The kid's a real star, but it's a wonder he's survived. Australian-born, Texas-raised heartthrob Nathan Parsons joined ABC's General Hospital nearly three years ago in the role of con man Ethan Lovett but the writers have never given him a real storyline — much less a romance — to call his own. Normally, that'd be death in the soap world. But it's a testament to Parsons' acting chops — and his edgy, dangerous, True Blood brand of cool — that he's still around, especially given the ghastly budget cuts at GH. In fact, it's pretty damn miraculous. Now his fortune's about to change! On December 2, Ethan will come face-to-face with the Woman in White (Alyshia Ochse), the phantom beauty who has been haunting Wyndemere Castle. This will eventually lead to true love. The very gothic kind. TV Guide Magazine had an exclusive chat with Parsons about this intriguing romance. But is it coming too late? His contract runs out in just a few weeks!
TV Guide Magazine: Before we talk about the Woman in White, let's backtrack a bit. Remind me how you came to GH. Didn't they create this part for you?
Parsons: [Laughs] It's really strange I've had so little to do because it seemed like everybody loved me at first! I originally auditioned for a different role, a character that I think later turned out to be Dante, but at the time he had a different name. I normally sound like I'm from Texas, but I started messing around with this random Australian accent — not at all appropriate for a character from New York — and when they called me back, I was, like, "What?" They wound up creating an entirely different role for me, and after two weeks on the job they offered me a contract. Not having much to do has been really frustrating at times. And confusing. I guess I was kind of a wild card. I don't think they knew what to do with me or what I was all about. But I've used my time at GH to learn some discipline. Now I'm feeling ready for this story. I'm, like, "Let's do this thing!"
TV Guide Magazine: It didn't help that the writers made Ethan the product of an affair between Luke and Holly. You got off to a bad start.
Parsons: I was tremendously disliked for that! [Laughs] I was a dagger in the heart of all the Luke and Laura fans! They didn't want to believe Luke done such a thing during his legendary romance with Laura. And I don't blame them. It wasn't my fault, but I took a lot of heat.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you worry about getting fired when that plot backfired so badly?
Parsons: Yeah, and I still worry about it, especially this past year with so many shows going under and people losing their jobs. Every time I get called up to the office I'm like, "OK, is this my time to go? Is this the end?" But, amazingly, that hasn't happened yet.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you ever complain to the brass about your lack of story?
Parsons: When I first met with [current head writer] Garin Wolf I told him I was tired of Ethan being the official rescuer of damsels in distress. When I came on the show I was at the wrong end of a shotgun robbing a casino. Ethan wasn't a good guy. There was a lot of darkness in there, and it got darker when Holly showed up. Then something changed and Ethan was suddenly this superhero. I told Garin I wanted to go back to where Ethan was at the beginning, to that more sinister place where you don't know if you can trust him. Maybe he doesn't trust himself. We don't know a whole lot about his history. We know he lies a lot.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us some deets on this Woman in White.
Parsons: Alyshia Ochse is phenomenal! She's going to be a lot of fun for the audience to watch. She's a smart, impulsive actress who really challenges me, even though she hasn't even said anything yet! It'll take a while for her to speak. There's been so much tension building with this story. Ethan's been chasing this mystery being — they've been running circles around each other forever — and she is not what he expected. It's not going to be a traditional soap romance and I love that. [Laughs] They won't be courting or going on dates. It's very Wuthering Heights, the kind of epic, fantastical mystery GH hasn't done in years. I just love the larger-than-life scope of it. When Ethan and the Woman finally meet it's all shock and awe. He is obsessed with her, though he's not even sure she's real.
TV Guide Magazine: What are you saying? Maybe the Woman in White doesn't exist except in Nathan's mind?
Parsons: That could well be. It's possible Ethan is crazy. After all, he's a Spencer. His father, Luke, is talking to himself and constantly disappearing. His brother, Lucky, is consumed with his dead wife. Ethan is obsessed with this haunted mansion. [Laughs] Maybe it's genetic! Maybe all the Spencers are going mad. If so, I'm happy to go there. Then again, maybe Ethan's being played here. Maybe the con man is being conned.
TV Guide Magazine: For a cool, maverick hipster, the guy is pretty needy.
Parsons: Ethan is constantly searching for an elusive idea of love. He recognizes he needs some kind of redemption. He takes on the sins of the father. Luke is a failure. A real mess. And if Ethan doesn't somehow overcome his own problems, he's going down that same path and he will get destroyed. So there's an almost desperate need on his part to find something beyond himself. He thought he was going to be content staying drunk and living life like Luke. Not anymore. Ethan has been forced to do some real soul searching. Maybe the Woman in White is a key to that. He's starting to get as obsessed with her as Luke was with Laura. It could be quite a story.
TV Guide Magazine: Not to put a damper on things, but doesn't the timing for this kinda suck? Doesn't your contract run out soon?
Parsons: Yeah, at the beginning of 2012. The timing's not the best. It's a little strange to have this happening now. [Laughs] What are they thinking? I guess we'll have to sit down and talk.
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