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All Things 'Nuke'

All Things 'Nuke'


As the World Turns finally gives gay fans what they want -- Luke and Noah, together at last.

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

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.

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.

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]

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