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General Hospital’s Donnell Turner On The Importance Of Authenticity

The GH actor talks about the background work it takes to bring truth to his character’s struggle with paralysis.

donnell turner general hospitalDonnell Turner likes to keep it real as Curtis Ashford.

As an actor, you often have to go places emotionally that you have never gone before, take on physical characteristics and challenges that you haven’t personally experienced, and, to top it all off, you have to make it look authentic, or you lose your audience. General Hospital’s Donnell Turner takes his job seriously and has put in a lot of work to bring truth to his portrayal of Curtis Ashford’s struggle with being paralyzed. 

Donnell Turner: Keeping It Real

Turner described his process of bringing authenticity to his character’s journey of coming to terms with his recent paralysis at a recent Zoom event hosted by Coastal Entertainment. “There was a scene we did in the hospital recently,” he explained to the attendees. “It was very dramatic, gave up all the emotion, and then they yelled, ‘Cut!’ I looked at the camera, and I was like, we have to do it over because while I was throwing my tantrum, I was kicking my legs also. We gotta do it over.” 

He was disappointed, but he wanted to get it right. “It was one I’ve given a lot of good emotion to, and I hated to have to do it over, but sometimes you can, you know, recreate that magic.” He let the audience know how much it meant to him. “And so, hopefully, I did that.”

Turner shared another role early in his career that helped him prepare for his current storyline. “Years ago, before I started on General Hospital, I auditioned for a part on a sitcom,” the actor revealed. “It was a popular sitcom for a while, but the main character was in a wheelchair, and I was [doing], what they call a callback.” (A callback is when an actor, who is under consideration for a role, is invited back to meet with decisionmakers, who want to see what else the performer has to offer.)

He went on to describe it in more detail. “When you get second place for a part, they say, put a pin, you know, they put a pin in your act. They tell my agent, ‘Put a pin in your actor,’ which means you’re in second place. If the person they want, you know, goes to jail or dies, then you’re next up.”

Coming in second didn’t discourage the talented thespian and budding director. Turner dived into his homework for the role. “So, I did a lot of research on how to conduct myself, how the posture would look, how the movement would look, even on a comedic side,” the actor broke it down for the fans. “And so, I’m not saying I have it down perfectly, but I did have some experience. I think we’re putting together something that’s becoming easier by the day.”

General Hospital: Tricks Of The Trade

There are certain reminders that Turner uses to keep Curtis’s experience raw and real. “There are little tricks for acting in a wheelchair,” he disclosed. “I remember I would hold a quarter between my knees to keep my knees together, to render my legs sort of useless. That way, it prevents involuntary movement. That’s a little trick that I did. It’s one of those method things.”

He recounted other tricks of the trade. “Sometimes for people when they have like a wounded leg, they’ll put a rock in their shoe, you know, or something like that so they walk differently.” It is all a part of the business of acting. “There’s all these little devices actors use, and I just wanna bring as much truth and authenticity to this character and to this storyline as possible.”

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