Richard Brancatisano knew Leo's death was coming as he watched last week's episode of "Chasing Life" with his co-stars, but he couldn't remember the circumstances. So when April found her husband dead in their bed, it came as a shock despite his having read the script.
"I was really sad because I love working with Scott [Michael Foster]," Brancatisano, who plays Dominic on the ABC Family show, told Headlines & Global News in an exclusive interview. "We all watched it together. We had some wine to make it easier on us, to soften the blow."
Tonight's episode will pick up immediately following that "pretty harsh" ending. Brancatisano promises the show will "not cut any corners" when it comes to mourning Leo's death.
"It will give fans what they need. So if you're really upset, you definitely want to be watching episode eight," he said. "April obviously goes through a huge process of grieving and everyone feels that. It's great to see how all her relationships change because of Leo's death. Some of them get better, some of them get worse."
Dominic will have to tread lightly if he wants his relationship with April (Italia Ricci) to get better. The two have mended their friendship this season, but he still harbors romantic feelings for his ex, which may not be appropriate to express at this time.
"I think their relationship at the moment is really healthy and I think we see now with Leo dying how supportive Dominic is," the Australian native said. "He definitely offers his hand in support but knows that he's not the one she may want for support, so he lets her know that he's there."
Brancatisano insists Dom would be ready to take care of April and always had the will to do so when she first learned of her cancer diagnosis. He blames his poor reaction to her keeping the cancer a secret from him as the real culprit for their strained relationship and eventual breakup.
"He took it very personally when April wasn't open with him about her cancer and I think he's learned that that wasn't the best way to deal with the situation," he said. "Now he and April have talked about and he's apologized to her. But I think he liked her so much that when he found out she had cancer for a couple of months without telling him, I guess he just felt that maybe this relationship wasn't what he thought it was and maybe April didn't need him."
Leo's passing will reverberate through the remainder of the season and Dominic has to remain sensitive to April's feeling if he wants to keep her in his life, whether as a friend or more.
"Dominic has obviously made it clear that he has feelings for April. Whether or not April really knows that or wants to know it remains to be seen, but I think he's got to be extremely sensitive now that Leo's gone," Brancatisano said. "So when Leo was alive, Dom was happy to fight for April. But now that Leo's gone, it's like competing with a ghost in a way. It's like a whole new environment and he has to find a way to see if this relationship is going to be something without forcing it and pushing April away, which would be extremely easy to do right now."
ABC Family has yet to determine the fate of "Chasing Life" after these past six episodes, but the show has taught Brancatisano a lot about appreciating the time he has on Earth, no matter how long or how short.
"You never know when your time [is going to come] and it just goes to show when you wake up, you got to count your blessings and that's a literal thing... being conscious of those things, looking around you and saying, 'Oh yeah, these are the things I have today,'" he said. "I think April is a great role model because she really loves life and she continues to love life even though it's handed her this shitty card. Because of that she ends up having a great life in however long she's got."
Aside from the death and tragedy, fans can look forward to something a little more cheerful when Brancatisano performs a song in episode 11.
"Dominic plays and sings on the show in a really nice scene in a great setting. It's a good one," he said. "I've seen the cut, and I've got to say I'm really pleased with how it turned out."
Brancatisano will next star in the film "Alex and Eve" which he shot last hiatus in Australia. The romantic comedy tells the story of a Greek Orthodox schoolteacher (Brancatisano) and a Lebanese Muslim lawyer (Andrea Demetriades) who must fight for their love despite their religious differences and parents' disapproval.
"It's a funny look at a situation that a lot of people face," he said. "It's basically bout fear and habits and traditions and moving past that with love."
"Chasing Life" airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT on ABC Family.