By Nelson Branco
Move over, Nuke! The soap world has a new gay couple to fawn over (and stalk). On September 23, Chad Allen joins General Hospital: Night Shift -- the venerable sudser's prime time SoapNet spinoff -- as Eric Whitlow, a schoolteacher in need of an organ transplant. Can his Dr. McDreamy (Kyle Julian, played by promising newcomer Adam Grimes) save Eric's liver and win his heart?
Along with his new soap role, Allen, 34, is keeping busy across the television dial. He plays gay private dick Donald Strachey in a mystery series on here!, is guest starring on an upcoming CSI: Miami as a suspected bomber, and finally see his passion project and critically acclaimed indie flick, Save Me, hit theaters.
Out spoke to Allen about his own ripped-from-the-headlines history, the boring real-life reality of gay relationships, and how he's hoping to be the industry's first out leading gay soap star.
Out: Welcome to soaps! How did the role of Eric come up?
Chad Allen: Head writer Sri Rao and I run in the same circles, and he told me if I ever wanted to enter the soap arena I'd be welcome. So one day, SoapNet called me and offered me the part. After reading the script and watching a couple of episodes, I was really impressed. It was clear to me that Sri had the best of intentions -- and the writing is fantastic.
Have you ever watched General Hospital?
Never. I still haven't seen the mother ship show itself. But I have watched most of the Night Shift episodes this season.
How are we introduced to Eric?
Eric comes to the hospital with cirrhosis of the liver due to an autoimmune deficiency, but unfortunately he's at the bottom of the donor list. He's a sixth-grade teacher. He's a mature, nice, and together adult. Eric's not struggling with his sexuality. He's got a healthy sensibility about himself. He meets Dr. Kyle Julian and sparks ignite. I'm taping the second episode right now and they still haven't kissed yet.
Well, cirrhosis of the liver isn't the most romantic of platforms!
I'm surprised Kyle would want to touch me in that hospital bed! [Laughs] Eric's not jaundiced or anything, but they did make me look sick. The drama, of course, is the inevitable fact that he will die if he doesn't get a transplant. Being a relatively young, virile guy he's at the bottom of the waiting list. It looks grim.