Q&A With Jimmy Deshler
A Minnesotan joins the cast of General Hospital.
Jimmy Deshler was just a freshman in high school when he decided to pack his bags, leave his White Bear Lake home, and head for Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Brave? Definitely. Crazy? Perhaps. But it paid off. The now-18-year-old recently landed the coveted role of Rafe Kovich, Jr. on General Hospital. Fans of the iconic show will recognize the character as the son of the late Alison Barrington and vampire Caleb Morley. On a recent visit home, Deshler sat down with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine to discuss acting, adjusting to life in Los Angeles, and what he misses the most about Minnesota. (Trust us, you’ll be surprised by what he said!)
Mpls.St.Paul Magazine: So explain to me the process of landing a role on General Hospital. How did it happen?
Jimmy Deshler: My agent and manager got a break down for the role and they submitted me for an audition. From there, I got a callback with the producer and director, and then I went to a testing. It was down to me and a few other kids. Then I found out I got the role.
MSP: What was it like when you found out?
JD: It was kind of crazy, unbelievable. I was actually at another audition when I found out. But it was great news. I’m happy I got it.
MSP: Before moving to California and landing the role on General Hospital, did you do any acting in Minnesota?
JD: I did, but not too much. I took a few classes in White Bear Lake at Lakeshore Players Theatre. The class was a few weeks long, and at the end of the class we performed a play for our friends and family. That was kind of my first time performing for people. I just enjoyed it and had a good time, so I figured why not keep doing it.
MSP: What was the turning point that made you say, “OK, I’m going to move out to California whether it works out or not”?
JD: In 2008, I went to the International Models & Talent Association with Caryn Model & Talent Management here in Minnesota. From there, I had interest from agents and managers who liked the stuff I did at the convention. My mom and I sat down and talked about it, and it was just something that I really wanted to pursue. So we decided to make the move out there. Before we moved permanently, we went to California for three or four months, just to see how it would go. I moved back here for a year, completed my freshman year of high school, and then we decided to permanently move out there.
MSP: That was a brave move. Do you ever regret leaving after freshman year and not finishing at a regular high school?
JD: I went to a charter school, which was year-round and work-at-your-own-pace. I graduated a year early, actually. I figured why not get it out of the way. But I did miss the social part of it. And sports. I played hockey, football, baseball, and wrestling when I was here. I’m actually playing hockey out there now, so that’s helping.
MSP: Really? I can’t imagine there’s a huge hockey following in California.
JD: There wasn’t until the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup. Now everyone is getting into hockey. There’s definitely a hockey community out there, it’s just not as competitive as Minnesota and there’s a lower level of talent, but it’s still fun. And actually, one of the kids on my hockey team is from Edina.
MSP: That’s insane! What a small world. What about your friends from Minnesota? Do they come out and visit?
JD: One of them came out to California for a college visit and stayed with me for a few days, and I think a few other ones are planning to make a visit in July. They’re just glad that someone went out and did something un-normal and pursued what they wanted to do. They support me.
MSP: I know you also try to get out to Minnesota a few times a year. What do you like to do when you come home?
JD: Just relax, hang out with family, and catch up with friends. I love going to Wisconsin. A family friend has a cabin in Luck, Wisconsin so we try to make it a thing every time we come up. When we lived here, we’d go up every weekend and dirt bike and go on the lake.
MSP: What do you miss the most about Minnesota?
JD: As crazy as it sounds, I miss the winters. I like to ski and snowboard. There’s snow out there, but it doesn’t compare to real Minnesota snow. I don’t really miss the coldness of it, but just the whole winter feeling. The first Christmas in California was kind of weird, waking up on Christmas Eve and having it be 70 degrees. It was strange.
MSP: Yeah, I don’t think I could handle a snow-less Christmas. Is it hard being a Midwest transplant in Los Angeles?
JD: It’s different. When we first moved there, it was a big adjustment. Everyone out there has his or her stereotypical view of Minnesota. They all talk in the accent around me.
MSP: The General Hospital cast?
JD: No, just friends and people in general. The biggest thing I had to get used to was saying “soda” instead of “pop.” The first time I went out there I went to Panera and said, “Can I have a pop?” And they were like, “What is that?” I was like, “Just a Coke, please.”
MSP: Well, now that you’ve adjusted and been on the show for a few months, how’s it going? How have the other cast members been?
JD: Great. They were all super welcoming, and that made it a lot easier to get into a new environment and feel at home.
MSP: General Hospital has been on the air for 50 years. Do you ever feel the pressure to succeed on such an iconic show?
JD: I did the first few times I was there, especially because the first few episodes were really emotional and deep. Everyone there was super nice, so that made it easier and took a little bit of the pressure off. There’s still pressure, but it’s good pressure.
MSP: Had you watched the show before you went on the audition?
JD: I watched a few episodes before the audition, but other than that, I had never seen it before.
MSP: So what was it that attracted you to the role?
JD: It was different than anything I had done before. It was more emotional and he wasn’t a plain character that lives an everyday life. He was going through a lot. I like going out of the box and doing different things. I’m enjoying where they’re taking the role.
MSP: Are you hoping to stay on the show and become a recurring character?
JD: I love being on TV and doing General Hospital. It’s a great job and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. I would like to branch out into feature films and movies. That would be pretty cool.
MSP: Do you have any advice for others wanting to pursue a career in acting?
JD: The acting business is challenging because you get turned down a lot, but you just have to keep going. You can’t take it to heart or take it personal because a lot of times it comes down to, “Oh, he has blue eyes and we want someone with brown eyes.” That is a big part of casting. Don’t let it get to you and always know that there’s something more.