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The David Gregory Interview – One Life to Live & She Walks in Beauty

Courtesy/DavidGregory.com

Courtesy/DavidGregoryOfficialSite

It has been exactly one year since On-Air On-Soaps ventured to New York City to say goodbye to the amazing cast of the beloved One Life to Live.  And as hard as that was, we will treasure it for the rest of our lives.  But as this year has played out many of your favorites have gone on to new projects, new roles, and new endeavors.  One such performer is David Gregory, who as hottie Robert Ford, spent his time in Llanview bedding many of the young ladies, being the big brother to his two younger siblings, dealing with his abusive dad and the issues that caused, and finally finding love and becoming a dad in his own right shortly before his untimely death.

Now the multi-talented Gregory can add writing and directing to his resume, as this weekend (with a show tonight and on Sunday) his new play, She Walks in Beauty, has performances at the prestigious Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York City.  David does not act in it, but tells On-Air On-Soaps how the play came about, and how he cast some folks with a close connection to Llanview in it.  David also filled us in on some very great news during our conversation that he has been cast in a recurring role on the upcoming NBC primetime soap, Deception!  If you recall, this was the opulent soap announced by the peacock network that was originally titled, Notorious.

Of course, there was so much to discuss about the final days of One Life, and how David felt about the way they chose to wrap up Ford’s story, what he thought of the final juggernaut of an ending to the 43-year-old soap, and his chance meeting post-Llanview with Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki) that put the loss of the series in proper perspective for him. With David, we looked at the past and what he has accomplished, and how important it is to remember to cherish memories, but also to move forward with a passion for life, and to more importantly, keep oneself open to new and exciting things ahead!  And certainly for David, dreams come true!

MICHAEL:

David, what a week for you!  Putting your first New York play on stage that you wrote and directed!  And, this was also the same time last year that we got together with the cast of One Life to Live for the final press junket, which was the last time I saw you in person!  How have things been for you post-One Life?

DAVID:

Courtesy/ABC

It’s been almost a year-to-the-day that we did all of those final One Life to Live exit interviews!  Of recent, I have been extremely busy!  This play that I wrote I submitted it to a festival, basically to have something to do.  This summer was a little slow, and as soon as it got accepted and we started rehearsals, I got another acting job.  It’s been a challenge and joy to juggle these two things, and we are putting the show on its feet this week.

MICHAEL:

But if I understand correctly, this is pretty fantastic for you!  The very highly regarded Manhattan Repertory Theatre chose your play from submissions from hundreds of upcoming playwrights.  How did this all go down?  It’s kind of thrilling, actually!

DAVID:

The Manhattan Repertory Theatre does a play festival each season of the year.  I submitted my play and they picked it, and the best part about it is they provide the space for you to perform it, and you have stock sets you can use.  They provide the lights, and the sound system, and that whole thing.  And, you get about three performances out of it, and more if it does well.  I took a play writing class in January because OLTL had just ended, and I wanted to get into acting class and do things to keep my chops sharp, but I did not want to get too burned out on it, especially because losing One Life was such a loss.  So I thought, “I will take up a playwriting class. That is something different!”  And, it’s something I have always been interested in.  This play I wrote in late August and finished in a decent amount of time.  I submitted it for, for a lack of a better term, “shits and giggles,” and here we are!

MICHAEL:

And … there are some familiar faces connected to the play that One Life to Live  fans will know! 

DAVID:

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

So, I was able to get Barret Helms (Ex-Baz) from One Life to Live and I needed a middle-aged man to play the sort of father figure, doctor, kind of role.  I thought of Gary Donatelli for that, who was one of our directors at One Life, and it was just a shot in the dark.  I sent him email and said, “Hey, you are really right for this role.  I don’t know if you act, or if you would be interested, but I would love to talk to you about it.”  He sent me back an email that he was really interested, and that he was very flattered.  I had auditions for the lead female role, and Gary showed up to audition as well for his role, like everybody else!  And, you’ve got to give it to this guy.  He rose to the occasion! Gary was man of much power at One Life, and someone who I always admired, and one of the first directors I worked with.  He directed the famous “Ford and the Bucket Scene,” which was one of my first days of work.  We had a great time working together, and when would I have seen him again if not for this play, post One Life?

MICHAEL:

Did you know Gary even acted?

DAVID:

No, I did not know he acted, but I went with “type” first.  When I heard him read the part I knew he was exactly right, and my girlfriend Jen, who is an actress as well, sat in with me when I did his audition, just so I could get another perspective as well.  She said, “I think you have got to give it to him.  He is great!”   Not that I did not want to be surprised, but he brought it.

MICHAEL:

When we last talked a year ago, you had informed me that the end of One Life to Live probably would not hit you as much as would some of the long standing veterans of the series who gave decades to their roles.  Looking back now, do you still feel that way?  It must have a very deep emotional connection for you.

DAVID:

Courtesy/ABC

When One Life to Live ended, I had sort of had bits of panic the last week we were shooting.  We were sort of a family and people we going to miss each other a lot. And a lot of times, I wouldn’t remember certain episodes, but I do remember days I had with Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica) or Brittany Underwood (Ex-Langston) or with my boys on set.  And the longer the show had been off the air, the more of a gap you start to feel from that.  Lenny Platt (Ex-Nate) and I still see each other a lot, and I see Barret obviously, but a lot of people moved to the west coast.  Months later it started to bug me.   You are back to a totally different life style of auditioning and hitting the pavement.   I went to get a hair cut from Wayne Bilotti, who was one of our hair guys on One Life, and he happened to be cutting Erika Slezak’s hair while I was there.  Erika started talking to me, asking how I was doing.  I think this was late January and I did not want to ask her, but I did want to know.  I asked her, “How are you?”  She said, “Great.”  She seemed to say she had time to do things now that she did not have time to do before, and by that she meant having time with her family. You know how she is … she is such a personable person.  I am sure she misses One Life so very deeply. And I do not want to put words in her mouth, but I got the sense from her that if she was OK, then I had to be OK myself, because she was trying to see the silver lining it.  I don’t mean that in a false sense.  I genuinely believed she saw the next step in her life, whatever that may be.  I thought whatever is going on in my head, if Erika Slezak has got her heard on straight, which she does, then I should absolutely too!  For so many years everyone looked to her, and now if she is not panicking, or freaking out, then what choice do I have?  That is also the same way she worked.  She was always prepared, knew her lines better than anyone else, and everyone else’s lines!

MICHAEL:

True that!  Well, Erika knew everybody else’s lines better than them!

DAVID:

She did!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When we last talked, the final episodes of One Life had not aired yet.  What did you think of Ford’s big scenes in Hell with John Wesley Shipp (Ex-Eddie)?

Courtesy/ABC

DAVID:

What a blast! (Laughs) We knew we were shooting out of order.  I knew that Ford was hovering and Frank Valentini (EX EP, OLTL, now EP, GH) came up to me one day out of the blue and said, “You know you’re dying, right?” (Laughs) And I said, “No, I didn’t.”  And he said, “Well, someone had to go!”  And I almost said, “Thank you,” and here’s why:  In a show that has such a huge history, and that has characters on it that deserve a strong ending and deserve to be written for in the last week, I knew that if they were going to kill me off that meant they had to then write a story for it, which meant that I was not going to be twiddling my thumbs the last couple of weeks.  So I thought of it as a blessing in disguise … and great!  Then I got the script that said that John Wesley Shipp was coming back in and that we were going to duke it out in Hell! (Laughs)    They wrote these wonderful scenes, but to sort of cap off what it was about … has Ford changed?  Or, has he not changed?  In addition, Ford got to stick to his old man in the end. Ford has got to throw his father into the burning pit of Hell to survive, but then, Ford sort of runs into Heaven, and we all know how that ended.

MICHAEL:

Also remember, the original show title of OLTL was Between Heaven and Hell, and you got to play that throughline at the end of the show’s historic run.  You know, I thought maybe they would let Ford pay for being such a dog with women! And I mean more than making him dress up like a hotdog to pay his bills! (Laughs) Anyway, I thought Ford would actually end up in Hell, but in the end, he did get a reprieve, if you will, and he did wind up in Heaven.

DAVID:

I tried to explain this to my family before it aired.  I said, “I am going to sort of be in between worlds.  They are not sure if Ford is going to Heaven or Hell, and they want to show that.”  But I think it worked! They were able to bring back some very familiar faces for the Heaven sequences, and I think they utilized it beautifully.  I was actually in Chicago for an event on the last episode airing of One Life.  The actors in attendance watched it together with the fans in this huge bar area.  And … what a topper!  Having Trevor St. John (Ex-Victor Jr.) show up in the last scene!  I did not know that was coming.  I did not know ‘till it aired.  It was such a blast for us, because we were watching it with fans of the show, and it was such surprise to them as it was for us!  And we were all thinking, “This is the last one, and what a way to go out!”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

OK, being the man who clocked the most shirtless scenes in soapdom … what happened with the infamous bucket scene?  Was that always supposed to be the plan?  Was it in the script that way?

DAVID:

It was written that way!  I got the script, and I will never forget this.  I am a big fan of Hugh Jackman, and ever since I was a kid, he has been the guy I want to emulate.  I got the script for the scene and it literally said, “Ford picks up the bucket of water in the barn to cool off.”  And then they wrote as a note, “It should look like Hugh Jackman in Australia!”  I saved that script, because I was so excited that, that is what they wanted me to go for.  There were a few episodes I had prior to that, but when it came to the bucket scene I thought, “Oh, now we are getting into soapy goodness!  This is good and fun!”   We literally shot it as plain as day.  It was supposed to be a little more in slow-motion, but they shot it and that was the first day I met Gary Donatelli.  I had no idea it would cause the tremor that it did.  I am so glad it did!  You know how this goes?  Fans can make you or break you in this soap business.  I was supposed to only be on OLTL for two and half weeks, and I was there instead for two and half years, because these people kept me in my job.  I am reminded of that all the time whenever I go to something someone says, “I miss your character, or we miss the show,” but you know what? “We miss you guys!”  It boils down to that.

MICHAEL:

I will never forget our special BlogTalkRadio OLTL final two-hour finale broadcast, where fans spoke to members of the cast live on-air telling them how much they will miss them and One Life.  It was heartbreaking!

DAVID:

Jerry verDorn (Ex-Clint) had his recent annual charity event, and the year before I attended, fans were saying, “We are so sad the show is going off the air,” and this year, it had been more of, “We really miss it” and some people were talking to me as if One Life had just finished, and I realized it was still that fresh to them.  If you watch a show, for say 25 years, when a year goes by without it, you still feel that void in your life.  I just sat and talked to some people about this for a while, and you get the sense that it was more than just a television show that people would sit down to watch.  It was families who would watch it together.  I talked to a husband who said, “I am not a soap guy, but my wife and I have opposite schedules, and the only time I get to spend with her and do something she likes to do, is watching OLTL with her.”  I thought that was really neat of him as a husband, and the fact that it brought them together.  So when something like that for them ceases to exist, that is a huge void. 

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

You got a lot of flack for coming on and stealing air time from some of the main characters of the series.  Your family then expanded to bringing on your two brothers, Nate and James.  You must have a special place in your heart for Lenny Platt (Ex-Nate) and Nic Robuck (Ex-James).

DAVID:

Listen, those guys are always going to be important to me, always.  No matter where we go, or what we do from here on out, we are going to remember this is where we started out.  I was raised to believe you never forget how you began and at OLTL, I learned everything that I needed to know.  Now obviously, I want to learn more, but I have done primetime work since, and it is never as stressful.  You are shooting fifty pages a day in three hours on a soap, and it can take its toll on you after awhile, but you can go do a guest spot on a primetime series, and it’s three pages in four hours.  One Life prepared me for anything that I could possibly have to deal with, and I did it with Lenny and Nic, because we often had scenes together, or stunts to do together.  We were all kind of in the same boat.  It sort of helps to have guys who are thinking what you are thinking.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s talk about Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica)!  I know you two are once again on the same show!  Explain! (Laughs)

DAVID:

Bree is doing Haven on SyFy, and she is going to be on this new show on NBC series called Deception, which they just changed the name of to that.  It’s going to be a mid-season series. I just got hired on there as well!  I am about to shoot my fourth episode.  Bree and I ended up working the same day, and so we got to see each other for a little bit.  What the odds are of that?  Unfortunately, we do not have scenes together as of now, but she plays a very important role in the show.  I think it should start airing in January.  It’s a killer; it’s being billed as primetime soap.  I am playing Kyle, he is sort of a bad guy with a motorcycle, maybe with a heart, but we are not sure.  Does that sound familiar at all?  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

You?  Playing that kind of role?  No! (Laughs)

DAVID:

He swoops in … and the show is about this big family, The Bowers, and he has his eye on the youngest daughter.  I think I start airing on the third episode.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s get back to your play, which I found the subject matter quite intriguing.  Tell me the basis of She Walks in Beauty?  What would you tell people is at the core of the story?

DAVID:

The way I have it structured is in the first scene, it’s a husband and a wife, and we get the idea that they haven’t been married very long, but there are problems developing in their relationship, and very soon after that we realize that she is in fact a mechanical human prototype!  Her husband helped invent her and his boss, who they just refer to as “dad”, is the mastermind behind the entire project.  So what I wanted to explore was – are the problems in their relationship because she is a robot?  Or, is it because she is actually starting to have human characteristics, and they are just normal problems everyone experiences, which sort of make this a dark comedy!  It’s what we would laugh at if it was somebody else, and what we would not laugh at if it was.  What ends up happening is, she gets very curious.  So the questions become: Is she capable of having children with her husband?  Can she go to school like everyone else?  One of the things her father says is, “We can input anything into your system? “  She says, “I don’t want to be inputted.  I want to learn.”  And it holds up a mirror to us in a sense, and shows us maybe that we are better off the way we are, because we have all the tools and the abilities and we just have to make that choice.  Without giving the story away too much, it sort of heats up when there are problems where she may have been made faulty, and maybe they should make another one … and so, if they make a 2.0 version of this woman, does this make it the same thing, or something different?  And, the guy ends up having an affair with the 2.0 and it starts riddling him with guilt, and so he actually starts to develop this guilty conscience about it.  The best way to describe it is ….  a sci-fi dark comedy.

MICHAEL:

Who plays the robo-woman?

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

DAVID:

The robot woman is played by Andrea Leach.  She made me laugh when she read for the part and took it places I did not expect.  She reminded me of a Bree Williamson, in that they have a relationship a little like Ford and Jessica – like you get on my nerve, but you really don’t, but I really like you! (Laughs)  I could not stop laughing at Andrea’s reading, because it was like here is someone who found humor in something that maybe was not funny, but she sees the reality of the situation, and she is great.  I needed someone who could hold their own on stage against two very strong men.  She has Barret on one side and Gary on the other.  Gary is like 6’4” (Laughs) He can be a very intimating presence, and I can attest to that when he came in to direct my first scenes years ago saying, “Who’s that Ford kid?  What is a Ford?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Many of your former One Life to Live co-stars are on the west coast, as we have discussed.  Are you content staying on the east coast?

DAVID:

I have definitely thought about it.  As of now, with Deception shooting now in New York, I am staying put.  My heart is in TV and film.  But what I am doing now, and what I had been doing, is exactly what I want to be doing, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say, because I don’t think a lot of people can say that about what they do for a living.  I guess, I would just know if it was the right project, or if the time was right for me to move to L.A.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Have you been auditioning for other daytime soap roles, although that would now bring you to L.A.?

DAVID:

I have not been. You know, I signed for another four years at OLTL before it was canceled.  In my mind, it was sign to stay in New York and see what happens.  I kind of left it at that.  Deception happened, and I felt like it was the right thing at the right time.

MICHAEL:

So, do you get a sense that this role on Deception could turn into something bigger for you?

DAVID:

I was talking to one of the writers today, and they told me they like the character I play and the chemistry they are seeing, so I am just taking each episode as a blessing and seeing what goes on.  I was kind of keeping this low key until I started shooting and got a few episodes under my belt.  Just because I know how quickly things can change, and when I auditioned for it, it wasn’t supposed to be a recurring role, but it was suppose to be an episodic and then done.  They are now getting back in their production offices once we got Hurricane Sandy out of the way.  I feel more confident now that I am really involved in this show in some small way.

MICHAEL:

The big question David … Will you be on Deception with your clothes on?  Or, off?

DAVID:

Courtesy/ManhattanRepTheatre

Believe it, or not?  I am wearing layers of clothing. .. A lot!   I am a motorcycle guy and I have my hoodie and leather jacket.  He is a little rougher around the edges than Ford.  It’s a blast.  I am working with a girl named Ella Rae Peck.  She was heavily recurring on Gossip Girl last year.  When I saw she was attached to it, I was thrilled.  She and I had actually done a Gossip Girl episode earlier in the year.  On Gossip Girl we were playing best friends, and on Deception we are playing lovers.  So, we are playing opposite of what we played before, which is great.

MICHAEL:

In closing, I just want to say kudos to you, David.  Best of luck with putting up your play!  You must be very proud. 

DAVID:

It’s a little nerve-wracking thinking about what you are doing, but my girlfriend told me, “You are creating something in the middle of New York City.  How many people get to do that?”

READ MORE
GH's Roger Howarth Chats On Shifting From Franco To Drew & The Stunning Story Twist
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Becky Cloutier
Becky Cloutier

God we all miss our soaps soooo much! And of course all the Actors Too!!

louisa
louisa

Lots of good information here! Still really missing OLTL…

SharonB
SharonB

Congratulations to David Gregory and his upcoming projects. I am so glad he is getting new projects. I miss One Life to Live so much as well as everyone that worked on it including the behind the scenes people. I wish great success for all of them. I love OLTL always!!

SharonB
SharonB

Thank you so much Michael Fairman for keeping us up to date on everything.

Patrick
Patrick

Yes, Sharon I am so glad Mr. Faiman is keeping us up to date with so many of the actors from cancelled soaps! I still miss OLTL and its been almost a year since it went off the air.

gloria
gloria

Wow, this brings back so many memories & makes me miss OLTL so much, all over again. I have the official cast portrait framed & hanging on my bedroom wall across from my bed. That is my big, wonderful family who I love & miss so much. Watched the show all my life. I’d give anything to have it back.

steve
steve

David my warmest congrats on ‘She Walks in Beauty’ I’m sure it will be hit & awesome
Interview You’re still missed on Daytime lol !

MBmomof3
MBmomof3

Thank you, Mr. Fairman for a great interview. Congrats to David Gregory. Miss OLTL & the cast/characters everyday. Always happy to learn what the actors are up to.

Philip
Philip

So happy David is staying busy with successful projects. Looking forward to “Deception” and wish him a very great future.
All of us miss OLTL very much and feel ABC should have found a way to keep the show on the air. Hope the other “Ford” boys, Nic and Nate are also doing well.
Had OLTL not been cancelled, I’m sure Barret Helms would have become a fan favorite also. Since his actual screen time turned out so minimal, we didn’t have the opportunity to get to know his character.
Just wish I could have gone to New York to see David’s play.

Robbyrob
Robbyrob

Thank you for keeping in touch with David Gregory. I was a big fan of his work (and shirtless scenes) on OLTL. I recognized him on the streets of NYC before OLTL was canceled (sniff…sniff). Can I just tell you…how nice and personable he was to me. He spent time chating with me about the show and let me take some photos of us together. He had no problems with guy fans coming up to him and saying hi. I was sad that Ford died at the end but it truly was a memorable run. I wish him the best of luck and hopefully I’ll run into him again and say hi. Keep up the great work Michael!

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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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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