Van Hansis is an interesting fellow. His given name is not one you often hear uttered in circles. He’s a world traveler before even hitting 30 years of age. And his culinary talents are improving by the day.
Bet you thought that Soapdom was going to refer to the mini-controversy that surrounded the soap neophyte when he assumed the role of As the World Turns’ Luke Snyder, right?
However, now that you, the reader, have brought it up, let’s rewind a bit, shall we? Hansis stepped onto the stage almost immediately after Luke’s previous portrayer, the talented Jake Weary, decided to suddenly ditch Oakdale. Mom, Kim Zimmer, a.k.a. Reva, Guiding Light, dismissed talk that her son ran only after he learned Luke would turn out to be gay.
Is it rumor or truth -- who really knows for sure? What’s done is done. But As the World Turns, for its part, had to be certain its “new” Luke was committed to all facets that comprise this character.
“(When I found out), it wasn’t anything that I thought I would have any moral objections to,” surmises Hansis of Luke’s lifestyle. “I was a little surprised (about what I was told about Luke) only because when you audition for a soap, you don’t really think of anything different than heroic feats and making out with all these women.”
“Essentially, though, at the story’s heart, Luke is pretty much a good kid who is dealing with a lot of angst,” continues the actor as he heads into Manhattan for some fun – but not too much fun as the photo shoot for As the World Turns’ 50th Anniversary is the next morning - after a day of filming. “I don’t know when Luke will be able to be completely honest with his parents because despite everything that Lily and Holden have done, he feels almost as if they are hugely responsible people with this standing in the Oakdale community.”
As the World Turns cleverly utilized the internet to highlight not only Luke’s internal feelings, but Hansis’ as well, bringing fans of the show even closer to the daily struggles of both. Luke’s, of course, being a tad more stressing.
“I thought it was a pretty cool idea and a lot of fun,” remembers Hansis when first approached by ATWT’s publicists to write his own blog to run opposite of his character’s on the show’s website. “It gives people an opportunity to see what it’s like to kind of be an actor, living in New York, and doing a soap opera. I try to update it as much as possible.”
In his virtual diary, Hansis talks about everything from New York’s frigid temperatures to his first (frightening) viewing of himself on television. “It’s exactly like the horror you experience when you first hear the sound of your voice on an answering machine,” he laughs. “Only then -- it’s just your voice, but when it’s you on camera -- it’s everything! It’s how you move, how you talk, how you look. Everything is the exact opposite of how you thought you did things.”
With this being Hansis’ “big break” into showbiz, he’s content in the fact that his first television role is a juicy one. But as Soapdom noted at the beginning of the article, the man on the other line of this phone is as equally fascinating as his fictional counterpart, minus all the melancholy.
Take his unique name, for instance.
“It’s a family name,” the Brooklyn resident – and neighbor of ATWT castmate Zach Roerig (Casey) - tells Soapdom. “My grandfather was called Van like his father before him; my uncle is called Van. Even my parents call me Van. It’s what I’ve been called my entire life.”
In addition to perfecting his acting technique, Hansis is also honing his talents in the kitchen.
“I’m learning slowly but surely. I got a cookbook for Christmas and I learned – I know this might sound lame – how to make chicken cutlets. “You know, dipping the chicken in the egg and then applying the breading,” he explains.
Trying to gain our respect, he blurts out a few more successes, and this time Soapdom can’t help but give him his deserved kudos.
“I can make my own meatballs from scratch,” Hansis adds proudly. “I also make my own homemade tomato sauce with the tomatoes, puree, and olive oil - the whole deal.”
Is there anyone special in his life to share and enjoy such fine cuisine?
“I’m single,” informs Hansis. “It’s me and my two cats, Annabelle and Chimley.”
Don’t feel too sorry for the handsome newcomer. Before settling down in New York, Hansis explored many parts of Latin America with his family in addition to spending a semester in Moscow to study theater.
“(Going to Moscow) was one of the best experiences of my life,” he fondly recalls. “I have such a strong place in my heart for the Russian people; they don’t exhibit the phoniness that Americans have been accused of. Like when you go to a restaurant, the waiters are nice without being in your face. Unlike here, where they will constantly smile and be on top of you in the hopes of getting this huge tip.”
“In Russia, there’s also no middle-class like there is here,” he continues. “You can be walking along the street where there are the most expensive stores and right outside a beggar is waiting for all the exiting customers to give him a hand.”
Being that he resided in the former Soviet Union for close to three-and-a-half months, Soapdom asks Hansis to impress us with some Russian talk.
“I’m terrible with languages!” he fesses. “I could read the subway maps and order food, but I couldn’t really carry on a conversation.”
As our talk comes to a close and Hansis gears up for his night on the town, Soapdom wonders if Hansis will be in good enough form to pose for that 50th Anniversary Picture.
“Oh yeah, I plan on calling it an early night. You’ll see….I’ll look good in the photo.”
And with the features like the ones Hansis possesses, we don’t doubt it.
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