The Ties That Bind

Y&R 's John Driscoll talks about playing the son of a gay father, his character's sexuality, and being part of one of daytime's royal families.

BY Michael Fairman

July 30 2009 11:00 PM ET

THOM BIERDZ AND JOHN DRISCOLL X390 LONG (JPI STUDIOS) / advocate.com

But then, for a twist of fate, you may not have been with us today! When the car blew up in Guiding Light, they taped the scenes in reverse order, because of the severe weather Peapack [N.J.] had been having. They could not get everything when they needed to, and thankfully enough, it did happen this way. I was supposed to leave to go overseas on my initial flight on US Airways by flying into Charlotte, N.C., and that flight was the one that went into the Hudson River. So when this whole thing came about and the weather became bad and we could not shoot our scenes, I had to move the date back. I could have been on that flight that crashed into the Hudson River! Someone was looking out for me that day.

Did you have to audition for the role? I put my audition on tape, and it was shown to Y&R. Their first reaction was "No ... good actor, but he is not what we are looking for." But they were gracious enough to let me do it again. This time they said, "That's what we were looking for. Can you come out here?" So I bought a ticket and flew out to L.A. I did the reading and they said, "John, thanks for coming out, and have a safe flight back." That was it, and they did not say anything to me. Meanwhile, I thought, Did I just bomb this audition? I flew back to New York and waited through the whole weekend, and they called Tuesday morning and said, "Congratulations, you got the job."

Did you realize you were a Chancellor and what that meant on Y&R ? No. They did not tell me and did not give me anything. I am finding Y&R is very secretive. They don't want any of their story lines to leak early. They tell really good story lines, and they catch people off-guard all the time. So, literally, I heard "Chancellor" and then I read the script. I did not realize there were Phillip Chancellor III and Phillip Chancellor IV. I look at the material and I go, "Wow, I feel I am way too young to be playing this role." I am looking at the material for the guy who plays my father, and I call them up and I go, "Did I miss something here? Did you guys not cast this role age-appropriate?" They said, "No, no, no. Keep reading. Your name is Chance. You are Phillip IV, but you are going to go by Chance." Then it made sense. They finally spilled that. Then when I got to the set they explained more -- what was happening and whom I was related to. Immediately, I was like, "Wow, that is one hell of a cast of actors I am working with!"

Your debut on Y&R was so highly anticipated. There were online rumors and reports about if your character was going to be gay or straight. Were you aware of this? Yes. I was trying to do some homework before I started, and one of the websites said there might be a budding relationship between Mac, Chloe, and Rafe. And I said, "Rafe? What? That does not sound like a female's name. This character has been gone such a long time they don't know what his affiliation is. Is he gay? Is he straight? What's the deal?" I thought, You know what? If it's going to play that way, that's OK. As an actor, you are always looking for the next challenge. I don't find anything taboo behind it. I have played a gay character before on a short-lived show called The Book of Daniel with Aidan Quinn and Ellen Burstyn on NBC. I actually worked opposite Christian Campbell, formerly of All My Children, where he played Bobby Warner. We had this romance on the show, and if the show had not been canceled, you would have seen the budding relationship between our two characters. It was really funny doing double duty while I was doing Guiding Light. So during the day I was having bedroom sexual scenes with a female, and then at night on set in bed with a man. It was crazy. I needed a couple of drinks! [ Laughs ]

As an actor in this day and age, do you still find a stigma attached to a straight actor taking on a gay role, and that it could ruin your career? It certainly didn't for Sean Penn . If you look back at the classics, you had a lot of gay actors playing straight men, and a lot of times they kept it very secret. You had women swooning over these guys, and they just kept it a secret. But nowadays it's cool, and who cares? If you can pull it off as an actor and make it work, more power to you.

Can we at this point say that Chance is straight? At this point, yes.

Tags: television

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