Brando didn’t just hit the ground running on GENERAL HOSPITAL when he arrived in Port Charles, he hit the ground firing! “It’s not every day you get to come in, guns blazing, and save the head honcho’s wife,” portrayer Johnny Wactor grinned to Soaps In Depth. “That was a pretty cool intro, and this has been a very cool experience. It’s my first time on daytime TV, so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s been a fun baptism by fire, I guess you could say!”
It’s not that Wactor is new to acting. The former All-American swimmer first set his sights on Hollywood back when he was an eighth-grader enrolled in a South Carolina school of the arts. “I grew up working in the theater, doing plays,” he said. And while going to the College Of Charleston, he landed work on the drama ARMY WIVES — and even got to play a scene with GUIDING LIGHT alum and future VAMPIRE DIARIES star Paul Wesley. “We hit it off. So I asked him if acting was what he did for a living and how he did it. That conversation was profound for me. It was enough evidence that someone young was making a living at this. I was like, ‘Huh, I think I can do this.’”
Wactor admitted that his gusto was “naively optimistic,” but his faith in himself paid off. Since graduating and moving to Los Angeles in 2009, “I’ve done everything from independent films to HBO shows,” said the actor, who has a two-episode WESTWORLD arc beginning Sunday, April 26. “One of my most fun experiences was Goldenbox, this short I did my first year. I was on NBC’s SIBERIA, where I was lead. That was a magical experience, with a great cast and crew. And I’m really excited about THE PASSENGER — a miniseries coming to UrbanFlix-TV later this year.”
Though he’ done it all — well, almost all — Wactor conceded that he had some hesitation about joining a soap. “Then, after the first day, I was raving about it to everyone I knew,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to live theater in front of a camera. It’s brilliant. It’s shoot and fire. There’s no reset time. You don’t go to your trailer and wait for the next scene. It’s challenging. You have to show up prepared and know your lines, but then you get to go play. It’s like being a kid, but you get to do it on a much higher budget with cooler guns and people who are dressed up!”
In prepping for his GH role, Wactor turned to his pal, Mark Grossman (Adam, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS), for advice and ran lines with his mother, Scarlett Tara, over the phone. But with Brando supposedly dead, “I had to do some covert question-asking,” he said. “I couldn’t even tell my mom I’d booked the role until my first episode had aired!”
As he secretly began his new gig, Wactor was thrilled to be thrown into the deep end with daytime heavyweights Maurice Benard (Sonny), Laura Wright (Carly) and Steve Burton (Jason). “They have been incredibly generous with their advice,” he said. “They shared things they wished they’d known when they started, are always willing to collaborate and are truly, genuinely kind people. They have just been encouraging and awesome.”
As Brando’s finding his place in the Corinthos family, his world is also expanding. “I’m meeting more and more people in Port Charles and getting set up for a lot of possibilities – chaotic and good,” teased Wactor, who loves the action and Mob intrigue but is also up for some romance. “Or romances! Whatever would make it spicier!
“We’re just getting to the tip of the iceberg of who Brando is, so I want to see where the story goes as much as anyone,” he concluded. “Port Charles is a cool world to be in, and I’m truly grateful that I get to keep making a living being a kid!”
For more from your favorite GH stars, keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine
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