Georgia native Evan Alex Cole will debut as Hunter on AS THE WORLD TURNS on Thursday, April 30. He spoke with We Love Soaps earlier this week about how his career path changed from cardiovascular surgery to acting, his new ATWT character and much more. Cole was a big hit with fans at the recent AS THE WORLD TURNS Fan Club luncheon and his charismatic personality has helped established a fan base before he even airs.
We Love Soaps: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up?
Evan Alex Cole: I grew up in Marietta, Georgia, which is a little suburb north of Atlanta. I went to a private prep school in Atlanta called the Lovett School. I wanted to be a cardiovascular surgeon so I was really heavy into academics. I was also a musician so I did a lot of music in high school as well. That's what I spent my time doing - studying and playing piano.
We Love Soaps: How did you get into acting?
Evan Alex Cole: I was pretty fortunate to have a great adviser at my high school. I had done some plays, but I wasn't really considering it as an option for my career. I was considering a few different options in terms of colleges but made some last minute changes when a manager met me in Atlanta. We ended up going out to Los Angeles and getting signed with Talent Works. It was a right place, right time sort of situation.
We Love Soaps: How did your parents feel about that?
Evan Alex Cole: At first they were certainly apprehensive. My parents have always been extremely supportive of whatever I wanted to do; always encouraging me to do more, read more, learn more, but this was altogether new for those guys. Both of my parents are working professionals so it was a scary thing for them.
We Love Soaps: So you moved to Los Angeles right out of high school?
Evan Alex Cole: Well, maybe two or three weeks out of high school. I actually ended up going [to USC] when I moved to Los Angeles. I was auditioning and eventually did JOAN OF ARCADIA and Back When We Were Grownups, a Hallmark Hall of Fame film, in my first year. I was trying to balance my Biology degree at USC with my acting career. It was a challenge.
We Love Soaps: How did you end up at Carnegie Mellon University?
Evan Alex Cole: Doing that film with Blythe Danner, Jack Palance and Faye Dunaway, and getting to watch some major players do what they do, was pretty inspiring. At that point, I really hadn't seriously considered training. I had been to Carnegie Mellon’s pre-college program to see if it might be a good fit, but after seeing those guys rock it on the set, I knew if I wanted to have any sort of long-term career I best learn how they do it. So I went to CMU.
We Love Soaps: You attended Carnegie Mellon after Van Hansis (another CMU graduate)?
Evan Alex Cole: Yes.
We Love Soaps: When you graduated from CMU, was your plan to move back to Los Angeles?
Evan Alex Cole: I went to CMU thinking I was going to go straight back to Los Angeles. That was kind of my plan. I did, She's Out of My League, a DreamWorks picture coming out in 2010, when I was in school. After that, I had been back and forth from Pittsburgh auditioning here in New York. Through CMU Showcase, I met a great agent here and he kind of kept in touch with me. The Carnegie Mellon Showcase is wonderful and put me in great position to meet some fantastic folks. Robert Atterman at Abrams Artists just said, "You should be here, Alex, it's the right place to get your career going," and I said, "Okay."
We Love Soaps: I watched a repeat of your episode of LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT earlier and watched some other clips of your past work on YouTube. It seems like you're playing a wide range of characters.
Evan Alex Cole: I feel I've gotten a chance to do some really cool things. AS THE WORLD TURNS is certainly my first shot at a continuing character. I think Hunter is a great character with a lot of potential, and I'm excited to explore that.
We Love Soaps: How did the job on WORLD TURNS as Hunter come about?
Evan Alex Cole: Basically, I had been in with Mary Clay [Boland, Casting Director] many times trying to see what might work and what wouldn't work. One week I didn't have any auditions lined up so I made plans to go home and see Momma in Atlanta. Everything was great and I was on the plane and I get a phone call from my agent saying that Mary Clay called and has this role she thought I'd be great for it and wanted to get me in to see the producers. He was like, "Where are you?" and I told him I was on the plane and he said he would call her to see if we could get it on tape or whatever. After I got off the phone, I was sitting there and thinking this could be great and it was what I wanted for so long, and the door was still open, so I literally got up and got off the plane. I called my agent back from a cab on the way home, and told him I wanted to make sure Mary Clay knew I was here. I went in the next day and met the producers. I got to meet Chris Goutman the next week, and was playing Hunter the following week.
We Love Soaps: So you ditched your mom basically?
Evan Alex Cole: [laughs] Needless to say, she was bummed that I wasn't going to get to see her. I went up the ramp and talked to the gate agent and she rescheduled my flight for free. So I ended up getting to see Mom and she was thrilled when I got the part, as was I.
We Love Soaps: Did you or your family ever watch soaps before?
Evan Alex Cole: My grandma was a big soap fan, and watched the CBS soaps. I watched them when I was at her house, baking cakes when I was young. That was my only exposure to soaps until these recent months.
We Love Soaps: You recently attended the ATWT Fan Club Luncheon and met hundreds of fans before you've even aired. What was that like?
Evan Alex Cole: First of all, I was rather nervous because it was all pretty new to me. It did, however, provide a jump start to getting to spend time with and meet more of the cast members. More importantly, it was my first contact with the fans. I hadn't aired so I had a chance to introduce me before I introduced myself on the screen as Hunter. I looked at it as a unique opportunity to meet the meat and potatoes of the show - the fan base that has been around as long as the show has been around. I had a great time. It was fun.
We Love Soaps: And you were a big hit at Nuke-a-Palooza [the post-luncheon fan event for Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann]?
Evan Alex Cole: I think with Sherry [a fan who was the event's emcee] on my arm, I couldn't help but be noticed. I'm just so thankful for the warm welcome and even now I've been getting emails from the fans who were there. The whole experience helps carry me when I go into shoot the show. It gives me confidence when I go in front of the camera and it’s there in those emotional moments. It's nice to know people are going to be paying attention.
We Love Soaps: Tell me about the character of Hunter. He's a computer geek that Emily hires to work at The Intruder?
Evan Alex Cole: I feel like we kind of know this sort of person. Everyone knows the guy who spends way too much time behind the computer, and the variety of social quirks that sort of thing can generate. I think that's pretty tangible. In the storyline, Hunter gets promoted from the IT Department at The Intruder. Because of the economic climate, the paper could go under. Lucinda introduces me to Emily, my co-editor and then...
We Love Soaps: Emily has had interesting relationships with young co-workers at The Intruder in the past. Is she happy about this new development?
Evan Alex Cole: Despite the character clash at the beginning, we have to work together to get our common goal achieved.
We Love Soaps: Will Hunter be interacting mostly with Emily? Or will he share scenes with some of the younger characters on the show?
Evan Alex Cole: Being new in town, or at least new around town since he's been behind his computer and on the web, Hunter has to learn some social graces and particularly how to be around people his own age. We learn later he's had kind of a solitary life other than his mother and a confusing past. Alison, Casey and Jade help him figure some of that out.
We Love Soaps: Do we know Hunter's last name?
Evan Alex Cole: We don't. It's just Hunter.
We Love Soaps: Are you excited to see your first show air on Thursday?
Evan Alex Cole: If I can be honest, I'm a little bit nervous. I'm excited. I can't wait to see what it looks like. It's a whole different perspective when you're inside the character and you're thinking about moment to moment and you kind of forget there is 10 or 20 other things going on around the set that have to make it into the shot. It will be interesting to see what the producers and directors on the show cook up. The show always looks great, and I'm looking forward to see how I can contribute to it.
We Love Soaps: What about your parents? Are they excited too?
Evan Alex Cole: Oh, that's all my mom can talk about. I have a large family so needless to say I get multiple calls a day from some branch of the Cole extended family in Georgia, asking about this or that on the soap. A lot of my family is in construction and building things and this is thrilling for them.
We Love Soaps: Can we assume Hunter is going to be sticking around for a while?
Evan Alex Cole: I think we have to take it one episode at a time. That's how you have to do it as an actor and I think it's most enjoyable for the audience to do that too. There are things in the can and we'll see what happens in the future. But definitely the storyline is pretty interesting.
We Love Soaps: You have a built in fan base from the fan club week so you have a leg up on some people. Speaking of fans, you're going to Soap Fest this weekend?
Evan Alex Cole: I am. And I am so excited. Truly I'm very thankful. If there's any sort of overriding feeling I want to project is that I'm thankful to the fans for meeting me, accepting me, and then at the end, the icing on the cake, graciously inviting me to another event. I can't wait to go down there to see them and everyone else coming to Soap Fest.
We Love Soaps: Do you have any other projects in the works?
Evan Alex Cole: Not at the moment. After AS THE WORLD TURNS picked up, it started to take a lot out of me. It's a real intense schedule and I've been adjusting to it. It's a great challenge.
We Love Soaps: When I was on the set last summer, it seemed like many scenes were done in one take and things moved quickly.
Evan Alex Cole: Ultimately, as an actor, any sort of work you are doing needs to be prepared and ready to go the first time. Any set you are on, the time is the money, and you have to be ready in any situation. Soaps are no different. It exhilarating to work that fast.
We Love Soaps: Is there anything else you can share about the character of Hunter?
Evan Alex Cole: Just that Hunter is very clumsy and things may not be as they seem when they start off.
We Love Soaps: They never are. Best of luck to you on AS THE WORLD TURNS and have fun at Soap Fest.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't miss Evan Alex Cole's Thursday, April 30 debut as Hunter on AS THE WORLD TURNS on CBS. Check your local listings for times. For more information on the show, visit astheworldturns.net.