Dominic as Dante. (Soaps.com)
Dominic Zamprogna stepped into the highly anticipated role of Olivia and Sonny’s son Dante on General Hospital in June and has quickly won over fans in the short time he’s been in Port Charles.
Soaps.com recently had the chance to talk with the Canadian actor about his first GH Fan Club Weekend, the fast pace of Daytime and what it’s like working with his co-stars.
We spoke on the phone shortly after Dominic got his first taste of what it’s like to be a part of Daytime at the GH Fan Club Weekend. When asked about it, Dominic marveled, “It was like nothing I’d experienced as a person before. You know, four hundred screaming fans, followed by a few hours of autographs and pictures. Then me and Lisa LoCicero (Olivia) had an event where we just didn’t know what we were going to do because neither one of us had done one of these things before. We were worried it was going to suck, but it was awesome. We just kind of sat there and had this kind of one on one, us two at the front and sixty people who just wanted to talk and find out our thoughts and we got to know their thoughts.”
Even though he was able to hang out at the different events, Dominic’s own event was the highlight for him. “I would have to say the coolest part for me was mine and Lisa’s event and us just kind of getting know fans because it’s odd that, it’s the reverse, you know? Fans get to know us because they get to see us everyday and it was kind of neat just for us to sit there and meet like sixty really cool people who legitimately love our storyline and love what they’ve been seeing from us. That just feels good. Who doesn’t like that,” he chuckled.
As for playing the character everyone wanted to know so much about, Dominic enthusiastically declared, “I’m having a blast. I love every minute of it. I feel like I’m right where I want to be in my life and my career and I’m really fortunate to be able to say that.”
Noting that landing an American TV series is a difficult task anyway, Dominic relayed that it’s even harder as a Canadian. However, becoming a long running series regular on American TV was a goal he set at the beginning of the year, which he met when his manager (a fan of GH) wanted him to audition for the soap. Dominic sent in his tape, which they loved, and was asked to fly to L.A. for an audition.
At first leery of flying in from Canada just to be part of a cattle call, Zamprogna learned the list for who they wanted to play Dante had been narrowed down, so he took the leap and never looked back. “I had other things I was doing in Canada and I had to leave those to come and do this and I have zero regrets. I was excited from day one, from the minute I got here to do the audition, from the minute...When they called me to tell me I booked it, twenty minutes after I left the audition room, I was pretty freaking excited. I had to get off my motorcycle,” he laughed.
Dominic auditioned with the top brass at GH including star Maurice Benard (Sonny), Jill Farren Phelps (Executive Producer), Bob Guza (Head Writer) and Mark Teschner (Casting Director). Teschner remembered Dominic from an audition from 10 years ago when he was up for the role of Juan Santiago. That role of course went to Michael Saucedo, who eventually married Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth), which Dominic jokingly took credit for, saying, “Indirectly, I caused their happiness.”
Prior to the audition, Dominic knew a little bit about GH (because his parents watch soaps) and he knew who Maurice was (“Because you see his face all the time. He’s like TV’s Pacino.”), but he didn’t know all the details of the storyline, just that the role of Dante was a pretty big deal.
However, hearing about the importance of the character and discovering it first hand are two different things. “Someone telling you that and coming down and seeing that fan weekend is no preparation for the actual reality of it and how much it means to the fans and to the show,” he said. “That’s another thing at the fan weekend that surprised me. I didn’t expect to have a lot of fans because I had only aired for a few weeks and that was really warming to see how welcoming they all were to me. For being so new, but still being considered someone they wanted to talk to.”
Dominic has been on several TV shows including “Battlestar Galactica,” “The L Word”, “Smallville” and the Canadian series “Edgemont,” but jumping into Daytime was a whole new experience for him. “That’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. I think I felt like I was in a really fast moving car for the first few days, like on the Autobahn or something, because I didn’t know where I was," he recalled. "People were awesome. All I had to do was look up and people were like, ‘What’s up? What do you need?’”
Even though he found some similarities in the behind the scenes setup between GH and his former series “Edgemont,” he still wasn’t prepared for the amount of dialogue that was required. “My first day I was just in kind of cruise control. I just wanted to make sure I knew my lines because there were so many of them and I wasn’t used to learning that many lines in a day,” he recounted. “You do get used to it. It does get easier. You do figure out ways of making your mind remember without having to stress out about it so much. You do have crazy days too, like the other day I had a 38-page day and there’s nothing that I could do to make that easy. It was just an insane amount of lines, but you never complain about that because, as an actor on a show like this, you want that because that means you’re kind of in the thick of it all. That’s the only thing that was really a whole lot different.”
When it comes to his fellow castmates, Dominic shared that even though he’d like to work with those involved with the hospital (“Because they always look like they’re having a lot of fun”), “I’ve worked with everyone I’ve wanted to work with up until now. I’ve had awesome scenes with Claudia. I’ve had some really cool scenes with Sonny. I haven’t worked with Steve Burton (Jason) a lot, but even the stuff I’ve had with him is kind of neat because playing stuff with characters, who your character has fear of, but can’t show it, and has to prove his worth to, it just adds so much to the scenes like intensity and stakes-wise. So that’s why it's fun to work with those people because every time you’re in a scene with those people they’re bringing it and you’re bringing it and the writers have brought it because they want to see some intense stuff. That’s all great stuff to do and the stuff with Lisa (Olivia)…I think we’ve really built a solid kind of mother/son relationship and it feels really real to me and they’re writing really great stuff for those scenes as well. We get pretty fired up, as Italians can do.”
As for what’s to come for Dante Falconeri, Dominic teased, “I never know what I’m allowed to say and what I’m not allowed to say. I should probably not say anything, but I think something is airing this week that’ll probably make some people happy and make some people sad.”
Could that have anything to do with his secret meetings on the docks with the mysterious Ronnie? Stay tuned to find out!
- Lori Wilson