Days of our Lives' Christopher Sean (Paul Narita) is all the buzz in every sense of the word. Not only does it seem like nobody can stop talking about his character and the havoc his presence has wreaked on the relationship between Sonny (Freddie Smith) and Will (Guy Wilson), but he was also the main subject of a recent Buzzfeed article that praised his performances during Paul's emotional coming out scenes. The noise surrounding Sean has certainly been big, but he seemed calm at the center of the storm during soapcentral.com's chat with the actor.
As exciting as the past several months have been for Sean, he's been able to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground -- partially due to the way he was raised, and partially due to the fact that landing the role almost seems kismet. "It's pretty crazy the way it worked out," he explains of the fact that before he was hired, DAYS didn't really know what they wanted from the character. "It was a really big casting call. They didn't know what they wanted, and after speaking with the casting director, Marnie Saitta, she said it came down to a group of Asian boys, a group of black boys, a group of white boys, and there was a large amount of all of them," he reveals. "And it dwindled down to three races: it was myself, a black gentleman, and a white gentleman. So just the three of us, and they still didn't know what they wanted. We were doing a network test, and Freddie Smith had to actually kiss all three of us."
At this point, the powers that be still didn't seem to know what they wanted from Paul, but a phone conversation Sean had with Saitta sealed the deal. "I went home and got a call from Marnie, who said, 'Hey, do you speak Japanese?' And I said, 'Yeah, I do,'" he recalls. "So I sent in a video of me speaking Japanese, and then they were like, 'Okay, I think we have our decision.' Then I got a call from my agent saying that yes, I got the role. But in essence, they didn't know what they wanted, and luckily, I was chosen. And I thank God every day that I get to be a part of this spectacular show, especially it being the 50th anniversary."
Admittedly, Sean was a bit hesitant to sign on with the soap, not because of the role, but because of his lack of knowledge on all things daytime. "On my second callback, they said to me, 'Hey, are you comfortable playing a gay role?' And I said, 'Yeah, that's fine,' but I went home, and I called my manager, and I said, 'Hey, man, do you think this is going to be a wise choice?'" he recalls. "And my manager... just broke it down to me how many people started on soap operas. So I was just kind of questioning, because I didn't know, but it got to a point where I said to myself, 'I'm bartending. I want to be an actor,' and to play a role like this, that has so much meaning to it, I thought, you know, 'This is bigger than me. If they actually do choose me, I'd be honored.' So I was very happy to jump on board."
However, being the son of a Japanese mother and a dad who worked in the Navy, Sean was a bit hesitant to break the news to his parents. In fact, he likens it to the somewhat similar stress real-life homosexuals might feel when they tell their parents they're gay. "Culturally, it is taboo to have dishonor in any way in the Japanese heritage, and I grew up in the military, with my father being in the Navy, and even there, [the subject is] very taboo," he explains. "So it was nerve-racking for me... I almost had my own little coming out where I said, 'Guys, I'm going to be playing a homosexual on television. What are your thoughts?'"
Fortunately, their reaction mirrored Paul's family's reaction. "Both of them reacted so positively, and they supported me so much," he says. "It was one of those things where I was like, 'Whoa, I can't believe I was stupid enough to even be worried.'"
Once he broke the news to his parents, however, he then had to face the possible wrath of DAYS fans. Being that WilSon is the first male/male married couple in daytime, the pairing is quite beloved and special -- which Sean knew right away. "I remember saying to Freddie and Guy, 'I'm sorry!'" he says with a laugh. "But as I tell everyone, every good show needs conflict. Without conflict, there's no storyline. So I was like, 'Look, I'm only giving you guys more work, and we're going to have a lot of fun doing it.' And they were like, 'Heck yeah! High-five.'"
As it stands now, it looks as if Will and Sonny's marriage is crumbling. Sonny knows that Will slept with Paul, which was devastating news for the club owner. And unfortunately for Paul, Sonny's anger isn't only directed toward his husband. Paul was left having to explain that he had no idea that Will was Sonny's husband, and he also was left begging Sonny to understand that his fling with Will didn't mean anything.
"Paul has an admiration and a respect for Will for helping him come out. They did have sex, and they did share that romance... but it's one of those things, as an adult, you experience somebody, and you know whether or not it works," Sean explains of Paul's feelings toward Will. "With Sonny's character, Paul has true love for him, and it's one of those [loves] where he's got the white wedding planned in his mind, and 'Everything can be perfect, all I need is him.' So in Paul's mind, Sonny is his other half."
As for whether or not Paul will feel guilty for hurting Sonny, even though he truly had no idea that Will was his husband, the actor says the audience will have to wait and see. "But what I can say," he previews, "is that it's going to be a rough-and-tumble ride for the three of them [because the writers] are genius with what they're doing. They know what they're going to do, and they've been doing it for 50 years strong, and so I'm just one of the crowd and excited to see what they come up with."
Though fans are eager to find out what will happen between Paul, Sonny, and Will, they're just as curious about where Paul comes from. In fact, rumors are swirling that he'll be revealed as the son of a major character on the canvas -- with many fingers pointing to Stefano. So what does Sean think of the possibility of his alter ego being a DiMera? "We film six months ahead, and I know a lot more, so to even give an opinion would sway people, and I try to stay away from swaying people in any direction," he says with careful consideration. "But I can, however, say legitimately that the actors that have been on the this show for so long [are incredible], and to be able to play their son would be an honor."
As for whether or not he's noticed any Stefano or Chad-like qualities in Paul, the actor remains just as cryptic. "I'm very tunnel vision when it comes to the show, because I'm trying to focus on what Paul knows only. I actually don't even read other people's storylines, because I want to be just as surprised as Paul is in the moment, so I stay away from that entirely," he explains. "But I love Billy Flynn [Chad]. He is such a great actor, and he has captivating eyes. Great guy. This is just a personal opinion, but I love him."
No matter how it turns out, Sean is thankful for the chance to portray such a layered and unique character. "Paul is a groundbreaking character and [written] true, so to be able to play this character, it just makes my heart fill with joy," he says of being one of only three prominent gay Asian characters on broadcast television (the other two being Conrad Ricamora's Oliver Hampton on How to Get Away With Murder and Parry Shen's Brad Cooper on General Hospital, both of whom are on recurring status rather than contract like Sean).
In fact, the actor's original goal was to find a career in which he could help people, with acting being at the top of the list. He explains that his father was in the Navy, and his way of communicating with the family while he was away at sea is what originally inspired Sean to start acting. "At the time, he would record himself reading us books, and he would send the tape to our mom, and she would play that tape for us, and we would sit in front of the TV watching our dad [perform the words in the books]," he shares. "As he was reading, he'd say, 'Christopher, sit down!' And I was like, 'What?! How did he know I was standing?!' And then my mom would get the camcorder, and she'd record us, and I remember as a kid, the stick figure of a man that I was, I would say, 'Yeah, I'm getting big and strong. I'm going to catch up to you, dad!' So I was always comfortable in front of the camera, and I always wanted to be on TV. And I've always wanted to help, in some way, everyone. So knowing that, I thought, 'How do you help a broad amount of people? Well, acting or politics,' and I thought, 'Well, I want to be an actor, because then at least I can do action films and then I can use that platform and help change lives with non-profits,' so I was like, 'Well, that's what I'm doing. I'm going to change lives.'"
Days of our Lives may not be an action film, but the show handed him the perfect character to change lives, and Sean has already impacted many viewers who struggle with the truth about themselves or a loved one. "I've gotten messages from people saying, 'I wish I had the bravery that you have,' and I never say, 'Just do it!'" he shares of his responses. "I say, 'You know, when your time comes, you're going to live however you want to live, whether you're honest with yourself or if you're not. It's your life. You're going to live it happily or hidden, it's your choice.' I always tell people, though, the bottom line is the more honest you are with yourself, and the more honest you are with other people, the more people will respect that. Whether they love you or not, they'll respect that."
And as for the important scenes in which Paul came out to his mother and grandfather, the actor says he tried not to be nervous when it came time to film. "I just thought about being as honest to the material as possible," he says. "I studied and studied and studied, I kid you not. I mean, probably just that night, I studied for like six or seven hours, just going over the same material over and over and over to make sure I was there, mentally. And I was still there mentally [the next day]. I got to set, and they were like, 'Chris, are you okay?' I was already where I needed to go in the scenes. But, yeah, I wasn't nervous at all, because I'd put so much work into it, and I was prepared to be as honest to the material as possible."
In the end, he's proud of the work he did that day but credits the crew for the impact they delivered. "I saw them, and I thought, 'Wow,'" he enthuses. "I mean, the way they shot it, the way they edited it, the music behind it, the portrayal of Paul, I mean, the show did such a great job with this storyline, and like I said, I'm enamored by the writing and with the team."
Who do you hope ultimately takes Sonny's heart: Will or Paul? And who do you think could end up being Paul's father? Share your thoughts in our Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.