What's Happening Now

Interview: chatting with 'General Hospital' actor Matt Cohen

Credit: ABC
"General Hospital's" newest staff member is Dr. Griffin Munro, played by Matt Cohen. If Cohen looks familiar to you, its because you definitely have him before. The versatile actor has a host of screen credits under his belt, including "How to Get Away with Murder," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "South of Nowhere" "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders."

As Griffin Munro, a former priest turned neurosurgeon, Cohen has had the opportunity to work with some of the show's heavyweights like Emmy winners Finola Hughes (Anna Devane) and Maurice Bernard (Sonny Corinthos). 

TVMusic Network recently caught up with Cohen to get his thoughts on joining the Emmy-Award winning show. 

Check out the interview below: 

Phyllis: Happy New Year! Did you make any New Year's resolutions?

Matt Cohen: Yeah, I did. I make the same New Year's resolution for the past three years. And that’s to not lie to myself about things, about anything.
Don’t tell yourself you are working out hard when you are not.
Don’t tell yourself that one thing you are eating doesn’t matter because it does. Don’t tell yourself I’ll call your parents tomorrow. Stop lying to yourself and just call them. That’s always my thing.

Phyllis: I know, and you have had a very busy year last year. Busier than the one before. What were some of the year's highlights for you?

Matt Cohen: Everything is a highlight. Every day I wake up, breathe air, and get to go work on a set with whoever I am working with, it's all such a blessing. I have been so lucky. I have been working in the business for 12 years now paying my bills since the first year I was here. I still get excited to drive on to "General Hospital's" lot every day or on the CBS lot for "Criminal Minds." I’m so excited, I'm a fanboy, I think, "wait a minute, and I got to get it together because I have to say lines to these people that I love and admire and every day." It’s just the best day of my life. I have a wife I love, a baby that is almost two and he is a really big pain in the butt. (Laughter)

Phyllis: Congrats on "General Hospital." So you have been there for a while but you're still sort of new to the fans. Phyllis: What do you think was their first perception of you when you when you first came on?

Matt Cohen: Uhmm, probably they wanted to be rid of me and have the old doctor back.

Phyllis: No, no, no, no!

Matt Cohen: I am [still] trying to win them over.

Phyllis: There is always room for more doctors. We need all of you to stay.

Matt Cohen: I know, we need some more doctors.

Phyllis: Yeah we do.

Matt Cohen: Yeah, I don't know. I hope that they felt that I was coming in from a caring place for them into the show and all that try to bring to the table. I want to support what has already been made before me and I want to bring a little extra to it and try to help to take it to the next level.

Phyllis: Right. Do you think that there is a natural curiosity about your character? He's Duke's son but Duke isn't on screen. You share that history with his iconic character. How did you feel about that when they told you that you would be playing Duke's son?

Matt  Cohen: You know that was so awesome. I screen tested with Finola (Hughes, Anna.) We have this chemistry and she doesn't like mess around. She shows up and she is acting her ass off on that screen test and you are like, "uh oh!" We either had to have a connection or we don't and we did. Obviously, a lot of my beginning scenes are with her, and she introduced me to Ian (Buchanan, ex-Duke). You know, I feel so lucky. I have been tossed into a soap opera later on in my career but I have been tossed into soap royalty a little bit.

I feel...I honor that. I don't take it for granted. With Maurice (Bernard, Sonny), we share some of the best acting work I have ever done. Him and I, when we are on screen together. He recognizes and I recognize, we both go wow. He has said to me before or I have said it, we should have played father and son.

Phyllis: Exactly, or brothers? Something...

Matt Cohen: You never know what's going to happen. But him and I, he brings out the best side of me just like Finola does; and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by those set of persons. It is amazing.

Phyllis: What I love about "General Hospital" and I have said this before, is that you can take two actors who have never shared story before, and when they get together and that chemistry is there, that situation is there.How, as a new person, how did you help build that chemistry with the established cast?

Matt Cohen: You know, I tried to just be as honest as I could. And I tried to take their hints when they were giving them and when they were willing to give them. You want to adapt to the actor in front of you. That is the type of guy that I am. Unless you are playing a very strong character, like Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean" or something.  I try to adapt to what Maurice is dishing out, and what Finola is dishing out and the rest of the great actors in there. If you step on somebody's toes let them try to nudge you back into the right direction.  Everybody wants the best for each other. It is a good working environment.

Phyllis: Can you share how involved your character will be with Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and with Franco (Roger Horwath)? 

Matt Cohen: Hopefully very involved. She is the best.

Phyllis: I like that friendship between Elizabeth and Griffin and I like how it is growing.

Matt Cohen: Away from the show, she is this amazing mother and wife and such a kind heart to me as Matt; and then on the show, she is such a sweetheart. And Roger, I have an infatuation with Roger. I am addicted to him. I don't get enough of him. I try to talk to him and I can't. We are both so busy but I want to interact with him more on a regular basis. He is one of my favorite people. I love seeing his face. I love seeing Franco play this weird, dark character.

Phyllis: It is almost like an acting class when you watch him and the choices that he makes.

Matt Cohen: I tell (executive-producer) Frank (Valentini) every time, Can I come up early because Roger has scenes before me, that I want to watch him because I never know how he is going to deliver it. He delivers things not how it is written, (yeah) ever! And it is so beautiful to watch. It’s beautiful.

Phyllis: Is there any character or actor that you want to work with, that you haven't had the chance to yet? Or work with more?

Matt Cohen: Yes.  I would like to get Billy (Miller, Jason) in my life more because we are old friends and I know we have chemistry. We have been friends now for about, six, seven years all along. I would like to work with him and Kelly (Monaco, Sam.)  Everybody really. I recently got to do a couple scenes with Michelle (Stafford, Nina.) She is great. Laura (Wright, Carly) and I did a few things here and there. She always shows up so hard, I am like, I feel like a little puppy.

Phyllis: Yeah. You have a lot of really good people. Can we talk about "Criminal Minds?" Can you preview your character and give us a little tease?

Matt Cohen: All right. I'm on "Criminal Minds Beyond Borders." We don't have an air date for the second season yet, but it is probably in March. I play Gary Sinise's son. So Gary Sinise plays Jack Garrett an FBI guy and I play his son, Ryan Garrett. I am also undercover FBI. I get into many sticky situations and try to step out of my father's shadow. I mean (That is so cool) luckily he is there to rescue me. So let's put it that like that and then in the finale of Season Two, I can pretty much say with 100% certainty that what I do to Gary no one has ever done before. And what I do to Jack, yeah it is a good, it is great, it’s really fun. He is such a tremendous guy. He has his Gary Sinise Foundation that does all this special work. He is such a good human and that is what you want in this business, to be around people that you like - people that are doing good stuff for other people.

Phyllis: I turn back to you? I have some random questions like: "What is your favorite musical artist, band or song?

Matt Cohen: I am a huge Louden Swain fan. They are a relatively new band.
They have a new album out Friday but you should look them up, Louden Swain. They are very rock and roll, alternative, you know, little pop rock, a little kind of gypsy rock, kind of funk rock, right. They are great, a really great band. You have to check them out.

Phyllis: I will. What was your first concert? Do you remember the first concert that you went to?

Matt Cohen: My first concert was, Rage Against The Machine.  I snuck into it. I was thirteen years old at the time. It was also the same day that I got my first black eye because I went into the mosh pit. Some guy punched me in the face. It wasn't like he wanted to fight me, it was just a mosh pit. I shouldn't have been in there because I was a baby. I got what was coming to me.

Phyllis: Did you get grounded when you got home?

Matt Cohen: No. My Dad knew I had gotten what I deserved. He knew I wouldn't want to hold my head up at school the next day. My second concert I saw was Wu-Tang Clan. That was a life-changing experience if you are East Coast person in your heart. I was born and raised in Florida. I spent some time in New York but Wu-Tang Clan, they have changed hip hop forever. Hip hop will never be what it was when they were on top of the charts. No offense towards Drake, (aka Aubrey Graham), who is great. We used to work on a show together. When I was on "South of Nowhere," he was on "Degrassi." He is one of the nicest people, best people. God bless him, but Wu-Tang is in my heart forever.

Phyllis: He will be alright with that I am sure.  

Matt Cohen: He is good, he doesn't need me.

Phyllis: Is there anything on your personal bucket list that you haven't done yet but you would like to?

Matt Cohen: Anything I haven't done, I want to do. I want to live as much life as I am allowed to live before I have to stop living this life, you know. Going to Africa, running with lions, scuba diving with sharks, I don't know. Sitting down and listening to, going to an elderly person's home and listening to all their life stories. I wanna see it all. I wish I could live for two hundred (200) years.

Phyllis: Lastly, if you were in some legal trouble, say you had a dead body in the trunk of your car. Who would you call to get out of that sticky situation? 

Matt Cohen: I would call my wife. Nobody else besides my wife. I could call my Dad but he would be like "Jesus, I have to deal with this."

Phyllis: Yes, call your wife.

Matt Cohen: I would skip that phone call. My wife would be like "don’t tell me anything. I don't want to know what happened. I was never here! She would clean up the whole thing. She would be like Viola Davis in "How to Get Away with Murder." So it is my Matt Cohen situation.

Catch Matt as Dr. Griffin Munro on "General Hospital" weekdays on ABC.