Back from the dead: General Hospital's Brett Chapin talks going from corpse to Port Charles's district attorney

Posted Friday, October 28, 2022 8:25:33 AM
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What's it like to play a dead body on a soap? Brett Chapin opens up about taking on the role of General Hospital corpse Roger Barstow, which has led to a slew of other work on the ABC drama.

It's not every day an actor gets a phone call asking if they'd be interested in playing a dead guy on a soap opera, so when Betrayed alum Brett Chapin received a call from General Hospital requesting he take on the role of cadaver Roger Barstow in 2021, he jumped at the chance. Sure, the character was already dead, and therefore, the actor had a pretty slim chance of making his time on the show "shine" -- but he was up for the challenge.

"I was thrilled!" Chapin tells Soap Central. "GH has been on since the Kennedy administration -- there's so much history with that show. So, I was thrilled, and I definitely relished the opportunity."

For those who may not remember, Roger Barstow was the dead body that Curtis (Donnell Turner), Portia (Brook Kerr), and Jordan (then Briana Nicole Henry) found in Finger Lakes during their search to uncover the truth about Drew's (Cameron Mathison) plane crash. At the time, nobody knew that Roger worked for Victor Cassadine (Charles Shaughnessy), who had killed Roger in a cover-up attempt -- and Chapin came into the storyline just as blind as the audience.

"I was surprised when I later heard that Roger worked for a criminal organization, but the great thing about soaps is that they can be really creative," the actor enthuses. "They give themselves license for a lot of freedom, creatively. But I never saw that coming!"

Something else Chapin didn't see coming were the difficulties involved in playing a corpse. People might figure that if you don't have any lines and you're basically asked to just lie still in a scene, it would be easy. But as Chapin explains, that's not exactly the case.

"It's more difficult than it looks to stay still, and it's also difficult to keep your eyes from fluttering. Your eyes naturally move on their own, so, to keep them perfectly still is a challenge," he shares. "There was a part where Briana Nicole Henry had to reach behind me and get my wallet, and it's a challenge not to react when being touched, as well! But it was a good boot camp as an actor, and it was a lot of fun. I've never played a corpse before, and I've been telling my friends that I'm in the competition for Best Soap Opera Body -- not meaning six-pack abs but meaning cadaver!"

As luck would have it, after his two-day run as Roger, Chapin was asked to come back to GH as a regular background actor. He has since appeared as the district attorney and in multiple other roles, and he continues to work at GH on a regular basis.

"They have a core group of background artists that they rely on, and I'm lucky to be a part of that group," he enthuses. "It's a great show, too, because everyone is so generous and open and wants you to succeed. I remember my second day there -- the set is kind of a maze, and you really have to know your way around because all of the hallways look the same. I was lost, and Eden McCoy [Josslyn Jacks] just kind of came up and showed me where wardrobe was and showed me where I needed to go. It's just a really nice, loving, nurturing environment."

If asked to expand his relationship with GH to a recurring or even contract role, Chapin says he would absolutely welcome the opportunity. "I couldn't think of a better place to go to work every day. It's a really great environment, and I'd be thrilled to have another part. And even if I never came back there, I would consider it such a good learning experience. What we do every day, in my opinion, is the hardest job in entertainment -- and I've worked in theater and film and television, and honesty, because of how fast-paced it is and how few opportunities you have to get it right, I really do feel like it's the hardest type of acting you can do."

He feels that soap opera fans must know and appreciate the hard work that the cast members and crew do every day because of how loyal they are.

"I've really gotten to know them over the last year and a half that I've been working on the show -- they are so loyal and committed, and they watch every single day," he enthuses. "I've gotten to know some of them on social media, and I don't know if there's a more loyal audience than soap fans. They're really great."

Chapin has also been fortunate enough to bond with several members of the GH cast, as well, and he shares that some of them may even help him with an impressive physical challenge that he set for himself this year.

"I'm trying to run 1,000 miles in 2022. We're getting there -- I'm at about 650 now, and I'm trying to see if I can get a couple of the soap actors to run the last few miles with me in December," he says. "I've already hit up Réal Andrews [Marcus Taggert] and he's getting back to me on it. I also let Donnell Turner know, and he said if there's anything he can do to help, to let him know. So, no solid commitments yet, but I think as it gets a little bit closer to the 1,000 miles, people are going to get more interested."

It's hard to imagine where Chapin gets the time for all this running, especially because, in addition to completing his running goal and working at GH, he's been filming on a new Amazon TV series called Mrs. American Pie, which stars Kristen Wiig, Ricky Martin (ex-Miguel Morez, GH), Carol Burnett (ex-Verla Grubbs, All My Children), and Jason Canela (ex-Arturo Rosales, The Young and the Restless), among others.

"It's based on a book by Juliet McDaniel called Mr. and Mrs. American Pie. Kristen Wiig's character suddenly comes into money from being kind of poor, and she's trying to fit into high society, and [it follows] all of the misadventures that go along with that," Chapin shares about the series slated for a 2023 summer release. "It's Carol Burnett's return to TV, and I got to shoot a scene with her, which was great."

Chapin also shares that he had an interesting run-in with Ricky Martin early on in the project.

"The first time I met him, it was five o'clock in the morning, and I didn't recognize him, for whatever reason, and we had a regular conversation, just like two actors, and he didn't let on who he was or anything," Chapin says. "I was just asking him if the work has picked up for him, and he was like, 'Yeah, it's going well, it's going better,' never letting on who he was. And it wasn't until the next day when I came to work, somebody said, 'You know you were talking to Ricky Martin the other day for like half an hour?' [Laughs] He was a really great guy, very personable, and he has a very good heart. He's very easy to work with and very open and accommodating."

As for the series' future, Chapin enthuses that he sees great things for Mrs. American Pie.

"I know every actor says this about their shows before they come out, but I really think this show is going to be a hit. With all the star power it has, with the storylines, I think it's going to do really well," he says. "We've got Josh Lucas, Mindy Cohn from The Facts of Life, Laura Dern is the producer, Ricky Martin, Kristen Wiig -- there's just a lot of really good star power and fun comedians. I think it's going to be a great show."

What do you think about our interview with Brett Chapin? Do you think you could play a dead body on a soap opera? Why or why not? How do you feel about the premise and casting of the upcoming soap-star-filled series Mrs. American Pie? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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