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NUNN ON ONE: MOVIES Van Hansis, The name game
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Actor Van Hansis' career started spinning when he landed the role of Luke Snyder on the soap opera As the World Turns. His character came out of the closet in spring 2006, and he did so publicly years later. He went on to perform in several movies such as The Occupant and a short film called Wedding Day.

He recently starred in the independent film Kiss Me, Kill Me, with fellow actors like Gale Harold from Queer as Folk and D.J. Pierce ( also known as Shangela from RuPaul's Drag Race ).

Windy City Times talked with Hansis when he visited Chicago during the Reeling Film Festival.

Windy City Times: Does your name come from your first name or your middle name?

Van Hansis: It is a really weird situation. My mother's maiden name is Vanfossen. Her dad and brother are named Marion but they didn't like that name, so they went by Van. My grandfather was chief of police and would go by Van. My family wanted to call me Van so they named me Evan—no one calls me that. They could have called me anything but since my middle name is Vanfossen they could have still called me Van. It is kind of a double negative and sounds like I am some sort of East German royalty!

WCT: Did you always want to be an actor?

VH: For the most part. I went to a performing arts boarding high school called Walnut Hills in Massachusetts. I knew from a very young age that this is what I wanted to do. I have been very lucky to do it. Now I am starting to branch off into directing and producing, which has been a lot of fun. My heart is always in acting though.

WCT: You went to Carnegie Mellon University?

VH: Yes, and it was a really wonderful experience. Everything is a stepping stone. I met my first agents from that where I got into As the World Turns. I was replacing a character and I looked a lot like that kid. I was supposed to be five years older than him, so it worked.

WCT: You were on that show until the end?

VH: Yes; I was on the very last episode. I had some great stories right at the end of it. I was there five years and it was like grad school. You learn so much on a soap and work so quickly. I really loved it. Culturally it was important with the first gay kiss on a soap opera. It was a big deal and a powerful story. I was a dumb kid at the time but in retrospect I am so glad I was able to tell that story.

WCT: You didn't come out until years later.

VH: No, I didn't. I was out in my private life. When I first started with the show it was my first job. I was scared and very young. I wasn't actively hiding it, but also I didn't want that to define me and I still don't because I think there are a lot more interesting aspects to my personality than the fact that I am gay. Hindsight is 20/20 and it wouldn't have been a big deal if I had come out when I was kid.

WCT: Was it difficult when you did press interviews?

VH: What was scary is that I did an interview for Out Magazine before it aired on the show so I had no idea what was happening. I told them I was straight and knew it was a lie. I got trapped in that lie. I regret doing that, but it was the only time I was flat-out asked.

WCT: How did you wind up in the movie Kiss Me, Kill Me?

VH: This movie came about from my good friend Kit Williamson, who is the creator of Eastsiders, which is a show I am on; the second season just premiered on Vimeo On Demand. We play a gay couple in the middle of infidelity.

Kit is a producer on Kiss Me, Kill Me. He put me in touch with Casper Andreas and David Michael Barrett, who is the producer and screenwriter. I was eventually cast in it.

WCT: How was Casper as a director?

VH: He is wonderful. He has such an awesome eye. He is very specific in what he wants so I think that is really good in a director. He has done so many great gay films. To be in one is a real treat for me.

WCT: Talk about your character.

VH: His name is Dusty. He starts the film as a kept man. He has a long-term relationship and he is in love. He is proposed to at a party and things go sour pretty quickly. That night his fiance is found murdered. Dusty blacked out and doesn't know what happened. He may even be the killer!

WCT: Devil May Call was a movie you were just in?

VH: Yes, it came out earlier this year. It was a really fun horror film I did a couple of years ago. Certain projects just sit for a long time. It's about a murderer stalking a suicide prevention call center.

WCT: What else do you have coming up?

VH: There is a Web series I co-directed, co-produced, co-created and [co-star] in is called Ms. Guidance. We just shot that this past summer and is post-production right now.

It is about a failed actress who returns to her performing arts school to work as a guidance counselor. She is helping students achieve what she couldn't and all of the bitterness and resentment that follows. It is a dark comedy and really funny. It is the first thing I have created so, of course, I am in love with it.

I am shooting a film later this fall called Pharmaecopia. It deals with HIV doctors but it is not a period piece and takes place now. It has to do with the pharmaceutical reps and who they have to answer to. It is a beautiful film about the struggles that people face with their health.

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