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Chatting with actor Charles Shaughnessy of ‘The Nanny,’ ‘General Hospital,’ and ‘Days of Our Lives’

Veteran actor Charles Shaughnessy (“The Nanny,” “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital”) chatted about his career and his latest endeavors.

Charles Shaughnessy
Charles Shaughnessy. Photo Credit: ABC/Christine Bartolucci
Charles Shaughnessy. Photo Credit: ABC/Christine Bartolucci

Veteran British actor Charles Shaughnessy (“The Nanny,” “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital”) chatted about his career and his latest endeavors.

He also discussed being a part of “The Bay” and holiday movie “The Magic.”

Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Charles Shaughnessy is living proof of this wise quote by the cartoon legend.

‘The Nanny’

Worldwide, he is known for his portrayal of Mr. “Maxwell” Sheffield on the hit sitcom “The Nanny,” starring Fran Drescher. “That show was great,” he said. “It’s a very different animal doing a sitcom. You rehearse all week to do a show on a Friday. You’re doing 22 minutes of material all week over and over again, and you do it on Friday like a play.”

“On a soap opera, you are doing an hour of material a day, so the difficulty with ‘The Nanny’ was keeping things interesting and engaged. What you see on screen is the end of a long repetitive rehearsal week. It’s a different way of working. What was fun was the success, it was great to be on a primetime show that started slowly and picked up speed and it gained worldwide success. We had a lot of fun doing it,” he elaborated.

He had great words about Madeline Zima, who played his youngest onscreen daughter Grace. “Madeline is just a darling, she is the sweetest and a very good actress,” he said. “That show was not an easy time for any of the child actors. They were seen as a story point rather than developed as characters, which I think was sad, because all three actors that played my kids in ‘The Nanny’ were great actors.”

“‘The Nanny’ went international and it has such a wide reach,” he added.

‘General Hospital’

Most recently, he wrapped his run on “General Hospital,” where he played the villainous Victor Cassadine. “I really loved playing Victor,” he admitted. “I was a little surprised how sad I was to leave it. I was really enjoying it, the character was so much fun, he was so bad but fun bad.”

“Then, Victor went off the rails in the end, he was so evil, to the point where they had to kill him off. There was no escaping. I hope that I can someday come back on the show in some way,” he said.

“As Victor, I got to have scenes with a lot of the cast members so that was a lot of fun,” he added.

“40 years ago, I played Holly’s (Emma Samms) con artist criminal cousin Alistair Durban  on the show. So who knows? Alistair Durban can make a re-appearance at any time,” he said with a sweet laugh.

Virtual ‘General Hospital’ fan event

On April 29, he participated in a “General Hospital” virtual fan event for Coastal Entertainment with James Patrick Stuart, who plays his onscreen son Valentin Cassadine.

“That Zoom went great, and it was very successful,” Shaughnessy said. “They started doing these Zooms during the pandemic but everyone realized that they are effective anyway because you can see people without having to go across the country. The fans don’t have to spend much money traveling and these Zooms were very intimate, and James Patrick Stuart is so great.”

‘Days of Our Lives’

He got his start in the soap opera world, playing Shane Donovan on “Days of Our Lives,” as well as his twin, Drew. “The people on ‘Days of Our Lives’ are wonderful. All the actors there were fun to play with. I loved my eight years on that show,” he admitted.

‘Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem’

A few years ago, he also played the roles of Shane and Drew Donovan in the Peacock limited series “Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem.” “That was a lot of fun, especially playing two brothers. You want to make them very different but realistically different,” he said. “Drew breaks the rules and is rebellious while Shane follows the rules and is Mr. Responsible.”

“Working with Victoria Konefal and Robert Scott Wilson was great, they were wonderful people,” he added.

‘The Bay’

In the 23-time Emmy award-winning series, “The Bay,” created by Gregori J. Martin, he played the role of Captain Elliot Sanders. “Playing Elliott Sanders was very fun. It was very early on, and it was guerilla filming in those days, but now the show has grown a lot, they have a budget, a crew, and a team,” he said.

‘The Magic’

He also played the role of Tom Kane in the inspirational holiday film “The Magic,” which was written and directed by Gregori J. Martin. “That was good and a lot of fun,” he said. “It has been fun working with Gregori J. Martin, he is doing really well and he blazed the trail with streaming and online soap operas. It was a really smart idea, and they have done really well, I am very proud of him,” he said.

The digital age

On being an actor in the digital age, Shaughnessy said, “As far as the acting is concerned, you just do the same job. It is making the business very different, I am not sure where it’s going to be going, I am not sure how long this strike will last.”

“We are at a crossroads and there is an existential threat to so much of entertainment with CGI, AI and digital animation. What they are capable of doing now could make everything we do redundant. It’s going to be interesting to see where it goes,” he added.

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Shaughnessy said, “Granddad.” “I have an eight-month old grandson so I am playing babysitter,” he said.

Advice for young and aspiring actors

For young and aspiring actors, he said, “Make sure you know the difference between acting and being an actor because there is a huge difference. You need to be in love with being an actor. Make sure you’re happy to be an actor because the acting part is easy.”

“Also, have fun, it’s a terrifically privileged job. We get paid to do what everyone in the world would love to do, which is to be a kid and play dress up and pretend. Remember, acting is fun and if you’re not having fun, then something’s not right,” he said.

“Make sure you are 100 percent prepared, you need to be fully prepared, you know your lines completely and you know what the character is doing. Then, you arrive on camera ready to rock and roll,” he added.

Success

On his definition of the word success, Shaughnessy said, “You don’t understand success until you breathe your last breath. Then, you can look back on your life and you can see how much you’ve contributed to your environment, fellow man, family, and friends. Then you look back and realize that was a ‘happy life,’ that’s success to me.”

For his fans, he said, “Thank you, we don’t work in a vacuum. It’s always a two-way street. To have fans that follow your work and appreciate you as a performer is very lovely, and I am very grateful. We wouldn’t exist without the audience, they are an integral part of every performance. Thank you for enjoying it and for sticking with it.”

To learn more about British actor Charles Shaughnessy, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and check out his IMDb page.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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