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From the Archive: Constance Towers Interview

All daytime dramas have their icons. Actors and actresses whose own names are as easily recognizable as the characters they portray. Constance Towers is one such actor. For nearly a decade she has personified General Hospital’s Helena Cassadine, one of the greatest villains in daytime history, igniting the imaginations and loyalty of daytime fans everywhere.


It is not just in the world of daytime that Constance Towers has left her mark. She has starred opposite such Hollywood legends as John Wayne in Horse Soldiers, Glenn Ford in Fate is the Hunter, Yul Brenner in the stage version of The King & I, and has appeared on numerous television shows such as Matlock, LA Law, Capitol and more recently Criminal Minds.

Daytime Confidential's Belinda, interviewed Constance Towers for TV Fan Online before Daytime Confidential was even a spec in Luke's eye. The interview is now being archived here at Daytime Confidential for all to enjoy for years to come.

Belinda: It is a pleasure and an honor to have this opportunity to ask you some questions for the inaugural launch of TV Fan Online.

CT: I'm delighted to participate in your new site, "TV Fan Online." What a privilege to be included in the launch.

B: Throughout the interview I will be including questions from several of my colleagues, all of whom are big fans of yours. I would like to begin by discussing your role as Helena on General Hospital, move on to your illustrious career and end with any current or upcoming roles you are looking forward to.

The character of Helena Cassadine has a long and storied history as part of General Hospital and she played no small part in the Luke and Laura storylines that proved to be fan favorites. With Elizabeth Taylor originating the role, were there any specific characteristics that you wanted to carry over into your portrayal?

CT: I have never seen any footage of Ms. Taylor's Helena-though I'm told she was wonderful and glamorous, as I would expect her to be- so I'm unaware of any characteristics I might carry over. I have heard that she was very funny and I do think that humor is an essential quality for a villainess. Fortunately for me the brilliant writers of GH continually look for humor in Helena. I have also always tried to bring vulnerability to Helena, which helps the audience to accept the outrageous things she does. In her mind it's all for Nicolas whom she loves more than life itself (well maybe almost).

B: The return of Laura Spencer for the 25th anniversary of the Luke and Laura wedding will change the current storyline dynamics. A forum member asks, “How will Laura’s return affect Helena? What direction would you like to see the writers take?”

CT: The return of Laura is so exciting. She affects so many of the characters and hopefully the writers will be inspired to involve her in the struggle for power over Nikolas' baby Spencer. Laura and Helena have always had such a complicated, hateful relationship and with this beautiful baby in the middle it could be so interesting and layered. I have always thought it could be fun if it turns out that Helena has been responsible for Laura's commitment to the asylum.

B: Speaking of Luke, you and Anthony Geary have a wonderful chemistry onscreen. It is obvious that the two of you enjoy playing off one another. Considering the history of the characters has there been any special preparation for the secret to your success?

CT: Helena's relationship with Luke is one of those wonderful serendipities that happen. We love working together and Tony is the answer to every actress' dreams. He responds to every little nuance and brings such brilliance to his craft so you are free to crate all kinds of magic. The writers were very quick to pick up on our shadings and gave us wonderful material to play. Tony is one of the most appealing, sensual actors I have ever worked with and those feelings have shaped our relationship as Luke and Helena. It’s fun to go to work to perform with him.

B: Many General Hospital fans have expressed disappointment that the character of Helena is currently being written as one dimensional, only brought out for sweeps to wield a knife for five minutes, and then disappears until the next sweeps. Fans would love to see more storylines involving Helena that would flesh out other facets of her character and maybe even provide a little romance for the Cassadine matriarch.

CT: I so agree with the fans that Helena has been written as a one-dimensional character for some time now. I am so grateful for the fans, their intelligence, instinct and loyalty. There are so many possibilities for Helena and a little romance would really be fun. The charade that Jax pulled off on Helena was wonderful and didn't become an embarrassing real "love in the afternoon" story, it was told in good taste and very humorous. Helena could have such an adventure with Edward Quartermaine for instance. Can you imagine Helena ensconced in the Q mansion? Edward wouldn't know what hit him; Tracy and Luke would be a great combination with Edward and Helena. Of course Edward would think he was in control until Helena had the fortune, the house (look out Monica) and the staff in the palm of her hand.

B: What would your dream storyline for Helena be, as a character, assuming it has yet to be told?

CT: That would be one big "Dream" story line for Helena. Also it would be so satisfying if she could have an epiphany of some sort and resolve the feud with Alexis, become a caring but meddling grandmother to Nikolas and Spencer for just a few minutes before she launches another attempt to take over the world. I think the internet has given the fans a much more important base. They have always been listened to by the writers and producers but now they can visit chat rooms, message boards and voice their opinions, they can e-mail TPTB, they can be far more connected than before.

B:General Hospital has a large, dedicated online fan base that is known for being quite vocal in their opinions both positive and negative. Do you feel that the advent of the internet has changed the fans and their perception of television?

CT: The internet has given me a whole new perspective on my work and connected me to my fan base in a more intimate way. And they are super.

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B: Switching gears a bit. When a fan looks up Constance Towers on IMDB they will find a long list of film and television credits to your name including roles on such venerable TV shows as Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote, L.A. Law, MacGyver, Designing Women and Matlock to name a few.

I mention Designing Women specifically because when my colleagues, Jamey, heard of the interview and the first thing he mentioned was that one of his favorite episodes of Designing Women had you in it. "It was the one where the Sugarbakers took it upon themselves to decorate your home and fix your marriage of convenience, which led to hilarious disastrous consequences!", he said. Would you like to do more comedy on General Hospital and/or in primetime?

CT: Please tell Jamey that Designing Women is one of my all time favorite roles. What a fantastic group of ladies to work with and the producers and writers were fabulous. They wrote the last scene when my character revealed her private life about two hours before the audience arrived. The resolution was so funny and such fun to do. Even the guard at Warners {Warner Bros. Studios} was laughing when I drove out after taping. I love comedy and have enjoyed doing shows like Frasier, High Society and Designing Women. Sit-coms are truly rewarding but just to hear people laugh is a reward.

B: I recently caught your guest appearance on Criminal Minds: “Riding the Lightning”. Are there any upcoming roles or performances you can tell us about?

CT:Criminal Minds was one of the most pleasant prime time experiences I have had. The producers went out of their way to make it enjoyable. Their support of my work was phenomenal and the cast were wonderful I hope to do more episodes in nighttime and comedy would be terrific too.

B: Having worked with the leading men in Hollywood, including Yul Brenner, who was the biggest “surprise” once you worked with them and why?


CT: All of the actors I have been privileged to work with have had their surprises. Yul Brynner had a reputation for being difficult, hot tempered, etc., etc., etc. He was so so wonderful to me. He could not do enough to make me comfortable, appreciated and loved. It was a happy three years on Broadway with The King and I. John Wayne was as big in person as he was on the screen. He had time for his fans; he was doggedly loyal to his fellow actors and truly a friend. Glenn Ford was probably the biggest surprise. We made Fate Is The Hunter and I was stunned by his film acting technique. He understood that medium better than anyone I had ever worked with. I knew he was good but I never realized how good he was.

B: Every actor has at least one role they rejected and later regretted their decision. What would that particular role be for you?

CT: I'm probably the only actor who doesn't have a story of regret about the role they rejected and later regretted their decision to turn it down. I was a single mother with two children to raise all by myself and I took every role that was offered to me and was grateful for them. There were probably some I shouldn't have done but they paid the rent, school tuitions, summer camp and FOOD. I've always been so happy working at my craft I couldn't turn anything down anyway.

B: Before we finish I wanted to discuss a topic I was recently made aware that “Joining Hearts and Hands” is a cause you take an active interest in. Please tell us how you became involved in Dr. William Cara’s “Joining Hearts and Hands”.

CT: "Joining Hearts and Hands" grabbed my heart immediately. I so believe that if you can change one child's life you can change the world. It takes so little to help these children and Dr. William Cara is doing it. How wonderful we can be of support.

B: In closing I have a fun question to conclude the interview. Out and about where is the last place we would ever expect to see you?

CT: Now where, out and about is the last place you could expect to see me? A Water Park. Last summer, while my son was in Iraq for nine months I spent as much time as I could with my daughter-in-law and grandsons in Virginia. We went to every Water Park you can find in Virginia. Yes, there I was waiting for the big wave with everyone else or sliding down a wild and dangerous water slide praying that I would surface in one piece. A Water Park is definitely where I would least expect to find myself but there I was.

B: I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. It is an honor and a privilege to have had this opportunity and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you both as Helena on General Hospital as well as any primetime roles you may appear in, in the future.

CT: Belinda, I'm so happy to share all of this with you and wish you great success.

For more information on Constance Towers and “Joining Hearts and Hands” be sure to check out her Official Website.

This inteview was first published October 02, 2006.