A failed “General Hospital” screen test to portray buttoned-upped psychiatrist Dr. Andre Maddox turned out to be good news for actor Donnell Turner. It ended up evolving into a contract role as private eye Curtis Ashford.
Looking back at the fortuitous turn of events, Turner sums it up as an “honor,” and then elaborates on what went down.
“From screen testing, I know if you don’t hear back that night, you probably didn’t get the part,” says Turner. “So I was going crazy. Then, two weeks after the test, I got a phone call at my day job. (My agent) said, ‘Well, you didn’t get the job ... But the network loves you, so, as we speak, they are actually creating a character for you.’ What actor doesn’t want to hear that?”
The new role, a former DEA agent and Baltimore cop, was a better fit for Turner, who plays slick, street-smart and cool with effortless ease -- all of which made him the perfect new partner for Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco).
“When I signed my contract, our wonderful executive producer, Frank Valentini, said, ‘Tell our story, but use your words,’” recounts Turner. “So when I add in the colloquialisms, those are Donnell-isms, as well.”
And what are those Donnell-isms? “Keep my name out of your mouth, let’s get out of here versus go right or let’s skedaddle,” rattles off Turner. “I appreciate that kind of creative autonomy and freedom. I think every actor, especially one who’s been doing it for 25 years, can appreciate it. And I’m grateful.”
Turner, who has a background in improv, uses his training to his advantage.
“I didn’t do any Groundlings, but I did do some Second City,” says Turner about the two well-known improvisation groups. “I did years and years of improv classes and learning to be in the moment and react to what is now. I also know that you don’t try to be funny. Just thinking smart will equal funny ... to some.”
Story-wise, Turner’s been adjusting to a new leading lady, Briana Henry, who stepped in as Jordan when Vinessa Antoine left to star in the prime-time Canadian series “Diggstown.”
“That’s Hollywood,” says Turner, summing up the move. “But there’s a theory I’ve always subscribed to ... flexible people don’t get bent out of shape. I try to keep flexible in every aspect of my life.”
Besides, Turner sees the onscreen fiance switch as “in its own way ... exciting,” noting that Curtis and Jordan “are still forming and building something. We (could) do the marriage and then take it from there."
It all adds up to an experience that Turner truly enjoys.
“It’s really nice,” the actor says with a grin. “I’d done some time on 'Days of Our Lives,' some time on 'The Young and the Restless'... but only sporadically. Daytime is its own community, and I love, love, love the fans.”