The Ties That Bind

As the World Turns 's Van Hansis (Luke) and Paolo Seganti (Damian) play daytime's estranged father and gay son. Now they are learning to trust and accept each other. But will it last?

BY Michael Fairman

June 08 2009 12:00 AM ET

VAN HANSIS AND PAOLO SERGANTI ATWT (PROMO)

Paolo, do you like the story of the reconciliation between father and son and the pacing of the story of Luke and Damian?Seganti: Yeah, it's great. One of the reasons I came back to ATWT this time -- besides the fact that I am closer to my home in L.A. and my family -- is that I can work with Van again. One of the reasons I came back a few years ago was because I was so intrigued with the story line. At that time, it was very real and predictable for a guy who grew up in Europe with Damian's background to react that way to Luke being gay. I am a father in real life, so it's cool this time how we are playing this out.

A few years ago it was Damian who sent Luke to a deprogramming camp for teenage boys to turn them from gay to straight. Looking back on that, how do you feel about that plot point?Hansis: I thought that was a great story, and I thought it was an intriguing twist. I remember I visited some websites where this happens to people ... a kid comes out and a parent does not accept them, and the parents think they can do something and he will change.

Back then; Damian really thought he was doing the best thing for his son?Seganti: It's not that you don't love your kid. You do. But then, you have to love your son and accept him the way he is, and try to support him the best way you can. His first reaction is a bit of a shock. Damian grew up in a very conservative country and had a strict upbringing. I thought it was fine that we went in that direction back then. Coming back now and being able to play the difference that he is accepting who his son really is, is wonderful.

Has Damian really accepted his son's sexuality?Seganti: Yes, he has.

Does Luke feel that?Hansis: Luke feels that. I think some things we are taping that won't air for a couple of months illustrate that Damian understands Luke more than anybody else. I can't get into it more than that. But Luke is going to go through some major decisions in his life. Everyone is telling him what to do, but Damian is the only one who asks him what he wants to do. So there is a connection between the two, and they are trying to put the past behind them. I think that's what makes it such an interesting story. It's an estranged father and a son trying to make their relationship work.

That what's resonating with the audience, and that's a real issue that is represented on-screen. What was the turning point for Luke, when he let his dad back into his life?Hansis: I think after all the stuff happened with Zac and Zoe ... the crazy pseudo-twins. I think when Damian saved Luke and Noah's lives, and then started helping out with Luke's foundation, he proved to Luke he is trying to change. I have a couple of friends whose fathers left them when they were very young and abandoned the family. Growing up, what does that do to somebody? Even though Luke has Holden, Damian is his blood. He wants a connection with that, like anybody would.

Holden has always been Luke's "father." How does Damian feel now about his rival?Seganti: It's always been a tough road there, because Damian has always been deeply rooted with Lily [Luke's mother]. He is not going there now, because it would jeopardize all the work he has done to get closer to Luke again. And he does not want to lose Luke's trust, and that's the main thing Damian wants ... to rebuild the relationship with his son and take his time. But Damian is still very much in love with Lily. Holden has always been his archrival. He took Damian's place. Damian was kicked out in the old days and it was not his choice. He fought to have custody of Luke and he lost it. He had no choice in the matter. He does not hate Holden; he is just the guy between him and his rightful wife and son. Damian is letting dogs sleep for now, but he is so connected with Lily, and inside he would love to form a family again. But he is not there yet ... so, one step at a time.

Tags: television

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