That Fabulous Baker Boy

Tyler Baker Floundered Until He Discovered Acting and Become GH's Unwitting Cassa-Nova

Just the facts:

BIRTHDATE: November 11, 1972
SAY UNCLE: "I have seven nieces and nephews. And one of my sisters doesn't even have kids yet!"
CLEAN SHAVE: "I used to be so lazy that I'd use the same razor for six months. It was like cutting with glass.With my first paycheck, I bought the nicest electric razor I could find." Cousin Dirk and best pal Davee. "They're the craziest, funniest, most daring, outgoing people I've ever met."


Tyler Baker has it. The nebulous quality that struggling actors long for; the one that shouts, "rising star!".  He arrives for lunch in young Hollywood's version of the business cuit -- designer shades, dangling cell phone and strategically disheveled hair - typical young Hollywood's version of business suit.  Unlike his generally miserable GENERAL HOSPITAL alter ego, Nikolas Cassadine, the 24-year old Baker radiates casual confidence.  It almost masks the fire behind his eyes.

"People say that success doesn't change you," begins Baker.  "But it does.  Once I started to achieve a little bit of success, I became the person I always wanted to be."  He's come a long way. Tyler grew up in Delaware, Ohio and was a self-described "troublemaker" and the youngest of Jim and Jimi's four children.   "My parents [divorced] when I was 18, a week before I moved into my college dorm," states Baker matter-of-factly.   "Since then, I haven't lived at home. I didn't want to go nothing.   I was forced to grow up faster than I think I wanted to.  I got lost a little bit."  He was lost for a while.   "I had an 'Oh, well' attitude about the split-up.  I chose to put it all aside," confides Baker.  "Just now, it's starting to surface."

After two years he withdrew from Ohio Wesleyan University and drifted. "I had eight or nine different jobs in about two years.  I worked at an auto detail shop, a stockyard, different bars.  I'd get bored and try something new.  And I partied, partied, partied, and partied. Because that's what people do when they're shut off to the outside and something emotional happens.  After a while, it starts to physically tear you down.  I knew that it was going to kill me if I didn't do something about it."  So he did. "I was so miserable, unclear and unfocused about what I wanted for my future.  People thought I was lazy, that I didn't want anything besides a plain, old life.  But that wasn't it at all," Baker recalls . "I was searching for my dream.  Something to make me appear responsible, successful and powerful.  I just didn't know what that something 'was'.  But he knew where to look for it -- in Los Angeles.

Baker followed roommates leads and pursued an acting career.  Without luck. "When I watched a movie, I never thought, 'Someday, that's going to be me,'" he shares. "I had no skills, no direction.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I took the 'I don't care' attitude into a lot of casting offices.  And I took it right out, too."  Then his health forced him to really buckle down.

"Last January (96) I had the most severe flu you could possibly have. I had a temperature of 106.3 and I couldn't see, hear, didn't eat for 10 days.  After it broke, I felt I didn't have anything left.  I had lost my job, my confidence and I was so over getting rejected.  I bought a plane ticket to leave and was honestly ready to give it all up." His roomates, Derk and Davee, were not about to let that happen.  "They just picked me up," he relates.  "Let me know that they didn't feel sorry for me. They totally reversed my attitude.  From that point on, I devoted my entire life to being successful.  Keeping the right frame of mind, and hitting the pavement no matter how hard it was.  Four months later, I got the part."

Not just any part -- GH's Nikolas, Laura's cast-off sone and heir to the Cassadine dynasty. "The biggest break for me was not just getting the show, but having the opportunity to work with Genie, Tony and Stephen.  I can't tell you what it does for me when Genie and I finish a scene together and she hugs me and says, 'That was really great.  You saw exactly what I was looking for.' when she tells me that, I know I'm doing okay."  More than okay. Baker portrays the conflicted Nikolas with enough sneer and sympathy to win over even the most skeptical fan (save Luke, of course). "I think it comes from years of searching for that something.  Now that I've found it, I'm relaxed and not nervous anymore.  Also, all the emotions that I cornered to protect myself are suddenly bursting out of me. The only way I know how to release them is through my work. If people enjoy it, all the better." 

Some might think that a young man with his ability and looks might also be devoting a little energy to his love life.  Not so, claims Baker. "I don't get out very much," he says. He admits to recently breaking up with his high-school girlfriend (after five years), but prefers not to talk on the record about any other extracurricular socializing.  So what's a single guy to do? "When I do go out, it's with a few friends," he insists. "Just to have fun."  Has Baker finally his niche? "Just getting the part wasn't enough for me," responds Baker. "Success increased my self-confidence and opened me emotionally. Then I fell in love with acting. Now that I know this is my passion, my love, my career -- I want to go for it. This is the only thing I ever want to do."

 Soap Opera Digest -- January 11, 1997

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