A likeable fashion designer from New York — that was all Brian Starcher
knew about the soap character, Hank Eliot.
Brian had already auditioned twice before
at AS THE WORLD TURNS, for the roles of
Craig and Kirk, so when the offer came to
create the role of Hank, the actor was delighted. Brian's mother immediately wondered if the character was a homosexual.
"Mom, how stereotypical can you get?"
Two weeks into the role, then executive
producer Robert Calhoun dropped the
bomb: Hank was, indeed, slated to be gay.
In a soft low voice, Brian remembers, "This
intense flush of homophobia came over my
body. I thought, 'Everyone's going to think
I'm gay.' " Calhoun suggested the actor go
home and seriously think about whether or
not he wanted to take on the role.
"I started thinking positive things about
doing it and realizing that people who I love
aren't going to care," Brian recalls. His
agents didn't object, as long as the story
was handled with taste and sensitivity. But,
Brian had two other potential obstacles.
The middle child of five siblings, he was
apprehensive about his family's reaction —
especially what his father would say. "My
dad's my hero, a man of great character,"
Brian explains. "He was very strict. I called
him up and I don't remember what he said
first, but it wasn't negative. He called back
and said, 'Look, Brian. I think this is a wonderful opportunity and I think you should
take it. I'm going to support you.' "
Starcher's other concern was his girl
friend's response but, as it turns out, he
needn't have worried. "She was ecstatic.
Hank wasn't going to be in bed with any
body on the show. No soap starlets were
going to be touching my bod, thank you."
Brian accepted the challenge, made easier
by the fact that, to date, Hank's lover has
never been seen, only mentioned.
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