When Helena’s painting exploded last year on GENERAL HOSPITAL, James Patrick Stuart received a warning from his executive producer. “Frank Valentini shouted out to me, ‘Hey, have a lot of fun — because you’re not going to be having much fun for a while!’” he recalled to Soaps In Depth. “That was when I realized what was coming.”
As Valentin went on to lose his lady love, his identity, and his castle, Stuart couldn’t help but take it personally. “The first thing that happens is you get sad, because you think, ‘Oh wait, I like Cynthia Watros (Nina), I like Val’s money, I like my character!’” he explained. “And when Jax showed up, I felt myself bristle. We spend so much time acting as these characters, they become part of our psyches. So if something bad happens to Valentin, there’s that moment where I have to shake it off. ‘That’s right. That’s not who I am!’ And then I go, ‘Wow, what great drama!’”
Although just about everyone in Port Charles is hating on Valentin these days, Stuart is more in love with his character than ever. “What I enjoy is trying to find the vulnerability in him,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of bad guys, and early on, you scowl and you posture. But Val’s level of aggression and pathos comes from protecting something. What I try to tap into is that humanity. What damaged part of him is he trying to protect? So while every- body’s throwing stones at him, if I’ve done that, I feel pretty good about the day’s work.”
As Valentin tries to figure out who he is after all the hits he’s taken, Stuart is delighting in it. “When you get a chance to do character development in daytime, that’s amazing,” he grinned. “It means someone upstairs really loves you! My greatest pleasure, aside from my family, is delivering for Frank Valentini and the producers. And the new writing team has just been dazzling everybody involved. It’s been a real pleasure.”
While Valentin knows just who Nina belongs with, Stuart confessed that he’s torn. “GH painted a picture of what was ultimately an abusive relationship, and Nina finally said, ‘Enough is enough,’” he maintained. “She had huge feelings for this man but knew she needed to get out — and she did it! That’s heroic.
“In the real world, there are countless women not able to figure out their way out, so I was touched by that,” he added. “So, therefore, James is #TeamNinJa [aka Nina and Jax]. That doesn’t mean that, dramatically, I’m not rooting for Val and Nina to get back together down the road. Because James is also not done playing with Cynthia!”
Though Valentin and Nina appear to be done — for now, anyway — his portrayer is delighted with the way his ELQ takeover has broadened his horizons. “There are people I never work with who I suddenly find myself in scenes with,” he noted. “Chloe Lanier (Nelle) is dazzling. Having my old friend Michael E. Knight (Martin) on set just calms me to the very core. I love him. And the Quartermaines! I’ve never even bothered to look on that side of the studio because we never shared words.”
While he’s excited to rumble with the Qs, Stuart’s hesitant about going up against Chad Duell (Michael). “The problem is we are the two biggest wiseasses on the show,” he admitted. “We have a very hard time looking in each other’s eyes without cracking up. Frank may rue the day he put us together!”
Eventually, of course, Valentin is sure to want revenge on Ava and Nikolas — and Jax! Given Val’s dirty business before coming to Port Charles, some viewers speculate that he could even be after Sonny’s territory via drug runner Renault. “There’s so many great opportunities,” Stuart marveled. “It’s almost like you’re spoiled with choices!”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine
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