Super popular General Hospital star Michael Easton (Dr. Hamilton Finn) is just as surprised as anyone else that he's back in Port Charles. After all, he's already played quite a few characters in the fictional town, including a Catholic priest named Michael Morley; a vampire named Caleb; a rocker named Stephen Clay; a reprise of his One Life to Live character, John McBain; and Silas Clay, who the powers that be decided to murder with no explanation last year. Considering all that, it seems like a miracle that current GH writers Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman were able to bring him back yet again. And maybe it is, because hardly anyone is asking questions about his quirky, oddball new alter ego, and most are just enjoying the ride -- Easton included.
"When GH called this last time I waited six weeks before I got back to them. That wasn't me being a jerk. It was me trying to wrap my head around the idea of continuing on the show. It just seemed so strange," he shares with TV Insider. "The predictability in soaps can be a bit tiring. We always seem to know what's coming. I know it's hard because the shows are hanging on by a thread these days, you know? But they respond to that by doing the same safe thing. If anything, this is the time when we should be more adventurous with our storytelling. So I have to give Jean and Shelly a lot of credit, not only for being brave in creating Finn but for following through on their plan to do something really different with him. I like their commitment."
And the role is especially refreshing, he says, because playing serious Silas was limiting and not a role that brought him much happiness. "The only [GH] character I ever had a problem with was Silas, and that became more of a policy thing about not being able to adjust the script," he explains. "It was, literally, 'Here are the lines. Here are the stage directions for the scene. Do it exactly this way.' It was too specific and very limiting, and I think it showed. Maybe it wasn't limiting for the other actors, but I didn't feel my performance was inspired. It wasn't free and in the moment, the way it feels now. It's not the way I grew up in the business, not the way I learned the craft. But that was the umbrella I worked under and it's pretty clear I didn't do too well with Silas. I don't ask to be told in advance what's going on with the story, but after a while I realized that Silas was in a box. He was merely reacting to other people doing stuff around him. I felt my exit was coming and one day it came."
However, Easton says he's not really surprised, considering Silas was brought to the canvas in sort of an emergency situation when the deal with Prospect Park suddenly prohibited GH from using his former OLTL alter ego, John McBain. "That was all a bit lazy, but I don't think anyone was to blame. That whole Prospect Park thing was difficult and it was a lot to ask of any writer to make it work. Three actors were suddenly recast as new people and only Roger Howarth [Franco] survived it," the actor says, adding that the whole situation made turning down a role on the Prospect Park reboot of OLTL a fairly easy decision. "At first I thought, 'Great, the GH audience will get to see McBain's life in Llanview that he's always talking about.' Then I found out that neither show was coordinating story with the other side, so that none of the writing was going to correspond. At that point I said, 'This makes no sense. You can't have the same character playing parallel lives.' It got too complicated."
Fortunately, the current GH situation for Easton is anything but complicated -- outside of storyline, of course. Finn's future is a bit fuzzy, with the actor admitting his contract only takes him through February. But he has a good feeling about what's ahead, especially now that Finn and Rebecca Budig's Hayden have developed an on-screen chemistry. "There's definitely something there, but we'll take our time and see," Easton teases of what's to come for the potential pair. "The writers still have to resolve the Hayden-Nikolas situation. Now that Tyler Christopher's not coming back that story is on hold until they figure out what to do. And Finn is still very much hung up on his wife, Reiko, and is wracked with guilt that his obsessiveness with finding a cure to his disease led to her death. So who knows? Another great thing about this go-round is that Jean and Shelly told me up front, 'We have no idea who we'll put you with romantically.' That hit me in the right place. I don't like it when producers or writers say, 'We are teaming you with so-and-so, and you two will be the next super couple.' They don't get to decide that. They don't even get a say. The audience decides. But, yeah, so far it seems to be working well with Rebecca Budig, who is so wonderful. She has so much nuance, so many layers to her work."
For additional details from Easton on his several GH alter egos, Finn's romantic future and more, check out TV Insider's full interview with the actor here.
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