Josh Kelly made his “General Hospital” debut as Cody Bell at the tail end of the Wednesday, June 1 episode of the daytime drama series when the character parachuted into the Metro Court Hotel pool, making a memorable impression on Britt Westbourne (Kelly Thiebaud). So how did the former “Midnight, Texas” star land himself a gig in Port Charles? Similar to co-star Cameron Mathison who joined the soap last year as a recast Drew Cain, a text exchange with the show’s executive producer, Frank Valentini, who previously oversaw production at “One Life to Live” where Kelly moonlighted as Cutter Wentworth from 2010-2011, made things a little easier for the actor.
In an interview with Soap Opera Digest, on newsstands now, Kelly told the publication that he began thinking about a return to daytime soaps after hearing from a friend who had auditioned for a character on the soap last year. “He was like, ‘Dude, you should go in for this role,’” Kelly remembers of the conversation without naming the friend or the character they auditioned for. “And I was like, ‘You know what? I miss working regularly.” Thus, he decided to reach out to Valentini after realizing he wanted a more steady gig that would keep him in the Los Angeles area where he resides.
“I’ve had to go to Memphis or Albuquerque or Atlanta [to film on location] and I love traveling, but my home is in Los Angeles and I’ve never gotten to work here,” Kelly says. “I also missed being part of a little acting troupe family. So I actually texted [Executive Producer] Frank Valentini. I was like, ‘Hey, why am I not on ‘GH?’” Recalling their exchange, Kelly notes, “He was like, ‘Are you serious? You’d have to do a contract.’ And I was like, ‘Let’s do it!’ They were like, ‘We’re going to come up with a cool character for you’ – and they did!’”
Referencing Valentini’s enthusiasm for working with him again, Kelly says, “It meant a lot to me. I’d always felt like I wanted to do more [in daytime]. ‘One Life to Live’ was canceled kind of right when I was getting my legs underneath me and getting into my stride. So this, in a weird way, feels like I’m fulfilling my original contract. Frank and I, we’ve kept in touch and I’ve actually visited the set of ‘GH’ a couple of times because I’ve had some friends working there, and I did some work on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and they shoot at the same lot. Whenever I’m over there, I always send him a text message and I’d come in and we’d talk, but the timing [to possibly join ‘GH’] has never been right. And now the timing seems kind of perfect.”
Despite acting on “GH” for the first time, Kelly has personally known or is friends with a number of the show’s cast, including Michael Easton (Finn) and Roger Howarth (Austin) who Kelly worked alongside during their time together at “OLTL,” and he’s worked with both Tanisha Harper (Jordan) and Sofia Mattsson (Sasha) in other TV projects. Additionally, he has mutual friends with Chad Duell (Michael) and he shared a meal years ago with Kirsten Storms (Maxie), just to name a few. Beyond that, Kelly has also been a fan of the show since childhood when his sister would force him into watching the soap before he could eventually watch his favorite “Batman” cartoon. He also noted that when his father was in the Navy, his squadron was “addicted to the Luke and Laura saga.”
Overall, Kelly is appreciative of what it means to be working on the legacy series. “I always like to think about what ‘little kid Josh’ would think in the moment,” he states. “It keeps me very happy on long days or times like last night, when I was late to a premiere for a movie I was in because I was working on ‘General freakin’ Hospital!’ ‘Little kid Josh’ wouldn’t be upset about that, and so ‘big kid Josh’ wasn’t, either!”
For more from Kelly’s interview with Digest, pick up the latest issue, on newsstands now.
In addition to his role on “GH,” and his previous role as Cutter Wentworth on both the ABC version of “One Life to Live” and the short-lived 2013 online reboot, Kelly has also starred as Jeremy Caner in the Lifetime drama “UnREAL.” More recently, Kelly appeared in the dramas “What/If,” “Army Wives” and cross-over episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19.” He also starred opposite Emilie Ullerup in the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original movie “Christmas Bells Are Ringing.”