As “General Hospital’s” newest incarnation of Michael Corinthos, Chad Duell has jumped into the pivotal role of Carly and Sonny’s son during an important time.
Michael finally comes clean on Tuesday (May 4) about murdering his stepmother Claudia to protect his mother and baby sister, and we’re hearing Duell knocks the intense scenes out of the park.
Check out our chat with Duell to get his take on jumping into the role, the rigorous soap schedule and what’s to come for Michael…
How are you adjusting to playing this character?
Chad Duell: You know, I’ve gotten used to it now, but when I first started, it was crazy. It was a whirlwind. I didn’t know what to expect. But now I [do]. I’ve been there almost a month. It has gone by pretty fast and the day-to-day [of shooting] is [getting] a lot faster for me. I get it a lot faster than before. I’m well-adjusted now. There’s still a bit I have to get used to, but overall, it’s gotten leaps and bounds better than when I first got here.
Soap opera hours are insane. Most people don’t realize how much work goes into producing five hours of television nearly every week of the year. Soap actors are truly underrated.
CD: That’s what people say. People don’t understand. Even before I got here, I would have said being a soap star seems kind of easy. I didn’t think too highly of it all. But when you’re on it, it’s insane how hard these guys work. It’s really amazing and I’m just glad to be in that company, with these people who have helped me through it. It’s great. They’re very underrated, you’re right.
Were you familiar with the character of Michael before you got the role?
CD: Not necessarily familiar. I auditioned for Michael for when they first aged him. It was between me and Drew [Garrett, ex-Michael]. I didn’t know too much about him when I first auditioned a year ago. I didn’t know much of what was going on, to be honest with you, because everything happened so fast. But I’ve gotten a much better grasp. I didn’t want to watch the other Michael because I wanted to make my own spin on it, so I tried to not watch too much of what he did. So I didn’t get to see what was happening with him, I just had people [telling me what was going on]. And I was able to just settle on down and let things start to sink in. I get it. A lot of the family arrangements, it’s [complicated], it’s a constant understanding [of who Michael is related to]. But over time, I think it got a lot better.
Right, because not only is he the son of Sonny and Carly, his biological father is A.J., which means you have to learn the entire Quartermaine family tree too.
CD: That’s a whole other plethora of cousins and uncles. The list goes on and on. I think I met Mya, she’s [Michael]’s cousin, and that aired a few days ago. I keep finding new people that are related to me.
Speaking of Michael’s family, how has it been for you working with Maurice Bernard (Sonny) and Laura Wright (Carly)? Were you familiar with them before you landed the role?
CD: Not beforehand. I got most of [my information about them] after. Maurice, I talk with a bit, he’s a pretty nice guy and funny guy. Laura is a phenomenal actress. She is a smart girl and she can hit so much emotional space so easily. The other person I’ve become really close to is Steve Burton (Jason). He has taken me under his wing. He has been awesome. He helped me work on scenes and he was so, so helpful. I’ve been very blessed that he’s been helping me out the way he is because on top of all that experience [he has], he’s a great guy, a great actor. And it’s interesting from a family standpoint, having a new family, it took a while to get used to. I’d look at Laura and be like, “This is my mother. This is my mother.” That took a little bit. It’s a little crazy putting yourself in that state of mind. What people are seeing [onscreen] right now, I was still going through my struggles. I know I have a different perception of Michael than people are used to. It’s a crazy family, but I’ve accepted it more so now. I tell everybody, let me know if there is something I can do better. Tell me. I want to be pushed. Steve pushes me to the best I can be, which is awesome.
It seems like your real life relationship with Steve is also a parallel to the onscreen Jason/Michael relationship.
CD: Yeah, I feel like Michael can be most open with Jason. When [Michael] was going through all those trials and tribulations [his thought was], I want to be strong for my father and make him proud of me. I want to be strong for my mother because I don’t want her to be freaking out and do something silly. Jason is someone Michael can relate to and can [talk about that inner dialogue with]. And that’s our relationship on set and off. He’s a great guy.
They certainly started you on the show in a rough time in Michael’s life. He’s been in a bit of a tailspin since he killed Claudia.
CD: My first week — and even what’s [airing] right now — I felt like I was in a whirlwind. What’s airing right now was like my first week and a half, and I tried watching myself because I knew how nervous I was. It was hard for me to watch myself. Nonetheless, it was hard to step into the Michael storyline because so much was heavy, so much was weighing on him. I have a perception now, I’m getting more of a perception of how he really is, how he interacts, how he deals with it. I try and bring more of a sense of calmness to him.
This week Michael finally confesses what he did. How was it filming those emotional scenes?
CD: I felt those were awesome, but you have no clue how they come off on camera. Sometimes they feel really good and they convey not so good on camera, especially if you’re bad. You never know. But I feel I was in the moment, really. All of those little butterflies and the fears that I had before, they went out the window. I just focused in and did my thing. I took everything in. It felt really good afterwards. They applauded me [when I finished the scene] and stuff like that, because I did a good job. It was such a relief because of how bad I felt, how bad I was struggling to find the character just a week earlier, it felt so good to get that applause. But I’m not where I want to be yet. I want to continue to always make him grow. But right now, I’m getting a lot better and that court scene was a jump-start in helping me. It was so relieving. It’s hard for me to watch my stuff, but I’ll try and watch that.
What’s next for Michael?
CD: You do see Michael go to prison. But after everything that goes on in court, there’s a big weight lifted off [of him]. He’s wanted to take responsibility [for killing Claudia] the whole time. When Dante found [Michael], what [Michael] was frustrated about more than anything was that he didn’t want Dante to be in control of his decisions. And now that everything happens in court, it is a relief because [Michael] was trying to protect [Sonny]. And I felt like [Michael] stepped up. He did everything for everybody but himself. So this summer, basically, I think Michael is just glad he got it out. He’s glad it’s off his chest. And that’s what Dante wanted, too. He didn’t want Michael to have this burden always put on him for the rest of his life because he let someone else take the fall for it. But where the show is, where Michael’s future is, it’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be a new lifestyle. I can’t go too much into it, but there’s going to be crazy stuff that happens
to Michael, I know that much. He’s still really strong in that he made the right decision.