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One of the most highly-regarded actresses appearing on daytime television is General Hospital’s Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis). Over the past many months fans of the long-running ABC soap opera, which turns 54 years young today, have watched the perils of Alexis Davis escalate to such epic proportions that this once powerhouse attorney has had to continually turn to the bottle as her solace over her tortured relationship with the presumed dead, Julian Jerome (William deVry).
But is he really a-goner? Dead or alive, can Alexis get Julian out of her system, when she constantly sees vision of him when she has gone on a bender? Could fans see the end of Julexis once and for all?
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with La Grahn to get her thought on the story developments over the past few months including: the return of Tonja Walker as Olivia Jerome, how Nancy plays and interprets those complex scenes of hitting the bottle, while feeling this pull towards a man who has betrayed her and caused her so much pain, if she sees Alexis returning to help those in need of counseling in the courtroom, and her Emmy submission in the Lead Actress category, which puts her in the spot to go for gold come April 30th at the upcoming 44th Annual Daytime Emmys.
Nancy is no stranger to Emmy gold having won two previous Supporting Actress statuettes. Will this be the year she adds a ‘Lead Actress’ Emmy to her mantel? We will all soon find out. For now, here’s what the always shoot-from-the-hip, candid, and funny, actress shared with us.
Alexis is not doing so well! That’s putting it mildly, after so much collateral damage and the fallout with Olivia Jerome (Tonja Walker) and Liv’s brother, Julian. Speaking of OJ, what did you think of the plotpoint where Alexis did not know that the woman who was her AA sponsor was really this mobster gal gone haywire?
NANCY: I thought it was very clever, and I thought it was a good twist. I would have liked that to play out longer, but they had to wrap things up and do what they are doing in the story. But it would have been really great to see those two women establish a relationship. So that when you find she, Olivia Jerome, is ‘cuckoo lady’, there’s more of an impact, but I think that was about timing.
This week, Alexis hit the bottle again and got drunk! Do you think she can stay off the booze? Do you even want her to?
NANCY: I think it would be very unrealistic for her not to slip up. There is nothing easy. It should be very messy and very challenging, in my opinion. If Alexis went into a meeting and all of sudden she’s sober, that’s not the way it is in real life. That’s not what happens and the statistics don’t support that. Now that may be what happens in soap opera, but it’s not what happens in real life and not without a lot of slippage. That’s what I would like to see happen and what should happen, but I don’t get a vote on that. That is up to our writers.
When Alexis has looked at Julian during certain moments, it looks like she is still in love with him. Does she truly still love him? Is she in a conundrum, after all of the misery and pain this man has brought her?
NANCY: I think she’s in a “conundrum”. That is a good word for her. She is in this conundrum, and there have been so many pieces, and it’s been so extreme, and so traumatic. There’s that letter he left her, and it explains stuff, but it doesn’t explain enough. There is no pat way to bring this together. I was curious, and I wanted to know from a large group of people, and not just the people on Twitter (whom I love their passion and so appreciate), “What do they want?” I am not sure people would buy Julian and Alexis being together.
How do you bring Alexis back to being this strong lawyer we all have come to know and love following her downward spiral?
NANCY: I wouldn’t say you are not strong, because you are flawed. It’s boring playing walking around being functional all the time. I don’t want to go back and play somebody that has it all together. That is why the alcoholism storyline is interesting, because I didn’t play it stereotypical on purpose. I worked very specifically not to do that. I want to say too, that I have such respect for people who have addiction. I wanted this and them to be treated honorably,
It’s always a challenge for any actor on a soap to maintain the integrity of their character … a lot has to do with the writing regime at one point in time, or a storyline.
NANCY: The show has done very well for me over the past year. And in regards to my Emmy tape, it’s the first time I have submitted something that I am not embarrassed by. So, kudos to the writers!
What were the scenes that you submitted for Lead Actress Emmy contention?
NANCY: There was one show where Alexis just laid in to Julian and it was like a monologue. I said “You will never come near this child” when Alexis thought she might be pregnant. He made me so mad that day that I hit him, and it was real, because it wasn’t in the script! (Laughs) The other scene was in a seedy motel room when I wake up, and there are flashback scenes of Alexis being drunk and then some scenes with Jax (Ingo Rademacher), and then I did one in the bar with Julian and that initial “FU” where Alexis takes the phone and throws it, and breaks it. So there were a couple of those, and then I had put in the scene where Alexis realizes what Julian was doing with the dagger. I hadn’t had anything like this in years, and years.
The year you last won the Emmy, you did not like the material?
NANCY: It was one scene! I yelled at Laura Wright (Carly) for 20 minutes and they gave me an Emmy (Laughs) I wasn’t’ even there to accept the award. Clearly, I wasn’t expecting to win.
How do you justify Alexis’ decisons and actions in recent months?
NANCY: When you are madly in love with someone you want to believe something. She still has that urge for Julian and she doesn’t know why.
Do you think Alexis will go back to being a lawyer, and when would it happen?
NANCY: I think she absolutely has to go back to being a lawyer. I think the whole definitive thing for her is her fight for justice. She has had a lot of trauma and a lot of horrible things have happened in her life unjustly.
Do you miss the courtroom drama?
NANCY: It depends. I loved the breast-feeding case, because it meant something. But just to be a lawyer to prove somebody didn’t do something, and to play the generic soap opera lawyer can be, at times, very boring,
What are your hopes moving forward for Alexis?
NANCY: I don’t want to go back to just being a caretaker, and being there for everyone. They now have dimensionalized Alexis, and they gave her an inner-life. It has been really fun and gratifying. These ladies, (GH head writers: Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante) appreciate women. Jean Passanante is as passionate about politics as I am. She is so on it, and we are simpatico in that way. Jean and Shelly are interesting women. They appreciate women who have a moral compass and a moral code, because they relate to it, and they get it. They think it’s interesting, and it is interesting. I have hope for Alexis’ future.
So, will Julian be revealed to be alive and will Julexis reunite? Do think Alexis should find love and happiness down the line with a new man in her life? Do you want Alexis to continue to battle the bottle? Would you like to see her get herself together and win an important legal case? What have you thought of Nancy’s Emmy-nominated performances? Comment below!