Face The Music - Interview
He played a man inadvertently dating a transvestite in his first film, Catfish in Black Bean Sauce, and now he's wearing women's clothes himself in his newest picture, Face The Music. General Hospital's Tyler Christopher (ex-Nikolas), the formerly shy guy from Ohio, is redefining the word risk in his post-soap acting career. "It wasn't exactly by design, but it ended up that way so I'm going to roll with it -- it's a chance of a lifetime," he admits, chuckling at the coincidence. "The roles coming my way are the kind you strive for -- the kind of challenges that take you to the next level. Hopefully, people will see that I can do this."
A Different Beat
Face The Music, produced by showbiz veteran Laura Caulfield, is the story of a group of beleaguered rockers who fake the death of their lead singer, Dan -- played by Christopher --in an effort to boost their popularity. Now "dea," Dan dons his ex-girlfriend's duds and ventures out as aspiring vocalist "Danielle." In a bizarre twist, Danielle hits it big, but falters big time when "she" falls for a female music journalist who doesn't know Danielle is a man. "My character gives away his entire life and becomes this other person, only to realize that what was really important to him was love and relationships."The fact that his new role was so completely different from GH's stoic Prince Nikolas Cassadine, and from Christopher himself, wasn't lost on the actor. "Everything that this character is in this film, I am not," he acknowledges. "So I had to completely transform myself in order to play him." First on his agenda was figuring out how to come off like a musician -- and with only a week to prepare! "I taught myself the guitar and I liked it so much, I went out and bought one!" he reveals, noting that he had three songs to learn. "I thought it would be difficult, but I practiced so much that it became second nature."Transforming himself into a femme fatale was another story for the onetime Daytime Emmy nominee, who says that he wasn't sure he could pull it off. "The first time I looked in themirro, I was scared out of my mind!" he confides. "Then I thought, 'Well, it's a full-blown comedy so if I look like a big drag queen, so what? This isn't Boys Don'tCry; I'm not trying to literally pull off [being] a woman.""Instead, I just concentrated on the script," he continues, "and put my trust in the wardrobe and make-up people."
The grueling filming schedule -- and the hours in the make-up chair -- aside, Christopher says that he's having the time of his life. "I'm so happy -- that's what gets me through it. I need about half as much sleep as I used to because I'm on such a high!" he insists. That's a good thing too, because there's no rest in sight for this in-demand actor. He's off to Pittsburgh in August to begin work on his next film, Out of the BlackIt's a drama about a guy whose father was killed in a coal mining accident when he was a child. He discovers that it may not have been an accident, but a murder to collect on an insurance scam," Christopher reveals, adding that his character, town drunk Cole Malby, has a lot of issues to deal with, one of which is that he's competing with his brother for the affection of the same woman. "It's a very nice, driven piece that I can really dive into."
It's with confidence that the rising star, who gots his start on GH, is facing his future. For the first time ever, he's decided to concentrate solely on his work. "It's made me a better performer 10 times over. Things are much clearer, and I'm enjoying where I am in my life," he maintains. "Relationships and a family will come when I'm ready for it, but right now I'm having a great time. I feel free."
Tyler Christopher reveals the lessons that he learned from his former soap mentors. "I came to GH as an actor who had never done anything before, and I let people teach me," concedes the relative newcomer. An ongoing working relationship with former GH acting coach Andrew Magarian isn't the only thing that Christopher walked away from the show with. He also committed to memory everything that he learned from castmates Stephen Nichols (Stefan), Genie Francis (Laura), and Anthony Geary (Luke). "I watched the way they move, the way they speak, and how they handled themselves," he confides, adding that he admires all of them. But it was Geary from whom he says he learned the most. "He has such a freedom about his performance -- he can make even the smallest of things look interesting," Christopher points out. So what did the young actor copy from the master? He's working on adopting some of Geary's comic sensibilities. "Tony will do things like use six very long words to mean one small thing. That to me is so funny!" he confides. "I've tried to use that in my own work."
Soaps In Depth -- August 22, 2000