It has been a few decades since the character of Paul Hornsby was part of the canvas of ABC’s General Hospital. Originally, Paul was a hot shot financial advisor to ELQ, who was eventually forced by the now infamous Cartel do to some of their dirty work. Paul was married to Tracy (Jane Elliot), and fathered her son, Dillon (Robert Palmer Watkins).
Fast forward to 2015 after what seemed to be a “chance” meeting at the airport, Paul is back in Port Charles claiming to want to reconnect with Tracy and Dillon – after all he is now divorced from Jenny Eckert. However, viewers learned that Mr. Hornsby has turned very dark and sinister! So dark, that it appears that he is responsible for the hit on Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) … and that he is responsible for shooting and killing, Kyle Sloane (Robb Derringer). Paul’s agenda seems to be to take over the territory, and bring down Sonny, and oversee the Jerome organization’s rise to power. How is he doing this … by blackmailing Ava Jerome (Maura West) to do his bidding! But now, it looks like Paul could be answering to someone else who is pulling all the strings! Who could it be?
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with veteran television and film star, Richard Burgi, who has returned to daytime to take on the role of Paul Hornsby, originally played by Paul Satterfield back in the early 90’s. The actor’s GH storyline has afforded him the opportunity to work with many of the power women of the soap including: the aforementioned West and Elliot, plus Finola Hughes (Anna) and Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis).
Burgi certainly plays treachery with a capital “T”, as Paul is one dude you don’t want to mess with. During our conversation Richard weighs-in on: if he knew playing Mr. Hornsby was going to be this dark, teases Paul’s relationship with Port Charles Mayor Lomax (Saidah Arrika Ekulona), shares his thoughts on his new GH co-stars, and what it’s like to be back on daytime TV after his time years ago on Another World and DAYS. He also gives a preview of what to look for in his relationship with Dillon, and the danger his character presents to the rest of Port Charles. Here’s what the charming and witty, Richard Burgi could say about it all … for now!
Did you know from the beginning, when you were being brought on to General Hospital, that Paul was going to have a major reveal/character turn? Fans were expecting something to happen, especially when Paul all of a sudden popped up on the canvas and bumped into his ex Tracy at the airport!
RICHARD: Our cagey executive producer, Frank Valentini kind of alluded to it, but he keeps his cards close to his chest. So, I did not put too much into what he was saying, and some of what he was saying was cryptic. I did not know GH before, and he was speaking in terms of possibilities for the character. I really don’t pay much attention to what is coming down the road from what somebody is prognosticating, or offering. I just try to live day to day.
So, you in essence are saying you wanted to protect yourself, because you did not want to be disappointed, right?
RICHARD: That’s the probably the foundation for that façade, yes! (Laughs) But I really did not know, but I had this intuitive trust in Frank, and I love daytime, because it reminds me of theatre. It is the closest thing to theatre with usually a better paycheck and a better dressing room.
So, at GH is it a better paycheck and a better dressing room?
RICHARD: A better dressing room! (Laughs)
Paul is doing terrible things, and he is dishing out a lot of threats. What is this all about for him? Is he just power hungry? Back in the day, he was in the Cartel, but not of his own free will.
RICHARD: I think with most men they have a back-story where somewhere down the line something has hurt them, and unless they have gone through an inordinate amount of therapy, they are going to try to work that out in their day to day life. Someone who recedes into the background of how things work will press on, and charge ahead. Every leader is going to take flack for whatever way they choose to point, or guide. I think Paul is one of those guys, who has probably got a lot of skeletons in the closet, as we all do. He probably is a little power-hungry. Who isn’t? He probably also has some sadistic treacherous elements to him, as well.
The audience watched Paul shoot and kill Sloane. This was all so he could still cover up his crimes, and still pin the blame on a dead Carlos (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) for Sonny’s shooting. What did you think when Paul murdered Sloane in cold blood?
RICHARD: There are certain people throughout history that will do something heinous, or have murdered for some sort of reduction of collateral damage, in order to have some future for themselves, and for those that they love. They do what they need to do for their vision, their world. I love some of the writing. Now some of it can be frustrating, but because they are dealing with these nuances and subtexts, some of it is, and will be really, really juicy. There are so many layers going on here!
What is the deal between Mayor Lomax and Paul? He revealed he knew her back in the day to Tracy and Dillon. Is that even true?
RICHARD: That’s a good question. I am involved in a few storylines so I am still cobbling the pieces together of Lomax and Paul’s back-story. We all know people who have finagled their way into so many different situations. I think Paul is one of those people who just has a great knack for success, and perseverance, and yet, I think he also has a backbone of humility, when all is said and done. Not that I am a fan, but I look at Donald Trump like that. Someone who’s clinging to this front of: “Yeah, I got it. I will take care of it. I know how to do it. And all these other so-called-politicians are really blowing it, and it’s about time that someone with some balls comes in here.” I think Paul is similar to that, and such a fun complicated character. I would hesitate to say whether he is bad, or good. I have a dear friend who watched GH for twenty years who clued me on some of the back-stories. It’s so brilliant and insane! (Laughs)
How has it been working with the amazing Maura West, and especially with the story set-up where Paul is blackmailing Ava to do his dirty work?
RICHARD: It’s been really fun working with Maura. She has this approach where she works angularly, where a lot of the actors come at each other head on. But I have loved Maura’s attack on: what she does, what she is protecting, and what she is going after. I have been so grateful to work with: Jane Elliot, Finola Hughes, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), and Maura. I also got to work with Vinessa Antoine (Jordan) and Teresa Castillo (Sabrina), and they are just delightful. They are all so sharp.
Will the sparks fly between Ava and Paul? Will they hit the sheets?
RICHARD: I will say this; I am going to be doing more than threatening these ladies! (Laughs)
And what about working with the phenomenal Finola Hughes ? I can see Paul and Anna really having a continuing cat and mouse game. After all, she killed Carlos, and Paul has been putting those pieces together.
RICHARD: Oh, she is very cerebral, and really well-prepared, and likes to play, and is self-effacing, and likes to win. Finola is really right there in your face, and I say that in the best possible way.
And then there is the incomparable Jane Elliot! What has been like coming in to a show like GH, and to work with her? And in story, does Paul truly care for Tracy?
RICHARD: Jane will knee you in the nuts with a smile on your face, or a slap your back and walk out of the room cackling! (Laughs) But on the same token, she’s like the guy you want at a bar room brawl. Paul does care about Tracy. They had a child together. They have this great history, and water under the bridge that nourishes a very fertile albeit dark foundation.
Does Paul feel bad he is living under the Quartermaine roof perpetrating his skullduggery? (Laughs)
RICHARD: To a degree, but hopefully you come to terms in life that feeling bad is just one of life’s many things, like feeling good. (Laughs)
Robert Palmer Watkins plays your on-screen son, Dillon Quartermaine. Both you and Robert are recasts in your respective roles. What are your thoughts on working him?
RICHARD: Robert is a real sweet guy, and a strong young man, and he cares about what he is doing, and wants to do good work. I was not like that when I was his age; I was such a pompous ass. I studied with these great teachers, and I only looked at each scene, and did not think about to far down the road, sort of like I do now. (Laughs) But, I never thought there was any longevity in anything in my life. I was always playing everything as if it was my last day at work. Robert just has a more practical approach to it, and he is a hard-worker. He cares about what he is doing and portraying a young man in a conflict of dislocated parents.
Paul says he wants a relationship with his son. Is that really important to him, or another smoke screen?
RICHARD: I believe so, because at some point in life you start to question what is really important. I have two boys in real-life and I can sort of push the needle forward a little bit, and get a feel of what it would be like in real-life to have a child like Dillon and the challenges therein. Dillon and Paul hardly know each other, and they are both grown men, which makes it a very interesting father and son dynamic.
Sonny is paralyzed and has had health crisis, after health crisis, since the mob boss has been shot. Have you had a chance to work much with Maurice Benard? Sonny has been in the hospital scenes since the shooting, while Paul had been roaming around town!
RICHARD: I haven’t really worked with Maurice. I have exchanged few words or time with him. It’s revealed that Paul shot Sonny, but there are other revelations in terms of plot is concerned that turn out to be fallacious. But I will say, some stuff will go down between Sonny and Paul! Maurice may know more than I, and maybe I am projecting about the whole thing that he wants to be friendly, but we have this collegial distance. This may be Maurice’s way of ramping up the characters and the ensuing conflict. I’m digging it. It’s great! This is how I perceive things, but it may be part of the fabric of my imagination. (Laughs) I respect actors who want to work that way, and whether or not, that is what Maurice is doing, I don’t know. He could be so far from that, and so I would be wrong.
Will viewers be seeing a lot more of Paul? Have you been working a lot?
RICHARD: Yeah, I am kind of bouncing over the place. I think they are trying to test me, or stir up some storyline. I really don’t know where the story is heading. I’m involved with several of the women, and my on-screen son. I have also had scenes with Michael (Chad Duell). I think there is part of Paul that perhaps is trying to enroll Michael over to his world, or save him from Sonny. The whole Ava and Anna situation is also interesting to see where that is going.
You’ve been on Desperate Housewives and so many other primetime shows. But how is it being back performing on daytime? Earlier in your career you had a few other daytime stints playing Chad Rollo on Another World, and Phillip Collier on Days of our Lives.
RICHARD: There is something that is so unheralded about doing daytime. There are wonderful actors, and it’s a crazy medium. It’s a speaking medium, and to me there is a real premium on: getting your head around the words and getting your mouth around the words and engaged with your partner, and bringing some life to what is a rather stagnant environment, because of the medium. You can’t have a lot of movement, and the cameras cannot be chasing your around. You’re not going to be doing five or ten takes at different angles. And for me, I love the soap production schedule as I can then have a life. It’s not a grind; it’s a job, and a great job, and probably the most difficult of the filmic realms, which I find a challenge.
So, viewers have realized that Paul Hornsby is a son-of-a-bitch! Would you agree … and what do you think he will go through as he continues to try to take over Port Charles, while trying to maintain some sort of family life with his son and his ex?
RICHARD: My goal is to breathe some humility and humanity into this son-of-a-bitch. I would challenge anyone to find their own inner son-of-a-bitch! And for those of us who are willing to go out there, and say hey, “Let me portray this uncomfortable slice of humanity. Let me really commit to this despicable act of inhumanity,” I think we all have it in us. I mean, haven’t you just known people who are just the greatest, and so magnetic, and people loved them, but in turn they were really hollow, soulless, and were just these black holes of humanity? I have known people like that, and it can be the most frightening thing. For Paul, I am sure throughout it all, there is comeuppance to be had, and paybacks, resurrections and redemptions, and who knows what else!
So, what have you thought of Richard Burgi’s performance as Paul Hornsby? What do you think is driving Paul to create havoc in Port Charles? Do you think it will be found out that someone else ordered the hit on Sonny Corinthos, not Paul? Other than Tracy, what Port Charles leading lady do you think Paul will ultimately end up in bed with? Do you think Paul truly wants a relationship with son, Dillon? Share your thoughts on what Richard Burgi shared, and what you think will happen next with Mr. Hornsby in the comment section below!