Since moving to Hollywood, alumnus and actor Marc Samuel has played military officers on prime-time TV, provided the voice for characters in popular video games, and portrayed one of the Hot Guys with Guns in the 2013 action flick.
But he’s best known as Felix Dubois, a scene-stealing nurse on General Hospital who is also the daytime series’ first openly gay character.
Dubois initially served as only “a comic sidekick” to central characters, Samuel says. But over the years, he has successfully pushed for Dubois’ development into more than that of a stereotypical gay character offering little more than sass and jokes.
“The one thing I wanted to make sure of is that we present Felix as an evolving character,” Samuel says. “He’s become more of a developed human being with a sense of his place in the community.”
Samuel grew up in Chicago and Portland, then moved to Eugene to attend the UO, where he ran track and field. He graduated with a degree in telecommunication and film and got his first break with Actors Cabaret theater in downtown Eugene.
After knocking around in films and commercials, Samuel joined General Hospital in 2012. The soap opera—which also features 1979 alumnus Jon Lindstrom as Kevin Collins—is legendary, having survived on daytime TV since premiering on ABC in 1963.
Samuel, however, knew next to nothing about the show early in his career. “The only thing I was aware of,” he says, “was that characters named Luke and Laura were in it at some point.”
He came to appreciate the producers’ willingness to tackle difficult issues amid soapy drama. The show broke ground in the 1990s, for example, with a storyline on HIV and AIDS.
Dubois’ early appearances drew mild protest from some viewers. But it soon became clear, Samuel says, that “the overriding sentiment was positive and supportive.”
“A person’s sexual orientation should never be a big deal,” he adds. “But the genre tends to lean more conservative, so (the producers) wondered what viewership would think. They were relieved that, for the most part, people loved Felix right off the bat.”
As Dubois, Samuel served up plenty of light moments during those early appearances. But over time he has worked with writers to move the character into more of a “caring friend” role.
He points to a pair of storylines that demonstrate Dubois’ growth. The first involved the character’s decision to bow out of an awkward love triangle, a move that showed Dubois “taking the high road in support of love,” Samuel says.
And in episodes this year, Dubois provides care to Mike Corinthos—father of the show’s star, Sonny Corinthos—and begins gaining the trust of the most powerful family in the fictional city of Port Charles.
The character’s evolution has been meaningful for Samuel, both professionally and personally.
“As an actor, it has offered a more varied experience and challenge while working,” Samuel says. “As a person, it’s offered an opportunity to be part of today’s narrative, where more diverse and interesting characters are being shown, and it’s not limited by stereotypes.”
—By Jack Moran
Jack Moran is a freelance writer in Eugene.