Exclusive Interview: General Hospital’s Robert Palmer Watkins

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robert palmer watkins general hospital interview

General Hospital’s William deVry (Julian Jerome), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante Falconeri) and Robert Palmer Watkins (Dillon Quartermaine) were in Toronto this past weekend to help raise money and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

Watkins opens up about how he came to join GH last year as Dillon, his character’s budding romance with Kiki (Hayley Erin) and learning from the Jane Elliot (Tracy).

You’ve been in the role of Dillon for a little over a year now, what was the casting process like?
It was definitely a process. I went in to see Mark Teschner who is our casting director probably three years ago for a different role. It was actually for Morgan, which Bryan Craig got. I just wasn’t right for it. A couple of years went by and my manager got me in to meet for a different role and it went really well. Mark said he’d call me back. I was super excited but then didn’t hear from him for like eight months! They finally called me back and things then moved pretty quickly from there. They had me waiting for about a year. So yeah, it was a process for sure!

robert palmer watkins general hospital interview

You get to play Jane Elliot’s son. What’s that like? She’s a daytime legend.
She’s amazing. She’s such a ballbuster. She’s similar to the character that she plays on TV but she’s a sweetheart. People are always asking me if she’s hard on me because seems like such a hard-ass. [Laughs] And she is – which is what makes her so awesome. She’s a New Yorker but at the end of the day, she’s a really sweet person and has a great heart. She doesn’t bullshit anybody. She’s real. So when she gives you a compliment, you really take it to heart because she’s not full of fluff or false flattery. She’s just very honest and real with people. It’s been really good to work with her. I’ve learned a lot from her.

Dillon’s a member of the Quartermaine family. Is there pressure to be part of that soap dynasty? Sadly there aren’t many Qs around. When you were cast as Dillon it was like a breath of fresh air because it felt like they were finally ready to re-invest in this family a bit more.
Yes, totally. It’s been amazing [playing a Q]. This past year, they’ve upped the story with the Quartermaines. The one thing that I consistently hear is that fans would love to see more of the Quartermaines. We’ve got Monica (Leslie Charleson) and Tracy and that whole family history. We’ve also got Jason (Billy Miller), whose memory is starting to come back. There are so many good potential stories for this family. They recently brought Ned (Wally Kurth) back and I hope they keep that up. Soaps can get carried away with these crazy storylines but what people really care about, I think, are the basics: The relationships and the family bonding moments. People love the Quartermaine Thanksgiving. Those are the moments that are real and what people connect with. I hope they keep those moments coming.

robert palmer watkins general hospital interview

“Killon” was an unexpected treat.
With a couple name like that, how can it not work? Killon! That’s pretty awesome. They call that the ship name. When I first got on the show, I was like “What does ship mean?” Because I kept hearing fans say they shipped me with Lulu (Emme Rylan). “Ship us where?” I now ship Killon very much.

You didn’t play Dillon when “Dilu” was a big thing. Was it cool to already have this fanbase for your character and that pairing when you first came on?
Being a recast is always a little bit tricky because the fans always love the person before you and Scott Clifton is an amazing actor. Thankfully, Scott is on The Bold and the Beautiful right now [as Liam], so I had the opportunity to audition for this role. He did a really great job at laying the foundation for Dillon. He brought a lot of humour to the role. The way he played him was very smart. But the character was also much younger at the time, so I think it made sense for a new actor to step into the role. It had been eight years. Dillon would be different now. He’d be older and more mature. I think about my life and how I’m different now than who I was eight years ago. So, I think the fans were more willing to accept a recast now than they would have been a day after he [Clifton] had left. It was good coming in and playing Dillon with Scott laying such a ground for the character. There was a lot of history there. I was able to look back and see what he did but yet still make the role my own.

robert palmer watkins general hospital interview

The pairing with Kiki is a fresh slate for Dillon. We just saw him step back when Morgan came back last week, but Dillon’s not really over her, is it?
I’m really rooting for Dillon to find some love. He’s had a bad year with that back and forth between Lulu and Valerie (Brytni Sarpy) and then it seemed like there could have been something between him and Maxie (Kirsten Storms) but that didn’t happen. I think it’s time. He’s ready for love. I think Kiki is looking for somebody who is going to treat her good and I think that Dillon would treat her good. When we screen-tested, we that first scene together to see if we had chemistry… and we did! So then they started teasing the audience with a potential relationship but then Morgan got released, so now Kiki’s still in love with Morgan. There’s going to be a love triangle and Dillon is going to have to fight for Kiki. I’m not sure how it will play out, to be honest… I’m still shooting episodes where there’s a back and forth. What we’re filming now are scenes where Kiki’s still on the fence. She’s still in love with Morgan but she’s definitely attracted to Dillon. There’s something there, but she’s just not ready to leave Morgan yet. We’ll see what happens.

A lot of fans are rooting for Dillon. I mean, Dillon hasn’t even hooked up with Ava (Maura West) yet, so he has that going for him.
[Laughs] Exactly. My character hasn’t had sex with her mom.

But your character’s dad has.
That’s true! God, that would make for a funny storyline right there.

robert palmer watkins general hospital interview

You had some fun scenes last week with Michelle Stafford where Nina got a vibrator in the mail.
[Michelle] is just amazing. I love working with her. She’s one of my favourites for sure. Every time I get to work with her, I get excited because she brings just so much to every line, every word. She can get some of the weirdest material but she just makes it work. It’s just exciting working with her because you don’t know what she’s going to do. It’s similar to the scenes with Jane Elliot – they always make a bold choice. It never falls flat. I really respect that. With soap operas, you are filming every day and people can get very complacent. They deliver their lines and leave. I never feel like that’s the case with Jane Elliot or Michelle Stafford. They are always finding a way to make it fun.

Who has been your best on screen kiss?
I’ll go with Hayley Erin… It was the most recent. Or, Michelle Stafford!

robert palmer watkins general hospital interview

Favourite storyline?
Kiki and Dillon!

Least favourite storyline?
You’re gonna get me in trouble… I’d probably have to say when Valerie and Dillon were no longer friends. It’s sad that they haven’t really kept us close.

If you could play another character on the show, even just for a day, who would you play?
I’d play Paul [Richard Burgi’s character], Dillon’s dad. Or Sonny… He’s pretty cool, too.

Dream love interest or pairing?
As of right now, I have to say Kiki. I really think they’ll be good together.

Last movie you watched in theatres?
“Nice Guys” with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

Last show you binged?
Oooh, Game of Thrones! For sure, I’m a huge fan. I’ve re-watched all six seasons because I couldn’t remember all these characters that kept coming back. I had to remember how they were all connected. The Battle of the Bastards episode, wow! Crazy. If they don’t win some Emmys for that, I don’t even know…

Most played song on your iPod?
Right now I’m actually listening to a lot of Chris Stapleton. I just saw him at the CMA Fest in Nashville. Sam Hunt as well. I’ve been listening to a lot of country.

General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC and City. Canadian fans can catch up on the City app, as well as citytv.com. For the latest soap news, click here. You can visit CH Elegant Entertainment to stay in the loop for more daytime events in Canada. You can read the first part of our latest GH series of interviews, with William deVry, here.

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About Author

Jeevan Brar is a digital content producer and freelance entertainment writer based in Toronto. Jeevan has managed The TV Watercooler since 2008, the Canadian blog has focused on daytime soaps, primetime hits and reality TV guilty pleasures. The blog has also connected Canadian soap fans with exclusive interviews with the cast of enduring daytime dramas The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful. 'Like' The TV Watercooler on Facebook. You can also follow Jeevan on Twitter and Google+.

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