December 18th, 2008  |  Leave a comment

THE VAN HANSIS INTERVIEW – AS THE WORLD TURNS

vanMain.jpgAs daytime soap opera’s only leading male gay character, Luke Snyder has fallen on hard times. First, he runs for Student Body President only to find his rival running a dirty campaign against him. So what’s a guy to do? Luke decided to take a turn to the dark side and fight back by stuffing the ballot box. Now, Luke’s step-grandfather is hitting on the guy! And, he’s hit the skids with boyfriend, Noah. It’s enough to make anyone’s world turn!

Actor Van Hansis, who plays the iconic soap role of Luke, has been heralded by critics and fans alike for his moving portrayal. In recent months there had been some concerned viewer backlash when the duo, known as “Nuke” (Noah & Luke), was receiving limited air time and make-out time on air. But as Luke heads into the New Year, there’s plenty of story to tell.

“On-Air On-Soaps” also spoke with “P&G” and “ATWT” spokespersons who offered this statement, “I can tell you that Luke and Noah at the beginning of March are featured heavily and they will continue to have storyline. They will have front and center story and we are committed to telling their story.”

MICHAEL:

On “ATWT “, since the November election for school president, things have gone pretty south for Luke. But it propelled him to a great new storyline and he did something not so goody-two shoes! Have you liked playing him with a darker side? I loved it.

VAN:

I really do too! It’s a cliché for an actor to go, “I like playing the bad guy, blah, blah, blah,” but it is the truth. I think Luke is inherently a good guy, but you can’t be good all the time. You have to tell compelling stories, and be compelling as an actor. Your character needs to have flaws, and this storyline brought out the major flaws in Luke’s character, which is based on his history. He can be self-righteous, and does not think things through. He has a tendency to think he knows what’s better for people than they do. When things don’t go his way he gets petulant instead of trying to solve the problems. It was great to play all of that, and it was great for me. I thought everything that happens with Brian now comes out of essentially Luke deciding to run for school president. It’s a longer story arc built into chapters from the election. It’s a really good story!

briankiss.jpgMICHAEL:

What were your thoughts when you found out that your step-grandfather, Brian, would kiss Luke when he was drunk?

VAN:

I think it’s an incredibly interesting storyline, and it’s really especially interesting for Laurence Lau, who plays Brian. What did I think? I thought, “Hell it’s a soap opera, and if anywhere a step-grandson is going to be
kissing his step grandfather,
it’s on a soap!”

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MICHAEL:

How is working with Elizabeth Hubbard who plays Lucinda, Luke’s grandmother?

VAN:

She is fantastic! It’s Elizabeth Hubbard. She cares so much about her character and the show that she will bring in her own props from home that she thinks Lucinda would have. Her character is battling cancer right now, so she has gone out and bought the book on cancer that she thinks Lucinda would have. She is a very inventive actress, and a smart women and incredibly talented. Any scene with her is great.

MICHAEL:

When do you think the horrible truth will come out that her husband hit on her grandson?

Lizhubbard-van.jpgVAN:

This will go on longer. She is married to Brian and she does not know he is hitting on her grandson… yet!

MICHAEL:

What does Luke feel about Brian?

VAN:

Luke initially really did not like Brian, and Brian tried to play it off as nothing happened. Luke knows that’s not the truth, but Luke is in
such a wrecked place emotionally.
He’s drinking too much. He’s
lost Noah. He got kicked out
of school. So Luke is on a real
downward spiral.

MICHAEL:

Many have commented on the Internet, and other soap pundits, that you are one of the “Best Drunks” on the television screen. What do you say to that?

VAN:

Thank you. I am the best drunk on daytime? My mom would be so proud of me! Sometimes you see people playing drunk, and you cringe. I did research on being drunk. I went out in public and tried to act really drunk. There are a couple things to it: not really making eye contact, and looking really down. I heard someone tell me that somebody had to play drunk a lot and so they pretended their body didn’t really have any bones in it. It’s a lot of fun to play drunk, I’ve decided. Those are some of my favorite scenes.

drunk.jpgMICHAEL:

How long will Luke be hitting the bottle? Will he become, dare I say it, an alcoholic?

VAN:

He will be drinking for a while. I don’t know if that is the road they are going to go down. I don’t think so, but I don’t have any idea.

MICHAEL:

Where do Luke and Noah stand at this point in their relationship as a couple?

VAN:

Luke lied about the ballots, and Noah was asked by the dean if Luke had stuffed the ballot box. So Noah told the truth and incriminated Casey and Luke, and thereby getting them kicked out of school. Luke
blames Noah for that. In blaming him, he is
kind of a jerk to Noah, and they fall apart.

MICHAEL:

When “Nuke” fans see the couple has limited air time or pulled apart in story, some jump to the conclusion that the powers-that-be don’t want to show the couple together because their characters are gay. How would you address that?

VAN:

For instance, this summer when Luke and Noah were happy, we were not shown that much. There has to be some amount of conflict to tell an interesting story. I think it’s good that when things are good between characters, that there are a few episodes to show them happy doing couple things, because I also think that’s what the fans want to see. However, if you do that for to long you are not telling the story. So yeah, Luke and Noah are being pulled apart. Will it be forever? No, probably, not. They are each other’s true love. But if you look at other couples on the show, like Jack and Carly for instance, they have not been a couple since I have been working there, which is about three years now. I guess that’s how soaps work.

MICHAEL:

How is working with soap vet, Laurence Lau?

VAN:

Laurence is great. He has had such an interesting history on soap operas. He was a huge “AMC” star and has been in daytime for a really long time. He is a really smart actor and a giving actor. Having scenes with him has been a lot of fun. He and Liz work very well together.

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brian-luke.jpgMICHAEL:

Is it “ATWT’s” intent to show Brian’s confusion over his sexual identity? He is not going to be ‘creepy’ towards Luke, is he?

VAN:

I don’t think that’s where they are going. Of course, there are some uncomfortable aspects of this story, but it’s not going to be about this older lecherous man going after this younger guy. He is not
a bad guy and that was not
the intention for the character.
I think his confusion might be
perceived as this, because he
is lying to himself and he is
lying to other people. I don’t
think he is being malicious at all.

MICHAEL:

And he has to keep this dreadful secret to his grandma!

VAN:

I have to keep the secret from grandma. And Luke has tried to tell his mother, Lily, and she kind of shut him up and didn’t listen. Noah does not really listen to Luke. Luke told him about Brian, but I don’t think Noah totally believed him, which hurt Luke. That, on top of everything else, makes Luke go nuts.

jake-van.jpgMICHAEL:

How is working with your on-screen partner Jake Silberman (Noah) after all the hype and the publicity surrounding the pairing?

VAN:

We don’t get sick of each other. I think Jake is one of the funniest people I have worked with. We know how to make it fun. Jake is a really good guy and he is my best friend on the show.

MICHAEL:

This past summer Cyndi Lauper appeared at “Oakdale Pride” and sang “True Colors”. During the episode Luke and Noah were on the outs, and the song made Luke reflect on his feelings. Many felt it was one of your best performances. Did you like the scenes? Did you watch it back?

VAN:

I didn’t know what to do. I did watch it back. I was proud of myself. If you listen to the songs and listen to what the words mean in the song, it’s a really pretty song. You kind of let yourself go emotionally. Luke and Noah were broken up at the time. I don’t know what I did. I liked how it turned out. I was standing next to Cyndi Lauper and she was singing “True Colors” to me, and that was pretty cool.

cyndilauper.jpgMICHAEL:

You and Jake have appeared at the GLAAD Awards the last few years. Has that been important for you to be asked to present and participate in these awards that reward the best in media for their portrayals of the LGBT audience?

VAN:

The GLAAD Awards are a fantastic award ceremony. We have done it three years in a row. I remember last year. It was the first year Luke and Noah had blown up and become bigger than just soap opera characters. It’s always fantastic to feel you are making a difference as an actor. A lot of times you don’t have a choice in what you have to do because you need the money. But, it’s great when you have a role that means something to people and that you are sort of doing something for the good of what is happening in this country, and to make a difference. I really applaud GLAAD for what they are doing, and I am very excited to help their cause on daytime.

MICHAEL:

Throughout our country there is “gay bashing” going on in our schools and on our streets. Was that the story “ATWT” wanted to tell when Luke’s opponent sank to new lows to win the election over him for school president?

ballot.jpgVAN:

I think the interesting part about that was that Kevin’s campaign manager was being a real jerk in what he was doing, but Luke did not react the way he should. It did not turn into; “Oh poor, poor Luke.” Instead of Luke being the victim in it, what he was doing was just as bad. That was cool, that Luke is not really a victim anymore.

MICHAEL:

What do you think about the amount of on-screen smooches and kisses Luke and Noah have had lately? For a long time there were no lip-locks and it outraged fans. In fact, one fan site counted down the hours, minutes and seconds since their last kiss.

VAN:

We have been kissing a lot lately. I think if people want to make websites about how many times Luke and Noah kissed, more power to them. I think it’s appropriate the amount of times we have kissed.

MICHAEL:

Maddie is back in town, and that spells more disaster on the horizon for New Years for Luke and Noah. What is going to go down?

VAN:

On New Years, Noah is being a good friend to Maddie. Something happens at the New Year’s Eve party and Noah leaves with her without telling Luke. Luke sees them and assumes there is more do it.

MICHAEL:

Does he get jealous?

VAN:

Luke gets jealous, irrational, immature and drunk. He finds Brian and he does something really stupid. Needless to say, Noah and Luke’s New Year’s Eve plans are shattered.

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hansis.jpgMICHAEL:

Your fans have put together, for the second straight year, “Project Holiday Spirit” to help fight HIV/AIDS. Tell us about the charity.

VAN:

The fans of VanHansis.net raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in Jake’s and my name. The fans are an incredible group of people and incredibly organized. I used to have a blog, and I wrote that the holiday season is not my favorite season. Sometimes I get a little depressed around the holiday season, and this was to show the true spirit of the holiday season, which was to give back and to give.

MICHAEL:

Have they met their goals and expectation for their fundraising efforts?

VAN:

I was told so far they have raised. $6,215.00, which is amazing. At this time last year, I was doing “Die Mommy Die” with Charles Busch. And around this time, all the shows around Broadway do a drive for Broadway Cares. I think they got the idea from that. It’s an amazing charity, and especially in times with the recession. Lots of charities aren’t getting the money they need to help people, so it’s awesome that this incredible group of people are doing this.

MICHAEL:

Luke and Noah’s story is all the more compelling now with the recent passing of “Proposition 8” that bans gay marriages. What are your thoughts on that, since you play a gay character on the show?

VAN:

I think that whatever my job is, as playing a gay character or an accountant, my feelings are the same. It is not right to limit people’s options they have in life. I think it’s incredibly un-American to do something like that. Proposition 8 passing was really kind of a blow to what America should stand for.

MICHAEL:

Luke was starting out to be a bit of a political activist during the election at his school. Do you think he might end up fighting for gay rights and equality, etc?

VAN:

I think it’s a part of his character, but I have heard fans say that if you just make a character totally about his sexuality that can be a pit you can fall in. As far as politics, I think Luke was pretty burned with what happened running for school president, and he is such a mess right now; I don’t think he could decide what to do.

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martha.jpgMICHAEL:

How has it been playing opposite Noelle Beck as Lily, now that it has been several months since Martha Byrne left the pivotal role? Have you stayed in touch with Martha?

VAN:

Martha and I have not seen each other, but we facebook each other all the time. I love Noelle, as well. If anybody had to replace Martha Byrne, they found the
right person to do it in Noelle.

MICHAEL:

Would you say you would feel “P&G” is committed to telling Luke and Noah’s love story?

VAN:

Yes, they have made a commitment to telling the stories.

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MICHAEL:

What have fans said to you, or commented on to you, about Luke Snyder?

VAN:

I have gotten a couple of nasty letters, but that is a couple out of thousands that are really positive letters. I think that people are really invested in the storyline, not just because of the sexuality of the characters, but because they care about the characters. I think that it is the most important thing to tell in this story. It’s the first time that daytime is doing this, and it’s about making the characters full characters, showing their faults and strengths. I think they are really doing that with Luke and Noah, and that is what people are responding to.

vanT-shirt.jpgMICHAEL

You have been appearing in the off-Broadway Musical, “Dance Dance Revolution”. Its run goes on through December 20th to sold-out houses at the Ohio Theater in New York City. How has that been for you? For those who don’t know, tell us what it is about.

VAN:

It’s been fun! It’s a show I worked on at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and now its come to New York. It’s very loosely based on the video game, “Dance Dance Revolution”. I play a teenage renegade, and it’s kind of like the movie, “The Warriors Meet Footloose”, and it’s pretty out there. I am an angry teenager who becomes a disciple of this Messiah from a different planet. It’s really weird, but really funny!

MICHAEL:

So you sing and dance?

VAN:

I do, which is fun and also terrifying,

MICHAEL:

Are you a good dancer?

VAN:

Ah, I think I can hold my own. I have not taken any training. The choreography is all very funny. It’s more like ass smacking and being ridiculous. We have a core of 12 actual dancers who are all very talented, and who helped those of us who are not as trained in dance.

MICHAEL:

Sadly, the show’s run ends this week. What now?

VAN:

I have no idea what the life of the show will be outside of this. I am just excited to have gotten to do this. I know we can’t be extended at the space we are in now, because another show is coming in soon. Hopefully it will go on. Part of the problem is the cast is 57 people and that will be a very expensive show. I would like to see the show go on. I was talking to another actor about that. It’s one of the only shows we would love to just keep doing again and again. I have become good friends with lots of the cast, and they are great people to work with. The show is a blast to do!

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MICHAEL:

In closing, in 2009 what can we tell Luke and Noah to look forward to?

VAN:

Keep watching, because good stuff happens in January. It starts out pretty crappy in the New Year, and they are kind of at their worst, so things can only look up. I think people will be very happy with the material that happens in 2009.

kiss2.jpgMICHAEL:

So Luke and Noah will ‘kiss and make-up’? And really kiss?

VAN:

They have had a peck at least, if not a kiss, in any episode they were in together, unless they were fighting and hating each other. When things are good they are kissing.

  1. Debz says:

    I love you Van! Keep up the grrreeeeeaaaa88888t work!!

    Reply

  2. Charlotte says:

    I have a question, what season did Van Hansis start playing Luke Snyder on As The World Turns?

    Reply

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