Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing.....GH's
Ron Hale packs a wallop on and off screen.
Soap Opera Update, October 10, 2000
by Laura Debrizzi
Article Provided By Wanda
When we're told to contact General Hospital's Ron Hale (Mike) at 6 a.m. for this feature interview, we assume one of the following scenarios will take place: Hale will either be inaudible or irascible! But surprisingly, the acting veteran - who's been critically hailed for his work in theater, films and television - turns out to have more kick than a Starbuck's double espresso at the first signs of the sun's visible rise. Hale is at once courteous, cheerful and complimentary, despite being in the middle of a hectic move from an apartment in Los Angeles to a home in the legendary Palm Springs (a two-hour commute to the GH studios), where he'll once again enjoy the comforts of a connected community, rooted in "real" people.
"It really is an incredible little village to reside in," praises the actor of his new town. "Just in a matter of weeks from going to restaurants and stores, you're almost on a first-name basis with people...and that's what I needed desperately. I mean in Los Angeles, waiters don't wait - they pose, hoping that you'll cast them in a new series."
This is how Hale answers most questions posed to him - brutally honest and with a fearlessness that most other thespians lack. No matter what the topic - Hollywood politics, network priorities, his GH cohorts - Hale is totally uncensored without ever coming close to being impolite or offensive. However does he do it? Well, Hale is an adopted New Yorker, having initially moved to the Big Apple from the Midwest before he began his days on Ryan's Hope - playing Dr. Roger Coleridge and receiving two Daytime Emmy Award nominations for his work - which made its television debut in 1975. And as a loyal admirer of this metropolis, where the downtrodden walk alongside Wall Street sharks, Hale is adept at eliciting a realness from himself and those in his company. Still, maintaining such candor is not always an easy feat, especially when one situates himself in the center of an industry that sustains itself on hypocrisy - it's called show business.
Hale concedes that he has always maintained the frankness that he now possesses, even asking, "what else is there?" While other actors would think twice about admitting to drinking the occasional cocktail or camouflaging their Marlboro-laced coughs, Hale barely holds back when discussing his vices. "Of course, I censor myself to a point," he concedes "I'm crazy, not stupid! But life is too short not to be yourself."
Like any other facet of Hale's life, he has equally strong opinions on the show that put him on the soap map, and which inherently touched his life as much as it did its viewing constituency. "We (as actors) discovered real fast that the appeal of RH was Claire's (Labine, RH headwriter and creator) writing and its reality," surmises the handsome actor. The fact that RH's durability has been proven when watchers find themselves once again rooting for the show when it's replayed on SoapNet, registers only one response from Hale: "Good stuff holds up, doesn't it?"
That same "good stuff" permeates throughout GH, especially the scenes Hale shares with on-screen son Maurice Benard (Sonny). "I couldn't be happier with the way my life has gone since I've been on GH," he says enthusiastically. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world! I'm working with Maurice, who is one of the most wonderful, dedicated actors."
And despite winning the praise of critics and co-stars alike, Hale opted to eliminate his name from last year's Emmy ballot because, as he says, "I don't think that my mere presence (in a scene) means I should submit something for a nomination. If there were a month or two-month period, where I felt that my character was truly affecting Sonny or whatever, and we had some kick-ass scenes, then I could truthfully say to myself, "here's some work that may be considered above and beyond the call by the Blue Ribbon panel."
Hale also sews himself an original uniform for those special street encounters. Refusing to mimic the phoniness of some other celebrities, Hale greets fans with nothing less than his trademark grin. "I treat everybody alike," he says simply. "C'mon, this is a wonderful thing to have strangers coming up to you and paying you compliments! You say, 'Thank you.'"
Yes, it's true: Hale is really a good guy who is just now starting to accustom himself - perhaps begrudgingly - to a more pampered lifestyle. "Oh please!" he jokes in a mock superior voice when asked if his new digs include a Jacuzzi. "It's right in the pool, make myself a little cocktail, get in the Jacuzzi, then watch the sun going down over the mountains, and say, 'This is what I worked for most of my life'" Ah how sweet it is!
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