Dude Diary: Chad Duell Opens Up About ‘General Hospital,’ Hating High School And Worshipping Tom Cruise

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Dude Diary  Chad Duell Opens Up About  General Hospital  Hating High School and Worshipping Tom Cruise ChadDuell2 jpgGeneral Hospital’s Chad Duell says he’d be nowhere without Tom Cruise, his acting idol and inspiration.

“He’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing,” Chad tells Crushable during a break between filming scenes on the ABC soap opera. And if he had to work with anyone in the business, “It would be him.”

Chad — who joined General Hospital in April following stints on The Suite Life On Deck and Wizards Of Waverly Place — caught the acting bug as a high-school freshman in Arizona. He quit the football team and got into theater after watching Tom’s interviews and commentary on the DVD for Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe‘s 2001 sci-fi thriller featuring the movie star.

“High school was horrible for me,” says Chad, who says he was mocked for being into drama. Otherwise, he floated in between the preppies, skater-punks and theater kids but belonged to no set group. “I got to a point where I wanted to be by myself. I’m kind of a loner. I don’t like to go to parties.”

Chad says he prefers the company of few people, including his girlfriend (who he’s known since he was a high-school sophomore) and his best guy friend (who he’s been tight with since seventh grade); a self-described “strange person,” Chad feels free to be his “weird and goofy” self around them. In contrast, he has no love for the Arizona peers who didn’t accept his arty side. “You have no idea how much flak I got,” he says. “Jealous, arrogant, dumb people.”

He left all that behind when he moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at the New York Film Academy after taking out a student loan (“I don’t come from remotely any wealth,” he says). He soon landed a manager, agent and auditions; then came bit parts in Suite Life On Deck (“I feel like I didn’t do that great on the show since I was nervous”) and Wizards, where he felt more comfortable and goofed around on the set with star Selena Gomez.

Just weeks ago, he entered the realm of General Hospital and the fictional town of Port Charles, where James Franco is renewing his second stint June 30. (Performance art? Don’t question it! It’s Franco! Who knows what’s goes on in that head of his). Chad took over the role of Michael Corinthos III from actor Drew Garrett; he had previously auditioned for the role but Drew won it in April 2009. Chad got the part when Drew’s contract expired, and producers then scrapped a new character they had developed for him. (Instead of Michael, he would’ve been a love interest for Kristina Corinthos Davis, who is Michael’s sister.)

Michael — adopted son of mob boss Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) — is currently in prison after being sentenced five years for the murder of Claudia Zacchara, whom he bludgeoned to death with an axe.

“He’s a tough kid,” says Chad. “He doesn’t want to be in the mob. If you’re ever a kid .. . in jail with scary people around you, you’re gonna be a freaked-out shell of a kid. … I like showing more sides to him. I want (to show) his heart more than his anger. I don’t want him to be one way.”

Chad — who loves disappearing into different characters — says he and Michael are similar in that they both love their families. But while Michael tends to anger easily, “I let things kind of simmer until I blow up,” he adds.

Besides acting, Chad loves giving advice and being a sounding board for friends’ issues (especially relationship stuff).

“I like when people come to me with their problems,” he says. “I like to try to help them make sense out of it.”