‘General Hospital’ Baddie Coby Ryan McLaughlin on Shiloh’s Mind Games With Sam
Frank Smith. Helena Cassadine. Cesar Faison. General Hospital has been home to many soap baddies over the years.
Shiloh, the top man at local cult Dawn of Day, is well on his way to having a place alongside these dastardly villains. Shiloh’s portrayer, Coby Ryan McLaughlin, mixes charm and manipulation to keep his character two steps ahead of the people he’s trying to manipulate. But drugging and branding (yikes!) Sam (Kelly Monaco) proved to be a step too far. Shiloh paid for that move today when Jason (Steve Burton) knocked him down a spiral staircase!
Is Shiloh headed for a final fall next week – or will he rise and start offering enrichment classes to his next slate of victims? TV Insider chatted with McLaughlin, who offers some insights into the manipulative cult leader and why Shiloh finds Sam so fascinating! Read on to become, er, enlightened.
Sam and Shiloh have been playing this mental chess game with each other. Can you describe their dynamic?
Coby Ryan McLaughlin: Sam and Shiloh are both great con people. These are two people who really know how to run a con. They both have it in for each other. They want to screw each other over. That’s one of things that I really like. You don’t know who’s doing what.
They gave you both nice backstories. Sam was involved in a con with your father. Does Shiloh think that Sam has him figured out?
No. I think he’s completely intrigued in her because he sees a match in her. She’s Shiloh’s match and he thinks that’s why she’s attracted to him. He wants her as a trophy. She’s beautiful, cunning and as Machiavellian as he is. He’s never had someone like that. He also wants to take her down and destroy her.
Did you know how deep this story was going to go when you read for the part?
I had no idea. Even in conversations with Frank [Valentini, executive producer], I really wasn’t let in on anything. What attracted me to playing him was that there’s so much to him. I’d come off playing such a bunch of nice guys. I did know there was so much depth to Shiloh. I remember reading the audition scenes thinking this guy is such a [jerk], but I want to play it as him wanting to be liked, loved, and accepted. He was written like a bad guy, but I thought if I could play the opposite and let the writing tell the story then it’d be great conflict.
The story has unfolded slowly, which mirrors what happens to characters who are drawn into Dawn of Day. By the time they’re in deep, they don’t realize it.
I would. When I was doing some research, I came across this piece from The Atlantic titled ‘Holy, [Expletive], We’re in a Cult!’ You don’t realize it until you’re in it. A former member said it was like popcorn popping. It was so deep and highly manipulative. That’s one of the fun things about Shiloh. He’s thinking ten steps ahead. What’s his ultimate end game? It’s a trip.
If you’ve lived long enough you will know of a friend or someone who has invited someone to a gathering. We’ve seen Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth), Brad (Parry Shen), and Margaux (Elizabeth Hendrickson) step into Dawn of Day, hoping to better their lives.
The thing with Shiloh is that he has something for everyone. Shiloh’s tentacles are far-reaching.
How physically demanding is this role? Do you prefer stunt doubles?
We had a scene where I take a bit of a tumble and I had a stunt guy for that but I really like doing my own. I’ve done fight choreography. I like working with Steve Burton (Jason). He’s in control and it’s like having a great dance partner. My getting thrown off a balcony? [Laughs] I’m too old for that!
It’s fascinating watching Shiloh filing stuff away, watching him make a mental note of someone’s vulnerability. Where is he vulnerable?
He’s got a really big ego and he’s very insecure. He needs to be placated. He needs validation. His need for validation makes him vulnerable. Personally, I always like watching thinking actors. I liked watching people trying to figure something out. I’ve never done anything with so much dialogue. When it looks like Shiloh’s filing something away, sometimes he is. [Laughs] Other times, I’m thinking of my next line of dialogue!
Does he really believe in Dawn of Day?
I talked to Frank about this recently. Does Shiloh really believe what he’s doing or is it all a means to an end to see if he can manipulate everybody? There’s a dichotomy with his guy. That’s why I like playing him. The best guys aren’t completely bad. They’re deeply flawed and have been really hurt. This is how they present themselves and how they try to get ahold of their world. He’s trying to get all the things that he feels were taken away from him. He has visions of grandeur. It’s cool trying to play both sides.
What was your experience on Young and the Restless where you played Andrew, Ashley’s (Eileen Davidson) ally when she was manipulating Jack’s (Peter Bergman’s) paternity tests?
My buddy Erik Valdez (ex-Trey) was on GH for a while. I talked to him when I got Y&R and he said, “The machine moves fast. Have your stuff down.” When you’re a guest on someone’s show I liken it to being a house guest. Clean your dishes and make your bed. That’s how I wanted to be on Y&R. I spent a lot of time learning dialogue. That helped prepare me for GH. Peter and [everyone there] are great. Especially Peter. It’s a trip watching him. He’s got it down pat. What a nice man! Both he and Eileen were both amazing. They made me feel immediately comfortable.
I think even after today’s development Shiloh is not the type of guy to give up.
He likes to think he’s always going to get away with it. It’s like a moving chess board. Opportunities are always presenting themselves. Even when it looks like he’s in trouble, there’s another move. He knows how to move within his world. He’s made it a long time. He’s lived this life for a long time. He’s very smart. He knows people. It’s interesting because he really does believe in the whole Dawn of Day ethos. He believes in everything that he’s saying. It’s one of his tools.
He looks at it as so basic. I had a scene with Steve Burton a few weeks back. Shiloh wanted Jason to hit him, throw him up against the wall. As far as muscle is concerned, yes, these people are threats, but he doesn’t think they’re smarter than he is. Shiloh knows he can’t beat them at their own game so he tries to change the game. He’s trying to play the game on his level.
What else keeps you busy besides GH?
I’m in a band called The Cowboy Killers and we’re playing around town and we’re about to start a record with [producer] Matt Linesch. We’re excited about that. This, the band, and my kid, I’m up to my nose!
General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC