|Days of Our Lives|
Paul was created under head writers Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell and introduced in November 2014 as a famous baseball player getting surgery on his shoulder. Paul flirts with every woman he sees but is eventually revealed to be the closeted ex-boyfriend of Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), whom Paul considers to be the love of his life. Though the surgery proves successful, Paul is unable to pitch again and finds comfort in the arms of journalist Will Horton (Guy Wilson) -- who has convinced Paul to come out in a magazine article. In addition to maintaining his image, Paul is afraid to come out fearing his family would not accept him. The series then introduces Paul's mother, Tori (Hira Ambrosino) who supports him even though she is afraid of the public backlash.
The character of Paul was an immediate hit with fans and critics alike. Christopher Sean became a "breakout star" and Sean received critical acclaim for his portrayal. The romantic pairing of Paul and Sonny which became known as PaulSon quickly became a fan favorite pairing despite Paul coming in between the supercouple of Will and Sonny (WilSon). BuzzFeed said Paul as a gay Asian-American in daytime is a "groundbreaking" character.
Famous baseball player Paul Narita comes to Salem to undergo shoulder surgery as a patient of Daniel Jonas (Shawn Christian). Paul flirts heavily with hospital employees Abigail Deveraux (Kate Mansi), Theresa Donovan (Jen Lilley) and his physical therapist Jordan Ridgeway (Chrishell Stause). Paul checks into the hospital under an assumed name to hide his identity from the press. The surgery proves successful and Paul starts physical therapy. During his recovery, Paul has a brief fling with Theresa and they even make plans to go on a date despite Paul being on bed rest. However, Paul is shocked when he runs into his ex-boyfriend Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith). Though Paul still has feelings for Sonny, Paul is not ready to come out and Sonny urges him to move on. Paul has already agreed to an exclusive interview with SONIX magazine about his return to baseball with journalist Will Horton (Guy Wilson). Paul invites Will to his private hotel room for the duration of the interview process. After Christmas, Paul learns that while he will regain normal use of his arm, he can never pitch again and he vents his frustrations to Will. To make matters worse, Paul is a free agent and now has no shot at being picked up by another team. Will convinces Paul to use the article instead to tell the world about his career ending injury and be lesson to other players. Paul reaches out to Sonny and reveals he is ready to come out so they can be together only for Sonny to reveal he is married. However, Sonny encourages Paul to go forward with coming out. Will is quite shocked when Paul flirts with him as they share a bottle of champagne on New Year's Eve.
Thanks to Derek (Spencer Neville), a flirtatious bellboy, Paul learns Sonny tried to visit him on New Year's Eve. Paul believes Sonny has changed his mind about being together and Sonny admits that he briefly considered asking Paul for a loan to help keep his club afloat. Paul knows they still have a connection but Sonny urges him to move on. Knowing Paul is holding back, Will wants to do a follow up interview. Taking his cue from the flirting, Will asks Paul if he is gay. Paul responds by kissing Will and they sleep together on January 8, 2015. Will immediately regrets their tryst and goes to shower when Sonny stops by to return Paul's first home-run baseball. Paul lets him keep the ball and tries to rush him out of the room as Will turns off the shower and Sonny realizes Paul was with someone. Paul believes he has ruined his chances with Sonny. Will then ask Paul to consider coming out in the exposé to be a role model to kids and athletes like him but Paul hesitates. Paul informs Sonny that his career is over and Sonny tries to comfort Paul then calls him out for still being afraid to go public about his sexuality. After much hesitation, Paul finally agrees to come out in the interview and he even opens to Will about the man he loved that proposed to him. Paul tells Will that he hasn't told his family about his plans to come out yet and Will urges him to make sure they hear it from him. Paul agrees but wants to wait until the article's publication is out of his control fearing his mother might talk him out of it. Later, Paul calls his mother Tori (Hira Ambrosino) and his grandfather Hiro (Yoshio Moriwaki) inform them that he is coming out. Tori admits that she was always aware of Paul's sexuality but thought it would be safer if he stayed in the closet. Paul and Tori are nervous about telling the very old and traditional Hiro and they're relieved when he also supports Paul. Days before the article is published, Paul donates blood to the hospital. Paul is shocked to learn that Sonny was stabbed and Sonny's mother Adrienne (Judi Evans) thanks him because his donation saves her son. Paul later starts therapy sessions with Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall). Paul makes plans to leave town but he wants to see Sonny before he leaves. He presents the article and a furious Sonny reveals that Will is his husband and kicks him out of his hospital room. Though Paul is unaware of the connection, Will believes Paul told told Sonny about the affair to break up his marriage. Paul tries to confide in Marlena, but she refers him to another doctor when she reveals that she is actually Will's grandmother. Paul is ready to leave town when John Black (Drake Hogestyn) asks him to participate in a charity benefit for underprivileged kids. Paul agrees to stay and Tori makes him promise to leave town immediately after the charity benefit. John witnesses a close moment between Paul and Sonny and orders him not to interfere in Will and Sonny's marriage. Paul and Will's affair is publicly exposed during Will and Sonny's anniversary celebration in the town square. John accuses Paul of seducing Will and then going after Sonny unaware of their history. Sonny later informs Paul that Tori is hiding the truth about his paternity and Paul confronts her at Sonny's club where he and John come to the realization that they are father and son.
Casting and creation
In February 2014, the series put out a casting call for an actor between the ages of 24 and 35 to play the role of Micah, who was initially supposed to be African American. There was initial speculation that the series was looking to recast the role of Cameron Davis, a role previously played by Nathan Owens. In September, the producers reissued the casting call for the same role looking for a fully Hispanic or partly Hispanic actor. The character would start out as a recurring role with the potential to become contract. Shortly after, the casting notice was reissued for Hispanic or Asian actors to fill the role. In October 2014, several reports surfaced that actor Christopher Sean had been cast in the role of baseball player Paul Narita and would debut on November 7, 2014. A former Mr. Asia USA, Sean was known for his appearances in the web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, Hollywood Heights, The Mindy Project and Hawaii Five-O. Sean's previous experience in daytime included two episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful in 2010.
Of the casting process, Christopher Sean said, "It's pretty crazy the way it worked out." He continued, "But in essence, they didn't know what they wanted, and luckily, I was chosen." Sean further explained "It was a really big casting call." According to casting director Marnie Saitta, "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." They narrowed the search down to three actors, one from each race. The three actors did a network test opposite Freddie Smith who played Sonny. Even then, the producers were still not sure of what direction to go. During his second callback, Sean was asked if he was comfortable with playing a gay character, which he was. However, Sean was very unfamiliar with the genre and questioned if he was making the right choice by taking the role. Sean's manager assured him the role would stir up controversy as a gay professional athlete in the closet. Sean quickly realized what the role could do for him as an actor. "This is bigger than me. If they actually do choose me, I'd be honored," he said. However, it was Sean's ability to speak Japanese that helped him booked the role. At the request of the casting director, Sean sent in a video of himself speaking Japanese. Sean's agent then informed him that he had booked the role.
Archetypes and characterization
Unlike most of the archetypal portrayals of Asian men on television of the time, Paul is not lacking in sex appeal. Ira Madison III from BuzzFeed said "Asian-American men on television have long been relegated to sidekick status" and the character of Paul goes against that trend. He is "meant to have sex appeal and his love life plays out on screen" Madison continued. Paul is the first character of his kind -- a gay Asian-American male character in a lead role -- in daytime. Madison also noted that "Paul didn't have to abandon his Japanese ancestry to have the spotlight" but Days instead "embraced it" by having Paul come out to his grandfather in Japanese. Christopher Sean likened his character's sex appeal to that of Steven Yeun's Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead. When Paul's connection to Sonny was revealed, "[Paul] became one of three prominent gay Asian characters on broadcast television," along with Oliver Hampton (Conrad Ricamora) on How to Get Away With Murder and Brad Cooper (Parry Shen) on General Hospital. However, the character of Paul is the only series regular. Madison said Paul can easily be compared to the Oliver Hampton character, but the difference is that Paul's sex scenes actually drive story.
The initial casting notice described the character as "charismatic confident and charming without even trying. Ladies want to date him and men want to be him. He gives off a very well rounded confident vibe but there is pain in his past that keeps him guarded." The second casting described the character as "charming and honest, which makes women just melt at his feet. He's got plenty of courage, which creates a wild and thrilling aura." The final casting notice called for a Hispanic or Asian actor with "fantastic looks and killer charm making him irresistible. He is masculine and charming but authentic so as not to come off as a 'playa' or slick." Christopher Sean described Paul as being "aware of his emotions" and "intelligent." Sean also described Paul as "extremely charismatic." Because of his success as an athlete, Paul is "accustomed to and enjoys the spotlight." Paul "loves to play with everyone." He's got some "real spunk" Sean said. Paul is "all about being respectful and honorable." However, Christopher Sean admitted that Paul can be so honest, that it raises suspicion among those around him.
Coming out and triangleWhile there was initial speculation that Paul would be a love interest for Theresa Donovan (Jen Lilley), it was quickly revealed that Paul was the closeted ex-boyfriend of Sonny Kiriakis (Smith). When it comes to Sonny, "His intentions are as honorable as he possibly can make them" said Sean. Paul is questioning whether he can actually have a future with Sonny, considering the past they have shared. During an interview, Paul discusses a "lost love" with journalist Will Horton (Wilson). At the same time, Paul is very cautious about who he allows into his inner circle despite advances from bellboy Derek (Spencer Neville) and he still has lingering feelings for Sonny. Paul wants to keep a low profile fearing his sexuality could not only cost him his career, but also cause a rift in his family. In an interview with Daytime Royal Online, Christopher Sean explained that sexual orientation was "taboo" in the Japanese culture. Though they were supportive, Sean revealed he had to have his own "coming out" of sorts when he told his family about the role. It was even more nerve-racking for the actor because of his dad who is in the military where the subject is very much "taboo."
In an interview with Michael Logan for Soap Opera Digest, Christopher Sean said he was shocked when he learned from co-executive producer Lisa de Cazotte that Paul's relationship with Will would become sexual. He was worried about how fans would react to Paul causing trouble for such a popular couple like Will and Sonny. Meanwhile, Sean himself immediately questioned Paul's motives in sleeping with Will. However, "Paul is not the villain in this triangle," he said. "The only thing Paul is guilty of is wanting a human connection," Sean continued. "He wants love" the actor declared. When Paul loses his ability to play baseball, he reaches out to Sonny—who rejects him because he is married—and then he reaches out to Will. When Paul and Will's affair occurs on January 8, 2015, not only does Paul not know Will is married, he is also unaware that Will is married Paul's "only love" Sonny. Sean described the scenes as "pretty hectic" and "very sexual." He continued, "There's lovemaking and then there's sex -- and Paul and Will are having the latter."
By revealing that he is gay, Paul accomplishes his intended goal of being a "role model." After their tryst, Paul develops a "mutual respect" for Will because Will helps him with coming out. Paul develops a certain "admiration" for Will. When it comes to Paul's feelings for Will, Sean explained "it's one of those things, as an adult, you experience somebody, and you know whether or not it works." Despite their history, Paul and Will make the choice to "move forward and be professional." At the same time, Paul still longs for a future with Sonny, but Sean admitted they'd have to work through their differences once the about the affair comes out. But Paul has "true love" for Sonny. As far as Paul is concerned, "Sonny is his other half." When the article comes out and Paul, Sonny and Will finally connect the dots, it gets "rocky." Though Paul is all about "honor," with Will and Sonny at odds, Paul has a little bit of hope for a future with Sonny.
Shortly before Christopher Sean's debut as Paul, Serial Scoop also reported that the series was looking to cast the role of Paul's mother, Tori Narita. In January 2015, it was announced that Hira Ambrosino had been cast in the role of Tori Narita. With Tori's arrival comes speculation about Paul's paternity. While Sean refused to confirm or deny the rumors, he looked forward to potentially working with the veterans of the cast. In an interview with TheBacklot.com, Christopher Sean said "there's going to be quite the plot point introduced with [Tori] coming." While Sean was aware of the coming paternity storyline and its outcome due to the show filming episodes six months ahead, Sean wanted to maintain "tunnel vision" to "focus on what Paul knows only." Tori immediately encourages Paul to leave Salem, but he refuses. Paul loves and respects his mother, but he has to live his life. However, Paul has no clue that his father actually in Salem. In April 2015, Drake Hogestyn who plays John Black confirmed that John and Paul are father and son conceived during his affair with Tori.
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- ^ Halterman, Jim (December 23, 2014). Catching Up with "Days of Our Lives" Actor Christopher Sean. TheBacklot.com. Retrieved on March 13, 2015.
- ^ a b c d e Christopher Sean Interview. Daytime Royalty Online (February 10, 2015). Retrieved on March 13, 2015.
- ^ "Days's Will to Paul: "Are You Gay?". Soap Opera Digest (American Media, Inc.) 40 (2): 7. January 12, 2015.
- ^ Goldberg, Michael (January 11, 2015). Hira Ambrosino Joins 'Days of our Lives' as Tori Narita, Mother of Baseball Player Paul Narita. Serial Scoop. Retrieved on March 13, 2015.
- ^ Michael Logan (journalist) (March 30, 2015). Exclusive: Drake Hogestyn Previews His Days of Our Lives Bombshell. TV Insider. TVGM Holdings, LLC. Retrieved on March 30, 2015.