"I think he's a very courageous guy."
Jon Lindstrom (ex-Craig, "As the World Turns; ex-Kevin, "General Hospital"/"Port Charles") stars in the romantic comedy What Happens Next on DVD February 7. Soaps.com recently talked with the actor about his role as a successful businessman who comes out late in life.
Paul's road to self discovery begins when his worried sister, the always entertaining Wendie Malick ("Hot in Cleveland"), gives him a dog to keep him company after he retires. Paul's new companion leads him to the dog park where he meets younger man Andy Chance, played by theater actor Chris Murrah. Despite Paul initially not understanding Andy's lifestyle or friends, the men strike up a friendship that eventually leads to something more. Natalia Cigliuti (ex-Anita, "All My Children") is a nice addition as Andy's slightly self-absorbed "adopted" sister and Megan Hilty (Smash) has an amusing turn as Wendie Malick's character's manicurist.
When asked what appealed to him about playing Paul, Lindstrom replied, "More like what didn't appeal to me? It was a lead. It was a movie. It was an independent. It was shot on location in Philadelphia. It was across from Wendie Malick. It was a win/win/win/win situation." Describing the film as similar to a "1950's, 60's Doris Day, Rock Hudson romantic comedy," he cited writer/director Jay Arnold's clear vision for the movie as another reason for wanting to work on it.
Paul reassessing his life and forging a new path was something Lindstrom not only convincingly portrayed, but could relate to as well. A year and a half after relocating from L.A. to New York for the role of Craig Montgomery on "As the World Turns," the show was canceled.
"Faced with ["As the World Turns"] going off the air, I was coming to terms with redefining myself and exploring new things about myself, specifically writing and directing in a creative way and discovered things I didn't know I liked and talents I didn’t really even know I had," he reflected. "So, yeah, I could relate to the guy. I also think we're all, in some part, we're afraid to love. We're afraid to be vulnerable and Paul's situation is even more tenuous than just your average vulnerability: I might get hurt. He's opening up a side of himself that isn't going to be very well accepted by either his family, in the case of his very uptight sister played by Wendie, or from the crux of society that he comes from. Paul Greco is a multi-millionaire and is very much a member of the one percent and comes from a blue blood background. So, for him to essentially embrace an entirely different lifestyle with a man, is not only way out of character for him, but way out of character for the lifestyle and the people that he comes from. I think he's a very courageous guy."
Noting the comedic nature of the film and the fact that even serious soap characters Craig Montgomery and Kevin Collins often had humor sprinkled in, Soaps.com wondered if Lindstrom specifically looked to play comedy or add it to his roles. "I don't look for anything," he stated. "I like when something comes along that feels natural that I feel like, 'Yeah, I can play this. I can do this well.' There's certainly a challenge to that. I think the challenge for this one was to play the quote unquote straight man in a movie where there's a lot of funny people around you like Wendie."
Explaining he had to find the right balance in his performance allowing for Malick to be over the top and Murrah to be naturally charming, he continued, "It was a real challenge that way. I was happy to have the opportunity to do it, but I can't say I was looking for it."
Aside from "What Happens Next," Lindstrom directed the feature "How We Got Away With It," which he described as a "much darker film." He also recorded a few songs for an album with his old band The High Lonesome (which you can find at Jon Lindstrom's website) and appeared in an episode of the CBS drama "Blue Bloods."
As for Daytime dramas, since he's been part of them for decades, Soaps.com asked what he thought about the current state of the medium. He replied, "I think it's time to reinvent. I think the genre has a place and I want it to stick around. I think it's valuable and valid and a lot of people like it. It needs to find a way to work inside the economy that exists now. It's hard to compete against 'The Real Housewives' of wherever when they do it in a half an hour. I think soaps might have to really consider, if you want to see new soaps they'll probably have to go to cable. They might have to be subscription and they might have to be 30 minutes. And we might have to make them very, very…we might have to simplify the approach."
Reflecting on being part of the "golden age" of soaps, Lindstrom added, "I was very fortunate to be a part of a time when there were still locations and people would travel. They had gotten grandiose, but they had also gotten very bloated and I think in a way away from what makes them their best and that is stories about people day to day as they discover and deal with the trials and joys of their lives. Which, by the way, is what "What Happens Next" is about."
Considering "General Hospital" is bringing back several veteran characters including Tristan Rogers' Robert Scorpio and Finola Hughes' Anna Devane, would he ever consider a return to Port Charles? "You know what? They know how to reach me," he chuckled. "They can call whenever they want." Until then, he'll just keep doing what he's doing.
Join us on Twitter @soapoperafan, and Facebook. Come tweet and Facebook with us about "General Hospital," all the other soap operas, "Dirty Soap," "Glee," "Grey’s Anatomy," "Vampire Diaries" and "Venice the Series!"
- Lori Wilson