Tuesday, September 24, 2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Former GENERAL HOSPITAL Star Chad Brannon Previews His Latest Projects Including A Guest Appearance in CSI

Chad Brannon won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Zander Smith on GENERAL HOSPITAL in 2004, a role he played for four years. Since then he's had a successful career working in primetime television on shows like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and DEADWOOD, and doing voice over work. Brannon began doing voice overs in 2006 and has been one of the main promo voices for FOX Television Network since 2008. If you've tuned into FOX at all, you've likely heard him. He will next be guest-starring on the October 2nd episode of CSI on CBS in an episode that features some other Daytime alums as well. We Love Soaps recently caught up with Brannon to learn more about his CSI role and the other projects he's working on including a comedy pilot with Wayne Brady. Check out our exclusive interview below.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What can you tell us about your CSI character?
CHAD BRANNON: When this role came across my desk I thought to myself, "I have to get this thing." I was in something like 9 or 10 scenes so it was a ton of work and a ton of fun. There's action, drama, and all sorts of crazy stuff. The character is a head maintenance guy at this casino and there's a huge heist that happens. They think that he's involved and so there's the whole investigation, and something happens with my child getting kidnapped. It was a meaty and juicy part. The tragic part is my wife in the story had died of cancer just a few months before, and I was left with my six-month child at the time and all these medical bills. He's a guy who's kind of driven to make the most of his life with how it currently is. We have to see what he's going to be driven to do.

WE LOVE SOAPS: This sounds really significant. A lot of times when we hear about someone guest-starring and it turns out to be one scene or they walk on and off. But your character has a whole backstory. It sounds great.
CHAD BRANNON: It really is. It's a meaty role. It's some of the best character work and best acting I've done since GENERAL HOSPITAL. I was blessed and excited with the opportunity. Hopefully it will show well.

WE LOVE SOAPS: There are a few other actors in this episode that starred in daytime and I'm wondering if you crossed paths with them when you were there. John Allen Nelson?
CHAD BRANNON: Yes! He and I totally connected. We figured out that he was on BAYWATCH with Billy [Warlock].

WE LOVE SOAPS: He started his career playing Nicolas Coster's son, Warren Lockridge, on SANTA BARBARA.
CHAD BRANNON: That's right. He did say that, and I have some connections with people who were on SANTA BARBARA. We connected about the daytime world and sharing some war stories. It was fun. He's a really great guy.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What about John Aprea, who soap fans probably know best for his roles on ANOTHER WORLD?
CHAD BRANNON: He was pretty cool. He's one of those guys you see when you walk on and think, "I know you from like a million things." I think I actually said something awkward like that to him, "I know you from a ton of stuff. You've worked a ton, right?" Which is always an awkward question to get.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You probably get that a lot too for your voice. "You sound familiar."
CHAD BRANNON: Totally. Once I say I do voice overs they're like, "I know you. I've heard your voice." John was a really nice guy and he was definitely sharing some war stories. He was in The Godfather: Part II.

WE LOVE SOAPS: In the world of Daytime, we have fewer soaps since you left. Here in New York at the theater we used to see so many more actors that listed soaps in their credits. Now we see less and less of that.
CHAD BRANNON: It's true. A lot of great actors. People always ask about my time working in Daytime, and I just always have to say that I have such respect for the actors who work at that pace, level and depth. I was especially blessed being on GENERAL HOSPITAL with that cast. The people that I got to work with were phenomenal actors. I'm sure it's still the same today.  I had some of the best acting times there.

Chad Brannon was named Outstanding Younger Actor in a
Drama Series at the 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2004.
WE LOVE SOAPS: GENERAL HOSPITAL fans still remember the character of Zander fondly, and you won a Daytime Emmy for your work, so you obviously made an impact. Do you miss the pace of the daytime schedule at all?
CHAD BRANNON: It was an incredible time in my life and I loved that you just kind of became one with your character because you were acting almost every day. Also they spread your story out over the course o five or six commercial breaks so you got some meaty stuff to work through. As an actor I was just exercising my muscles and memorizing muscles. I was blessed to be part of some lead stories with some great actors. I miss the acting aspect of it.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You played Lucas Mize on in my all-time favorite TV show, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, so I have to ask you what was it like working on that show? Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton were amazing.
CHAD BRANNON: They were a really kind cast. The episode I was on, we were shooting it the night the show aired on TV. We were shooting in this restaurant in Austin, Texas.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Applebee's? They had a really smart product placement deal with them.
CHAD BRANNON: It was actually this awesome and cool barbecue place. They kept stop taping to turn on the TV and go, "Look, we're on!" It was fun to be part of that family for a second there. Everybody was really nice. They had been shooting then for a little while so it was intimidating walking into that world. The way that they shot the show was real moving camera style. You literally wouldn't even see the cameras. You would run it through a couple of times, and it was almost improvised. If you were a cast member it would have been the most awesome show to work on because you know your character so you get in there and mix it up. As a guest star you are coming in and holding on by the skin of your teeth hoping you don't miss your mark or lines. But it was another great role.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Did you think you would ever play a former star quarterback?
CHAD BRANNON: I figured it would only happen in the movies. And that's what it took. [Laughs}

WE LOVE SOAPS: You have some other things in the works. You're in a movie, The Bling Ring.
CHAD BRANNON: The Bling Ring came out a couple of months ago. I think it was a the Cannes Film Festival. The movie was directed by Sofia Coppola, who won an Academy Award and the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. I got to work with her. My scene wasn't huge but I got to work with Emma Watson, from the Harry Potter movies, and Leslie Mann who has done all those comedy films. It was a great cast the day I got to work and be there. It wasn't a huge part but I got to work with a significant portion of the cast. It was a great gig.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You also have a pilot with Wayne Brady coming up.
CHAD BRANNON: At this point it's kind of like a web series that Aaron Shure and Jonathan Mangum wrote and produced. They are shopping it around town right now and looking for someone to pick it up. It's insane and hilarious. Take THE OFFICE and throw in a bit of PARKS AND RECREATION and a little of RENO 911. It's about these people who are crazy about their Second Amendment gun rights. It's awesomely hilarious.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Do you get to be funny? I think I've seen you in mostly serious roles.
CHAD BRANNON: Yes. I've always wanted to play in the comedy stuff. I started acting doing comedic plays and shows. It was a ton of fun and I got to work with comedic geniuses. One of the people was a writer on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE for many years, and Wayne Brady, of course. The writing was a gift. It's easy to be funny when the writing is amazing. It was a great character too. The second episode of called "The Eye Guy," and I'm the FBI guy.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Before and after GENERAL HOSPITAL you have worked in many different mediums, is there something you're still dying to do that maybe you haven't had the chance to work on yet?
CHAD BRANNON: I've also gotten the opportunity to do some producing and directing. I did a short film a couple of years ago. I just produced and directed a couple of other little things. I just finished doing a commercial last weekend for a friend of mind. It will be coming out on the web sometime this fall. It's a crazy over the top comedic thing. We're in the middle of editing it right now. So maybe more of that. I think it would be fun to end up, whether in film or some series, maintaining a bigger character. I've been up for a couple of things just recently that could have and might have been pretty significant roles on series. Hopefully something like that comes through. It would be fun.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Last question, how are your kids? If all your work doesn't keep you busy enough you have four kids!
CHAD BRANNON: I do. I have four kids that are all five and under. I've got three boys and a little baby girl and they keep us busy. My oldest son just started kindergarten and he's loving it. I'm just a proud dad and I'm so thankful to have the most sweet and awesome kids. My wife is a total blessing to me taking care of them. It doesn't get much better.

WE LOVE SOAPS: So your kids will all be teenagers someday at the time time. I'm going to call you back then.
CHAD BRANNON: [Laughs] Exactly!

Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He appeared in FRANCOPRHENIA in 2012 and the documentary SOAP LIFE, out on DVD in 2013.

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