On General Hospital, Anna (Finola Hughes) just learned why the new doctor in town, Griffin Munro (Matt Cohen), was following her around in heart-tugging scenes on Tuesday’s episode of the ABC daytime drama series. As it turns out, Griffin is the biological son of Anna’s late love, Duke Lavery. Sad, but true, Griffin never got the chance to know his father, and Duke never knew he had fathered a child. When Anna learns, via the letter that Griffin’s mother wrote to her son, that the woman visited Port Charles and saw the love between Anna and Duke, so she never told him she was pregnant, it not only shocked, but also touched Anna. This sets the stage for Anna and Griffin to have an unbreakable bond and connection.
Watching the incomparable Finola Hughes’ masterful performance in those scenes was like everything else she does on GH … simply divine. There is never a false note in any performance given by the mighty Hughes, which is why for decades she has remained beloved by millions of General Hospital viewers. On-Air On Soaps chatted with Finola to get her thoughts on the newest addition to the GH family, Matt Cohen, what she thought of the plot twist, and what it means for Anna.
However, Anna is also in plenty of hot water! She is still trying to find, and bring to justice Carlos Rivera (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) for Duke’s murder, while trying to stay out of prison herself for shooting him in the first place! All the while, she is attempting to find out just what cunning and conniving DA Paul Hornsby (Richard Burgi) is truly up to! And if that wasn’t enough, Anna, who has been going through so much loss in her life, has become fast friends with her therapist, Dr. Andre Maddox (Anthony Montgomery). That’s a relationship that is forming much to the chagrin of her good friend, Jordan Ashford (Vinessa Antoine). Could Andre, or Paul be the next man in Anna’s love life?
In addition, Finola opens up about taping her final scenes with Jason Thompson (Ex-Patrick, now Billy Y&R), and her most recent goodbyes to Kimberly McCullough (Robin) and Brooklyn Rae Silzer (Emma) following Scrubs long-awaited happy reunion. You will learn it was just as emotional for this Daytime Emmy winner, as it was for longtime viewers. Classic and timeless, Finola makes playing the one-of-a-kind character of Anna Devane effortless. Here’s what she shared about all the drama going on in her alter-ego’s complex life.
GH fans finally saw the reveal yesterday of just who Dr. Griffin Munro is related to, and how it impacts Anna. How does Anna feel about this? This is a connection to Duke!
FINOLA: It’s wonderful. She is thrilled. Anna is so happy to have family, and somebody that is related to Duke, and that a little part of him can live on through this man that she meets. I think like anybody would feel it’s lovely to see children of your friends, or loved ones grow up. For Anna, something as poignant as this, after she lost the man that she loves, she meets his offspring that she didn’t know existed. Griffin didn’t not know he was Duke’s son, either. Duke never knew, and it is bittersweet. Griffin wants to find out about his father, and so he really relies on Anna and others to tell him stories about his father.
Take me through the scene in your own words on the set-up that finally saw Anna learn Griffin was Duke’s biological son.
FINOLA: Griffin comes to Anna and says he has been following her, and she had this weird feeling about him. Then Anna looks him up and sees his middle name is Fitzhugh, which is one of Duke’s family names in his ancestry. At that point, Anna figures Griffin is just going to be a relative of Duke’s. So she goes to the hospital, and she asks him if he wants to take a walk with her. They take a walk, and he tells her that he is Duke’s son. When he is called away to the hospital, by accident he leaves the letter behind that his mother had given to him when he was a kid. The letter explains everything, and why his mother never reached out to Duke to tell him that he ever had a son, and Anna finds out those reasons.
You received so much praise and kudos following the airing of the scenes on social media. How did you feel about the material? Do you feel the writers did it justice?
FINOLA: I thought it was beautifully written. Matt Cohen is just lovely to work with, and we have had some really nice scenes together. It is really a lovely story. I think Matt must like it too, because he sorts of walks into a lineage in a way, and there are all of these kinds of threads including: Carlos murdering Duke, Griffin helping Sonny (Maurice Benard) and that Sonny and Duke worked together. So there are all of these kinds of links and fingers that reach out in Port Charles for his character. I think it’s a nice way for Matt to enter the story.
It’s a great way to bring in Matt to GH and tie him to an existing beloved character such as Anna, and then out of that it also gives Anna an extended family. Particularly, because she lost her family with Duke’s death and Robin, Patrick and Emma moving to California. Hopefully, this relationship between Anna and Griffin will blossom as a solid relationship for the two of them.
FINOLA: Yes, it’s a lovely anchor. I like that, and Anna is definitely looking for one, and she has even said in the not so distant past that she doesn’t have anyone to live for, because how often is she going to see Robin (Kimberly McCullough) and her granddaughter Emma (Brooklyn Rae Silzer).
Back at the end of February, you had an incredibly moving scene where Anna was speaking with Andre at the hospital chapel. Watching it you just felt so bad for Anna, and all the loss she has had. It was a great performance, and I am glad they wrote that scene for you.
FINOLA: Thank you. Yes, Anna is alone. We are alone at different times in our lives, and it can be hard, enriching, and sad, and all of those things. But also I think we are social creatures, and we are always looking for meaningful contacts. I think Griffin is a very meaningful person in Anna’s life.
Did you know when GH was bringing in Matt Cohen to play the new neurosurgeon at GH that he was going to turn out to be playing Duke’s son?
FINOLA: I did not. Matt actually auditioned for the part with me and another actress. I knew there would be some link, but I had no idea it would be as Duke’s son. When they chose him I was happy. He was so good, but then, of course, Matt has this look about him that he could be from Duke’s family.
On Twitter, everybody was hoping that Griffin was going to turn out to be Anna and Duke’s biological son! (Laughs)
FINOLA: I know, and I kept saying, “Guys, I am pretty sure Anna would know if she had a baby. They don’t just fall out.” (Laughs) It doesn’t really just happen that way – she would had to have been in a coma for nine months not to know! (Laughs)
What does Anna think of Andre, and her burgeoning relationship with him? He is working as Anna’s therapist, but he is dating her friend, Jorda. But there seems to be some sparks there. Is Anna attracted to him?
FINOLA: I think she really likes Andre. Anna feels very comfortable around him. I think there is a lot of transference that happens with therapists and anybody that is saying that they are caring about you, or wants to look after you, or are interested in what is going on with you. It is very seductive, and makes you feel better about yourself. I think Anna has found him at a very low point in her life. Andre has been very kind to her, but she obviously respects her friends, and has been very quick to explain what things might look like, and what they really are. She came clean to Jordan on the episode that aired this week. I think she feels that Andre is a very good friend that she can talk to.
How has it been working with Anthony Montgomery?
FINOLA: He is so sweet, and really fun.
Let’s talk about your final scenes with Kimberly McCullough, Jason Thompson, and Brooklyn Rae Silzer that precipitated Jason’s departure from GH, and gave Robin and Patrick their happy ending and a wedding. You were so emotional on-camera throughout. How was it filming those? As a viewer, it was hankie-time tenfold!
FINOLA: That was brutal! It was really harsh. Basically, you are saying goodbye to your dear friends, but I see Jason, and I see Kimberly all of the time. I know that Jason makes a point of talking with Brooklyn, and I will try to get better about that too, because she is such a love.
Frank Valentini announced that Brooklyn would be coming back to GH this spring so Emma can visit Anna. What are your thoughts on this?
FINOLA: I hope so! It would be fantastic to work with Brooklyn again.
I thought Kimberly was so brilliant in her last visit to GH, and it was made all the more poignant after she came forward in her blog about what she had been going in her personal life in 2015. During the wedding, and the scenes before and after it, she did some her most beautiful work, ever.
FINOLA: Kimberly is fabulous, and I always thought she was amazing. It’s all so grounded with Kimberly. She is so easy to work.
When you were done with the scenes with Jason, Kimberly, and Brooklyn were you a mess? What happened when they yelled, “Cut!”?
FINOLA: I think I turned to our executive producer Frank Valentini and said, “Stop taking people away from me!” (Laughs) Frank just grinned, but it was rough. It was rough for everybody. Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) was crying, and Tristan Rogers (Robert) too. It was amazing. The scenes were really well written, and we had meaningful scenes. I think when everything comes together like that it all sort of works. Also, it’s like this real family, and I think even Kimberly said at one point between takes while we were all sitting around together: “You are all my second family … every single one of you.” And it’s true. I have known her for over 30 years. It’s crazy. It was Kimberly’s birthday the other weekend, and we all went away to celebrate.
You have given so many great performances. Do you ever watch your work?
FINOLA: I don’t like to watch back my work, but I do watch other people’s work. Every now and then I will watch a scene, and then I will fast-forward, but I like to watch the story. I have this thing where I like to be on the inside of it, as opposed to watching myself. There are some actresses who are really good about it, but it just doesn’t work for me.
When it comes to Daytime Emmy time that must be incredibly challenging for you, because you would have to sift through your work to find your submission for contention, right?
Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com
FINOLA: It was horrible! There are several producers who told me what they felt I needed to watch and consider. I just have this habit of throwing the script in my closet if I thought the tape day was interesting, or something happened. So I throw it in my closet, and then I bring all those scripts out and kind of go through them come Emmy time, but usually the producers tell me what to look at. I’m horrible at it … I’m the worst! (Laughs)
Did you eventually watch what you submitted?
FINOLA: Yes, I did watch. And then I made one of our producers Michelle watch, and then I made Susan Flannery (Ex-Stephanie, B&B) watch. For the Pre-Noms, I chose when Anna tells Andre that she killed Carlos, I think. (Laughs) Second round, I think I used some of that, and some of the Duke material.
I also remember thinking for the Emmys that you had that wonderful final scene between Luke and Anna, as Tony Geary (Luke) was exiting GH. Anna had Duke’s ashes, and was taking them to Scotland as she was grieving so badly, and the two longtime friends had a bittersweet goodbye.
FINOLA: I did not use that scene, but I really liked doing that scene. It was great, and it was my last scene with Tony. I don’t know how Jane Elliot (Tracy) got through her final scenes with Tony, but for me that was like massive on so many fronts. Just to say goodbye to Tony, because he was going to another country, and it was huge for the history of the show. That was big!
What do you think makes the perfect Emmy reel?
FINOLA: Clearly, I don’t know. (Laughs) I think what is interesting and important is the material, and the words you are saying, and when that all jells together it’s magic. Look we all love what we do, and I just think the actors in this medium work so hard, and they love what they do. We get to play, but you have got to bring you’re A-game every day. It’s really extraordinary the work that goes out, and the type of work that everybody does. To do such a volume of work and so fast, and I think that of the writers, too. I think, “How on earth do they come up with that much content?”
How do you feel Anna is being written under current GH head writers, Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman? Do you see a difference? Obviously, fans have noticed there are longer two-person scenes; as opposed to the way former GH head writer Ron Carlivati had written the show, which had more unexpected shocks, quicker scenes, and pacing, etc.
FINOLA: Yes the scenes are longer, which is much easier for us as actors. It is easier to do, because you don’t just feel you get one sentence, and then they are on to something else. It got very quick there for awhile. But for me I honestly feel if writers like writing for Anna then they always find her voice. I have been really lucky that way. I think Ron and his team found her voice, and I think with Jean and Shelly, Jean has known Anna’s voice longer, and that they have gone more into her heart, a little bit. Whenever writers manage to hit that spot where you are speaking from the heart, it’s kind of great. I think right now we are on the trajectory where people are very connected on the show, and it’s become more about relationships. But whoever has been writing, I have always felt supported in the character.
I think Ron loved the character of Anna, and gave you some very unique and fun material to play.
FINOLA: He does the love the character of Anna, and he did give me some very extraordinary stuff to play. Now I am also getting some great words and heart. I have been very, very fortunate.
Let’s talk about the Carlos situation … she has a big problem there!
FINOLA: … Oh, Anna is obsessed with Carlos! She wants the pain of losing Duke to go away so she thinks getting Carlos is the way to do it. She wants Carlos to turn state’s evidence on Julian (William deVry).
And then will she feel better?
FINOLA: I talked to one of the directors about that recently, because Anna kept saying, “I’m going to face what happens, when it happens,” because Carlos will turn Anna in. She keeps saying, “I’m happy to go to prison. I don’t care.” But I think the more that looms, I think Anna will begin thinking, “Oh, my God. This really could happen.” You can be full of vibrato, because you want to bring somebody to justice, and saying, “I don’t care what happens to me,” but then the closer you get to it, I think the vibrato might fall away.
Did you know when Anna shot Carlos that he would end up being alive? Jeffrey Vincent Parise has more than nine lives on GH! (Laughs) Were you concerned thinking, “I have murdered this character! Where do I go from here?”
FINOLA: First, I did not know they were going to be bringing Carlos back, and neither did Jeffrey! I did feel weird about killing the character, and then I also put in my head that Anna has killed other people, but it has been off-camera. So maybe Anna hasn’t always been that scrupulous. I guess it was more important that Anna was the good hero that you could rely on, plus I think the show wanted to bring Carlos back. So it worked for story.
Anna is haunted by what she has done, don’t you think?
FINOLA: I did something on the show that we taped that you will see soon, where I added a line saying, “What am I doing?” I think it really shocked Anna that she thought she shot and killed Carlos. That kind of anger that she had with Faison (Anders Hove) had welled up in her too. She could not control herself. I don’t think that was a particularly great thing to learn about yourself. I try to keep that alive, but we will see how that pans out with Carlos, but there is this element for her about that loss of control.
I hope there is a showdown scene between Anna and Carlos!
FINOLA: I do want Anna to talk to Carlos a little bit, particularly about how he managed to pull it off before she takes him down!
There is yet another man circling Anna’s life … Paul Hornsby! What is going on with Anna and Paul? Is she attracted to this guy, or does Anna think he is full of it?
FINOLA: Richard Burgi is so good at playing duplicitous and slick. You can’t get a read on Paul, and he is always one-upping Anna. It’s great! They are extremely good foes. I really don’t how that is going to unfold, just because Paul is so slick.
Is Anna on to him, or is she confused by him?
FINOLA: Anna thinks she is on to him, and then he does something. I have a line that hasn’t aired yet where I say something along the lines of: “Just when you think you know him you learn something more about what makes him tick.” I think that is in a nutshell what she thinks about Paul. That just when she thinks she is on to him, he does something else. Paul is a really good chess player. Anna does not know if she can trust him at all, and I don’t think she does.
Anna always finds herself in her life with these men that she has this push/pull with. So, I keep thinking she could be really into him!
FINOLA: Sometimes Anna is working him, but there was the time Paul offered her the whiskey, and she thought she was working him, and they are off into this whole other thing. She has been offered the whiskey, and then she is thinking, “How did I end up here, really?” What I like about it is often times you have to dumb a character down for someone else to win. With Anna and Paul it’s cat and mouse. They lose and then they win, and they lose, and then they win. They keep upping the stakes. Just when you think Anna has been made a fool of, she turns around and gets something over on him. Just when you think Anna has won over Paul, he comes around the other side and zing’s her!
But I think Anna must like that! She has always liked a guy who has challenged her.
FINOLA: Yes, but at the end of the day, if he is the district attorney, I think Anna’s Achilles heel is that she honestly believes in the rule of law and justice. If you are going to pose as somebody who is upholding that, and still break the law, that is where for some reason she is like, “I’m done. That doesn’t work for me.” Whereas if you are an out and out criminal, there is something honest about that, and that’s weird.
At this point, does Anna know Paul is communicating with Carlos?
FINOLA: I think she suspects that Paul is communicating with him, and I think her reaction will be interesting when she finds out. This next two weeks coming up is a lot about that story, and so it’s kind of fun right now.
Do you think it’s too soon after Duke’s death for Anna to have a romance?
FINOLA: I haven’t had one, and Duke was her big love. I think it’s a difficult job for writers. They have to feel when it’s going to work. They watch and want to wait and see, and you can’t force that stuff, because the audiences won’t buy it. In the past, the audiences have bought into the on-screen romances Anna has had.
Is this a good time in your history as Anna on General Hospital?
FINOLA: Honestly, it’s always a good time in the history of the character. I always get excited about what I get to do. It’s a gene I have. Even when it’s a crazy story, I am like, “Great! Let’s go!” (Laughs)
You have such passionate fans on social media. What do you think about their loyalty, and what they share with you on Twitter, etc?
FINOLA: I must say, I find fans incredibly authentic. They really see what you do, and I think a lot of people on our show find that quite gratifying, that people really watch for all the details. It’s great. It’s also surprising to us when they find something we didn’t notice and we go, “What? That’s crazy!” (Laughs) It’s amazing, even with the holes in the stories, they will say something, and then we go, “Oh! They are right. Damn.” Sometimes I kick myself, and I go, “Why didn’t I see that? I am such an idiot!” (Laughs) It could be something as simple as changing a line a little. We are just moving so fast that things go by, and you don’t pick up on it, but a fan will.
In closing, back to Griffin, you obviously are Team Matt Cohen, and big believer in his talents and what he will bring to the table as Anna and Griffin get to know each other better.
FINOLA: I hope the reveal scenes were heartwarming to the viewers. Matt is so terrific, and I think the audience is going to love him and the story he is stepping into. He is an incredibly skilled actor, and his ability to play is wonderful. He fits right in at GH, and it is lovely when an actor can do that. I think the audience is going to love to watch him grow, and I even think Anna says that: “This is like having a piece of Duke.” And this is going to be like having a piece of him, because this actor really has the ability to bring warmth, and humor, and drama to his role. He is very up for the job! He is perfect for this part, and he knows what he is doing.
I remember thinking that it will be interesting to see the fans reaction to the reveal; because the fans of GH care so much about Anna … they love her … and you!
FINOLA: Awww, I love that, and I love them for it.
So, what did you think of the scenes between Anna and Griffin, where she learns he is Duke’s son? What have you thought of the performances of Finola Hughes throughout Anna’s current plight? Do you think Anna will fall for Andre, or Paul, or neither? Did you enjoy and cry buckets during the final Drake-Scorpio family scenes featuring Anna saying goodbye to her family? What should Anna do in regards to Carlos Rivera? Do you want her to bring him to justice, once and for all, and yet stay out of prison herself? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!