There have certainly been some highly-charged emotional moments over the last several months for Port Charles’ Dante Falconeri, including losing his daughter in a custody battle, when the truth came out that the baby Dante and Lulu were raising wasn’t theirs, but Maxie and Spinelli’s! Next, his wife Lulu walks out on their marriage. Can Dante get the love of his life back? Is this the end of the road? Will he ever know that that Britt’s baby is actually Dante and Lulu’s bio-child? So many questions to be answered in the months ahead!
We caught up with the very popular star of General Hospital, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), at the recent ABC TCA (Television Critics Association) Cocktail Reception. We wanted to find out what he thinks of his on-screen break-up, and the transition and challenges he has faced since Julie Marie Berman departed the series, and Emme Rylan took over the key role of Lulu. Dominic also shared with us how he got through one of the most difficult times in his life, the passing of his beloved mother, while having to play pivotal scenes in Dante’s recent storyline. Here’s what Dominic had to say about his soap life and more!
They broke up Dante and Lulu. Where do you think it will go from here? And, what about the potential pairing of Ryan Paevey (Nathan) and Emme Rylan (Lulu)? Discuss! (Laughs)
DOMINIC: I think Dante and Lulu will work on getting back together, and that’s not to say that they will. And yes, there is the new detective, and Emme and Ryan seem to have good chemistry. I watched them work the other day and went up to Emme afterwards and went, “What is this? You’re hanging out with this guy?” (Laughs) She goes, “Well, that is the way it was written!” (Laughs) I think Lulu and Dante have been through a lot. I think they have more story to tell. I don’t think this is the end of anything. I don’t think you have two people who love each other that much, who gets to this point, just to call it quits. I think there is too much history, love, and pain to walk away.
I have wanted to see you have a story of your own for a long time. How do you feel about the material you have been given of late, and what may lie ahead for Dante?
DOMINIC: I feel for the first time since Sonny (Maurice Benard) shot Dante, when I was initially on GH, that I have something meaty to play. Since then, this is the first time I have had an opportunity to play some real heartbreaking and heartwarming material. I am really thankful for Ron Carlivati (head writer, GH) and Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) for writing it. I feel like since September and October of 2013, it’s been really good stuff. I have had an opportunity to tell really good story with Emme, Maurice, and Lisa LoCicero (Olivia). I loved the scenes with Maurice in the boxing gym, and the scenes with Lisa with the baby in the apartment. I also loved the scenes with Emme when Lulu breaks up with him, and she leaves Dante. So I feel, if people don’t want Dante and Lulu together that’s one thing, but as an actor, it’s been really fun to play.
How has the transition been for you going from working with Julie Marie Berman to Emme Rylan as your on-screen Lulu? There are some fans who have been very vocal about their opinion on the recast.
DOMINIC: I would just say the transition for me was not difficult, because Emme is so great. She is really talented. Does a talented actress replace four years of another talented actress and our connection to each other? No. You can’t just swoop in. I don’t care who the actor or actress is, you can’t replace someone so easily. It does take time. I think that is what fans are having a hard time with. And, what I keep saying to fans is: you’ve got to give this girl a chance. She has only been there a year, not even. It’s like a new couple. I almost wish she didn’t have blonde hair, but brown hair, because then people would stop thinking that it was anything close to what Dante and Lulu were. It can’t be. It’s a recast. It’s impossible, but I believe, and I told Frank and Ron this over the holidays, that I believe now Emme and I are forging our own path as Dante and Lulu. I don’t feel this is Dante and Lulu that everyone remembered from me and Julie. I think this is a new Dante and Lulu, and that we are exploring new realms that had not been paved out before. I am pouring my heart and soul into it, and I know Emme is. All I can say is to ask people to be patient, and to enjoy the ride that it is. I am not telling you, you have to like anyone, just to give something a chance.
Do you see Dante dating other women in Port Charles?
DOMINIC: Of course! Any couple going through this hardship, the loss of a baby, a break-up, then thinking you are having a baby again and you’re not, and then she leaves him … these are real situations about real things. We are not breaking up because they had an argument. We are not breaking up because Dante looked at a girl the wrong way, or cheated on his wife. We’re breaking up because this couple has hit a massive roadblock, where they start to question if they are truly right for each other! Because if you were right for each other … would you be having these kinds of difficulties with everything you want out of your life? So for that reason, I can see him dating again, but I do think Lulu is the love of his life. That is the one thing that is a throughline from Julie to Emme. It is still the same character. We do have that history there. But hey, this guy Dante is an Italian red-blooded man. He’s going to want to be with women.
How is Ryan Paevey to work with? It seems like Nathan may give Dante a run for his money as the best cop at the PCPD, and with Lulu!
DOMINIC: He is awesome! I don’t think having another cop in the cop shop was something Dante wanted. I think it’s something he didn’t want, but he is dealing with it. Dante had John McBain (Michael Easton) before, and I liked that dynamic. I think with Nathan, it will be a more competitive relationship, and also maybe with Lulu. Everyone keeps bringing it up. If it is, it is. It will be great. I think fans will like it, and it will shake things up. From a Dante working with Nathan as a partner perspective: it’s not going to be what he wanted, but it will be this competitive kind of nature type of thing that he has not had to deal with. I think it might be good for him.
Have you talked to Julie Marie Berman at all? How is she doing?
DOMINIC: I have, and she is doing great. She was at the baby shower we did for Brandon Barash (Ex-Johnny, GH) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie). And … oh, my God. Have you seen their new little girl, Harper? What a beautiful kid! They had a beautiful kid.
The scenes in the church where Brad (Parry Shen) came in and told Dante and Lulu that everything was a lie about their baby, and Dante learned that Maxie and Spinelli knew the truth … that was some of your best work. Did you watch those scenes back?
DOMINIC: I did, only because we have been looking at material for our Emmy reels. I did not use that scene. I used the scene with Maurice and me in the boxing gym, and me crying over Lulu’s dead body. I loved the scenes in the church, and the way it was written. You had me, Bradford Anderson (Ex-Spinelli, GH), Kirsten, and Emme, and we are all trying to play with each other, and it was a tough time in my life. My mother was very sick and it was right before she passed away, and it was tough to be there. I did not know how I was going to be able to do these kinds of scenes. But when you are working with people like that, it’s really easy, because they keep you in it and they support you. I am glad you liked that.
Speaking of Maurice Benard, I know he has been extremely supportive throughout your career at GH. What can you say about your relationship, especially during the difficult time of your mother’s passing?
DOMINIC: The scenes with Maurice in the boxing gym were really difficult. They were my first scenes back to work since my mom died, and it was supposed to be emotional, and he and Lisa and I went out to lunch beforehand. I said, “Listen, I have never been through anything like this in my life. They want these scenes to be emotional and I just don’t know what’s going to happen.” I felt so screwed up. Maurice is the most supportive actor I have worked with in my life, bar none. That guy has been a friend and mentor to me since day one. And those scenes were real, and when he put his hand on my arm in that scene and said, “You got me.” It was Mo telling me I had his support and love. So, we are stronger than ever. My mom got ill very quickly. She went into the hospital on September 1st and passed away on September 25th. It was devastating. You know who your friends are at a time like this. I consider Maurice one of my dearest friends for the rest of my life. He makes you a better actor. He has been doing amazing work. Since I have gotten to GH, Maurice has reached a whole other level, and his ego is completely removed. He is not concerned about Maurice anymore, he is just there. You can tell by the end of the week he is just exhausted, because of what he puts into it. I am so honored to be able to work by his side.
What do you think about Dominic’s comments about the future of Dante and Lulu? And the transition for the actor and the audience between Julie Marie Berman and Emme Rylan as Lulu? And what do you think about the poignant moments in the interview shared by Dominic on the passing of his mother and how the cast was there for him during that time in his life? Comment below!