character insight from a young actor since our interviews with All My Children alum Finn Wittrock (Damon Miller), who unsurprisingly went on to become a pretty big star. Time will tell if Chavez will find the same level of success in Hollywood, but it seems likely. For now, soap fans are eating up every talented and nuanced performance he's delivering as Spencer, and the actor tells Soap Central there are plenty more to come.

As fans know, Spencer finally broke up with his manipulative, troublemaking girlfriend Esme (Avery Pohl), but he recently found out that she might be pregnant with his baby! He's also harboring feelings for Trina (Tabyana Ali), who Esme has framed for filming a video of Cameron (William Lipton) and Josslyn (Eden McCoy) having sex. How will Spencer deal with this complicated love triangle situation?

Chavez gave Soap Central the scoop, and he also teases why fans won't want to miss his new film, Crushed, which premieres on the free, ad-supported streaming service Tubi this Friday, April 1.

Soap Central: You have become a huge success at General Hospital, amassing a loyal fan base in a short amount of time. How does that love and support make you feel?

Nicholas Alexander Chavez: It's certainly been a whirlwind! The show did me a lot of favors by trusting me to play a legacy character from a legacy family, and I think the fan base was pretty eager to see what a new take on the role would look like. I'm very, very thankful to the fans for being open to my interpretation, and I'm thankful and so grateful for the love and support that I receive on a daily basis from the fans of this incredible show.

Soap Central: When you first joined General Hospital, it was your only credit on IMDb. But I'm assuming you had prior acting experience? You seem to know what you're doing!

Chavez: Oh, thank you. On that first day, I'm not sure I did know what I was doing! [Laughs] I would have thought I'd never done this before; I was pretty nervous. But I went to an acting conservatory on the East Coast, and I did two years of Meisner acting training. I got into theater my junior year of high school, and I found a few mentors in the local theater scene. One of them was Jennifer McCray Rincón. She had been the director of the National Theater Conservatory for many years, and she had gotten her degree at the Yale Drama School, so she was pretty capable. She sort of took me under her wing, and that looked like various things -- sometimes it was running and getting her groceries, and sometimes it was giving my notes on what I thought could work better in a scene. But ultimately, it gave me the foundations of understanding what dramaturgy, character development, and good drama looked like. So, yeah, I had done some things -- mostly theater and classes and training for the last six years or so -- but this is my first on-screen role, with the exception of a couple of homemade independent films that we made back in Denver. [Laughs]

Soap Central: You mentioned that you discovered theater when you were a junior in high school, but do you remember dreaming about becoming an actor when you were younger?

Chavez: It's interesting -- I don't know that it was as solidified as, "I want to be an actor." I know that there are kids who say, "When I get older, I want to become an actor." That wasn't me. I certainly gravitated towards performance, but it was in kind of strange ways. For example, my mom is Catholic, so growing up, she would take me with her to Mass on Sundays, and I would watch the priest bless the wine and do the Eucharist, the bread. When you're little, you don't really understand much, but I was able to pick up on, "Okay, this person is commanding an audience, and the audience is captivated by what he's doing." And when I got home, I would ask my mom for a loaf of bread and some fruit punch, and I would pretend to do the same thing that the priest was doing. [Laughs] So, I think in my own weird way, I had an infinity for performance, or at least I was drawn to it, but maybe not in the traditional sense that most kids who are raised in Los Angeles with parents who are in the business are.

Soap Central: It's incredible that you picked up on human behavior and mimicked it when you were so young. That's a big part of acting.

Chavez: I also remember being really young, and my grandma would give me baths, and I would use the shower curtain as the curtain of the play, and then I'd open that up, and I'd have a whole naked performance for my family when I was really little. [Laughs]

Soap Central: It's in your blood! You were born to be a star.

Chavez: It was, but to be honest with you, the dream was so big, I didn't even realize that people were professional actors until I was, yeah, about a junior in high school, and that's when I realized it was something I could do as a career.

Soap Central: And here you are, starring on General Hospital! What were your first impressions of Spencer, and have those initial thoughts changed since you've been playing him?

Chavez: When you get the breakdown of a character that you're auditioning for, it kind of gives you the broad strokes -- "comes from a wealthy family, entitled, hyper-intelligent" -- that's how they would describe Spencer. When you first start on a show, it's easy to fall into playing those descriptions, or leaning into those things, because you don't have the experience. I hadn't been on the show these past few years when Nicolas Bechtel had been playing the character, so he was the one with far more information than I had. You kind of fall into playing broad strokes of a character at first, which can become a little bit general and generic at times. But as I've settled into the role, I think that it's come to reflect more of the pain and the hurt that Spencer has experienced in his life, and all of the pompous and arrogant behavior is really just to cover up an immense amount of hurt and betrayal and ways that he actually sees himself as being at a disadvantage compared to some people. And the real cruelty of it is that he does come from a wealthy family, and that makes it very, very difficult, because everyone perceives him as someone who has everything and someone who is an entitled, spoiled brat. But he really hasn't been given the necessities that most people have, like a loving family, and that's hard for him. That's how my take on him has evolved.

Soap Central: Because he did have quite a difficult childhood and lots of family issues, how do you think he's digesting this news that he might possibly become a father?

Chavez: Immediately, you're dealing with so many different feelings, right? The number one thought is, "I haven't even learned how to be a son to my father, how can I be expected to be a father to someone else?" And also, "I don't really feel like I have a father, and I don't even really know what fatherhood means. Not to mention, I'm way, way, way too young for it!" He has no concept of what fatherhood is, because no one has ever cared for him in that way. So, how would he know? How would he know how to care for this child? So, it becomes very pressing for him, and he becomes agitated very quickly at Esme's unwillingness to take the pregnancy test.

Soap Central: The relationship that Spencer and Esme have is complicated, to say the least. Does this pregnancy news affect the way that Spencer feels about her?

Chavez: That's an interesting question. I think there's just such a state of distrust between Esme and Spencer right now. At least in my interpretation, I don't think [the pregnancy news] creates many feelings of love, and I don't think it brings them together or anything like that. It more sends him back on his heels than anything; I think this situation makes things worse and makes him more apprehensive of her, especially because of the way that she's reacting to it, which is, "I'm not going to take the pregnancy test because I'm nervous," which I think reads to Spencer as a really, really suspicious and bogus excuse.

Soap Central: A lot of fans think she might try to fake a pregnancy to keep a hold on Spencer. Do you think that's a possibility?

Chavez: Yes! Spencer is good natured and has a big heart, and not a lot of people see it. He is quick to believe other people, especially if they haven't given him reason to believe otherwise, but recently, Esme has. She has done a lot of things without consulting him first. There's clearly been some shady behavior with the sex tape [involving Cameron and Josslyn] -- everyone else other than Esme is accusing her of doing it. So, she's not exactly in a good situation, and he thinks the pregnancy test might be a last-ditch effort or the final death throes of their relationship coming to an end. But I don't think he can be certain one way or the other.

Soap Central: What is it like working with Avery Pohl?

Chavez: She is incredible. She's always very, very well prepared. When you work with people who come in prepared and care and who are diligent about their craft and the choices that they're making, all you have to do is just show up and receive what they're doing and be generous with the homework that you've done, as well, and then usually, you're going to end up with a scene that is fun for the audience to watch. I feel like she does that every single time she comes on-screen, so it's a pleasure to work with her.

Soap Central: How does it feel for you to be in a love triangle of sorts with Esme and Trina?

Chavez: It's very cool because it's kind of like a deep love triangle. On the one hand, Esme represents all of the things that he's used to -- the comfortability and the lying and the manipulation. Sometimes people hurt you really, really bad in life, and you interpret that hurt and pain as love because it's all that you've ever known. If your parents were harmful to you growing up, and then you get into a relationship with someone and they're harmful to you, you can interpret that harm as an act of love, and he absolutely does that with Esme -- and that's the definition of a toxic relationship, right? And then on the other hand, you have Trina, who embodies exactly what it means to be a forthright, honest, loving, caring human being, but it's not nearly as comfortable for Spencer because he's never really experienced that. So, even though it sounds strange, it takes a big leap of faith for him to see the world through Trina's perspective. But I think he knows deep, deep down in his heart that that's the right way to see the world.

Soap Central: Fans really loved the chemistry that you and Sydney Mikayla built together. What was it like for you to adjust to her absence and welcome Tabyana Ali as your new scene partner?

Chavez: Sydney is an incredibly capable actress, and she's going to be missed dearly. She has such a special place in my heart. Tabyana is also very, very gifted, and she brings out new and interesting shades in the Trina character that play differently on Spencer. I think the audience is going to enjoy seeing the love and romance pick up at the same spot with new and interesting nuances and subtleties.

Soap Central: It's lovely if you and Tabyana have been able to continue Spencer and Trina's chemistry and attraction, because there is definitely something between those characters, and I know viewers want to know where it might lead.

Chavez: I'm going to miss Sydney very, very much; she was incredible to work with, but I think that yes, Tabyana and I pick up right where Sydney and I left off.

Soap Central: I'd love to ask you about working with Charles Shaughnessy, who you've been sharing more scenes with. Have you picked up anything from him skill-wise or acting-wise, and what do you think about the relationship between Spencer and Victor?

Chavez: Hm, that's interesting. Charles Shaughnessy has a wonderful musicality in the way that he speaks, as is often true of actors who come from across the pond. It's very, very interesting to listen to because when he speaks, there are a lot of highs and a lot of lows, and that's fascinating to me. He draws you in with his voice, so, certainly, that has been technically very cool for me to watch and try to think about what my own interpretation of that skill set might be. Beyond that, on a character level, it's been very cool to work with him. Especially with Victor, here you have someone who your close family doesn't trust, right? My grandma doesn't trust him, and neither does my dad, but he's acting in a capacity that's far more father-like than Nikolas [Marcus Coloma] is. So, even though Spencer gets a sense that maybe Victor might not be as forthright as Spencer believes, he's still taking what he can get, because it's love that he's not getting from anywhere else. Victor is definitely more of a father figure than Nikolas is at this point. At least, that's how it seems to be working out.

Soap Central: Do you do anything special to get in the mood before work, like listen to music or anything like that?

Chavez: No, not really. I do the homework, I work on my lines, I think pretty long and hard about what's going on in the scene and what Spencer is trying to accomplish in the scene, and then I forget all of that homework and just try to live moment to moment with my scene partner. And usually, like I said, if both people have done the work, all you have to do is listen and respond and have a point of view about what the other person is saying to you.

Soap Central: The cast of GH is filled with a lot of talented people, and that must make it much easier to go out on the high wire and see what happens.

Chavez: Absolutely. And we make so much TV that it's sort of fun to say, "All right, let's just see what happens!" And I think that's when good things happen, when you say, "I'm going to let go and hope for the best," and usually that's when something exciting and unpredictable happens.

Soap Central: I know you're at the mercy of whatever the writers write for Spencer, but do you have any personal hopes for him this summer?

Chavez: There have been some mentions of the Ice Princess that have come into conversations -- it happened at Luke Spencer's funeral and then again at Spring Ridge. And Spencer's interest in this Ice Princess, I think, could be a very, very interesting storyline. So, we'll see!

Soap Central: You have a new Tubi film coming out this week called Crushed. What was the filming experience like?

Chavez: It was an absolute blast! I was doing double duty some days on GH, which was difficult, because I would film the movie from 5PM to 5AM, and then I would try to grab an hour of sleep before I'd be on set at GH at 7AM, and then work until roughly noon, and then I would try to grab another four hours of sleep before I had to pick back up for the film. It was challenging, just from an energy perspective, but I had an absolute blast and had the time of my life while shooting. It was really, really fun.

Soap Central: The film is a teen romance gone wrong, which is starting to sound like your forté, Nicholas! The same could be said about your situation at General Hospital!

Chavez: [Laughs] Yeah, well, this is far more raunchy than anything that I've ever done on General Hospital. It's a raunchy teen comedy/romance gone wrong that's taking place in the social media era. It's really, really funny with huge, outrageous extended characters. I think it will find its audience, and I think people will enjoy watching it.

Soap Central: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Chavez: Just a huge, massive thank you to all of the fans of GH for continuing to support what we're doing and for having supported us for almost 59 years now! April 1 is the 59th anniversary of the show, so, thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting this show for 59 years! And I'm looking forward to making even more TV for you guys!

What do you think about our interview with Nicholas Alexander Chavez? How do you feel about Esme possibly being pregnant with Spencer's baby? How would you like to see Spencer move forward with Esme and Trina? Would you welcome a re-exploration of the Ice Princess storyline with Spencer somehow involved? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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