Suds great Michael Easton brings his One Life to Live character, John McBain, to General Hospital starting March 13 and the mob may never be the same. In an exclusive chat with TV Guide Magazine, Easton gives the lowdown on McBain's bad past with Sonny Corinthos and what GH plans to do about his own wicked history in Port Charles. Don't forget, Easton once terrorized the town as that lusty vampire Caleb Morley!
TV Guide Magazine: You're one of the last people we expected to see back in Port Chuck, considering your bloodsucker past.
Easton: I know what you mean. But, like John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." I'm feeling very lucky to be on GH. It's kind of cool to be part of the fight to keep the show on the air. I hope I can help contribute to that.
TV Guide Magazine: Then you're hopeful about the show's future?
Easton: I am! I just don't see ABC letting go of soaps completely. There's a feeling that the wrecking ball is right outside and that there's no time for complacency or apathy, and that's mobilized everybody. I think if we keep up the fight, if we pick up the pace and the energy, there's a good chance we can stay on the air. But the audience really needs to embrace us. If you have feelings for this show, now is the time to stand up and be counted.
TV Guide Magazine: So no qualms about making this move?
Easton: [Executive producer] Frank Valentini gave me an impassioned speech that really got to me. My biggest concern was that I didn't want to go to GH just to bait some of the OLTL audience. I didn't feel that was very valid or fair. It would just piss off the GH audience and disappoint the OLTL fans. There needs to be a really good reason why McBain is in Port Charles — something organic, not forced — and I think they came up with a good one. At first he's there to apprehend and bring home Todd Manning to stand trial for Victor's murder, but then Blair asks him to look after Starr and help see her through the loss of her baby and boyfriend. Then it's revealed that McBain has a history with Sonny. Their relationship goes way back to McBain's very early days with the FBI. Sonny was responsible for McBain losing someone who was very close to him. It was one of those situations where the only way he could catch Sonny was to corrupt evidence or manufacture some and he couldn't find it in his heart to do that. So he had to bury it and let it go. So Sonny remained the one that got away, the big white whale. This time around, McBain is determined to see justice done one way or the other.
TV Guide Magazine: Do they tangle right away?
Easton: Day one, he and Sonny have a casual encounter. No one knows what's happened between them. But later Sonny tells Jason, "This guy's going to be a pain in my ass. Don't let him get carried away. Let's get him the f--k out of Port Charles." But the more people want McBain to leave, the more it makes him not want to go anywhere. Starr has a strange draw to Sonny's kid, Michael, so that's a big concern. At first McBain is worried that Michael is trying to get Starr to change her testimony to benefit his father. But he's also worried for her life. Starr thinks she's old enough to handle all this herself but she needs someone to watch her back. He's worried she's got a lot of vengeance in her heart and may act out against Sonny. My character also ends having a surprise history with some other characters, connections I didn't see coming. I feel it's very inspired.
TV Guide Magazine: So what happens to his life in Llanview? He's got his wife, Natalie, and a child back there. How will they address that?
Easton: They'll have their hands full trying to make that work because that baby was everything to McBain. I think they're waiting to see if my storyline works or not. For now they have him calling Natalie saying, "This is going to take longer than I expected." But they do need to deal with it since they have me tied up for quite a block of time.
TV Guide Magazine: Meaning a longterm contract?
Easton: Yeah, but you know how those things go. They can still drop me after six months. Who knows if this will end up lasting?
TV Guide Magazine: Didn't you broadly hint at a fan gathering that Melissa Archer [Natalie] would be joining you on GH during May sweeps?
Easton: I think I was just kidding. I know nothing. I have scripts to next Wednesday and know nothing beyond that. A long time ago I learned not to go up to the boss and ask what's happening to my character. I haven't done that for 20 years, since I was on Days of Our Lives. At OLTL, I never had a meeting in Frank's office in the eight or nine years I was there. I have never talked character with [head writer] Ron Carlivati. I think it would be a lovely thing to have Melissa come in, to have that dynamic again and to see McBain in that fashion. But I can also see him wanting to protect his wife and child during this clean-up job in Port Charles, and keep them safe in Llanview. [Laughs] Where there's absolutely nothing to worry about because bad things never happens there.
TV Guide Magazine: So McBain's going to wipe out the mob? Seriously? I can't see that happening.
Easton: Next to bringing in a guy in a mask and a cap, McBain's the perfect one to do it because everyone else in town has trouble going up against these mobsters. Don't forget, McBain tracks serial killers for the FBI. He looks at Sonny and these guys as small-town thugs. He laughs 'em off. Get out of my face! Hopefully, the credibility will be there and the audience will buy it. These mob guys can't keep getting away with murder. I think the audience wants some sort of moral center. That's why Disney paid four billion bucks for Marvel Comics. The world wants the good guys to beat the bad guys.
TV Guide Magazine: But how is any of this McBain's business? This isn't his territory.
Easton: [Laughs] He is completely out of his jurisdiction and really getting the Mister Tibbs treatment. Everyone's giving him the runaround but that only drives him even more. It fuels him. People give him grief and he goes on about his business. But this is a mountain that's ahead of him. They've got the odds stacked in their favor. It's a real underdog thing.
TV Guide Magazine: So no one in Port Charles makes note that McBain looks exactly like Caleb?
Easton: [Laughs] They've gotta be careful with that, don't they? They've written something that's kind of cute with McBain and Sam [Kelly Monaco, who also played Caleb's lover Livvie]. They sort of stumble across each other and feel an odd, immediate connection. They have this moment where it's, "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere? Maybe another life?" It's kind of witty and fun. I think that's a good place to leave it for now.
TV Guide Magazine: How'd it feel not to end OLTL properly? When you guys wrapped up the show on ABC you still thought it was moving on to the internet.
Easton: It really hurt. I'm not a particularly sentimental guy about things like that. I've been on so many primetime shows that were cancelled — after one episode, after 10 episodes, after just one season. I got used to that. But I found myself choking up a bit at OLTL. It was really hard to say goodbye to those people. It was not the way we wanted to go out. I wish we could have closed it out in the right way and really gone out with a bang, but hands were tied. I went to the wrap party and it seemed like everyone was medicated. It was kind of like that movie Westworld where everyone is walking around in a daze. And I really feel bad for the fans who were left with that false hope that something was going to happen. That's why I feel so strongly about this move to GH. We have to do everything possible to keep these soaps going.
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