Galen Gering offers insight into his/her alter ego

How is the Rafe you’re playing today different from the Rafe who debuted in Salem? “When I was first cast, Rafe was certainly less experienced with regards to the comings and goings of Salem. He was faced with the hijinks of Sami and was in a new town. With experience and exposure to Salem, he’s a little more easygoing now. There’s a lot that’s happened over the decades that Rafe has been in town. Not that he’s become jaded, but he’s been exposed to myriad things. So he’s become a little more relaxed in the face of adversity, certainly as a cop. Every single day you’re faced with kidnappings, baby swaps, murders…. I think Rafe had the impression that he was coming to a small town where not a lot was happening, but clearly that’s not been the case at all. There are a lot of high stakes, which make for compelling storytelling. Now it’s like, ‘Okay. Just another day in Salem.’ He’s become well-versed with the insanity that is Salem and has learned to roll with the punches a little better over time.”

You started out as a special agent, then became a cop. Did you like the transition? “Rafe came in to look after Sami, because she was in the witness protection program. Then he quickly transitioned to the Salem PD after that. It’s great. It’s super-fun. I get to interact with so many different people, and I’m involved in a lot of the stories that are happening. As a character, you don’t necessarily always have to be in a relationship. Your relationship can be as the commissioner or police officer to the town and not in terms of you with a girl. With that said, it’s great to have both.”

What are the best parts about playing a cop? “I love when people come into the police station and are losing their s**t and freaking out. It’s funny and fun to watch. It’s fun to know that I have this certain ground — I don’t know if it’s a moral high ground, but the law and what is right to stand upon. It’s fun to [play a character who] keeps the town safe. He’s the rudder that keeps everyone moving forward in the right direction.”

Who is Rafe’s best friend? “Of late, it was Eli. They were comrades. He’s a guy he worked with and could confide in. He’s morally upstanding and on the right side of the law. I like the relationship they had. Eli was someone Rafe could discuss everything with and who would hold him to account and see through his b.s. As a friend, that’s a really important quality. He would call Rafe on whatever it is and was a good reader of things. When Rafe would tell him some stories, he’d be like, ‘Is that really how it went down?’ ”

Does Rafe have a mentor? “All the people that came before him. When he first came on, Bo was obviously there. Then Abe. Also, he’s worked with John Black and Patch. All these people had adventures. They certainly helped paint a picture of how it should be and how it worked in Salem. You have to look at all those people and take something. They paved the road that you’re walking down before you.”

What are Rafe’s strengths and weaknesses? “His strengths would definitely be his devotion to his family, first and foremost, and his ability to be the rock and pillar. He’s the person who will drop anything and always be there for them. That’s a really great quality. He’s a guy who has so much love for his family and will do anything for them. Oddly, I think his strength, at times, is also a weakness. He tries to do too much for too many people. In his relationships, for instance, that has become a weakness. When he was with Hope, she was feeling like she wasn’t the center of his world a lot of times, because he was spreading himself out and trying to help so many people. That weakness has been poignant for Rafe in his love life. It’s become troublesome and part of his inability to have a lasting relationship. I wonder if he can figure that out moving forward.”

Who is Rafe’s archenemy? “Definitely Stefano and EJ, if we’re going back a decade or so. EJ was a huge thorn in his side and, obviously, they shared the same ex in Sami. At the time, EJ was doing all kinds of awful and duplicitous stuff. He was probably Rafe’s biggest adversary then.”

Who is the love of Rafe’s life? “Sami was his first experience in Salem. Looking back, they had the biggest connection, and she was probably the deepest of his relationships. It offered Rafe things he really wanted in his life with children. This is a guy who’s always wanted kids, but has never had any. He was able to raise Sami’s kids and was deeply connected to them. He still is to this day. He had that with Hope, too. He and Ciara have had an incredible relationship. It’s like father/daughter. That was a really important [relationship] to him as well. I don’t want to discount that.”

What life event or events do you think most affected Rafe? “Any time you lose a loved one it would be poignant. With Sami he had a baby storyline where they lost a child [Grace, who they thought was Sydney]. Rafe always wanted his father [Eduardo] to be more to him than he was in his life, to be a better person, to be a father figure for him. Any time his father came into his life and would abruptly leave, there was always this big vacancy, this void that was left or was never filled. It left a big hole in Rafe’s life.”

If you could add one thing to the character what would it be? “To sometimes just throw caution to the wind and not overthink everything. It’s hard, because he has a job that’s very demanding and he has to be at the center of it. It would be interesting to see what things would look like and what the ramifications would be in his personal and professional lives if he were just to go off the reservation for a little while.”

What do you like and dislike about Rafe? “I love that he’s there for the people that he cares about no matter what. He will drop everything in an instant to do something for anyone else. That’s an incredible quality. It would be neat to see him maybe be less tied to his job and potentially make more mistakes, to have more peaks and valleys. He’s a very stable person. That’s great, don’t get me wrong. But instability is also interesting and maybe letting loose a little.”

What characters/actors from Rafe’s past would you like to see back on the show? “Stefano would be amazing and Arianna, Rafe’s other sister, who was played by Lindsay Hartley, who is amazing. Or Rafe’s father. Their relationship was always interesting.”

What were the best and the worst times in Rafe’s life? “The best times would have been any time he was getting married, that celebration of life. Also, when Gabi got out of prison, because Rafe thought she was going to die in jail. There was a time when our family was all together, the Hernandez clan was all together in Rafe’s house. Those were really neat special moments to celebrate. The worst times would certainly be losing [baby Grace] to meningitis, one of his sisters [Arianna] dying, his father failing Rafe and not being there for him, finding out his brother [Dario] was involved with drugs, and Gabi going to prison.”

What would you pick as Rafe’s signature storyline from your time on the show? “I loved [the Rafe/Sami/EJ] triangle. That was a lot of fun. Everyone was heavily invested in that.”

What comment do you get the most from fans about Rafe? “The one thing that stands out to me that I love is that he never gives up. In the face of adversity Rafe never gives up. So many fans have said that him being that way has helped them get through the hard times in their lives. I never thought I would hear anything like that. Honestly, that’s such a powerful statement to have heard time and time again from people. It’s incredible that a character on a TV show has inspired people to get through tough times in their lives. That’s the neat part about playing this character.”

Me vs. Him

What are the biggest personality differences between you and Rafe? “If faced with the kind of adversity that Rafe’s been faced with in his life, I don’t know if I could be as positive. His ability to bounce back from really bad things happening in his life is pretty incredible. I don’t know that I would have that intestinal fortitude. I certainly don’t think I’m as brave. He’s involved in shoot-outs and stuff. I wouldn’t sign up for that kind of stuff intentionally. I don’t know that I could run a police station and deal with all the insanity that he deals with.”

Who has a better job? “I have a better job. It’s not even close. I get to work with people that I love on the daily. His work involves constantly being attacked by people and dealing with murderers, rapists and hysteria. There is a little bit of hysteria with the actors I work with, but not that much. Not that level [laughs].”

Who’s better with a gun? “Rafe better be better. His life depends on it. I don’t even own a gun, but I have shot all kinds of guns and know how to use a firearm.”

Who’s better in a crisis? “Rafe is way better. I would totally fold under the pressure [he deals with]. There’s no way. I’d like to say I am [better], but are you kidding me? The decades of stuff that this guy has had to deal with? Forget it.”

Who has a better house? “I definitely have a better house, although I will say this. There are parts of Rafe’s house we haven’t even seen. The ability for Rafe to have many, many people in his family live there? It’s bigger than we even know. It must have secret bedrooms. He had his whole family there at one point comfortably. My house has a better yard, a better living room and a better game room. It has a Pop-A-Shot basketball game and tons of musical instruments. It used to have a Foosball table and a pool table. I don’t know if Rafe has a pool, but I have a pool.”

Who’s more into sports? “That would maybe be a tie. Rafe’s definitely more into baseball. That would be his sport. I’m more into basketball.”

How is your relationship with Camila Banus different from Rafe’s with Gabi? “Honestly, it’s very similar, although I don’t think Camila is nefarious in real life like Gabi is. We play practical jokes on each other. I mean, I used to play practical jokes on her, but she’s completely crazy like Gabi is. If I do one little thing to her, she comes back with a ton of crazy. So that’s very similar. We have a very brother/sister relationship in real life, too, which is why it naturally flows when we get on screen.”