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The Christian LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: CBS/Getty Images

For months, the in-the-know Y&R viewer has been aware that a major storyline was coming down the pike for three-time Daytime Emmy winner and veteran of the series, Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin).  And this time it was to be something the character of Michael Baldwin hasn’t dealt with before, for it would be a major health issue that also cuts deep to the core of this man, or any man for that matter.  Recently, after having problems in the bedroom with his wife Lauren (Tracey E. Bregman), many wondered if it was due to the emotional scars left by Lauren’s affair with bartender Carmine (Marco Dapper)!  Although the couple seemed to find a path to move forward, and stay together, what was going on?  Fast forward, Michael has some tests and is informed that he has stage 3 prostate cancer.  And for weeks, Michael couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone, let alone the wife he loves so much!  Finally, last week in a stunning scene, Lauren learns from Michael that he has cancer.

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with the duo who are known best by Y&R fans as “Likey”, a Daytime Emmy winner also, Tracey E. Bregman, and Christian LeBlanc, for this insightful conversation on the complexities, long range story ramifications, and the possibilities that playing this kind of important, impactful, and emotional storyline has for this beloved long time on-screen couple, and how the series and the actors hope it will shed light on a cancer that raises so many issues for the man going through it, and those he loves.

In the weeks to come, starting with upcoming scenes on Y&R’s Christmas Eve episode, look for the Baldwin/Fisher clan, and key people in Michael and Lauren’s life, to slowly learn the news and rally behind him. Will Michael survive?  If he does, can he accept living with the outcome if he decides to undergo treatment?  Can his marriage survive when it’s always been so sexually-charged?  Here’s what Christian and Tracey shared with us now that the story is picking up steam.

MICHAEL:

Christian, how did you find out that they were going to be telling the story of Michael getting prostate cancer? What was your initial reaction?

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

We had kind of started into the ED (Erectile Dysfunction) part of it, and we were having problems, but it seemed it was about stress, and that they both were busy in their careers and lives.  A big part of Michael and Lauren’s marriage is the sex, and that these are two type-A personalities who constantly promise each other, “Let’s make time for one another.”  So that had been established.  But we had gone into the story, and my father passed in May.  Our executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and I had exchanged family stories about our real lives.  So she said, “I have a story for you.”  I didn’t rush to find out what it was.  However, Brent Boyd, one of our writers came downstairs and said, “We are starting this storyline and we thought you should know.”  It turns out that Jill thought I might be too sensitive to come to talk to her about a story about cancer.  But I didn’t know anything yet, and then Brent said, “Cancer” and I said, “Cancer?”  Then he said, “Prostate Cancer” and then I said, “Oh, not the glamour one!” (Laughs)  But then I talked to Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante (former head writers, Y&R) and they were very excited about this story.  Any women, or any wife, would tell you that men will not go to the doctor for this unless the arm is literally dangling from them.  It’s a big problem, and if it’s anything to do with sexuality or urology, or any of those issues, it’s even less likely that men will go see a doctor.  It’s a very sensitive area, and they wanted to sort of touch this third rail of manhood.  I said, “Oh, I will never be the hunk now!”(Laughs) And Jill goes, “Afterwards!”   When you have a hard story, or something that is difficult to tell, I want to have the opportunity to tell it, and I want them to give it to me to play.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, when did you find what the storyline was actually going to be?  What did you think when you knew they were handing Christian the ball with this one?

TRACEY:

I knew before Christian!  Jill told me, but told me not to say anything to Christian, because they wanted to tell him, and so, I avoided him like the plaque! (Laughs)   I knew Christian would be amazing, and it would be an amazing storyline for him.  Listen, for me, and what I have said to our writers, is that we like it messy, and we like to play the emotion.  I even said this morning; we like to do it different than it’s ever been played.  We like to fight it out, and maybe not give you the reaction you would expect.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

That is interesting you say that, because it was very unpredictable, and not expected when Lauren laughed, when Michael painfully and finally told her he had cancer!

TRACEY:

She really felt terrible, and I wished we would have been able to play that more, so that the audience really understood where I was coming from.  I tried to do it during the scenes while I was waiting for him at the party, but there wasn’t really the dialog to support it.  That laugh actually came from a real life event that was very similar, yet very different.  I had a very inappropriate reaction after a very serious time, but it came after thinking that someone in my life was going to die, and we were waiting and waiting for results, and the movie Shrek had just been released.  And after waiting for weeks, we thought this was it, and in walks a man who sounds like Puss in Boots as played by Antonio Banderas in Shrek!  He goes on to talk about all the procedures that can happen, but does it in a, “Well, you could have the Gamma knife” and he had the inflections of Banderas as Puss in Boots, and I started to laugh from the bottom of my toes, but the good news is we were told that this person was O.K.  And then all I could see was Puss in Boots, but now was not the time for that, and that is what they were using for the scene with Michael and Lauren, but it was in such a different circumstance that I gotta be honest with you, I wasn’t sure I could do it either.   So, we just had to try it and to see if it worked.

MICHAEL:

It has been widely known that forever and a day, that many fans of Y&R had let the producers know that they did not want to see this couple messed with, or broken up. They wanted them happy.  They love their “Likey”! (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Yea, but you have to do have us do something … and be on camera.  (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a great time to explore something like this from a couple who has been married for a long time, where they are not running off and have been with everybody else on the show.  These are two people that fell in love after they both had done some terrible things, and they had their eyes wide open.  They are not a couple of green-eyed kids.

TRACEY:

I was talking to our new head writer, Chuck Pratt, that Michael has been crazy and Lauren has been bad, which is what we say all the time.  Both of us are not afraid to be either one of those together to protect our on-screen family.

CHRISTIAN:

They have given us the infidelity story to play, which was great, and it’s about the sex.  There is something that comes out of Lauren’s history that they use, and the reaction to prosecuting Fenmore (Max Ehrich), and her defense of it, and then being highly sexual at the same time.  It all came out of a history of a couple who had lived together for a long time.  Lauren used the bartender as an outlet, but that was from her history.  They did not come up with that out of thin air.  And, from Michael’s history of being so stonewalled and cold when it came to the law, he was making his son obey the law, because he was afraid of his son becoming him.  Here you have an inherent sexual couple.  This is not a terminal disease.  Its stage 3, and it’s treatable, and so it’s different, and for someone like Michael who has used his sex to bludgeon women and people.  It is so important to him.  He married the hot woman.  He married the vixen on the show, and so it’s not that it is terminal.  It’s about: Does that character want to live with the consequences that come with treating something like this?  It’s not death, but it’s a quality of life issue, and it’s being tied up with, as it is for any man, with their sexuality.  One of the by-products of this storyline has been that now people are coming up to me and telling me their stories.   This disease has a big component of shame, and hiding it so that you keep it from everyone.  First, there is the cancer diagnosis, but then there is something about the shame of the sex of it, and questioning, are you a man anymore?  Michael thinks sex is, and it is, an important thing in their marriage.

MICHAEL:

Does Michael think that because of it being prostate cancer that he would lose his wife because of it?  And, especially because she has cheated on him with a hottie behind his back before!  I am sure that doesn’t help the situation!

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

We play that all the time.  That is the first thing that comes to mind for both of them in all the situations, but I think the thing that Tracey and I accomplished together is that there is not a beat of history that is not explored.  Michael and Lauren have such a rich history.  And of course, there is her cheating with Carmine, and now this happens to Michael!  Of course, Michael is going to be bruised by that, and Lauren laughs coming out of what she thought he was going to tell her, which was: “I thought you were going to tell me that you found a hot stenographer.”  It makes perfect sense.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, will Lauren remain supportive to Michael as he deals with the diagnosis and treatment options?

TRACEY:

All she cares about is that Michael beat the disease, and that he is alive.  She’s not thinking about anything else.  She’s scared to death.

CHRISTIAN:

She has a line where she says, “There are lots of ways to make love.”  It’s one of the things that people in this situation deal with, and that was a lifesaver to throw out.

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

She loves him so much, and he is her salvation.  Lauren just wants him here no matter what.

MICHAEL:

Lauren does realize how traumatic it must be for Michael knowing that she had an affair with another man, and now he has to come to terms with this diagnosis?

TRACEY:

She feels tremendous guilt for that, and even though she felt justified at the time, she feels the guilt.  Michael does throw it up to her … he does!

CHRISTIAN:

As you would in a couple, it doesn’t go away.

MICHAEL:

Now that the cat is out of the bag, sort to speak, so many of your fans are worried that they might kill Michael and thus kill you off the show!  What would you say to them?

CHRISTIAN:

Depending on how this proceeds, we shall see.  The question is not will the disease kill him; it’s will he chose to live with the consequences of having to treat this?

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Will they explore the nuances of the diagnosis, and what it means in real time, or “real” in soap opera time?

TRACEY:

We hope so!

CHRISTIAN:

We are just beginning.  I brought up perhaps he should go to a support group.  There is a diner I go to New Orleans, and this waitress came up and showed me a band around her wrist, and I had just missed this a few weeks before, but there was the first prostate cancer march in New Orleans.  She told me about her husband, who has the terminal kind of cancer, because he waited.  So there it was right there in the middle of your breakfast, and the wonderful thing about what we are able to do, day in and day out, is we grow old with our fans.  Someone comes up to you at breakfast and tells you something like this, and they grow with you.  People will come up to me, or Tracey with this storyline, and tell us, “We know exactly what you are going through!”

TRACEY:

Even on Twitter, from the scenes where Michael reveals he has cancer to Lauren, we got tremendous feedback.  When we were taping those scenes it broke my heart.  People told me on Twitter, who have been through this, that they think the scenes were very truthful.

CHRISTIAN:

She made the scene.  I got to tell you, I turned to her as I do that speech, and you find it in the other person’s eyes.  I learned a long time ago, if you have lost the scene go to the other person, and that’s where you’ll find it…

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

…Well, I always find it in his eyes.  And no one slays me deeper than Christian … nobody.

MICHAEL:

Greg Rikaart (Kevin) has been breaking my heart, every time he is in scenes with Christian.  Kevin so badly wants his brother to be OK. 

TRACEY:

Wait till you see the Christmas Eve (airing on Wed. Dec 24) show.

CHRISTIAN:

They have given us the most difficult material I have ever had to do …

TRACEY:

….Ever!  The scenes the other week, and our Christmas Eve show, were truly like the hardest, and most emotional for us.

CHRISTIAN:

Max Ehrich (Fen) has even a harder job since he comes in from doing other shows.  He comes in cold, and can jump right into it.  The scene where Michael tells Lauren would not have come off that way if I had not been surrounded by the crew, because you feel so comfortable with them, and then we have this Baldwin/Fisher family!  You will see scenes from now on with Gloria (Judith Chapman) and Lauren, Fenmore, and Kevin (Greg Rikaart) that you just can’t do without knowing each other so well.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Will we see Michael get sick-sick?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t know.

TRACEY:

That’ a great question for Chuck Pratt.

CHRISTIAN:

Death is not, not an option.  I don’t know where we are heading.  I did talk to Chuck and I have a continual concern.  I want to make it clear that it’s stage 3, and if you treat it, it’s stage 3 and it beatable.  The point of this being it’s a shameful thing for him, and how do you deal with the results of what the treatment can do?  And, that in essence could be extremely difficult for a man who is trying to deal with insecurities about his manhood.

MICHAEL:

The scene in which Michael tells Lauren is so riveting, especially the end of it when you scream out loud, about the injustice of it all.  Did you use that for your Pre-Daytime Emmy nomination scene submission? 

CHRISTIAN:

I actually put something else in, but it’s a good one.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Is Michael playing over in his mind that he is dying, or he is thinking he is going to come out of this O.K.?

CHRISTIAN:

I think whenever you hear that diagnosis that you have cancer; all those things go through your head.  I don’t know, because I have never personally had this kind of diagnosis, so really I don’t know shit.  I am in awe of the people I have talked to who have battled this.  I come face to face with it every time we do a charity event.  There was one woman who told me, “I had so many things removed … my husband thinks I am a tin can.”  Wow, I thought.   She was the funniest woman in the room.  And to hear that … I am just in awe… and I can only try with the powers that we have as actors, and the skills we strive to have, to make someone experience something like that without them having to live it.  But, when you hear the word “cancer”, so many of us in our head would go right to hearing “death” and loss, and anger, and all of those things that I would imagine.  I have to then make those specific for Michael, and for Michael it’s about, “Do I want to live this way?”  It’s horrible.  I haven’t even started treatment on the show, and so the fear of what that could do to him …

MICHAEL:

Christian, do you think that Michael would want to take his own life over this?

CHRISTIAN:

Oh, I think that is a distinct possibility.  There are not many things that could make him consider that.  There is the law, and Lauren.  If he lost the ability to have either one of those, that would be devastating for him, and the next would be losing Fenmore or Kevin, and as for Gloria, that’s a big question mark.  That’s such a disturbed relationship.  With him not being able to have sex, that is something he never foresaw.  It’s who you are, and to have that taken away I wouldn’t be surprised if taking his own life won’t cross his mind.

MICHAEL:

Fans have waited for you, Christian, to drive a story all of your own for quite some time, and this is it.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a man’s story.  I am very excited, but it’s very difficult.  I kind of feel like this is a team effort.  It truly is the women coming to talk to Michael.  The men aren’t coming up.  It’s the wives that are coming up to talk to him.  It’s a very important message.

TRACEY:

The fact that he is waiting for treatment, and exploring other options, makes Lauren crazy.  She is so afraid the cancer is going to advance, and he is not doing anything.  She just wants him alive and with her.  She is not thinking about the other repercussions.  She is thinking, “We’ll deal with it.  It’s OK. We are just going to make it all OK!”

MICHAEL:

Who will be Lauren’s confidante in all of this?

TRACEY:

It will be Jill. (Scenes airing in January)

CHRISTIAN:

He is mortified of anyone knowing.  I think the show did it best when they did that push into Michael with the camera, and dropped out the volume when he learned what he had and gets diagnosed.

TRACEY:

It’s like static!  You’re hearing static, or a “wha-what-wha” almost kind of noise in your head when you get terrible news.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

You just see a mouth moving … but you may not be hearing, or grasping what they are fully telling you.

MICHAEL:

It will be so interesting to watch when Gloria (Judith Chapman) finds out!

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, but she hasn’t yet.  There are only four people who know so far … Michael, Lauren, Fenmore, and Kevin, and that’s it.  And now Jill will know, because Lauren tells her.  So there is a whole journey ahead of telling Gloria, and I think Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) comes up soon.

MICHAEL:

I loved the scenes with Greg and Christian, where Kevin was trying to motivate Michael to tell Lauren the truth about his condition.

CHRISTIAN:

It’s a great flip-flop.  I have been waiting for this to come for a while, and that’s Kevin being the big brother to Michael.  Greg is so wonderful about it.  And remember … Kevin was fixated on Lauren to the point of killing himself, and that’s how Michael and Lauren met.

MICHAEL:

Seems like everyone wants to kill themselves after being with Lauren! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

It’s true!  She kills people with her sex! (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

Remember, Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) had a heart attack after having sex with her! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

It’s been 41 years plus on this show, and they have taken on a storyline about shame, and not talking about it, and prying, and trying to get it out but resisting.  It’s fascinating.

MICHAEL:

So, has Peter Bergman (Jack), or the other guys in the cast, said anything to you about this storyline?

CHRISTIAN:

It’s interesting.  The guys will make fun of it, and they will be guys, and it’s nerves. There are all sorts of jokes, and it can be funny.  I would laugh harder, except after I talked with a doctor about the cancer, this is exactly what the men fear from other men when they have this diagnosis.  It’s not women who come up and make fun, it’s other men.  Tracey and I have fun with it though.

TRACEY:

I’m allowed!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s great that Y&R is tackling a social issue storyline, which harkens back to the day of what Bill Bell (creator, Y&R) used to do in his storytelling.  Have you done a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for inclusion at the end of any upcoming Y&R episodes?

CHRISTIAN:

No, not yet.

TRACEY:

Have you done your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test though?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes.  I get that checked all the time.  I am at that age.

TRACEY:

Good!

 

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Shannon CarterKariVernellePaula IvieLaura Recent comment authors
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Sheila
Sheila

This is a wonderful, frightening, enlightening and necessary storyline. The interview was filled with emotion, education and determination. Thank you Michael for doing it.

Pearl.Quebec,Canada here
Pearl.Quebec,Canada here

Thanks so much both of you for this……. Merry Christmas, Happy 2015

Kim Huck
Kim Huck

I love Michael. I wish Kim Brown as Shelia would come back. I miss the classic YR. Victor is just not the same. He hates women and children he uses like they are disposable . Adam should NEVER of been paired with Chelsea. Yrs ago it was wonderful how Nick would see he missed Sharon but Adam loved Sharon. Im so happy Kevin finally has someone. Not since Jana was Kevin given a real love story. Chloe was so wrong for Kevn. Now if we can only get back DRU and Malcolm and Daniel and Amber the show would be as amazing as it was. Holidays need to be improved. Love the Abbott family holidays with John Abbott at the head of the family . Jack needs to get it together. Phyllis is all wrong,

harry
harry

Why on earth would you want Sheila back? She was done to death and with her coming back from the dead countless times, I began to think Freddy Krugger was a slacker.
No, no, no more Sheila. She can go make a stunt appearance on GH. They never tire of the over-the-top campy villain.

Regina
Regina

Please, NO Sheila. Not again, EVER.

Beacon
Beacon

Kimberlin Brown only came back to Y&R once. You act like she’s been brought back dozens of times. Her character was stolen from her.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Beautiful interview; Shelley and Jean have been handling this storyline and all others, with great detail and superb writing. The life story of cancer is real for a lot of people, and Christian, Tracey and everyone else involved in this story has been doing an excellent job at portraying the range of emotions that would happen in a real life situation. I hope Michael is able to pull through and come out victorious with his diagnosis, and that viewers are able to find some comfort within the storyline if it does hit home for them.

Timmm
Timmm

Great insight Michael, thanks. I hope they do tell this story with great compassion and realism. I would like Michael to attend a support group filled with real people talking about their journey. It may be crazy but I thing Gloria may take the news the hardest?

Jennifer Endicott
Jennifer Endicott

I am glad that you’re not killing off Michael, from what I read. It would be a shame to see him leave. He and Lauren make a wonderful couple!

Bea
Bea

Christian LeBlanc plays his character to the hilt! I love the storyline don’t like Devon and Hilary and Nikki storyline.

bunting
bunting

Great interview. This feels like a Bill Bell story and Michael and Lauren are the perfect ones to be used to tell this story because of the depth of the relationship. We are invested in them and their family. It’s daytime drama for grown ups. All the Baldwin-Fisher actors are terrific but there is something so special about Christian and Tracey’s connection on screen. It always feels like I am eavesdropping on a real couple when I watch Michael and Lauren. I hope they continue to play the beats of this important story and we continue to see Christian and Tracey on screen for a long time.

Dee Mac
Dee Mac

Thank You Michael It is an awesome interview and you asked the best questions . Tracey and Christian are the best actors for something this sensitive and heartrending. I love it and appreciate it and it was very insightful as to what is going on with Likey. Michael pain when he told finally told Lauren the truth The acting is superb . Hoping he comes out of this and becomes a Cancer survivor.

harry
harry

Beautiful interview. I always knew Christian was an amazing actor, but I did not know Tracey could deliver such a heart felt, guttural performance. Sure, I knew she was a perfectly capable soap actress but I didn’t know she could deliver a scene as if it came from her heart and soul.
Both actors were powerful and emotionally compelling. Now, I have an admission to make. I am a closeted soap fan. No one in my family or circle of friends know I have a soap addiction issue which has lasted over thirty years. I was watching that scene which transpired between Michael and Lauren (where he tells her he has cancer) and I burst into tears–something I almost never do. But it was utterly heart wrenching! My spouse walked in at the moment horrified to discover that not only was I watching a soap, but that I was crying! “Since when do you watch soaps?” I was asked. ‘Oh. I wasn’t watching that! I was watching the news and this just came on……and, uh…well…. I have something in my eye,” I stammered. ‘Hey, how about those 49ers?’ I ask in my attempt to recover. I do not follow football but if I did, I would know our home football team is not doing very well so my attempt to deflect failed miserably.
I snapped off the television, grabbed some free weights, and re watched the aforementioned scene alone on the TV Guide channel later that night. Both Tracey and Christian deserve Emmys for that scene. Wow, just wow.

Bridget
Bridget

Christian and Tracey are going to ROCK this storyline. They have both been amazing so far, and the scenes with Michael and his brother…amazing work!

Arlene Harper
Arlene Harper

This is a Great story line with Amazing actors! I know they will do it justice and that the producers will promote information about testing for this kind of cancer. I do not like the new Phyllis. Move her into another story line and let Jack see her nastiness and continue to have “true love” with Kelly! I like what you have done with Adam, it is believable! Move forward on the Devon and Hillary story. Beal needs to be reunited with Priscilla! I find it hard to believe she hasn’t come back. We believe she survived the fall!! Thank you for the best Daytime Soap!!

Kelly
Kelly

Such a great bunch of actors to handle such an emotionally packed storyline!! Christian and Lauren are doing a wonderful job conveying all the emotions needed to make it believable. Bravo!!

nina
nina

i really enjoy this show and these two actors playinga difficult part in this story line i hope they come up with more story lines where the character can be saved im been watching this show for a very long time and enjoy this two actors if they leave i will quit watching the show i signed the partion to save the person to save his job getrid of the writer everybody deserves to do there job good luck tothese actors that are leaving you will be missed

Laura
Laura

What an amazing way to tell a story that affects so many men and families. Dealing with cancer is horrific and the way they are dealing with revealing it to the family is excellent. FYI people, the interview was about how they are dealing with the cancer not about the other storylines going on now.

Paula Ivie
Paula Ivie

Victor and Nikki…that ship has sailed. Y&R needs a new solid couple, that couple is Micheal and Lauren. Nick and Sharon, Jack and Phylis, Paul and Christine….not so much.

Vernelle
Vernelle

PLEASE dont let Michael die fix his problem and let him live. I luv Michael & Lauren,he’s a GREAT attorney and what would Avery do without Michael at her side he is the BEST attorney on Y & R, besides Mitchell Sherman who was Catherine Chancelor attorney. With that being said “LET MICHAEL BALDWIN LIVE”.
We luv CHRISTIAN LEBLANC.

Kari
Kari

Don’t kill off Michael. You have already ruined Y&R enough.

Shannon Carter
Shannon Carter

As a long time viewer I really hope the writers & production staff think about how hard suicide is on the surviving family members. My 20 year old son took his life in February 2010, and it is truly the most painfully awful thing to cope with. My husband, daughter & myself miss Lee every day & it just hurts when his birthday, Christmas, and other days come & go every year. I hope that if they choose this scenario, that there is exhaustive research into how & why people commit suicide & present the raw, horrible reactions to the loss. I really pray that Michael overcomes this cancer & lives another 50 years!!! Think about how you would feel if your son died before you !!!

General Hospital

GH’s Roger Howarth Chats On Shifting From Franco To Drew & The Stunning Story Twist

In one of the most intriguing plots of 2019, General Hospital’s Franco Baldwin was morphed into Navy SEAL Andrew Cain following a harrowing mind-mapping procedure. In all went down thanks to Shiloh (Coby Ryan McLaughlin) and Dr, Cabot (Time Winters), taking the life and memories of Drew (Billy Miller) from his flash drive and transferring them into Franco’s brain, wiping out his past and his present.  That followed the tearjerker moment, when Franco sacrificed himself to free his kidnapped stepson, Cameron (William Lipton) from the twisted procedure; that could have left the teenager with Drew’s memories or even in a vegetative state.

The recipient of this storyline – and who would be taking on another persona in his storied daytime drama career – is none other than Roger Howarth.  The Daytime Emmy- winning actor is no stranger to changing fictional identities on GH.  Howarth, played OLTL’s Todd Manning over in Port Charles, later switching to Franco (previously played by James Franco) following the legal dispute between ABC and Prospect Park.

Last week, viewers got their first glimpse of Howarth taking on the traits of Drew circa 2012, and in short order, it has caused emotional upheaval for Franco’s wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst), Drew himself, Jason (Steve Burton), and Kim (Tamara Braun)… and that’s just for starters.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Roger as he started his journey transforming his work from playing Franco to Drew and the challenges it presents, plus the ripple effect the change will have on the canvas for many of the characters.  In addition for One Life to Live fans, Roger chats about his appreciation for his time on that iconic series in a candid, self-effacing, and special conversation.  Here’s what Howarth shared:

Courtesy/ABC

When you were told that they were going to put Drew’s memories into Franco, what was your initial reaction to learning that news?  Did you think it was a great twist?

ROGER:  Yeah, I think it’s a great idea.  I really do.  Good story needs a lot of things, and this checks a lot of the boxes.  It brings people together; it provides obstacles.  There are a lot of places this could lead to.  I just think it’s really smart and interesting.  I look forward to it a lot, and I can already tell by what I have shot thus far that it’s going to be fun.

If this story is written well, what has happened to Franco will be life-altering and crucial to so many people’s lives in Port Charles.

ROGER:  What I like about it, and this isn’t lip service, is that it’s a great story because it affects a lot of people.  Those are the good stories.  Elizabeth has got to deal with this, the boys have to deal with this, Scotty’s (Kin Shriner) got to deal with it, Jason is confused by this information, and now this person in interacting with Drew, and Kim, and Shiloh.  All of the sudden, the canvas is interacting completely differently.  So, I think the writers are having fun with this as well.

Photo: ABC

Then, there is also the character of Kim played by Tamara Braun, who Drew shares a past with.  It will be interesting to see how that relationship plays out, we already witnessed Franco’s Drew instantly smitten and attracted to her.

ROGER:  Yes, the person in this body is running under a certain set of assumptions that no one else shares.  So, yes, it’s confusing to everybody, I am sure, including Kim.

Do you see Franco eventually flipping back and forth, and having personality traits of both he and Drew?

ROGER:  No.  One hundred percent, no, and that provides a real obstacle with a couple like Franco and Elizabeth.  They are always looking for obstacles to prove to the audience that these two people really do care about one another, and that’s the purpose of a story like this.  I’m guessing and hoping that it will provide the character of Elizabeth with a particular objective because it would be nice to see Becky be able to play all of those beats.

Right, and to have to fight for something…

ROGER:  Yes, it’s very tragic.  This is a character that is accustomed to tragedy, and to see Becky play the role of Elizabeth dusting herself off, trying to get what she wants is going to be really cool.

Courtesy/ABC

The tragic twist had Franco saving Cameron from winding up with Drew’s memories and being the vessel for Shiloh to use.  What did you think about how Franco sacrificed himself in order to protect Elizabeth’s son?  It was quite heroic.

ROGER:  I think the other beautiful part of this is that this was motivated by love.  I don’t see it as heroic.  I think as an actor, you’re always looking for the heart of the story, and the writers made it really simple.  He does this because he loves this kid.  Yeah, they’ve had their ups and downs, and they are struggling to figure out how they can get along, and they have a lot of things that they feel about one another, but push actually did come to shove, and I think that the character of Cameron is going to be deeply affected by that.

Courtesy/ABC

This now puts Franco deep within Shiloh’s storyline and past with Drew, because Shiloh desperately wants a key piece of information locked in Drew’s memories.  So, in theory, this kind of ranks among one of the better stories you’ve probably ever gotten to tell in your daytime career.  Everyone is hoping that it lives up to its expectations in the execution of it on-air.

ROGER:  It is certainly a high concept story.  It’s asking a lot of the audience.  So far, we’re all in.  It’s a good cast.  I work with really good actors, so I’m not worried.  It is asking the audience to suspend disbelief for sure.  The good stories do.  I think Erika Slezak (Viki) on One Life to Live, getting to play Dissociative Identity Disorder as Niki and Viki that was a large ask.  She never blinked.  She did everything that was asked.  I’m trying to follow her example.

Exactly, and she played more characters.  She had more alters after that.

ROGER:  (Laughs)  Yeah!  She’s better at this than I am.  I’m having trouble with the one. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

What do you think about how Scott and Franco’s relationship will be affected, now that he is in essence “Drew”?

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ROGER:  There’s no part of that relationship that hasn’t changed because there is no Franco.  Franco is not around … Franco has left the building.

He is a completely new person for all intent and purposes.

ROGER:  For sure.  This soldier doesn’t appreciate being called by somebody else’s name.  He is not compassionate to the people who mistake him for this somewhat tortured art therapist that he no longer is.

Photo: ABC

What is also interesting is that this should put you right into conflict and scenes with Steve Burton, because now you are essentially playing Jason’s twin.

ROGER:  Yes.  For me, as an actor, to get a chance to work with Steve, and to play a like-minded person, is intimidating frankly, but it’s exciting.

Also, the audience knows how Franco and Jason are such enemies, and now, he is really in his mind his twin.  

ROGER:  Yeah, Franco sees in many shades of gray and other colors, and from what I can tell, Franco as Drew sees the world much simpler.  He thinks more clearly, he finishes his sentences, he thinks before he speaks, he knows what he is going to say.  His point of view does not waiver.  He is determined.

Courtesy/ABC

That’s got to be so exciting for you to get to play after all of Franco’s psychological baggage and issues.

ROGER:  I’ve got to say, it’s been a bit of a challenge for me to play someone with a different set of speech patterns and who stands differently.  Because Drew thinks and feels differently about everything; his body is the same, but his body is behaving differently, and it speaks differently, and he thinks at a different tempo.  They’ve been very patient on set giving me chances to do it badly, so far. (Laughs)  It’s not uncommon for me to get halfway through a scene and to have to start over.   I am essentially figuring it out as we go along.   I am very appreciative of the fact that they have been giving me a few extra takes to try and figure out how this guy stands.  He relates to people with a different set of space and time.  It’s cool.  It’s a cool set of puzzles.  It’s been really fun.  I’m a lucky guy.

When I first learned of the story twist, I was like, “Oh! Roger will be great in this.”  

ROGER:  I don’t know, man.  I could be stinking it up pretty badly. (Laughs)  I think there’s a trap as an actor who has been asked to play twins, and the trap is that this guy is only acting the way that he acts.  The trap is frankly to act too much because the audience is being told that he is a different person.  If I go too far to try to demonstrate that he is a different person, then it slips into parody or overacting.  Over the years, I have definitely been guilty of overacting, so, I’m a little frightened of it. (Laughs)  I don’t like the way it feels.  I know how it feels to go too far.  I have been getting notes like, “You could pull it back a little bit.”  (Laughs)  It’s pretty funny.

Courtesy/ABC

In the past, I have heard you say you’d rather go to work and feel unsettled about what you are asked to play.  Does that still hold true?

ROGER:  For sure!  I’d rather go to work and leave my job knowing that it was terrible and that I get to come back the next day and make it a little better.  The best thing about daytime is how much it will stretch you and pull you and ask as much of it as you are willing to put in.

Now speaking of Franco, what did you think about the wedding reception on the yacht with Elizabeth?  Did you think that was a nice payoff for Friz fans? 

ROGER:  Yes, for sure.  I thought it was a really sweet culmination to a sweet story about these two people finding one another.  I’m glad they incorporated a large part of the cast.  It was a really good idea.

Photo: ABC

What did you think of how all of Elizabeth’s boys (Cameron, Aiden and Jake) performed a song for Franco and their mom at the reception, and how Franco relates to all of them?

ROGER:  I think it was a really important story point, and it was nice, and it was easy to play.  They’re really good kids, and they’re also terrific people.

Franco really stepped up as a stepdad to Aiden, who had been bullied at school.  I loved the cooking scene, where Franco was baking with Aiden.  What do you think about their relationship?  I love that Franco is being very understanding.

ROGER:  I think he’s trying to be understanding.  I don’t think he’s really great at it.   I think he’s a human being just trying to figure out how to make the best use of his time here, just like the rest of us.

Photo” ABC

General Hospital needed a big jolt with an umbrella story like this that turns the canvas a bit upside down.  How does it feel to be at the epicenter of it?

ROGER:   I really don’t think I’m the center of the story.  I’m not even kidding.  The story is that this piece of information is worn on the shoulders of Franco, but the people who are most effected by that piece of information are Kim and Elizabeth.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction is like from the GH audience.  You’re not on social media.  Will you check out what they are saying … or the feedback?

ROGER:  I’m not on social media.  But, I believe there is a guy whose job it is to track that initial criticism/support.  I think it is kind of cool that we will get real-time reviews, you know what I mean?  I actually thought about that because with the character of Franco, it took us a while to figure out who the guy was.  There was a lot of blonde hair and some missed cues, and we weren’t sure which relationship would be featured, whether it would be Franco and Ava (Maura West), or whether he would wind up in Carly’s (Laura Wright) arena again.  It took a while to figure out the best way to put that guy in the canvas, and I imagine that it will happen again.  I didn’t dye my hair for this, but I did cut it. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

How was working with Billy Miller in this storyline twist?  Were you there on his last day on set?

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ROGER:  Yes, I worked with Billy not on his last day, but on his last show.  He was remarkable with dignity and with class, and I wish him all the best.  He did a great job.  He is a good actor.  I’m sure he will find somewhere to go be an actor.

Throughout your soap career, has there been a story that you initially pooh-poohed, but when you did it, you thought, “Oh, this is great!”

ROGER:   There was a story when Carly and Franco were together, and they wrote a story where Franco gave Carly a gift that wound up being a camera…

Photo: ABC

The evil-eye necklace!

ROGER:  Yes, this small seeing rye.  I just thought, every time Franco would come in and say something like, “Oh, you’re wearing the necklace.  It’s so beautiful,” while we were doing it, I was like, “Wow.  The audience is really going to hate this.” (Laughs)  However, my real-time Twitter is the subway, and while it was airing, I got on the train and sat next to this really amazing fan, who just told me how much she loved that story, and I was honestly surprised and pleased.  I am often wrong, and it doesn’t surprise me now when I am wrong  … because I was really wrong then.

You mentioned Franco with Ava which was a potential pairing. I think you and Maura West have always had great chemistry together on screen.

ROGER:  Yes, she’s a pretty great actor.  She’s great with everybody.

She is.  You knew Maura’s work first when she was at As the World Turns, while you were there, also?

ROGER:  I didn’t know her well at As the World Turns, but I knew who she was.  She’s a hard worker, and Jack (Michael Park) and Carly always had a lot to do.  She was pretty focused when she was there, but I spoke to her.  I didn’t feel like I got to know her until I got to work with her on GH.

Photo: JPI

Last month on July 15th would have been the 51st anniversary of One Life to Live. I saw a lot of people commenting and remembering the show on social media that day. I put together four photos on a post I made about that show featuring some of the remarkable actors who were a part of it.  From there, I received hundreds of comments of how people were just missing the series, the characters, and actors they loved in it, including you.  When you look at the list of people from yourself to Judith Light, to Robin Strasser, Bob Woods, and of course Erika Slezak – it’s such an unbelievably talented group who spent time in Llanview.  Do you ever think about what an incredible experience that was, and how the fans still miss that show so much?

ROGER:  All the time.  I mean, I’m a lucky guy.  I think it really was a special building to work in, and the people who we are talking about: Erika (Viki), Bob (Bo), Robin (Dorian), and Phil Carey (Asa), and Clint Richie (Clint), and John Loprieno (Cord), the people who made it possible for me to work there set an environment and a tone that made it a really special place.  It was a really good cast, like you said, and there was a lot of opportunity for them to write a really cool story.  I wasn’t a part of the AIDS quilt storyline, but to realize that they told a story like that and incorporated that into our show was wonderful.

Photo: JPI

Such an amazing story and One Life was telling socially relevant and important issues of our time, always.

ROGER:  I can’t say for certain, but I do believe that the original concept of the Todd, Marty (Susan Haskell), and Powell (Sean Moynihan) storyline was kind of supposed to be initially an effort to bring awareness to a horrible, violent crime.  That was a long time before the #MeToo movement.  I think it was a show where the writers had a social conscious as well and really brought awareness to a lot of different things.  That’s a great legacy and something that show should be very proud of.

Once the character of  Todd Manning took off on One Life, and how they found ways to redeem him, and how it spoke to how much the network, the show, and the audience responded to your performances, did you ever feel you had a bit of a safety net as an actor, or were you like, “I’m going to be fired tomorrow?”

ROGER:  This is truth: I am so grateful to have a job, and I don’t take anything for granted.  I don’t think anybody is safe in this business.  I just don’t.  I just don’t think anybody gets to say that they’ve arrived.  I just did a roundtable, and I shared this with people who have a lot more clout and opportunity than I do – that actors are by nature, the good ones, are aware that every day that you get to go to work is a privilege, and don’t waste it.

Photo: JPI

In soaps, for the most part, when someone is stepping into someone else’s role as a recast, or actor who played one role is changing to another, there seems to be this reactionary period of adjustment, and then, there is acceptance from the audience over time … unless you really stink it up  … as you say. (Laughs)

ROGER:  Here’s the thing, and this is why I think this is such a great idea, it’s not about me playing this part, it’s about how Elizabeth, who has been on this show for twenty-something years gets to react to it, and giving her the ball.  It’s flashy that Franco is Drew, but it is really and Elizabeth/Kim story.  I may be the one overacting and stinking it up, but it’s theirs. Do you know what I mean?  It’s not my story.

Photo/ABC

What do you want to say to the fans about this new “role” you are taking on at General Hospital?

ROGER:  I want to say that I really do appreciate the fans.  Here is the thing, they’re down for everything.  I hope they’re down for this.  It’s a big ask, but I really hope that they like it.

So, what do you think of Roger as Andrew Cain thus far and how the storyline is beginning to take shape?  Are you excited to see how Franco becoming Drew (through the mind-mapping procedure) shakes up the canvas? Do you hope Drew returns to be Franco sooner than later? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Stacy Haiduk and Eric Martsolf Talk Kristen & Brady’s Twisted Relationship : The Mask, The Deception, The Sex

Last week on Days of our Lives, Kristen (Stacy Haiduk) was able to get the man she craves in between the sheets.  So, just how did that happen when Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) had no idea she was alive?  Well … he still doesn’t, really.  You see, Kristen returned to Salem disguised as another ex flame of Brady’s, Nicole Walker (who everyone believed died in the warehouse explosion).  And Kristen has been parading around town donning an incredible likeness of Nicole’s face – via a prosthetic mask – and some other tricks to sound and look just like her!

Kristen’s goal is to infiltrate Salem, remind Brady of the love and passion they shared, take over DiMera Enterprises, and who knows what else!  And everyone who stands in her way, better watch out as we have seen! We are speaking to you (the late) Ted, and (once kidnapped) Kate, et al.

Fans of the NBC daytime drama series have followed the tortured relationship between Kristen and Brady for years and through many plots; Kristen was first played and brought to life by Eileen Davidson, and for well over a year now by Stacy Haiduk.  Not only has Haiduk reprised the role of a frustrated, vengeful Kristen, she is also playing at times multiple roles: the wacky and often misunderstood, Susan Banks, Kristen playing Susan, or Kristen pretending to be Sister Mary Moira.

As for Daytime Emmy winner, Eric Martsolf, this latest story arc puts him front and center as viewers watch to see if what Brady senses, and the clues, and the feelings he is having, bring him to the conclusion that he has been duped by Kristen, and that her horrendous scheme – pretending to be Nicole (Arianne Zucker), and dumping Nicole’s longtime love Eric (Greg Vaughan) to be with him have a result that is unexpected or catastrophic!

Michael Fairman TV sat down with Stacy and Eric for this conversation about: all the plot twists, and playing the drama and the humor of the situations they find themselves in as actors in a wild story that only head writer Ron Carlivati could pen and keep the audience on the edge of their seats in the process. Check out this oh-so-fun, direct, and enlightening chat with two of DAYS most shining stars.

Photo: JPI

Eric, what has it been like working in this part of your storyline; where there’s the character of Kristen in its many forms: Arianne Zucker playing “Nicole” (but it’s really Kristen), Kristen as Susan, and the real Kristen, etc?

ERIC:  It’s been a nightmare Michael.  (Laughs)  I don’t know who I’m sleeping with anymore.  I’m at the point where I go home at night, and I just tug on my wife’s cheek just to make sure that she is not my ex-girlfriend from high school.

When you first heard of this storyline, and that it was going to facilitate how Arianne was going to come back to the show… and that it was supposed to be Kristen in a Nicole Walker prosthetic mask with a voice alternator, what went through your mind?

ERIC:  I think in the back of Ron’s Carlivati’s (head writer, DAYS) mind, he was thinking to himself, “This dude started his soap career on Passions, he’s okay with this kind of thing,” and honestly, nothing surprises me anymore.  When you’re thrown into that supernatural, crazy reality, doesn’t-live-here sort of atmosphere for you first soap gig, you don’t sweat a mask and a voice modulator.  That’s just par for the course.  My biggest problem was the body thing … that Brady is not able to distinguish one body from the other, because I would as Eric.  My God, I know every inch of my wife’s body.  So, it’s difficult to get my head around that, but at the same time, I’m going with the whole “love is blind” thing here. (Laughs)

Courtesy/NBC

(Laughs) I was going just going to say that Brady would absolutely know Kristen’s body from how passionate their relationship has been in the past, as well, he would Nicole’s body from his relationship with her.

ERIC:  Since Kristen did finally just succeed – let’s use the word in “seducing” him, and using her wonderful feminine wiles as only Kristen has to get Brady in to bed, there was also another twist.  What plays after that is that he notices the tattoo that’s been removed, and she plays it off as scarring from the fire.  What’s going through his mind as he is making love to Nicole is a “Kristen train”.  He can’t get Kristen out of his mind, and the guilt that he feels about that is horrendous.

Right! Brady is thinking: “Why am I feeling this when I am supposed to be with Nicole!?”

ERIC:  Right!  Brady has been waiting for a relationship for God knows how many years now – at least a successful one.  He is so eager to have this work, even though he has been concerned about how Eric (Greg Vaughan) would feel about this.  In Brady’s mind, Eric is done with Nicole.  He’s good.  He loves Sarah (Linsey Godfrey).  This is fair game.  Brady and Nicole have always been close … they’ve been close before … so, for him, it’s, why not give it a fair try?   However, he finds himself now thinking about another woman the whole time.  That’s rough.

Courtesy/NBC

Do you think in the back of his mind, that this whole time, he possibly knew that “Nicole” was Kristen?

ERIC:  Well, you just have to wait.  There will be a reveal eventually, obviously, but until then, let the games play on.

So, once Brady and “Nicole” have sex, he keeps thinking about Kristen?

ERIC:  Constantly!  She just plagues his mind.  I think he’s realizing that his affection for Kristen is anything but dead and is very alive, and I think this is Kristen’s master plan from the very beginning.  She knows that she pervades his soul, and once she does reveal herself, I would guess he would probably be surprised, maybe a little angry, but in the end … you can’t deny what your heart and your body wants, right?

One of my favorite recent scenes had Brady half-naked and Kristen as Susan getting into his room, because she was looking for the MIA Nicole mask she so desperately needed.  She finds herself gawking and lusting after Brady under her disguise, and he tries to remove himself from the situation and says, “Susan, I’m going to get in the shower…”

ERIC:  Yeah! And, “It’s not going to happen, baby.”

What was that like doing that scene?

STACY:  I loved it!  I thought Eric was brilliant in it.  I watched it, and I thought, “Oh, my God!”  (Laughs) It is one of my all-time favorite scenes.

Photo: JPI

ERIC:  Kristen is a tiger.

STACY:  She is a tiger.  She’s got a goal, and she is going to go after that.  She has obstacles that are going to come in-between her goal, but she will go after whatever she wants.

When Stacy comes in to Brady’s room as Susan, were you not laughing?

ERIC: No!  I thought she was hot. (Laughs)

STACY:  He did … he loved it.  You liked me, didn’t you baby? (Laughs)

ERIC:  I don’t think anybody can deny that Stacy Haiduk’s portrayal of Susan Banks is ridiculously good.  Everything from her delivery … to her facial expressions.  I think it is amazing.  I mean, it is corny, and it is fun, and soaps need characters like that once in a while to lighten the load of the heavy dialogue and the drama.  It’s a welcomed addition.  So, I love playing scenes with Susan.

Photo: JPI

Eric, you always have been able play the straight-man so well in comedic scenes with impeccable timing,

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STACY:  You’re brilliant, Eric.

ERIC:  You guys are being very nice to me.

STACY:  You are.  I remember on the day how much fun we had, but then, seeing it back and the crap that I was giving you, and just the stuff you were giving back was so beautiful, and innocent, and so alive.  It was so funny.

Does Kristen think that now that she finally got Brady into bed that she won … that she got what she wanted … even if she had to don a “Nicole” mask to do it?

STACY:  Well, no, because she still can’t be really Kristen.  I think she is grateful that she gets to be with him.  That’s one of her biggest goals: to be with Brady and she wants to have him fall back in love with her again.  But for her, now it’s all about, “How do I reveal myself so that he doesn’t get scared away?”  That’s the toughest part for her.  Kristen’s love is so deep that it goes beyond this mask.  So, how is it going to be when he sees her?   Is he going to freak out?  What’s going to happen?

ERIC:  Did you think Kristen would be a little pissed off and think, “Oh my God.  He did go for Nicole?”

STACY:  Yes!  I do, because she’s like, “Finally, I got him!  But wait a minute … did I get him because I was Nicole … or because I was Kristen?”  As Kristen, she always believes there is something deeper between them and a deep connection.  That remains a driving force to her.

Photo: JPI

ERIC:  That’s why I love these characters so much, because of you and the history of Kristen with Brady.  She’s always wanted him as much as he has wanted her.  She’s always wanted to be loved.

STACY:  Yes … and very much so.

ERIC:  Kristen had always wanted to be a part of the DiMera Empire, just as Brady has always wanted to be a part of the Kiriakis Empire, and they’ve always wanted love.  They’ve never had it.  They believe in the back of their minds that anything is attainable.  So, I can see why Kristen would just forgo the Nicole disguise and just go, “He wants me.”

STACY:  Kristen wants to believe that Brady knows it.  She says to herself, “He knows it’s me inside and behind the mask.  When he finds out, he will fall back in love with me.”

Now that she actually had sex with Brady, wouldn’t that make Kristen even more insatiable to be with him? Like, “I’ve got to have him!?”

STACY:  The fear is still .. what happens she takes this mask off?  She always says, “I’ll reveal myself, but I have to do it slowly when it is the right time.”  I think there is that built up frustration now for her, absolutely!

Photo: JPI Studios

Arianne Zucker really has Stacy’s mannerisms down as Kristen.  It really comes into in scenes where “Nicole” goes off on someone or loses her temper.  Eric, you have worked with Arianne for years on this show.  What do you think about her performances in this storyline?

ERIC:  I have worked with Ari over the years, and I have enjoyed it a lot.  Ari did do her homework.  She did study Stacy’s tape, and she watched her mannerisms, and she took it very seriously.  I know that because she is a hard worker, as much as a goofball as she is, she does work hard, and she wanted it to be good.  I think my favorite parts were the Kristen meltdowns.  You have to understand though; Stacy and Ari get along very well!  They’re kind of two peas in a pod.  So, it wasn’t a big stretch for her to take on how Stacy would play those types of scenes.  They’re both animated, they’re both wild people by nature, and so, it was a good fit.  It was a smart idea from the writers.

STACY:  It was a good fit!

ERIC:  I’ve been out with the two of them, and it’s hard to tell the two of them apart. (Laughs)

STACY:  We are just like two cuddly bunnies.

ERIC:  They’re like flirting with each other, and hugging each other.  You find yourself thinking, “Are they going to start ordering the same food at the same time?  This is getting weird. (Laughs)

Courtesy/NBC

In the recent scene that aired; where Kristen as “Nicole” turns off the light while having sex with Brady, is she worried her plan will now go awry?

STACY:  Yes.  I think she is worried about her body because it is burned.  You know, how they take a tattoo off, and it’s as painful as can be.  Not that I’ve had that done personally.  I like my tats, but I hear it is painful.  So, in the storyline, the burn is that pain that she has and the tattoo. There’s a part of her that thinks,  she has to cover it up, and turn the lights down low.

ERIC:  “Nicole” is sleeping, and Brady is rubbing his hands over her shoulder and touching her body, and as he goes over the burn marks.  He sees a flash of the tattoo!  That is a pivotal moment when he starts to put some pieces together.   He thinks, “Woah! That’s exactly where that tattoo was.”  It’s a slow little rollercoaster ride.

Courtesy/NBC

In the past, Kristen then played by Eileen Davidson, drugged and raped Father Eric.  Stacy, did you ever see that story arc?  Literally the sex scene is playing on the screen at Kristen’s wedding to Brady and then all hell breaks loose.  This to say Kristen is notorious for the ways and the lengths she goes to get her men into bed.

STACY:  Yes! I saw her Eileen do those scenes.

ERIC:  You also saw how close Kristen and Brady were to their dream, to their happiness, their goal, which was they were going to marry each other.  Brady is looking upon his loved ones in this town and thinking, “I know what you all think of her, but I’m going to show you our love on this screen, and once you see the connection that we have here as a couple, you all are going to be convinced that we belong together as well.  This is the happiest day of my life,” and the screen comes up and it’s his brother banging Kristen instead.

Marlena (Deidre Hall) played the wrong DVD!

STACY:  It was so good.  See, I try to find as much info as I can on the character’s past, because all of the time I’m trying to find where these characters have been in their dark and twisted past.

Photo: JPI

ERIC:  You’re putting your own stamp on Kristen.  You got a direct call from DAYS casting department, didn’t you … when they were recasting the role?

STACY:  Yes.  You have to understand, I had two really separate characters to play when I was on Y&R.  One was a doctor, and one was this crazy passionate, wild, little minx.

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ERIC:  I will say to find the wild and the beauty in one package is not easy in any town, yet alone Los Angeles.  I’m glad they called you, because you have that.  You have that villainous nature, but you also are able to show a vulnerable side to Kristen that is going to be a lot of fun and interesting to see.

Stacy is one of those people that will leap off of the screen at you and you will remember her.  She is one actress that will have fans talking about their work, like when you played crazy Patty Williams on Y&R.  The audience was on the edge of their seats going, “Oh, my God!  What is Patty going to do next?”

STACY:  I never knew what she was going to do!

Photo: JPI

Eric, has Stacy come to you at any point where she been overwhelmed by the task at hand; playing Susan while playing Kristen, etc, and the two of you have a moment where you work through some of the challenges of complex scenes  … and ones where she is playing multiple characters?

ERIC:  We’ve had many moments  to speak of.

STACY:  I always come into Eric’s room, and am like, “I’m scared!”

ERIC:  It’s funny you mention it.  We have had some very emotional scenes, and Stacy – who cares so damn much about this job and portraying this character correctly – that she gets a little overwhelmed, and the material that they give her is overwhelming for any anybody on any level.  I have looked at her in the eyes, and said, “You’ve got this gig.  You are this character.  You are knocking it out of the park.  Just do it.  Just be you.”   I can’t wait for people to see some of the stuff we have shot recently and have been doing.

Photo: JPI

Stacy, do you think Kristen can be redeemed? Many characters on daytime … and on DAYS … have done horrible things and later turned over a new leaf.

STACY:  The thing is that villains are bad and all that other crap, but they’ve got a lot of stuff going on inside and insecurities, and they’ve got a heart.  I’m sorry, the villain with a heart of gold, can be very  true.  I never see villains (and I play them a lot) as bad.  You have to find where it comes from … how far does this go … where did that little seed change … and what made them go into the dark, but also, where is the good?  You want to bring the good to it, too.

ERIC:  Let’s face it!  Star Wars is all about Darth Vader and how he became that because it’s intriguing.

Because of the pace in which DAYS tapes its episodes; do the two of you find time to run lines together before you go hit the set?

ERIC:  We are running out of time to run lines.  It’s pretty wild.  Funnily enough, I was recently filming a movie and I was so underwhelmed at the pace of everything.  I’ve gotten so accustomed to moving at this militant style, that as hard as it is, it is preferable to me now.  I almost like it because you don’t have time to overthink what you are going to do, and you end up getting more visceral and natural reactions to the material.  You can overthink a scene, and you can come to a wrong performance that way.  When you burn your fingers on a hot stove, that’s the most natural reaction you are going to get.  You can’t have ten minutes to think about how you are going to scream about that pain.

Photo: JPI

But, would you like the pace of shooting the show to be a bit slower?

STACY:  I would like to, but I do think sometimes just jumping in, and going and seeing what happens is great.  I love that.  I do appreciate that.

ERIC:  It’s scary.

STACY:  It is scary.  I would love if we would get to do a rehearsal and then two takes just to see, and then they can mix  together what happens.  Sometimes I am hard on myself as an actress.  I’ve always been.  It’s that jumping in when you only get to do one take.  You have to just give it everything you’ve got.

ERIC:  You can have a second take.  Want me to give you a little secret?  All you have to do is screw up your last line.

STACY:  I can’t do that.   I don’t even need it to be perfect because nothing is perfect.  It doesn’t matter what I’ve done if I sometimes don’t feel it.  I need to feel it when I’m on that set.  I need to feel something because when I shut down, I close myself off.  It’s like an athlete who has just got to  train as hard as they can to reach their goal.

ERIC:  You’re an Olympic swimmer!

STACY:  You’ve got to do it as hard as you can.  You practice, and you practice, and you practice, and you practice, so that when you come to that day, you do the best you can, but sometimes you are disappointed because you didn’t get that one last thing you had hoped for.

Courtesy/NBC

How do you view what happened to Eric with Kristen, who disguised as Nicole, tricked Brady into bed with her?  Some fans commented that that they thought it was akin to a rape.

ERIC:  No, I would disagree with that theory.  I believe there is a high degree of deception in this, but there is a willingness on behalf of Brady.  He’s not drugged.  He’s not being forced to do anything.  Deception, yes.  Rape, no.

Stacy, what do you think?

STACY:  Total deception.  There is no rape.  There is absolutely no rape.  These are willing participants; he just doesn’t know exactly who he is dealing with.

ERIC:  I appreciate the context of how somebody could construe that, and the seriousness of the matter.  I don’t think it really has a place in this particular storyline.

Do you guys think that Brady and Kristen are each other’s star-crossed lovers in a weird, twisted, bizarre way?

ERIC:  I don’t know.  I think they’re magnetism can’t be denied.  I think the hurdles that they’ve jumped through are astronomical.  Will they end up together in the end?  Who knows!  Will there ever be an end?  Who knows!  It’s definitely been one of, if not the most, in-depth relationships Brady has ever had.

Photo: JPI

And intense!

ERIC:  Yeah.  They’ve just gone through so much to be together, and when you do that, anybody who is married knows that, that’s where the good stuff is; the wars that you win together and the battles that you go through.  When you come out of the war, and you’re still together, that’s the bond.  That’s what lasts.

What would Kristen do if she couldn’t have Brady in the end?  Would she find a new obsession?  What if she could not nab her man?

STACY:  Wow!  Hmmm. (Laughs)  She’s going to get her man.  She wants her man.  She wouldn’t settle.  She’d keep fighting.  I would say to her, “Kristen, keep fighting the good fight.”

So, do you think Kristen will reveal herself to Brady sooner than later? Will Brady figure out what Kristen has been doing to get to him?  Will Brady turn Kristen away if he knew she was alive and back in action  … or would he fall back into her arms? Share your theories via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Rebecca Herbst Chats On ‘Friz’, Her On-Screen Sons & How Liz Has Grown-Up

Last week, Rebecca Herbst celebrated her 22nd year playing fan favorite Elizabeth Webber (now Baldwin) on General Hospital.  She made her on-screen debut on August 1, 1997.  And in those two decades plus in Port Charles, Liz has gone through many a rocky relationship, plenty of drama, and carried out some misdeeds of her own.  But one thing is for sure, Becky is loved by the fans of the long-running ABC daytime drama series who always want the best for her, and for Nurse Elizabeth.

Recently, ‘Friz’ fans got a moment they had long been waiting for when Franco (Roger Howarth) and Liz, and their friends and family (and some enemies) shared in their wedding reception.  But can their happiness last?  According to two psychics, Sibley Gamble (Veronica Cartwright) and Chelsea Lambas (Jen Ray) that Franco has run into in recent weeks, he better be careful.  That has made Franco concerned, while Liz is trying to get her family all on the same page, and it looks like her boys are coming around to loving and accepting Franco, too, despite what Liz’s ex Jason (Steve Burton) may have to say about it.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Rebecca  at the GH Fan Club Weekend, where she made a welcome appearance, to talk about: how she sees Elizabeth’s relationship with Franco, her talented on-screen sons, and how Liz has grown-up since she started on the series, and more.  Here’s what Becky shared with us below.

What did you think of the long-awaited wedding reception of Franco and Liz?  The show finally gave them this joyous moment; after their jailhouse nuptials. Did you feel like the way the wedding actually went down it felt like it cheated the relationship, or did you like it?

REBECCA:  I felt the jailhouse wedding was a bit of a cheat, because they had tried two different times to have a really glorious wedding, so to do it in a jail cell was not the most desirable place. (Laughs)  However, the fact that the characters did actually get married and nothing came in between was a plus, and so, hey, they’ll take that.  Later, when I read in the scripts that there was going to be the reception, I was shocked, because I really didn’t think it was ever going to happen.

Photo: ABC

Do you think the fans were getting to the point where they thought this was never going to happen, also?

REBECCA:  For sure.  We all thought they Franco and Liz were never going to have their moment, or their honeymoon or any of that. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that not only did they write it, but it was beautiful!  It was also visually beautiful.  They put a lot of effort and thought into the show itself, and nobody died, and nobody fell through the roof.  Well, it was kind of funny that Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) got pushed off the ‘Haunted Star’, but according to Elizabeth, that’s just fine that Obrecht got pushed off the boat. (Laughs)  She didn’t die, so everything is good, but all in all, it was a really wonderful party.

What did you think when they had all of Elizabeth’s sons performing a song for the happy couple.  It was so cute, and touching.

REBECCA:  Oh, my goodness.  Those were real tears I shed.  That was so sweet.  So very, very sweet of them.

Photo: ABC

The show is growing the boys, so now you, as Elizabeth, have some young actors to play off of in your scenes.  How do you feel about that?

REBECCA:  Oh, I love it!  For so long, Elizabeth would only talk about her kids, “My boys, my boys, my boys, my boys in the attic.” (Laughs) Now, she has relationships, and very different relationships with each one of them.

I think that echoes real-life too.  A mother has distinct relationships with each of her children.  That’s what I like about Liz with her sons.  And as a mom in real-life as well, I am sure you can relate to this.

REBECCA:  Yes, my relationship with all of my kids is completely different, and I really love that it’s true for Elizabeth’s kids.  I attribute a lot of that to the writers, because they definitely write our relationships differently.  Aiden (Jason David) is still this baby who Elizabeth coddles and protects.  Cameron (William Lipton) is expected to be the man of the house and take care of things, and sometimes Elizabeth feels like she puts too much responsibility on him, but he is going to protect his mom no matter what.  Hudson (Jake) is so wonderful, too.  The fact that I have been blessed with three beautifully smart little actors is just a win for me.

Courtesy/ABC

Let’s talk about Aiden, who had been bullied at school by the other kids.  Do you think that story will be fleshed out?  It seems it may have been put on pause, because it would be an important story to tell for parents with LGBTQ children, if that is how GH ultimately chose to tell the story.

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GH's Rebecca Herbst Chats On 'Friz', Her On-Screen Sons & How Liz Has Grown-Up

REBECCA:  It is an important story.  I would love to tell the story.  There is a great message.  I don’t think we touched on it enough.   I think, for now, the best way to put a button on it is to send the message that we should accept our children with all of their wonderful attributes and personalities and whatever their interests, and let’s not label children, and listen to them and support them.   We should just all be kind.   I was sad when I would read some of the tweets about the story.  It saddened me to read people’s harsh opinions towards Elizabeth’s acceptance of her child.  Some people said that we should not be doing a story like this, and then there was the other half who said, “Just because he is a baker, doesn’t make him gay,” which is 100% true.

True!  TV viewers have certainly seen a lot of straight chefs on foodie or cooking shows, for example.

REBECCA:  Absolutely!  All three of my children in real-life love to cook.  There is nothing wrong with that.   I think we need to just continue to love Aiden no matter what, and he is not different than any of the other kids.

Photo: ABC

William Lipton has been amazing as Cameron, right?

REBECCA:  Amazing.  I know!  He is not only a great little actor, singer, and performer, but he has this beautiful little face, and he is such a grounded young man.  He’s a really sweet person.  You can tell he’s been raised in a really great house, and he has an amazing mom.

Because you are such a “mom’s-mom” in real life, do you think that helps you in how Elizabeth reacts to her children?

REBECCA:  I think so.  I always ask permission from my on-camera kids before a scene: “Is it okay if I kiss your little head?  Is it okay if I put you on my lap here?  Is it okay if I put my hands on your face?”  I’m not their mother, but when I think about what I would do with my real-life kids,  they’re always getting kissed and hugged and held by me, so I want to make it look as real as possible.  I have to think, “What would I do if this were Emerson?”  He’d be on my lap, and I’d be kissing his little neck.  So, then I have to ask Jason, who plays Aiden, “Is it okay that I kiss your neck, and if I kind of just like snuggle you?”  All three of my on-screen kids are so great, because they’re like, “Yeah, sure.  We don’t care!” and not all stage kids are like that.  They all are receptive of my love, and they just let me do it.  I think that is what is so sweet.

Photo: ABC

What do you think of this whole pairing of Elizabeth and Franco, and that you were paired with Roger Howarth?  Elizabeth has had many relationships on the show, so where does her relationship with Franco fit into her list of romances/relationships?  Do you think Franco is one of her great loves?  Over her life, Liz has had a lot of ups and downs, and at times, has not made the best choices for herself, or the choices she made just haven’t worked out in her favor.  I think we all can relate to somebody whose choices don’t work out the way they envision them to be.

REBECCA:  For sure.  I think each of Elizabeth’s relationships have been so different. Just to talk about a timeline: she was a little girl when she was with Lucky (Jonathan Jackson), and as she’s matured, so have her relationships.  However, I think the relationship she has with Franco is her first real adult relationship; in that she not only does respect him, but she respects herself.  She is not afraid to stand up to anybody for the sake of herself, or her children.  I think that is the difference.  In the past, she has been a little so head-over-heels in love that she would do anything, and now, she knows who number one is, and that’s her children, and she puts herself first now, too.  Before, Elizabeth did not matter to herself.

Photo: ABC

I thought Elizabeth treated herself badly.  Is there a self-loathing?  Did you ever that figure out as an actress where that comes from?  Do you think it was from when she was raped years ago?

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REBECCA:  I think it went deeper than that.  I think it was because her parents left her at such a young age, and although they were doing great work for whatever they were doing, she was left as a child.

So, she felt something was wrong with her if they left her behind?

REBECCA:  Yes.  I think that’s where her lack of self-esteem came from.  She just didn’t have that support at home when she needed it the most, especially when she was a teenager.  You need your parents around you to tell you that things are awkward and weird, and you’re changing, but you’re going to be okay.  She didn’t have that, and so, she kind of had to figure it out on her own.  She did it through her relationships with men, and she didn’t have men in her life who were telling her, “You’re going to be okay,” except for Lucky, but that was a younger relationship in her life.  Now, as more of an adult with Franco, he tells her she is going to be okay.  Franco believes in her as much as she does now.

Photo: ABC

What’s the best part about working with Roger … and what’s the most challenging part?  Is it some curve balls that might come from when you are going live-to-tape?

REBECCA:  For me, I know I can totally work around whatever comes out of his mouth. (Laughs)  I’m good with that. (Laughs)  The most challenging thing about working with him is that he is constantly losing his glasses, so he can’t see his scripts.  It’s always at the end of the scene.  It’s like, “Where are the glasses?” (Laughs)  So, if losing his glasses might be the most challenging thing, then I’m a pretty lucky girl!

Where does Jason (Steve Burton) fit into Liz’s life at this point? 

REBECCA:  We’ve not really established that.

Courtesy/ABC

Since Jason has been back on the canvas, not much has been played between them.

REBECCA: They had a relationship, they have a relationship, and they have a friendship.  It should be played.

What would you love to see happen to Elizabeth story-wise, that perhaps you have not gotten the opportunity to play?

REBECCA:  I would love to see Elizabeth be happy with Franco and just explore whatever that means for her in a long-term, adult sense (because she doesn’t really know how that is yet), an adult happiness, while trying to navigate the kids’ lives, but also having a friendship with Jason.  I think that would be interesting, because she has always held a torch for Jason.

Photo: ABC

Viewers are currently alarmed that Franco has been receiving warnings from two psychics.  On last Friday’s episode, Franco is clearly afraid to take a drive and in Cameron’s new car (the one Oscar gave him) due to the psychic, (Chelsea) telling him: “Don’t take that drive!” Does Elizabeth have something to be worried about? 

REBECCA:  Yes, but she’s going to hang on to Franco, and make sure nothing happens to him … until he doesn’t come home (laughs) …  and then she’ll be calling Jason! (Laughs)

So, what did you think of the sentiments shared by Rebecca?  What did you think of the Friz wedding reception, and Liz and Franco’s relationship?  What do you think of Liz’s relationship with her children?   What are your hopes for Liz moving forward? Comment below.

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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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