Lifelong General Hospital fan and author Robin Wasserman had a dream come true recently. In concert with the release of her latest novel, Mother Daughter Widow Wife, whose plot prominently features an unnamed soap opera, Wasserman sat down with some GH veterans to discuss the genre's longevity.
New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han (To All the Boys I've Loved Before) joined Wasserman, Finola Hughes (Anna), Kimberly McCullough (Robin), and Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) on a virtual live-stream hosted by New York City's venerable Strand Bookstore.
Han noticed that women in daytime don't seem to age, perhaps viewers see them in our households almost every day. But the actors themselves have been impressed by how much fans enjoy seeing their characters in love at any stage of life.
And Jenny,, when we’re shooting a love scene... And by the way, I was 61 or something and with—Julexis [Alexis and Julian, played by William deVry] was, like. voted the hottest couple. And I’m like, we’re like, 'We’re ARC members and we’re, like, the hottest couple in daytime.' It was so shocking to me, but what I will tell you is that while we’re shooting those love scenes, we know the directors very well. And I’m like, 'Bill, if you shoot the fat hanging off my arms, I will…' So trust me, we’re protected.
Hughes noted the challenges she faced from the beginning of playing Anna as a romantic heroine:
I couldn’t, I found it really difficult to be romantic, I found the whole concept to be played up, like roses and things and candlelight. I grew up, like, a punk, and I was a dancer, and it was uncomfortable for me and I kind of found—I was really lucky because we had this incredible executive producer, Gloria Monty who—she just went against the grain.
She started to write my character like this tough, kind of tough, agent who was raising a daughter, Robin—Kimberly—and I loved that juxtaposition. That made me feel comfortable. I was able to hang with the boys and be tough and fight and to all that, and yet I was maternal, so that for me became a woman.
McCullough noted that fathers come and go from their kids' lives all the time on soaps, but for Anna Devane to be gone from Robin's life was something new and different. And viewers could understand why she did it. But every character is collaboration of some sort between writer and actor, even if that collaboration changes over time.
Grahn added of Alexis:
Robin, you asked, 'Do we have say in this?' I think there is a component of, they pick up on our personalities and our tones and they write accordingly, but I think, and I don’t know if it's due to the time or I don’t know if it’s due to the limitations in budget—there are many limitations in budget—but in the past there was more concentration on character and more commitment to it and more...you were given more reasons why we as women do what we do.
I feel a little cheated as of late, in the last several years, really. Not cheated in how lucky I am to have this job but in terms of—maybe it’s on General Hospital because the show centers around mobsters that they’ve made heroes. So the morality is already skewed, so the women are forced to orbit around them in ways that sometimes make them a trophy wife or a bitch and it has become a little less nuanced than I would prefer and less realized.
Watch the full juicy chat below.