‘General Hospital’ Nicholas Alexander Chavez on a Spencer-Britt Pairing & Working With Maura West

Nicholas Chavez
ABC/Nick Argo

Nicholas Alexander Chavez became an instant fan favorite when he debuted last summer as Spencer Cassadine on ABC‘s General Hospital. The show has thrown the young actor into the deep end, putting him in scenes opposite daytime veterans including Maura West (Ava), Maurice Benard (Sonny), and Genie Francis (Laura). Recently, Spencer’s role in stalking Ava was revealed; now, he’s facing legal repercussions. While now out on bail, Spencer’s taken a job at Kelly’s Diner. Watch for the Cassadine heir to hear something shocking in the Friday, October 29 episode.

TV Insider chatted with Chavez about his acting background, his love of chess, that Internet speculation that he could be paired with Dr. Britt Westbourne (Kelly Thiebaud), and what it’s like going head-to-head with the three-time Daytime Emmy-winning West. Read on for the scoop!

You look like you’re having a lot of fun with this role. Are you?

Nicholas Alexander Chavez: I’m having a real blast. It’s been incredible in every single aspect, from how welcoming the cast and crew has been to walking into a well-developed storyline and working with such generous directors who have such wonderful ideas on how to bring this to life. Every aspect has been wonderful.

GH appears to be your first TV credit. What had you done before coming to daytime?

I mostly did theater. I did all theater, actually. I did some productions in high school and after that I went to an acting conservatory in New Jersey for a few years. Since then, I’ve done some projects. This is my first big deal. I try to keep that theater training at the forefront. It’s easy to do that with GH because of the way that we block and tape. Some aspects are, of course, specific to TV, but for the most part you can definitely find similarities between the way theater is staged and GH is staged.

ABC/Nick Argo

Did you study camera technique or have you relied on helpful costars for help on that?

More the latter. It is mostly a ‘sink or swim’ and ‘learn as you go’ kind of environment. That’s one of the best ways to learn. Ultimately, I’m thankful they let me learn that way and trusted that I’d learn quickly.

Spencer’s got a lot of history — he was burned when he was a child. His mother Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) died. He thought his father Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) was dead for a few years. Who brought you up to speed on all the backstory?

It was a combination. I watched plenty of scenes and did my own research on the character and the backstory. One of the most beneficial things was having an hour-long call with Elizabeth [Korte, GH writer]. She filled me in on the nuts and bolts on what’s been happening on GH for the last 50 years. It was great to get an understanding with what’s been happening.

You’ve captured Spencer’s regality, his sense of privilege.

I think that it’s imbued in Spencer. It comes with him being a prince and being from a wealthy family. He’s never had to get a blue-collar job like the one he now has at Kelly’s. That regality from Spencer’s point of view is substituted for what he really wants — which is to have genuine connections with people. He’d way rather be able to relate to people on a personal level — like Cameron [William Lipton] and Joss [Eden McCoy] do.

Spencer did do some bad stuff but viewers love a great redemption story.

Yes. My acting coach, Holly Gagnier [ex-Ivy, Days of our Lives; ex-Jennifer, GH] and I talk about this all the time. We talk about how Spencer becomes his ‘best self’ whenever he’s around Trina [Sydney Mikayla]. That is due to a lot of different factors. The first time Trina met Spencer, she liked him and that wasn’t because of his money or his status — she didn’t know who he was. That gave him a confidence boost.

Also, Trina has given Spencer advice that he couldn’t get anywhere else. She gives it to him straight. Nobody else really does that. And there’s a deep, deep physical attraction, too. Spencer thinks Trina is pretty and he wants to impress her. It’s a combination of those three major things and a lot of other stuff.

You’re an avid chess player. How did you get started?

My dad taught me when I was four years old. We would play every morning before school. [Laughs] We started playing less when I started beating him! We still play sometimes when I go home to visit. It’s been a great way to bond with my dad. My stepmom plays, too. There are quite a few chess players on set — Genie Francis is a great player and so is Marcus. He and I play between five and ten hours of chess a week. It’s our part-time job.

Spencer’s had a few scenes by the pool with his dad’s ex, Britt, played by Kelly Thiebaud. Have you read the online speculation that Spencer could be paired with Britt who has known him since he was a child? It’s so wrong, but…

Yeah, sure, of course. I think what makes a soap so great is that anything is possible. Anything can happen at any time. I think that the Britt thing [with Spencer] would be actually very, very interesting. She is a motherly figure to Spencer and Spencer never had a mother. There would be a deep Freudian aspect to that relationship. It could make for some compelling television.

Kelly Thiebaud as Britt (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Okay, if GH hires you to write for the show, I’ll take a cut for asking you that question. Speaking of mother figures, Spencer’s recent scenes with stepmother Ava have been intense and there’s likely more to come.

Anytime you have the opportunity to act with someone like Maura West, you do your homework and you make sure you’re ready. You practice and you make sure that you relax and have fun. You’re also taking it as a learning experience. And you’re also just trying to live in the present moment. There are a lot of things happening at once. Ultimately, it’s very intense. Maura brings it and she’s a very generous actor. She’s very expressive. Maura’s also the kind of actress who has a million different ideas. I wish we got more than one take because it would be so fun to a play our scenes a million different ways.

General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC