It's been quite a summer for General Hospital's Ryan Paevey (Nathan West). Not only did the actor shatter his hand in a motorcycle accident while camping over the Fourth of July weekend, he returned to work to find out that the writer responsible for bringing Nathan West to Port Charles had been let go. With all the changes afloat, there's no telling what the future will bring for both his hand and his alter ego, but the actor did tell Soap Central that Nathan just may take a page out of his family's book and go a little bit crazy. "I can't imagine anybody who grew up in that kind of environment getting away completely unscathed!" he teases. "There will be something of a dark side."
soapcentral.com: So you're back to the daily grind after summer break. Have you found you've been working a lot?
Ryan Paevey: Oh yeah. I tend to. I work a lot when we're in production weeks. I've been doing five days a week since we got back.
soapcentral.com: How's the wrist been these past few weeks since you returned to work?
Paevey: Painful, but okay.
soapcentral.com: Oh, no! It's still hurting?
Paevey: Well, I mean, I broke my hand off, so the fact that it's even functional, I'm pretty grateful for. But the pain level is a whole other story altogether. But, I mean, it's all right. It's not going to kill me, I get to keep my hand, I didn't miss any work. So all things considered, I'm pretty pleased with how things turned out.
soapcentral.com: I saw on social media you were out hiking the other day, so it seems you're able to do normal activity, all things considered.
Paevey: Yeah. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, and I'm not one of those people who, well, I don't know, I'm not going to let it decide what I can and cannot do with my life. There are so many things out there that I enjoy, leisure activities. So I just go, "I'm fine. I'm fine."
soapcentral.com: What was it like for you to get such an outpouring of get-well wishes and messages from fans and costars?
Paevey: Oh, it was great. I mean, just the fact that anybody cares is nice, you know? I definitely think that was good energy that probably contributed to my healing process.
soapcentral.com: Well, everybody pretty much thinks you're perfect, and nobody wants a scratch on you!
Paevey: Oh, I'm all kinds of busted up. If only they knew!
soapcentral.com: So, have you heard anything on the long-term diagnosis? Will you soon be fully back to working order and good to go, or do you think you'll have problems forever?
Paevey: I'll probably have some degree of problems forever, just based on the kind of break that it was, and truthfully, how many breaks there were. The doc's words were "shattered," so there's going to be some issues. But like I said, I've had shoulder problems, knee problems, ankle problems, I've been dealing with something hurting/malfunctioning pretty much my entire life, so I'm not super concerned about it. I'll be fine, and I'll work around whatever limitations this brings into my life, just like I've worked around other limitations that have been in my life. And I think given how bad it was, I'm pretty happy with how functional it's been since the accident.
soapcentral.com: It's funny because I was thinking earlier that many people would say, "Well, the silver lining of this injury is that I don't have to go to work. Score!" Whereas actors, you included, would be more likely to say, "Nooooooo, I want to be working!" Right?
Paevey: Yeah, and it's different for us because we don't get to just go home and take days off. It's quite the opposite. I have to go to work and conceal the injury. Aesthetics play such a part in what we do. I have to go to work and pretend like nothing is happening, even though I'm just post-surgery. Which is fine. That's just kind of the way my head is wired. I knew that I was going to be okay, and I am okay. So there's no reason to miss work. I've had some pretty tough, physically demanding jobs in my life, and this is not really one of them. I grew up working in construction and bartending and doing whatever I could to get my bills paid. And I've been thinking a lot through this whole process that if I were to be in construction, I don't know what the hell I'd be doing right now. There are some people working on the apartments across the way from where I live, and it got me thinking about how I would do the jobs that I used to do one-handed.
soapcentral.com: It wouldn't be easy! You are one lucky guy. So you all came back from summer break and heard that your head writer, Ron Carlivati, has been replaced. What does news like that feel like from an actor's perspective? To experience a big change in the higher ups on the show?
Paevey: Truthfully, I can't speak for the other actors and only for myself, but I'm new to this particular group of people in the industry. A lot of people on General Hospital have been in the industry for a long time, and they know the names of these writers and some of them have probably even worked with them. I don't know any of these people [personally], so to me, I think sometimes that stuff flies a little high for me. I liked Ron. And they don't give us any information as to why things are happening, they just informed me that they are happening. So I don't really have any control over whether Ron stays or goes, but since he's going, I will look back on our meetings fondly. Ron was always really good to me. I had storyline because of him. I hung out with him in New York a couple of times, I hung out with him here a couple of times, I've always liked Ron. So I'm bummed to see him go. But I'm also really excited to see what the new [writers, Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman] bring. I'm totally unfamiliar with them. I've never worked with them, I've never seen their writing before. I think that the overall feeling is a bit of excitement.
soapcentral.com: Sometimes it's good to shake things up a bit. And I'm sure your fans would love to see a lot more of you on-screen, so fingers crossed the new writers will write a lot of great material for Nathan.
Paevey: I can tell you I've been working a lot. I don't control content distribution, but I can definitely tell you that I've put some pages in front of the camera, scenes that are not too far off. So I think there will be some detective work coming up.
soapcentral.com: Uh, that's an understatement!
Paevey: I think he would perform his duties with stoicism. I think at this point, nothing really surprises him anymore. He already knows that everybody in his family is a mess, so if that turns out to be the case, I think he would perform that duty as he would any other.
soapcentral.com: He does have some super unstable family members all around him. Have you seen any indication, even small things about his personality or his past, that make you think it's possible that he could also go a little cuckoo as well someday?
Paevey: Well, they haven't given me any pages for it, but I can't imagine anybody who grew up in that kind of environment getting away completely unscathed. I'm sure sooner or later, there will be a chink in the armor somewhere. There's a little crack in that armor somewhere, so I imagine at some point, there will be something of a dark side. I don't know if it will manifest in terms of villainy, because I think that Nathan is a good guy. Actually, I think the fact that his family was so busted up is the reason that he's a good guy. But I definitely think there's something in there that [we haven't seen].
soapcentral.com: You're such a lucky guy to be surrounded by all of these talented, powerhouse women on-screen. You've got Donna Mills (Madeline), Michelle Stafford (Nina), Kathleen Gati (Dr. Obrecht). What does it feel like for you to be surrounded by these fabulous, powerful actresses?
Paevey: Well, as you were so keen to remind me, I'm very lucky. I am fortunate. And it's funny, because I was largely ignorant to it when I started. I don't watch a lot of television, and I certainly didn't watch a lot of soaps or anything like that, so I was pretty unfamiliar with them -- until I started googling. So I'm very lucky to have been placed with some incredibly talented and very supportive actors and actresses kind of as a newcomer to the scene.
soapcentral.com: Were you surrounded by strong women when you were growing up?
Paevey: My mother. But I spent a lot of time on my own growing up. My folks worked a lot.
soapcentral.com: Ah, okay. So you're pretty self-sufficient then.
Paevey: Yeah, most of the people in my family, we're all kind of islands unto ourselves.
soapcentral.com: Well now you have a whole soap opera family surrounding you, and while they're not real family members, you at least can get a little taste of what trouble family can bring!
Paevey: Oh, yeah. But, no, I've got a fair amount of that in real life, too.
soapcentral.com: Don't we all! I know you don't have a say in what happens in Nathan's future, but if you could have a say, what kind of stories would you like to see for him? Is there anything you'd love to see explored more or a specific story you'd like for him?
Paevey: Personally, I enjoy the detective work stuff. I've always been a brainiac, so any of the more technical things, I really enjoy. We've had a fair amount of detective work lately, I've very much enjoyed that storyline. I would like to see some sort of conclusion or just something going on in his romantic life. I think conclusion is probably the wrong word, but just a move to something. But Ryan loves to play the detective stuff. I like the serious work, the procedural stuff. I like to see Nathan doing intelligent things and contributing positively to this environment he's in. But maybe that's just me being selfish, because that's how my brain works.
soapcentral.com: GH has been doing fairly well in the ratings, not the best, but it's still chugging along. However, one place they have been kind of slipping is in the key female demographics. So in your opinion, what kinds of stories should the new writers focus on to get more women watching?
Paevey: Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure. I don't monitor the ratings on a week-to-week basis. I kind of feel like it's something that flies a little high for me. If the ratings have tanked in the female demographics, then I would probably encourage people who control programming to take a look at what was being aired when the ratings were high and then take a look at what is being aired now or whenever the ratings were low and compare. I don't know. I kind of watch my stuff and then some of the stuff from the people I work with. I watch my stuff for diagnostic purposes so that I can make sure if I'm doing dumb things on camera, I should maybe not do those. I use it to help weed out bad behavior, because you're not constantly aware of everything that you're doing on camera all the time. A lot of times, when you see a scene, even though you were there and you taped it, it looks new, even though you were there. And now I watch more of the show because I've become friends with [some of my costars] and I like to support my friends' work. But I don't know that I tune in every day, so I like I said, I'd probably take a look at what was airing when the ratings were high in that particular demographic and put more of that on.
soapcentral.com: When you have watched yourself to pick up certain habits, is there anything you've noticed yourself doing where you're like, "Ugh, I can't believe I did that!"
Paevey: You know, I have a huge self-deprecating complex, so it's hard for me because I'm always kind of like, well I don't know, I hate watching my own stuff. But I kind of force myself to just to make sure. People have ticks, saying "like" and "uh" too much in the middle of a speech, which can detract from the writing. And learning to be comfortable with your body in a scene can be complicated because we have blocking and things on a set that have to be interacted with in a scene because it's important to the story. And when you're told to do something like that, it makes it more challenging, I think, to do it naturally. So I don't know, it's all about practicing and then every so often giving yourself a self test to check and make sure you're interacting with the subject matter and you're not doing things in a scene that make it look like you're not connecting. Watching your own work can be a great way to diagnose if that's actually happening. And then you can begin to identify behaviors that you do, like making eye contact. That's important!
soapcentral.com: Yeah, you better make sure you're looking at your costars!
Paevey: Well, in a soap opera -- nobody makes more eye contact with another person that somebody doing a scene with another person on a soap opera. You make so much eye contact, it's a little intense sometimes.
soapcentral.com: You had mentioned earlier that you'd love to see something develop for Nathan in the romance department. Actually, you said conclusion, so does that mean you feel like it's over for Nathan and Maxie (Kirsten Storms)?
Paevey: Oh, not at all! That door is open.
soapcentral.com: Okay, haha. Is there anyone else you think he'd match up with well?
Paevey: Truthfully, I'm not sure. I mean, Nathan is a good guy and has something to offer to pretty much everybody, so I suppose that would depend on the relationship status of the people on the canvas.
soapcentral.com: He is a good guy. And I think the audience does want to see some more love for him. So let's hope it happens! When it comes to romance in real life, what kinds of things do you think are romantic? Like, when you're going to romance a woman, what typical things do you do?
Paevey: Well if you're going to romance someone, it's less about what you think is romantic and more about what they think is romantic. What I think is romantic is what my partner thinks is romantic. So if I want to romance a woman, then I need to know a little bit about her: the things that she likes, the food she likes, the flowers she likes, the smells she likes, places she doesn't like, places she likes to go, preferences and pet peeves and stuff like that. So then, when we go out, I can make an educated decision about it. I want her to know that the person who took her out paid attention.
soapcentral.com: That is one of the most romantic things ever, in my opinion. When your partner listens and pays attention, especially to the small things. It shows he cares. What about in reverse: How could a woman win your heart?
Paevey: I think kind of the same. If someone is interested in you enough to pay attention to the things that you like and the things that you don't like. Anything that comes from the heart is going to make me feel good, you know? I don't want people to buy me stuff or anything like that. Take presents, birthday presents and stuff like that, something that comes from someone's heart that really, really shows that they took time out of their life to do something for you and to show you how they feel about you. That I like. An actual connection with someone.
soapcentral.com: Just to segue a little bit, I heard that you can speak French and you can read Japanese. Is that true?!
Paevey: I speak French okay. I was out at dinner with some of the powers that be one night, and there were things on the menu that were in French, and I could read them and I could pronounce it fairly well, and so somehow or another, that got out, and then somebody said on Twitter that I was fluent, and now I've been fluent ever since, apparently. In reality, I can speak French okay. I took it in high school, and I can understand quite a bit and speak enough to get around. But I wouldn't consider myself fluent. Japanese I speak okay, and I can read and write a couple of their alphabets. I think I actually signed something in Japanese to someone [at the GH fan club weekend], so, yeah, I picked that up growing up. One of my best friends growing up, Hitoshi, was kind of like my little brother. We were best friends my whole life, he's Japanese, and I kind of picked it up organically in his household.
soapcentral.com: So what about the French? What inspired you to study it?
Paevey: Well, in high school, you're required to take a language. And French called out to me more than Spanish did. Although Spanish would have been a bit more useful. I just always thought the French language was beautiful. And I recognized that as an opportunity, being that it was required as well, but also as an opportunity to receive instruction, and I was excited about that, so that's what I took.
soapcentral.com: Have you been to France?
Paevey: I have, but it's been a very long time now. I spoke it much better then being that it was a long time ago and not long after I took the class! But I could probably still get around.
soapcentral.com: Yes, you are, definitely. I didn't realize your injury was so intense, so I'm glad that despite everything, you're back to work and doing well.
Paevey: Oh yeah, my hand was facing the wrong direction when I got off the ground.
soapcentral.com: Oh, yuck! How did you react to that?
Paevey: You want to know what's even grosser? I'll tell you exactly how I reacted: I got up off the ground, I took my helmet off and turned my hand so it was facing the right way. It's facing the right way now!
soapcentral.com: Did you feel pain in that moment, or did you experience an out-of-body experience because you were in shock?
Paevey: I remember being very lucid throughout the whole experience. I can still remember the sound of the wind exiting my lungs when my back hit the ground. When I finally stopped moving and I was standing on my own two feet again, I was pretty torn up, my hand was facing the wrong direction and I was all bloody and stuff, but I wasn't in a lot of pain, and I remember thinking to myself, "Somebody sooner or later is going to turn this for me. I probably better do it now before it hurts." So we sterilized most of my torn up parts with vodka, and I drank the other half of the vodka on the way to the hospital.
soapcentral.com: Thank God you had the vodka and you hadn't drunk it already!
Paevey: That probably wasn't a good call. I had never been seriously injured like that before, and I just needed something to kill the pain while I was in the car. I wouldn't recommend it though. But we didn't have anything. No Tylenol. No Ibuprofen. We didn't have anything, and it took two hours to get to the hospital.
soapcentral.com: Well, I'm really glad it wasn't any worse than it was, and I wish you a speedy recovery from here on out.
Paevey: Much appreciated, thank you.
Who do you think would be a good romantic match for Nathan? Would you like to see the character's dark side explored? Do you and Paevey agree on what you consider to be super romantic? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.