All Things 'Nuke'

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com February 03 2009 12:00 AM ET

As daytime
television’s only gay male couple, Luke and Noah of
As the World Turns, Van Hansis and Jake
Silbermann have garnered much media attention for their
portrayal of two young gays in love. Having just
received another GLAAD Media Award nomination for best
daytime drama series, 2009 looks to be another banner
year for the show, and the duo.

Just a few weeks
ago, gay fans got what they've been waiting more than a
year for -- on the January 12 episode, Luke and Noah (better
known to ATWT fans as "Nuke") finally had sex for
the first time. The big day was met with controversy all
over the Internet -- from soap pundits to mainstream
journalists, many questioned the lack of
promotion for the long-awaited moment from
the powers-that-be at ATWT and Procter &
Gamble (the show’s sponsor). Still, when the time
finally came, Nuke fans were thrilled.

The couple made
history back in August 2007 with the first on-screen kiss
between two gay characters on a daytime soap. Subsequently,
footage of the kiss logged over 2 million hits on
YouTube and became one of the site's most viewed
clips. But fans eager to see more became baffled and
outraged as the characters' relationship seemed to stall --
limited airtime for several months led to fear of a
gay kissing ban levied by the network and P&G.
Following viewer backlash, Nuke at last kissed again
in April 2008 -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

Advocate.com
caught up with Hansis and Silbermann to discuss all things
Nuke.

Advocate.com:Now that it's finally aired, howdo you think Nuke's first sex scene played out?Hansis: I think it was a natural progression
for the characters at this point to sleep together. I think
it’s a good thing that they did. The time was
right. It is important to show that they take it
seriously. I am glad the fans are so happy because that is
the most important thing.Silbermann: I really liked the way the show
handled it by not really having it with bells and whistles
and fanfare…Hansis: Also, it was exciting for the fans not
to have any “spoilers” on it, because I know
there was a big fan group waiting for this moment. In
this day and age, to keep that a secret is pretty
cool. I think the fans enjoyed being surprised and shocked.

Their passion seemed to ignite out of an
impassioned argument, as they had been broken up for
some time.
Silbermann: They weren’t really mad at each
other. They really wanted to be together. So I think it was
one of those heartfelt moments of what they were
trying to say, and the action came out of it.

It’s important that gay romance receives
fair cultural representation on television. Do
you feel a responsibility in portraying these roles?
Silbermann: The most important thing is that
it’s a story for people who felt unrepresented on our
show, or any show.Hansis: One of the most important things in the
daytime medium, in portraying a couple long-term, is to give
a voice to people who had not had a voice. Also, to
show people who are not gay or who don’t have a
personal connection to the story. They can form an
empathetic connection to these characters. It helps people
in that way.

Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann LUKE AND NOAH NUKE EMMYS X390 (GETTY) |ADVOCATE.COM
 

Do you talk amongst yourselves about the impact you
have made with these roles?
Silbermann: To be honest, I forget. But with
the letters I receive from fans, it does remind you.Hansis: Sometimes something will happen and it
will become a smack in the face, in a good way. We’ll
go, “We are making a difference, and this is
really cool, and something we both believe in.”
I think in our day-to-day lives, when we are taking out
trash or ordering food, we are not like, “How
cool!”

A powerful story line just ended on ATWT involving
Lucinda, Luke’s grandmother, and her
marriage to Brian, who was a closeted gay man. The story
involved deception on the part of Luke and Brian.
Are Luke and Lucinda going to reach an understanding?
Hansis: I think it might be more of Lucinda who
has to come to terms. Lucinda knows it’s not
Luke’s fault, and she felt hurt and betrayed by
Brian. I think Lucinda loves her grandson, and in the
end has his best interest in her heart.

Laurence Lau (Brian) gave such a wonderful
performance in his final scenes when he finally admitted
out loud that he was gay. What did you think of
Larry’s work?
Hansis: I think Larry is a fantastic actor!
Every day he would go in and find his character’s
truth and make it as real as possible. I think his
work in this story line was phenomenal!

Nuke fans will be thrilled to know that coming up
on February 11 a new story line kicks off involving the
two of you as amateur detectives following another
character's death. What can you tell us?
Silbermann: I don’t think anyone is an
amateur detective for long on a soap. You become a deputy
with a badge…Hansis: Seriously, yeah. I think all the
detectives on soaps are amateur detectives, even if they
have their badge.

What’s going to go down? Luke will be the
impulsive one, yet again?
Hansis: Yes, and it kind of carries through
what happened from the election story line. Noah is the
rational one, and Luke is the impulsive one.
It’s the whole "opposites attract" thing. In
the upcoming story line, someone Luke knows dies and he gets
all upset.

Is Luke still drinking?Hansis: No, that’s over with…for now!Silbermann: Luke gets really emotional and does
not think things through. Noah thinks about things too much,
I think. They are not fighting each other. They are on
the same side, but they have different points of view.Hansis: I also think Luke takes a stance where
it puts him in danger, and Noah is kind of protective. It
involves the whole younger cast of the show.
It’s fun to watch Luke and Noah branch out and
spend more time with these characters and be in the
mix. 

 Cyndi Lauper Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann LUKE AND NOAH NUKE X390 (CBS) |ADVOCATE.COM

Paolo Seganti is returning to the show in late
March as Damian, Luke’s dad. How do you feel
about his return?
Hansis: I am incredibly excited about that. I
have been telling Jake about it since I knew he was coming
back. Paolo is an awesome guy, and I think it’s
going to be so much fun to have him back.Silbermann: He has been building him up in my
mind for so long that I am ready to meet this guy!

Last time out, Damian tried to "deprogram" Luke by
sending him off to some school that tried
to turn gay boys straight. Do you think this time
Damian will be struggling with Luke’s sexuality?
Hansis: I think so. I assume Damian will have
something to do with Luke and Noah. He has never met Noah. I
don’t know if he knows about Luke and him.
Perhaps he got an e-mail from Lily (Luke's mom),
off-camera.

When the two of you work together, are there
emotions that are harder for you guys to pull off in
scenes together?
Silbermann: It’s all a breeze. [Laughs]Hansis: When you are working together on a soap
you don’t have too much time to try different
approaches, which is why I like working with Jake. He
will just roll with it. Honestly, some of the
trickiest stuff is when I have dialogue about medical or
political issues.

Jake, give me your thoughts on working with Van?Silbermann: I feel incredibly lucky to work with him.
He is an actor who has no ego, and he is willing to
try different things. He and I speak the same language
when it comes to working together. I look forward to
coming to work. I don’t think this would have worked
for so long if we did not enjoy each other’s
company.

Jake, when you found out Van was going to be your
love interest on the show, what were your thoughts?
Silbermann: The first time I met Van was at the
GLAAD awards a few years ago. I had just gotten the part a
week prior, and now I am walking down the red carpet.
It was lucky we had these "out of studio" chances to
get to know each other, like the GLAAD awards, where I
was such a deer in headlights. I was dazed with all
the paparazzi. I grabbed onto Van’s coattails!

Van, your thoughts on working with Jake?Hansis: It’s an honor to have someone I trust
fully and completely. In a scene with Jake, I know that
anything I do won’t be judged, and I feel a
freedom with him. I think Jake made an amazing point.
If you are working with someone you don’t like, or do
not feel a connection to outside of work, just as
friends, it makes it a lot harder. Going to work is
then a blast, because I know I am going to be there
with one of my best friends having a good time.

 Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann LUKE AND NOAH NUKE X390 (screen grab kiss) |ADVOCATE.COM

So do you guys hang out together and do stuff
off-set in your personal lives?
Silbermann: I just get sick of him; I can’t
bear the thought of him [laughs]. Like the other
weekend, we saw a terrible movie together!Hansis: The worst movie!Silbermann: The Unborn, because we like scary
movies. I said to Van when we left the film, “Whoever
designed the preview for that movie deserves an
award!”Hansis: Because the preview looks
terrifying, so we said, “Let’s go see
that. It looks terrifying."Silbermann: Van is a little more into them.Hansis: Yeah, I like horror films, but Jake has
great taste in movies, better than mine. I watch a lot of
stupid crap.

ATWTwon the GLAAD Media Award last year for best
daytime drama series and is nominated again this
year. You have both appeared at the awards before.
What was your “take-away” from that experience?
Silbermann: I thought it was a great
experience, both moving and inspirational. It made me feel
proud to be a part of the story line and being
involved in a movement.Hansis: It was one of those times you felt
bigger than yourself, and part of something that is really
important and really necessary.

Did it give you a deeper understanding of the LGBT
community and the importance of its positive portrayal
in the media?
Hansis: I think hearing how your work affects
people is the thing that really affects me the most. I think
it’s not often, as an actor, you get a gift to
really make a difference. We were given this
opportunity to help make a difference, and hearing back
numerous times from people who have had their lives changed
by what we do is really sobering.

Last year Noah had so many self-induced dilemmas
that kept him separated from his true love, Luke. Many
fans felt that the show was not committed to
telling the gay love story, when in truth it was
just the opposite. What were your thoughts on this?
Silbermann: You can’t have it all be peaches
and cream. They need to be together and break apart and come
back together. Fans say they want it to be easy, but
it can’t be easy. It’s the nature of
soap operas, and they are treating us in that respect as
much a soap couple as they can.

So guys, give me a good teaser for what to look
forward to from Nuke in February?
Hansis: We are on air!Silbermann: I think they are going to see
togetherness between the two…and teamwork. They will
be acting as a duo for an extended period of time,
which they haven’t had the chance to do previously.Hansis: Yes. Right now, Luke and Noah are
working as a unit. I don’t know how long they will be
together and happy, because from what we have been
taping, it’s been a month or so, so you know
what that means? [Laughs]