Last week on General Hospital, which airs at 2pm PST on Riverside’s KABC channel 7, Joey Bruschetta, Anthony Zacharra’s henchman and one of the kidnappers of Elizabeth and Maxie, took a fatal bullet from Johnny Zacharra, bringing an end to his reign of terror. Before his demise, however, he also took a surprising knockout punch from none other than Damian Spinelli. Could Spinelli, perhaps, be seeking revenge for his own previous kidnapping by this career criminal? Wait, you say, when did Spinelli get kidnapped by Joey? Well, he didn’t. Not exactly.
You see, James Logan, Joey’s portrayer, may have ended up in the Port Charles morgue, but this isn’t his first visit to the fictional city – or the PC morgue – nor is it going to be his last.
To explain, Logan sat down with me on Wednesday to cover his former, latest and soon-to-be visits (he’s doubling for someone who explodes??) to Port Chuckles. Big emphasis on the chuckles. Definitely not one for serious responses when giving an interview, readers will have to decide what’s real and what’s not when you’re dealing with the mind of James Logan.
So James, your time as Joey came to an abrupt end, but fans may not realize that this isn’t your first visit to General Hospital. Tell us about your other appearances in Port Charles, and was Joey the biggest part you’ve had on the show thus far?
Actually, my first job on General Hospital was as a stunt person, doubling A Martinez. Soon after, I doubled the kid who I think played his son. Then, I introduced Hannah (Lisa Vultaggio) to Sonny by stealing her purse. Sonny thanked me by pummeling me senseless on the dock. Over the years, I have hit the ground for many of the citizens of Port Charles.
I destroyed someone’s motorcycle shop. Actually, that was on the spin off Port Charles, so that doesn’t count. Got beat up for that, too. Deserved it, some would argue.
My biggest gig before Joey was Pedro, Alcazar’s henchman. Pedro kidnapped… wait for it… Spinelli! That’s right. I have been a thorn in Spinelli’s side ever since he got to town. But what nobody knows (including the writers of the show apparently) is Pedro actually changed his name to Joey Bruschetta in jail. It was all an extremely complicated series of unwritten, shot or aired flashbacks and sub-plots, but it happened. Maybe.
Any crazy stories about working on the General Hospital set over the years?
Well, I think the craziest thing that ever happened on the show is the time a black bear snuck onto the sound stage and attacked the crew. That was wild. Maurice (Sonny) and Bruce Weitz (Anthony Zacharra) tackled it and held it down while I bound its claws with bailing wire. Good times.
No, I kid. I made that up. The General Hospital stages have an amazing vibe. Everybody is friendly because they’ve been putting up with each other for thirty some-odd years. It really is a family there, and to be welcomed and recognized by them is a great feeling. To hear them call your name over the loudspeaker, and not have it preceded by ‘Be on the lookout for…’ is a thrill that I will never tire of.
But crazy stories… not that I’ve witnessed. They run a pretty tight ship over there. Aside from that one unreported hostage crisis and the knife fight between those animal wranglers, I can’t think of anything.
So this go around, what was it like working with the fantastic Bruce Weitz?
You just said it. Fantastic. I gotta tell you, when dropped into this kind of sink or swim lion’s den, it’s always a relief to land next to a guy like him. This was my first time working with Bruce, who insisted on being called ‘Commander Weitz’, which I found a little odd. No, but he does what he does with such aplomb, he’s just a blast to work with (if you can call it work). He would add little gems to the scene, and as an actor, you either keep up or stand there looking confused. That was where a lot of Joey’s ‘deer in headlights’ moments originated, but not all of them. I tried to play it off as a character choice.
You interacted with a lot of different cast members while playing Joey. What’s it like being the “new guy” with such a close ensemble cast?
There was some friendly hazing, I’ll call it that. Like when Brandon Barash offered me a donut but handed me a bagel instead. Classic. Or when ‘someone’ (Bradford) glued the door to my dressing room shut. That was a good one. Or when the entire cast slashed my tires and carved ‘Never Come Back Here Jerkface’ into the hood of my rental car. That one kind of stung, actually.
Being thrust upon an ensemble cast can be intimidating, but not for me. I have a rule. When placed in that kind of situation, be it joining a new cast or first meeting your peers in the prison yard, I always pick the biggest threat I can find, walk straight up to them, and karate chop them in the neck…Needless to say, Kirsten Storms beat me within an inch of my life. I didn’t land a single blow. She’s surprisingly quick!
Who did you enjoy working with the most this time around?
Bradford’s just an all around solid guy. Does he play with loaded weapons too much? Yes, he does. But who doesn’t? Does he berate and humiliate his pet Armadillo Larry? Of course! But why else have one? Again, I’m kidding. The guy’s a super good time, easy to work with and he was spot on with all of the physical action. Nothing if not a class act. But it wasn’t him.
Joey was sprayed in the face with mace, chased people, got knocked out AND shot! Quite a lot for just a few days! Since you are an accomplished stunt person, did you choreograph the sequences, like Spinelli punching Joey, as well as act them out?
Not me. You can thank/blame stunt coordinator Tim Davison for all the action that occurs in Port Charles. He’s been their stunt coordinator for going on something like 84 years now. In fact, he’s the only reason we’re talking, because he first hired me on General Hospital for a stunt job, then introduced me to Gwen Hillier in casting to play a mugger. Luckily, she’s always seen me as more than a stuntman.
You have worked on some major, big-budget films, both acting and doing stunts, like The Expendables, The Mechanic and Kill Bill, as well as hit television shows like Showtime’s Dexter, NCIS, and Justified. How does working on film, episodic TV and soaps compare, and is there one medium you like over the other?
Well, as a stuntman, I have to say I prefer working on big budget films like The Expendables or The Mechanic because I’ll sometimes get to go from one big stunt gag to the next and often end up drunk and face down in a gutter lying in a pool of Jason Statham’s vomit.
As an actor, I prefer television, like Justified or The Cape, because there’s a little more room to try something different. And, seeing as though all I ever do on television are small co-star roles, nobody seems to care if I’m too hopped up on Red Bull and licorice to remember where I’m supposed to stand.
As a glutton for punishment, though, I prefer soaps. I honestly have no idea how these actors do this on a daily basis. I would not be surprised to one day discover they are all robots from the planet Krondor. Don’t get me wrong, I love the work, but it can be crazy stressful if you’re not prepared, and it is turn and burn up in this mother. One and done. You get to block the scene and maybe get a splash of direction, if you do something wrong. It’s hardcore. If you get a job on this show, you better bring your ‘A’ game. And while you’re at it, see if you can find mine. I seem to have lost it.
So you work as a stunt man and an actor. Do you like the mixture or would you prefer transitioning strictly to one or the other?
Directors often will hire me because I do my own stunts, and stunt coordinators often hire me because I can act, so a lot of the work I land falls into the middle there. And I’m lucky for it. I would hate to have to compete with the rest of the actors in LA based on my acting chops alone. I love my niche`. But really I see myself as a stuntman who acts more than an actor who does stunts. I can’t envision a day where I’m not doing stunts, but as every stuntman knows, that day is out there somewhere. Unless you’re Judo Gene Labell, who’ll be 80 in October and is still hitting the ground.
You clearly have a look that makes it easy to cast you as the villain. Do you enjoy playing the bad guys?
Thanks. Thanks a yahoo. I seem to play villains exclusively. Casting directors take one look at me and reach for the sky. There was a period of time there when I was the go-to purse snatcher in this town. I stole Tori Spelling’s purse on senior skip day on Beverly Hills 90210, then on GH as mentioned earlier, then in a commercial, then in an alley in Van Nuys, but I digress.
I can honestly say it was as much fun for me playing a Bank Robber on No Ordinary Family as it was playing the Rapist on Harry’s Law. Wait, those are both villains, huh? Okay, I lied. Playing the villain is much more fun. But it’s all the same to me. I just love to work. Period. I don’t care if I’m playing Mother Teresa or if I’m playing Michael Vick, a job’s a job.
So I hear we’re going to see you in Port Charles again. Or maybe we won’t exactly see you?
I’ll have you know, I am answering these questions from my dressing room on the set of General Hospital. That’s right! I’m back. I know what you’re thinking…Is Joey Bruschetta back from the grave? Was he cloned? Does he have an even more evil twin brother? Will Pedro return to avenge his doppelganger’s murder? Or was Lucky too wasted to properly check Joey’s vital signs? (I’m dead serious about this last one! Writers? Are you listening?)
Okay, actually, it is none of those things. Today I’m here strictly as a stuntman, here to double… maybe I shouldn’t say. But I’ll give you a hint…
Where can fans see you next?
Although I am nowhere to be seen in it, I just directed it and spent the last six months editing and cranking out the visual effects for my new short film ‘Terminator: Termination’. And by the time you read this, it will be posted online with literally dozens of hits. Dozens, I say. Check it out for some laughs.
After I finished playing Joey, Tim Davison hired me on American Horror Story to play the small but pivotal role of Violent Crackhead #3 in episode #3. Spooky coinkidink, if you ask me.
I just shot a Got Milk commercial, where I play the last caveman on the right. I got my finger’s crossed I’m even in it by the time it airs. Commercials are a cut-throat crap-shoot. You just never know. Then, in a huge stretch from my previous body of work, I’ll be on Body of Proof playing, you guessed it, Violent Crackhead #3. I am so not kidding.
Wait! That’s my name. Are those Angels I hear, serenading me? Is that the voice of God, then, giving me a shout out? No. It’s the General Hospital Stage Manager, calling me upstairs. Close enough.
Big thank you to James for taking time out of his busy exploding schedule to do this interview. Readers, definitely do check out the hilarious Terminator: Termination, which is now on YouTube.
You can find out more about James on his official website, follow him on Twitter @JamesLogansRun (the best Twitter handle ever, if you’re over the age of 40) and see his full body of work on IMDB.
Follow Rene’ on Twitter @soapreporter