Who knew that two characters that have wanted to seemingly just rip each others clothes off and hit the sheets, and who have done despicable things to others, and each other, could fall head over heels in love! But that now appears to be the case between the dark prince, Nikolas Cassadine (Tyler Christopher), and the cunning Hayden (Rebecca Budig)!
This week on General Hospital, it’s been a big week of reveals, as finally after more than a year, Port Charles learned that Jake Doe is actually the beloved Jason Morgan (Billy Miller)! Chief among the list of conspirators, who kept the true identify of Jason hidden to his loved ones and family has been Nikolas. Then there was the plot that brought Hayden to Port Charles in the first place … pretending to be “Jake’s” wife for money, and duping him. After Hayden’s plans were foiled during the Nurses Ball she ended up staying at Wyndemere, and thus began her twisted relationship with Nik. When Hayden learned of Nikolas and Liz’s (Rebecca Herbst) plans to keep “Jake” from knowing he was really Jason, she planned to meet up with the man who can’t remember his past, and Sam (Kelly Monaco) and divulge the truth! But alas, Nikolas ordered a hit on Hayden, and stopped her in her tracks. And, for weeks Hayden then languished in the hospital in a coma, and with “amnesia” when she awoke. But bombshell! This week Hayden reveals she remembers quite well that Nikolas knew about Jason’s identify this whole time! Now Hayden has her own co-conspirator in a revenge plot against Nikolas, while trying to learn more about the night she was shot. Meanwhile, Nikolas has his hands full with Jason coming after him, and navigating Liz, Laura (Genie Francis), and Hayden all knowing the truth and being part of Jason’s identify cover-up.
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with two longtime daytime favorites and MVP’s, Tyler Christopher, and Rebecca Budig to get their thoughts on: the complicated relationship that is developing between Nikolas and Hayden, what will happen when and if Nikolas finds out that Hayden knows he ordered the hit to silence her, and what revenge plot is Hayden concocting with Tracy (Jane Elliot) to bring down Nikolas. Will she help Tracy get control of ELQ again? In addition, Tyler and Rebecca dish about working with their co-stars: Billy Miller and Rebecca Herbst. Always the consummate professionals who deliver compelling performances, and who definitely bring the heat into their scenes with one another … here’s Tyler and Rebecca:
Fans of General Hospital witnessed that after Elizabeth’s busted up wedding to Jason, and that once back at Wyndemere, Hayden reveals that she knows that Nikolas has known “Jake” is Jason all along; etc. Clearly, there is a lot of double-crossing going on. Next, there is a moment where there is this push/pull seduction happening between them, and then Hayden stops it. Ultimately, she leaves the room and makes a secret phone call. So, Tyler: where is Nikolas at with her at this point? Worried she knows too much, while falling head over heels for her?
TYLER: I think at this point, Nikolas has already fallen for her and given her a long leash. There are so many secrets going on between them that he is just trying to figure her out from his perspective. In the interim, he didn’t expect to have these sorts of feelings for her. Nikolas thought that once he tried to have her killed that would be a means to an end. Once that didn’t come to fruition, now he is being forced to rethink his position. He didn’t expect to fall for her, and that is kind of where he is at right now.
Rebecca, is there this questionable fine line that she is just using Nikolas, developing her own revenge plot, yet she is smitten with the dark prince?
REBECCA: She is angry for what he did, and she does have another motive, but at the same time she can’t help falling in love with him. I think she is conflicted. It’s a constant conflict for her.
Do you think it’s that these two are truly “in-love”, and not just about, “I’m so attracted to you, I just want to jump your bones?” (Laughs)
REBECCA: Well, I think there is that. (Laughs)
TYLER: Then, why don’t you already? (Laughs)
REBECCA: (Laughs) I know! I think she wants him, but not just for sex.
Next week, Hayden is about to try to gather more information on happened to her the night she took a bullet, thanks to Nikolas.
REBECCA: Yes, she does. Hayden already overheard Nikolas talking, and so she knows he ordered the hit, and so that is why she wants revenge on him. However, she is falling for him in the process.
What have you thought about the Jason (Billy Miller) reveal, and the scenes that viewers began to watch play out this week on the air shows? Are you glad that the secret of his identify is finally out?
TYLER: Oh, thank God!
REBECCA: Oh, hell yes!
TYLER: If I had to say “Jake” was Jason one more time, I was going to shoot myself. (Laughs)
It was very interesting watching Tyler’s performance when the truth came out at the wedding. Nikolas looked pretty calm and cool when “Jake” revealed to Elizabeth and Sam (Kelly Monaco) who he truly is. Then, of course, Jason attacked him. What are your thoughts on how you played Nik’s reaction to it all?
TYLER: We can’t get into this chest-bumping contest, if Nikolas is going to lose every time. That is just not fun to watch. My take on the whole thing is … its ‘Batman Vs. Joker.’ If Nikolas is going to come up against Jason every time, let’s at least make it interesting, and have it be wit against brawn, money against Jason’s relationship with Sonny, and make it about something else. For lack of a better phrase, “a pissing contest” is not very fun to watch.
When we talked several months ago, and Nikolas had turned more to the dark side, and became more Cassadine-like, you were trying to find the motive behind some of his behavior. What are you then playing into the scenes now to justify it?
TYLER: I am playing that Nikolas is baiting Jason into all of these confrontations. As history would dictate, the Cassadines don’t need to go around and beat people up. They have enough money, and power to influence things in their direction without having to do that.
On Monday, Jason is going to confront Nikolas at Wyndemere. He wants to have it out with him once and for all, for Nik’s duplicity, and his lies. It could become quite an explosive situation for Mr. Cassadine!
TYLER: Well, I got my ass kicked two times already. The first is when he puts me up against the wall outside of Wyndemere. The second was at the church. And now we will see if Nikolas’ ass gets kicked again! (Laughs)
It looks like Nikolas always is able to side-step any real collateral damage thus far from his showdowns with Jason.
TYLER: Nikolas has to come out OK. He has got to have his strategy, too. Jason’s strategy has always been to go take it by force. Nikolas has always used his family legacy, power, and money to get what he wants.
Also, fans don’t remember Jason and Nikolas being at odds back in the day. So, is it strange to be playing that, given the character’s history?
TYLER: They were not enemies. They were friends. They were good friends, actually. This is something that is definitely a turn.
Rebecca, Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman are the new head writers of GH, and you have a long history of working with Jean on All My Children, especially since she created the Leo (Josh Duhamel) and Greenlee love story. What are you noticing in the scripts and the dialog under their tenure, so far? Are you still enjoying what’s happening with Hayden? Will we ever learn more about her background?
REBECCA: I am still having fun, and I would love to do more, and learn more about my character. I feel with Shelly and Jean writing the show there is a little less exposition. I know we have to do that as part of the medium, but I have noticed a little less of that now, which has been nice.
On Friday’s episode, viewers learned just who Hayden has been talking to during her mysterious calls, and thus who she is working with in a plot against Nikolas. When you found out that it was going to be Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) that Hayden was conspiring with, what did you think?
REBECCA: I was excited about who she was working with, and who I got to work with in the story. I don’t know how the fans will feel about it, but I like it. (Laughs) Hayden is working on a plan against Nikolas.
Tyler, you had a touching scene with your long-time co-star Rebecca Herbst shortly before Liz wedding started. In it, the two mentioned Nikolas’ late wife, Emily, who was also Liz’s best friend. They relate that no matter the steps they took to ensure their happiness, they deserve it. You see that Nikolas truly and deeply cares for Elizabeth. What were your thoughts on those moments?
TYLER: We sometimes forget to mention things that have gone well in the past. It was nice to murmur Emily’s name. We have not done so in quite some time. For fans who have been long-time viewers, you just say someone’s name who was a big part of the canvas ten years ago, and they go, “Oh, that’s right! That was so great!” It brings them right back. I know from speaking with fans, that they love those kind of moments, and mentions of characters.
Can Nikolas continue being this ruthless? Will viewers get back to seeing the tender side of him?
TYLER: I think you are starting to see it now, and in the week coming. You will start to see that Hayden is the one person that can bring him out of his “evilish funk”, if you will. And through that, you will see the softer side of him that you have seen for the last 20 years. I don’t think characters that are just pure evil, or pure villains, are that interesting to watch. I don’t think that kind of behavior really exists. So it’s at least nice to have it 80/20, where he is out manipulating the world in business, and with Jason. But, when he comes home he has this woman who he can’t wait to be with, and she is holding this thing over him, and he can’t quite figure her out.
REBECCA: She keeps him on his toes, too!
TYLER: There is a tit-for-tat going on. They want each other so bad, but they can’t really figure out if one is playing the other, and that’s kind of interesting.
REBECCA: Hayden and Nikolas really don’t trust each other yet.
Rebecca, is it hard for you coming into this iconic daytime drama with not much to go on with the back-story of Hayden? Did you get any more information that you can keep close to the vest about what Jean and Shelly’s plans are for her, and how they will integrate her more into the PC canvas?
REBECCA: It is hard and challenging to know where I am coming from sometimes. Like Tyler said, it’s not interesting to just be sassy or mean, or whatever your personality is. There is a reason behind everything. Our head writers: Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman did give me some idea of Hayden’s background, but you know that can always change. However, I don’t know if that’s changed since I met with them (laughs) so I will just have to wait and see if it comes out in a script.
Fans are hoping that Hayden will be tied to a family in Port Charles. Would you like that?
REBECCA: I would love to be tied to a family, and become a Cassasdine … and become Nikolas’ wife!
Every General Hospital wedding over the last several years falls apart dismally at the altar … when someone walks in with a secret, there is a shooting, or there is a wife or husband who returns-from-the-dead. Would the two of you like to be the on-screen duo that gets hitched for real, and see the consequences of that marriage reveal itself after the “I do’s”?
TYLER: It would be nice. For years, we have been playing this royal wedding, and it’s never happened. She who takes the throne has some control, much like Helena (Constance Towers). There is a lot at stake there. It would be kind of nice if we actually pulled it off.
Rebecca, now that you have worked with Tyler a bit more, what can you say it’s been like working with him, and was there anything you were surprised to find out about him in the process?
REBECCA: There is an easiness with Tyler that you don’t get with everybody. I don’t know if he feels the same way. But, I feel very at ease, and that we both want the same things. Oh, and he’s hot, and he’s funny!
TYLER: I do feel the same way. I put it this way: at the speed in which we work it’s difficult to try and have fun. That’s why I got into this whole thing to begin with, to have fun. Since we have both been around, between us like 40-plus-years in the business, we know what we’re doing. We spend less time trying to figure out what we want from each other in the scene, and more time having fun. That’s why I love it.
REBECCA: Right! That’s a very good description. Also, Tyler is smarter than me. It was just weird, because I worked with Cameron Mathison (Ex-Ryan, AMC) for so long, and Josh Duhamel (Ex-Leo, AMC) for so long., so it’s a new leading man for me to work with. I only knew Tyler from ABC Super Soap Weekends, and I never talked to him!
TYLER: I was much more reserved then.
REBECCA: That’s right. We didn’t ever have a conversation. So coming to GH to work with him; I did not know what to expect. I thought Tyler was very serious, and I was a little intimated. But then I got to know Tyler, and I thought, “Oh, my God! He’s amazing!”
What can the two of you say about working with Rebecca Herbst? Nikolas has this enduring relationship with her, and was so in love with her. Has Nikolas truly moved on from Elizabeth romantically, and put that behind him?
TYLER: I think Nikolas has conceded that, and he held on to that for so long. I think he started to look quite foolish; like he was following Elizabeth around like a lost puppy. That is why I was so excited about the turn in the character, because we should have done that a long time ago. I think he has conceded their relationship to friendship, but still it’s at the point where he would do anything for Elizabeth. Our characters have the oldest history on the show right now. Rebecca Herbst was 19 when she started, and I was 22, and here we are in 2015. So much has happened since then, and for long-time viewers they get jazzed about that, because they remember everything. People that watch every day, and have for years, they remember everything. We go to fan events and fans will say thing like: “Do you remember when ….?” And I will go, “No.” (Laughs) And then they will continue to let me know how they remembered it letter by letter. It’s fascinating.
Rebecca, you get to play this antagonist to Becky’s Liz … that must be fun!
REBECCA: I have known Becky for a long time since “Super Soap” going back to 1999/2000, and it’s great to work with her. I love that Elizabeth and Hayden are so different. I like that my character can ruffle the Elizabeth character!
Do the two of you want the secret to come tumbling out about Jason, so everyone knows about all of it once and for all, and so we can get to another part of the story, or something else?
TYLER: Yes, it is out. We either move on, or dwell on it. I certainly hope all the characters state their positions and deal with it, and deal with the consequences, and move on. I think it’s time.
Tyler, you had some terrific material, and performances throughout this year. What scenes did you decide to submit for the pre-noms for Daytime Emmy competition?
TYLER: I am submitting the scenes following when Spencer (Nicholas Bechtel) went a blaze during the fire at Wyndemere. When you have children of your own, it’s not difficult to draw on the terror one would go through feeling that you are about to lose your son. That was a hell of a day to tape. Certainly, no one was going to slow down and wait for me to prepare myself to do the scenes. That was a pretty difficult day to come in to, and then later to step away from.
Speaking of Spencer, how has it been for you Rebecca, coming in to the show and working with little Nicholas Bechtel?
REBECCA: Ah! Nicholas Bechtel is like a 40-year-old man in a 10-year-olds body. I know I have said that before, but it’s so true! (Laughs) He’s a piece of work, and so cute.
If you were to place your bets: What do you think is coming up next in the relationship between Nikolas and Hayden?
REBECCA: I would say consummating the relationship again.
TYLER: We will get back there!
REBECCA: Yes, that’s the goal. (Laughs)
TYLER: It can’t be the same now. We have been there, done that. It’s like, that’s great and the fans loved that, and now it’s time to move the relationship into something different. Thinking of the circumstances, it’s gotten to be different. For God sakes, Nikolas tried to have the woman killed! In order for us to sell that we are in fact in love, and I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but there has got to be some incredible level of forgiveness and trust that the fans are actually going to believe, or they are going to think it’s b**s.
You do understand for some viewers it will be hard to fathom how Nikolas and Hayden would get together in an ongoing love match when he had her shot. Even if she has the “hots” for the guy, why would she forgive such a horrific moment in her life that he was responsible for?
TYLER: Here is our defense: the greatest soap love story of all-time is Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis), and that started as a rape. I would argue that it’s worse than what Nikolas did to Hayden. Laura fell in love with her rapist. You can fast forward 30 years, and we are still talking about it, and nothing until the soaps die will ever top that. So, that is how I justify it, and if the fans can get past that – and at the beginning they were outraged at the Luke and Laura story – but Tony Geary and Genie Francis were so powerful together that slowly they began to win the fans over. Time is the only thing that made that story work. So, if we rush ourselves into this, because we want to hurry up and get this Jason stuff over with and move on, and have our story, and all that stuff, then it’s going to fall flat on its face no matter how good of actors we are.
Tyler, you have worked with Steve Burton (now Dylan, Y&R) as Jason, and now Billy Miller. How has it been to work with Billy, and his compelling interpretation of the character?
TYLER: It’s a completely different energy than Steve Burton. I hate to compare the two, but I have to. They are the only two people to play the character of Jason, and Steve played it for over two decades. Billy has a more aggressive approach, which is an adjustment. I am not saying if that is a good, or a bad thing. Steve had a more subdued approach to this Jason Bourne type identity story that was going on for a long time. It’s nice to have contrast: Billy is a great actor. He has won Emmys, and Steve has won an Emmy. You have to respect what each of them gave the character, especially Billy, no matter how long Steve has played the character. Steve was great. He made Jason who he is. When Steve first played Jason he was wearing reindeer sweaters at Quartermaine Christmas parties. Back then, he was a back-burnered character, and no one cared about him. Steve was itching and chomping at the bit to do something of substance. Then they gave Jason the memory loss, and the character was born. We then saw what a great actor Steve was. So, he planted the seed, and now Billy is doing it his way. We all have to adjust to the way Billy is doing it, and respect what Billy has accomplished as an actor, as well.
And Rebecca, you worked with Billy on All My Children. It must be cool to have him around, and to play in scenes with him on another soap, no less.
REBECCA: I did work with Billy on All My Children. I enjoyed his company then, and I enjoy it now. He is definitely very playful, and he’s Billy … I love him.
In closing Tyler, another iconic character is back on the canvas as Kimberly McCullough makes another return as Robin. I know the two of you are close. What can you say about her being back on GH?
TYLER: Kimberly was part of the crew when I first came on the show. We had a great story way back when, where my character had a stroke, and had to relearn how to speak. Those are the kinds of stories I really want to get back to, where it’s not just some insane outside influence trying to break-up a friendship, or a relationship. It was simply about two friends looking to help one another get through a very difficult time. It was great for me as an actor, and probably great for as well. Robin is a legacy character who can come back, and then we do get to have scenes together, it’s wonderful. Those types of characters are so important to the canvas of this show. I don’t know if Kimberly will creep into Rebecca and my story, or not. I sure hope so. Kimberly and I have remained friends, even for years after she left GH. I am so excited to have her back.
So, what do you think about the relationship between Nikolas and Hayden? Are they the perfect match for each other, or will they fizzle? How do you think Hayden will exact her revenge on Nikolas for ordering the hit on her life? Who do you think will be the first character to admit, or be forced to admit, they knew “Jake” was Jason all this time? Do you hope Nikolas returns to his kinder self … or do you like the current darker version of the Cassadine prince? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!