By Nelson Branco
It's out of fashion to air coming-out storylines because head writers feel the coming-of-age angle has been done to death. However, head writer Ron Carlivati is tackling life in the closet from an adult perspective. In the past, soaps like'One Life'aired the adventures of coming-out with teenagers. So this storyline is interesting because the further you go into the closet as an adult the more damage is done.
SE: I agree. And it becomes more and more difficult to come out and deal with living in the closet as you grow older.
Viewers only recently learned that your characters are gay, yet both of you had to act out an awkward tension between Fish and Kyle for months before we learned they shared a romantic fling back in college. Looking back at your YouTube clips, it appears as if you were playing out that sexual history. [Check out their love story from the beginning here]
When did you find out Fish and Kyle were gay?
BC: The writers knew long before we did. Scott and I --
SE: We envisioned a few scenarios because we didn't necessarily know they were gay or what exactly their history was.
BC: We played out that they shared a mysterious past but neither of us defined exactly what their past was. We didn't share our theories with each other, but we've both come to realize now that we both suspected they could be gay.
Fans had their suspicions that Kish may be romantically linked when Kyle called Fish by his first name, Oliver, who is rarely ever called that on the show.
BC: A lot of our prior scenes are now gaining new weight because their history has been revealed. Before we knew what the story actually was, we purposely chose to focus on the subtleties of their characters.
In hindsight, your first scene together when Kyle and Fish were reintroduced at the gym was ripe with sexual tension.
BC: That wasn't our intention but luckily it worked out that way.
SE: There was a point when Brett and I had to ask our head writer and executive producer what their back-story actually was. When they sat us down and mapped out the storyline it came as a shock but you take what is given to you and your job is to make it realistic and work to the best of your ability.
The characters will share a kiss on August 6. What was it like taping a same-sex smooch?
SE: I don't think it's what people are expecting. The kiss comes from a different place. People will just have to wait and see how it plays out.
Were you guys nervous filming the kiss at all? Did you guys have to go out and get drunk the night before?
SE: From the beginning, Brett and I have been friends. He's extremely easy to work with. Of course, there are nerves, but that happens every day when you come into work. I think we went in with the intent that we're both professionals --
BC: Throughout this entire process I had to confront a lot of my beliefs in my life, in my acting and my career. I came to realize the job of an actor is to tell the truth of a character truthfully. Whatever emotion you're supposed to have, whether it's love, hate, or jealousy, you must honor those emotions. That day wasn't hard for me because Kyle truly loves Fish. While I'm in that character, that's what I portray -- love for Fish, which is where this upcoming kiss originates. The kiss comes from love not passion.
Antonio Banderas once said that it's funny how society will pardon you for killing a man, but condemn you for life for kissing one.
BC: Exactly. As a nation, we've crossed so many social barriers but this is one that has still yet to be universally supported. Whatever I can do through this character and storyline will hopefully inspire and support equality.
Brett, it's been beautiful to see you grow and blossom these last few months as an actor.
BC: It's definitely been a roller coaster these past six months. The journey I have experienced as an actor and as a character has been challenging because it seems every month something changed. [Claywell was originally hired to play a different character, a straight role, Schuyler Joplin, which eventually went to Scott Clifton; subsequently, the show had to create an entirely new character for Claywell at the last minute, since they had already signed him to a contract]. To actually be able to understand who I am playing and having a foundation to build off of has given me a chance to be moved, empathize, and grow. I think that's coming out in my character. Most importantly, this experience has transferred over to my real life. And to be perfectly honest, I can say that I haven't enjoyed working with an actor on a day-to-day basis like I have with Scott, so I think it's all worked out considering I was hired to play an entirely different character. I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I also believe that this character and storyline came to me for a reason at this time in my life. I just hope I can do the story justice. I'm proud to be involved in this important storyline.
Even though Scott is a big diva on the set --
SE: I'm the big diva?! [Laughs.] You're asking me about Brett, right Nelson, and not Brett about me? [Laughs.]
With your luck, Brett, you'll learn Kyle is actually a straight female stripper next month!
BC: [Laughs] We don't need another stripper on our show!