INTERVIEW: General Hospital's Michael E. Knight on his Emmy nomination, EW's All My Children reunion, and more

Posted Friday, May 22, 2020 7:00:23 AM

Soap legend Michael E. Knight (Martin Gray, General Hospital; ex-Tad Martin, All My Children) opens up about his Emmy nomination, reuniting with his AMC cast mates in EW's Pine Valley special, and what he's been up to in quarantine (hint: there's some Korean language involved!).

Pretty much everyone under the sun loves charming soap star Michael E. Knight (Martin Gray, General Hospital; ex-Tad Martin, All My Children), so it's no surprise that he landed a Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Guest Performer category this year. It may have been a limited run, but he once again proved that when it comes to knocking the socks off viewers, he's in a class of his own.

Speaking of being on his own, Knight tells Soap Central that he's been holding up better than he imagined in quarantine and is surprised at how much he's grown to love technological modes of communication like Zoom. He was quick to jump on board the video conferencing wagon, especially when he received the call to participate in Entertainment Weekly's week-long AMC reunion special happening the week of May 25. Keep reading to get Knight's thoughts on how All My Children has once again found itself in all the news headlines and how he feels about receiving an Emmy nomination for his work on General Hospital.

Soap Central: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination, Michael!

Michael E. Knight: Thank you. I can't tell you how weird life is right now. If I was to tell you what I've been doing, you would think [I'm crazy]. Life can get really strange sometimes: My car just died when I was running a sample from my dog down to the vet. So, I was having a very bad day, and then, all of a sudden, I started getting texts from friends saying congratulations, and I didn't know about what! I didn't even know. I had forgotten that there was a [Guest Performer] category, so you could knock me over with a feather. But thank you very much.

Soap Central: I'm sorry to hear that your day was so terrible, but if anything could turn it around, it would be this, for sure!

Knight: Yeah, it was a really weird day, and this did turn it around. It was very strange to be out in the world. Things are starting to come back to life, though.

Soap Central: Who did you share your Emmy news with first? Everyone was reaching out to you, but did you reach out to family or friends to tell them the good news?

Knight: I'm truly amazed. I'm getting texts from all over the country. One of the first texts I got was from one of my mother's friends who was reading something in Variety online in Massachusetts. I've just been saying thank you a lot on my cell phone! But one of the first people I reached out to was one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world, James Patrick Stuart, who plays Valentin on the show. I had heard that he and Jon [Lindstrom, Kevin Collins] were nominated, so I reached out to them. Boy, I tell you, this whole thing has been a real shot in the arm. It's really miraculous. And the thing that is the icing on the cake is getting to work with Patrick, because we go way back. And the other person that I've just traded cell messages with is the real hero of the piece, which is Frank Valentini [GH executive producer]. I keep saying it, but I don't know if people know this: I called him and asked him for some work last year to help me out, because he and I have been friends and have known each other through my ex, Catherine [Hickland, ex-Lindsay Rappaport, One Life to Live] for years. So, Frank is the real hero of the piece, and the people that I would thank from the bottom of my heart are also [GH co-head writers] Dan [O'Connor] and Chris [Van Etten] for giving me the material and letting me run with it a little bit. They're good guys, and I am very, very thankful to them for just giving me the time, you know?

Soap Central: What were the scenes that you put on your submission reel?

Knight: I don't know! I turned it over to casting, to Mark Teschner, months ago. I am a really bad judge of my work. I've got that thing where when I see myself on camera, to me, it's five times worse than hearing yourself on tape. Remember the first time you heard yourself being recorded, and you're like, "I don't sound like that!" So, whenever I look at myself, to me, I look like a cross between a cigarette butt and beanbag chair! [Laughs] Sitting down and watching six hours of my work is not something I'd love to do. So, I remember Mark reached out several months ago and said, "I've got a couple of things in mind. What do you think?" And I just turned it over to him. So, it's due to him, not to me!

Soap Central: I do have to throw it out there and say that I think you are the only person who thinks you look like a cigarette butt and a beanbag chair! Trust me.

Knight: [Laughs]That is pretty harsh, and I apologize, but number one, I forget how white my hair is. I remember the last few months on All My Children, when we were still over there in Glendale, the poor [people in production] were like, "You just have this white hair and the light bounces off it." [Laughs] They say you never feel more than 35 years old, so I run around in life doing this or that and the other thing, and it's not until I actually see myself on camera that I go, "I really have a lot of white hair." [Laughs] So that's where the cigarette butt thing comes from. So, I'm sorry I was so harsh! I'm not a cynic.

Soap Central: Speaking of All My Children, it has been so exciting to me, to the fans, to everyone, really, to see the show back in the news again! I mean, it never died, because the fans keep it alive, but now there's the Entertainment Weekly reunion special happening, and there was the ABC primetime special that aired earlier this week. How are you feeling about the show blowing up again?

Knight: Oh, man, the fans are the best. Every time I meet a fan, I say, "Thank you for my life." They are the best fans in the world. To me, it's pretty shocking, actually. It's weird to have this sort of groundswell of not interest, but nostalgia, remembering the show. Basically, when EW reached out to me, they said, "Hey man, everybody is in quarantine, let's put a smile on people's faces." And I have to say, it was more of a thrill for me, because I got to check in with Jill [Larson, Opal Cortlandt] and Darnell [Williams, Jesse Hubbard]. I got to see Darnell for the first time in like ten years! I mean, really, it's enough to make you weep. I swear, you never know how lucky you are until you're a little further down the road. We were sharing stories about what it was like when the soaps were huge. I think I really caught the wave, to really start at the beginning of the 80s. Those were really, really heady days. And to be living in New York in that age and stuff, and working on the show when Agnes [Nixon, AMC creator] still had firm control of it, I'm really honored that even now, people are reaching back, and I'm going, "You know, that was kind of cool." It's a big pat on the back, and I love it. When you're in the middle of doing it... it's kind of like delivering the mail with a dead run, because it just never stops. And then, all of a sudden, you're doing a fan event somewhere in the country, and somebody goes, "How many times has your character been married?" And you can't remember! Or, "How many times has your wife come back from the dead?" That I do remember -- twice! It's wonderful. What can I say. And again, I have to thank Frank and the fans... Frank asked if I wanted to do a limited run with Roger [Howarth, Franco], and I said absolutely. And it was the fans that basically said, "Hey, Mikey is still alive," and Dan and Chris were amenable. And it's nice to have a job to go back to if, in fact, we go back.

Soap Central: How are you doing with the Zoom interviews like you used for the EW special and the other technological ways that we're all communicating these days?

Knight: I'm a product of my generation, so I'm technologically challenged, but I'm really kind of amazed. I think I'm witnessing history in the making, because apparently, so much is changing with education and stuff, with people doing classes online -- we do everything digitally these days. I wouldn't be surprised if people started interviewing for jobs and doing auditions on Zoom and stuff like that. I didn't expect to like it as much as I do, because I thought it was going to be impersonal, but Zoom is a lot more intimate than I thought, because you're sitting there, staring in somebody's face. [Laughs] So, I'd say I'm adjusting pretty well.

Soap Central: For the actual Emmy ceremony, they say the actors will be appearing from home and accepting their awards from home, so have you received any guidelines or information on that and how you'll go about it?

Knight: No, nothing. You're the first person I've talked to about it because I literally walked into my house an hour ago and started getting texts from people! But I'm not surprised. The big thing will be like, "Okay, how do you dress for the event?" Like, "Am I wearing a tux, and if so, what's on the bottom?" [Laughs] Will I be wearing a tux jacket with a pair of PJs or a pair of sweatpants or something like that?

Soap Central: Whatever you do, just don't wear green! The Queen of England recently wore a green dress in a televised address to the nation, and apparently green can easily be changed -- like a green screen -- so fans can alter it to whatever they want.

Knight: Oh, how funny! So like flames or something like that? Or cartoons, like Homer Simpson walking back and forth across your chest. Funny.

Soap Central: What do you think about the fact that the ceremony will be televised this year on CBS? It is such big news.

Knight: Again, I'm getting more from you, Kambra! I had no idea, and if it is televised, then that's great! That's terrific. They're dying for product out there. [Laughs] You could shoot anything and they're like, "Sure, we'll put it on television, absolutely!" But, no, really, I think it's terrific.

Soap Central: Will you celebrate receiving your nomination?

Knight: I'm kind of pinching myself a little bit. I've got to call Mark and thank him for whatever his choices were. You know what initially happens? You get that shot of adrenaline, and it just doesn't feel real. I'm still hoping at this point, if I go out to my garage, I can start my car! So, I will probably celebrate tomorrow, but I'm definitely going to call my mom and dad, my folks, and my brothers, and say, "Guess what happened to me today!"

Soap Central: It's a good way to punctuate the quarantine, for sure. What have you been up to since the stay-at-home orders took place?

Knight: I've actually been doing better than I thought. I think at about week four, I started to get a little gun shy because there's just so many times I can cycle through Netflix. Now I'm watching Korean sitcoms, which is weird. I'm watching stuff in other languages now on Netflix because I've gone through everything else. [Laughs] But I've sort of fallen into a routine, and my little dog is in heaven because daddy has not been out of the house for eleven weeks! And the big event of the day is walkies, you know what I mean? And I figured out how to do Amazon Fresh for deliveries and stuff. And I don't know about you, but I'm also kind of [switching from] this mindset of, "Oh, okay, we're doing this because there's something that's scary out there," to now it's like, "Oh, okay, now we have to get used to going back into the world, and this is how we do it, and you've got to be careful." I have to say, I've held up better than I thought. Like I said, around week four, week five, I was starting to get a little depressed, not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but you know, I'm doing okay. And I have really good neighbors, too, and that helps a lot.

Soap Central: I actually have a little bit of anxiety about things getting back to normal because I've actually loved the quiet and the peace.

Knight: Oh, my God, thanks for saying that! The one thing that I have noticed that I cannot get over is exactly that. Especially when there was just nobody on the road, I could open my window, and I could hear birds singing at night like a mile away. Or I'd go out, and I'm walking the dog, and I would look up -- and I'm here in the San Fernando Valley -- and I swear to God, I can see satellite dishes over in Northridge, you know what I mean? It's so crystal clear. It's like, "Wow, this is what the world would be like if we all drove electric cars." It's been kind of fascinating to see.

Soap Central: Thank you so much for giving us some of your time today, and again, congratulations on your Emmy nomination!

Knight: Well, thank you for being the bearer of good tidings and news I did not know about! Now I've got to spend a week deciding how to decorate the back of the apartment, like, "What's the house going to look like on Zoom?" [Laughs] The weird stuff that goes through your mind. But, anyway, thank you and God bless!

What do you think about Michael E. Knight receiving a nomination for his role as GH's Martin Gray? Do you think he will take home the gold this year? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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