Ever walk into a room and get a resounding boo? “General Hospital’s” Parry Shen (Brad Cooper) sure has, but the New York native took it in stride. When several people at this year’s “GH” Fan Club weekend shouted their disapproval upon Shen’s arrival to the event, he laughed it off and took it as par for the course.
“I got a cacophony of boos, but it’s been nice that people have sort of been able to realize that [Brad] is just an evil heel to have around,” Shen told Soap Opera Network. “I’ve been reading everything — the good and the bad — about how inappropriate he is and… what I really was surprised about was some people are picking up on the humor that I’m trying to inject. I was really happy about that, because I wasn’t sure if that was going over people’s heads or if they were having a knee-jerk reaction, like, ‘This guy is such a douche!’”
Though there are plenty of negatives to go along with positive things said and written about him, Shen seems to have a natural ability to brush off anything that could have the potential to bother him and instead is able to see it all as a good thing. In fact, the raunchier and more controversial his “GH” material, the more excited he is to play Brad. “Every time I get the script, it’s like Christmas,” he enthuses. “I can’t believe the things he does!”
Perhaps his joy stems from the fact that playing Brad allows him to show off a snide side he doesn’t usually reveal. “Everybody has that sort of part, things you want to say that are snarky, and I just tap into that side 24/7 when I’m doing the role, so it’s kind of nice,” he says, adding that he’s particularly happy that he did not know Brad’s sexuality upon auditioning for the role. “I didn’t even know this character was even gay until in my second episode and… I was like, ‘Whoa! What’s going on?!?’ But actually, it was good. I haven’t asked the producers if they did this on purpose, but every time I’ve auditioned to play a gay character, I have in my mind a certain type and a behavior, so it was actually good that I’m so butch and I kept the same thing. He’s… sleazy, and it works.”
In real life, however, Shen’s personality is nothing like Brad’s. The actor didn’t strike us as being particularly sleazy or snarky, and he’s actually the proud father of two daughters — eight-year-old Avery and five-year-old Kori — which he’s very loving and silly with. “We went to Comic Con, and I dressed as Superman, and they were Supergirl. It was pretty fun,” he shares of the typical activities he and his daughters do together. “And then, we just got a refrigerator, and I saw the big box, and I was like, ‘We have to do something with this!’ So I made a playhouse with a bay window and carpeting on the inside. I’m in it more than they are!”
Amidst dressing up and building playhouses, the actor is a busy with outside projects, most recently working on a feature film called “Unidentified,” which will be released on Video On Demand and DVD in February 2014. “It kind of starts out as a buddy film, but then it sort of becomes like “Paranormal Activity:” Weird things happen to these guys when they get stranded,” he explains of the flick, which he produced and acted in. “I’ve hugged every single producer I’ve worked with since producing this movie, because I had no idea all of the work that you go through. It’s such a thankless job. We were doing a scene at night, and the generator kicked out our lights, so all I’m thinking about is the dollars that we’re losing, and then, thank god I had gotten another generator as a back up, but during the scene, I wasn’t even thinking about the scene anymore. I was thinking, ‘What happens when my second generator conks out?!’ And I said, ‘I am never producing and acting ever again!’ It’s too stressful.”
Despite the problems of wearing too many hats at once, Shen is proud of the work he and his teammates were able to produce. “We did it on a little shoe string budget, but it looks good,” he says with pride. “We didn’t want to cut any corners.”
As for “GH,” the actor says he’s got some stuff coming up, but he’s not sure to what extent. “I’m back in the saddle, but I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he teases. “I’m curious myself and just kind of guessing what might be next.”
*An earlier version of this article indicated that Shen directed “Unidentified,” which is incorrect. Shen acts in the film and is an accredited producer.