Tyler Heats Things Up With Humility
Daytime hearthrob TYLER CHRISTOPHER, the much loved Nikolas on General Hospital, is currentl wowing audiences in a Los Angeles run of the lauded Martin Sherman Play Bent. Christopher plays Max, a man sent to Dachau during World War II for loving another man.
INSTINCT: This is pretty serious stuff. How'd you get involved with Theatre 68 and Bent.
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: We [Theatre 68] started in 1999 and eventually epanded the group into a full-blown theater company. We found this warehouse space on Sunset [Boulevard] and built from the ground up.
INSTINCT: What do you look for in a play?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: We try to do things that encompass the entire company. And even though Bent is an all-male cast, it's just one of those plays. Martin Sherman wrote one of the most amazing scripts you can imagine, and it was just a story that had to be told.
INSTINCT: You spend the entire second act carrying rocks back and forth as part of the daily mental and physical torture influcted on prisoners by the Germans. How did you make that work?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: We tried to hit the important points [at center stage] just to relay to the audience the most important moments. We tried to regiment when a rock goes here or there, but once we found the pace of the play, we sort of gave that idea up.
INSTINCT: That leaves a lot of room to change it up, doesn't it?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: There are so many nuances in the play, and that is what makes it such an attractive project. You can really tell a different story every night if you change a few moments.
INSTINCT: Since those hold your character captive did not allow interaction of any kind between prisoners, how hard was it to convey the intimacy in the play without once touhing or even looking at each other?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: Well, to be honest, it's rather easy because you're limite to only having audio contact. When you take away the greater things in life, physical contact, and intimacy, your body adjusts to the next best thing.
INSTINCT: There's a moment in the show when you and the other main male character have an orgasm without looking at each other or touching. Did you know how powerful that was going to be when you were rehearsing it?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: Well, if you don't sell that moment, then the play really doesn't work at all. That's the point of the whole play. It's an act of free will. If you could sum up the whole paly, it would be with that phrase.
INSTINCT: Are they any differences in the way you approach a gay role versus a straight one?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: No. The through-line of the entire piece is that there is an enormous wall between two people who love each other, and the only way to overcome it is to spiritually, emotionally connect. Everyone equates love with sex or physical intimacy, but it's not always about that. Here are two men who fell in love and never even touched each other. Not once. So I htink it transcenes [just being a gay play].
INSTINCT: What would your character Nikolas think if he saw the play? Would he like it?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: [Laughs] Nikolas is a very lighthearted and open-armed kind of guy. I think he would appreciate this kind of show and embrace it's realism and honesty.
INSTINCT: What would your GH nemesis, Grandma Helena, say if she saw Bent?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: [Laughs] I think she would believe it is sacrilegious.
INSTINCT: What is better: being nominated for an Emmy or being name on of TV's sexiest daytime starts?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: Ooh. Hmm. Well, I think I would vote for being accepted for your work rather than just your physical appeal, but that's just my vote.
INSTINCT: What's it like to be considered a heartthrob? Does it come up in daily conversation?
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: I honestly do not think about it at all. I try to maintain a certain level of humility in this business, and I really try to incorporate that into my everyday life. It's very flattering to know that people think of you that way, but I think the biggest disaster for an actor is to start believing his own press. [Laughs}
INSTINCT: Some people would say that once you have a gay following, you've really made it.
TYLER CHRISTOPHER: [Laughs] I haven't heard that yet, but I'll keep that in mind!