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The Good Mother
By Nelson Branco
The kids may not be all right on ‘General Hospital’, but Nancy Lee Grahn is mothering one hell of a performance as Alexis nurses her guilt and doubt as a soap parent
Drivers beware — Emmy winner Nancy Lee Grahn has re-signed with 'General Hospital' for an additional four years as Alexis!
In the pantheon of genre-defying stars, Emmy-winning actress Nancy Lee Grahn will definitely rank in the Top 10.
Like Katharine Hepburn before her, the talented, fearless, and outspoken Illinois native hasn’t met a storyline or character she hasn’t tackled and conquered — on or off screen. Grahn even named her daughter, Kate, after the dynamic screen legend.
After studying acting with the likes of Sandy Meisner and a slew of episodic work thereafter, Grahn was first introduced to daytime audiences in 1985 in arguably one of the first genuine feminist roles in soaps, romantically clumsy legal eagle Julia Wainwright on the beloved and kooky NBC sudser, Santa Barbara.
Three years after Santa Barbara was cancelled, lightning struck twice for the single mother when she joined the cast of General Hospital as another stubborn but romantically challenged attorney, Alexis Davis.
You can say it’s a Grahn specialty.
With a buzz-worthy storyline and a return to the front burner, TVGuide.ca thought it was time to catch up with one of our favorite thespians and political pundits to discuss the relentlessly frustrating Emmy process, Alexis’s questionable parenting skills, and the pros and cons of Twitter.
TVGuide.ca: Congrats on re-signing with GH! Why have you taken a few years off from the Emmy game?
Nancy Lee Grahn: I’ve had some issues with the way NATAS handled the Emmy nominations system. I didn’t even get a ballot! Here I am, a member of the Academy, and yet I didn’t even know they voted! Yes, there are things they need to work out, and maybe I’ll try to help if I can, but there are more important things I’m focused on right now. I have issues with some of NATAS’s rules. Maybe I will play the game next year … I just want the Emmys to be a fairer playground so a variety of actors can compete. Having said that, thank God we still have the Emmys and people still want to win them and the press is still covering the awards. In my day, when I won my Emmy, it was just the industry having lunch!
TVG: Right now, you have a wealth of material airing to compete as Outstanding Lead Actress next year.
NLG: I have to depend on people around me to keep score and track. I’m not a very good judge of my own work. I’m also sort of a believer that one person cannot judge which performance is “the best.” So many actors are so good, and it depends on the material you are handed to play. You could be the best actor in the world and without the right material, you can easily get left out or lose. It is what it is. I don’t spend too much time thinking about the Emmys, but I’m glad you in the press do! You can help me pick out a reel next year.
TVG: It’s your best shot yet at not only winning for the first time in Lead but also for Alexis on GH. You tied with Debbi Morgan in 1989 as Supporting Actress for your role of Julia on Santa Barbara. Is there a little selfish part inside of you that wants your own Emmy, damn it?!
NLG: I really would! It’s on my bucket list to win a Lead Actress Emmy. I’m written more as a supporting actress but I’ve already won in that category. I also see myself as a lead actress so that’s the category I will compete in. If the writers don’t see me as lead, and write for me as such, I will hold out for what I want.
TVG: I never understand why there is this hierarchy between the lead and supporting categories. To me, those labels just reflect the utility of the character, not the acting. This year, the cast of Modern Family all competed in Supporting at the Primetime Emmys. Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep are lead movie stars but often they will compete in supporting if the role warrants it. Why are soap stars seemingly more obsessed with the moniker of the category than actually winning the damn statue in the proper category?
NLG: Oh, I don’t disagree with any of that. It’s just one of my goals to win in Lead.
TVG: Were you rooting for anyone particular this year to win the golden lady?
NLG: I always hope the best person wins. I hope the person who is meant to win, wins. That’s the most politically correct answer I can give you.
TVG: Are you happy with the material head writer Bob Guza is writing for you these days? For the past six months, GH has become a character-driven serial again. Your character, in particular, is struggling with myriad of issues including the guilt in not knowing her teen daughter, Kristina, was violently being abused by her boyfriend, Kiefer. Oh, and the fact that Alexis accidentally killed Kiefer.
NLG: I do like that. I’m always happy when I as Nancy can relate to Alexis. We’re more realistic these days and I know that’s not always the rule of soap operas. My preference, what thrills me, is to do more character-based work. Like mother-daughter issues, which we’re playing out right now.
TVG: Guza wrote for you on Santa Barbara as one of the first feminist characters I ever saw on daytime, Julia Wainwright. What is it about you and Guza? Sometimes it works …
NLG: … and sometimes it doesn’t [laughs]!
TVG: Are you his muse?
NLG: No, Jason, Sonny and Carly are his muses. I think he likes me. As much as he wants to kill me a good percentage of the time, he also respects me. We have a mutual respect for each other. We’re both smart. We’re both very capable. And more importantly, we’re extremely passionate about what we do which sometimes makes us butt heads. Overall, the big picture is, we both like and respect each other. He likes to give me challenging [story material] to see if I’m able to do it or not.
TVG: He hasn’t stumped you yet. Alexis finally has a love life these days and is dating Mac. I’m not sure how much chemistry I see there …
NLG: In terms of Nancy liking John J. York, yes, I like Alexis and Mac together. In terms of the characters, I’m not sure. It came out of nowhere. Historically, part of what Alexis’s problem is that she likes a guy with an edge. She likes it when a guy pisses her off a little and catches her off balance. I’m not saying that’s healthy, but that’s what floats Alexis’s boat. However, I love working with John. He’s my neighbour, he’s my friend, and one of the nicest men I know. And he’s very good.
TVG: I like the sparks I see between you and Bradley Cole. Do you think Alexis is a good mother?
NLG: Yes, I think she’s a very good mother. I don’t think she’s a perfect mother …
TVG: She has a few blind spots …
NLG: [Nods] She has definite blind spots! But she is a very loving mother who puts her kids first. Unfortunately, she got herself mixed up with the wrong guy and now [she’s dealing with a mixture of doubt and guilt issues].
TVG: You’re the female Ashton Kutcher when it comes to Twitter! You have over 15,000 followers and sometimes cause quite the stir when you tweet. What are some of the pros and cons of the Twitter revolution?
NLG: I think they are always pros and cons to anything. I choose to look at it as something fun. I’ve met some very interesting people on Twitter as a result. For example, Lizz Winstead, the creator of The Daily Show, and I recently connected. Also, I was able to partner with an Academy Award-winning partner on a project I’m working on thanks to Twitter. It’s been valuable to me, but that’s not why I tweet. I tweet so I have control of my own voice. Our publicity department picks and chooses whom they want to [promote and feature in the press], but on Twitter I get to say what I want. As most people know, I have very strong political opinions. I get to pick on The View’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I don’t have to be politically correct. I’m sure Elisabeth’s a very nice person, but her politics really bug the hell out of me. Twitter is also a great resource. Recently, my daughter, Kate, had a social studies question, and after I tweeted for help about 500 teachers popped up with some quotes we needed [for the assignment at hand].
Of course, the downside is putting your foot in your mouth [TVG: cough, James, cough, Franco] ... and you can’t take it back [smiles]. Because it’s out there. The way I see it is we’re on a soap opera so we have a soapbox, so why not use it? I don’t take that responsibility lightly, however. I’m careful of what I write. Or I try to be careful of what I say. I constantly ask myself: Is it for the greater good or it for my own self-interest? I try not to be selfish or obnoxious with it. Like, who cares what I put on to wear to go grocery shopping? Instead, I like to focus on how Twitter can get some important political issues out there. Consequently, the Twitter community has made many strides. We’ve pounded several politicians on important issues like health care, etc. Plus, I have a lot of funny tweeps. To me, there are many more benefits to Twitter than not.
TVG: Is it a time-waster?
NLG: [Laughs] That’s what my daughter says when she arrives home from school: “Mom, where’s dinner? Are you on Twitter again?!” Seriously, I don’t think anything that you do that is fun is a time-waster. I enjoy it. When I’m on it, and there is some clever repartee on it … What’s better than good clever banter? It’s very entertaining!
TVG: Should Alexis tweet?
NLG: No [laughs]! I’d be too scared to know what her inner thoughts were.
TVG: Who needs Twitter? Thanks to your masterful, subtextual performance, I think we have a clue of what lurks in that complicated mind and tortured soul of hers. But just in case, Alexis should sign Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge because she has enough trouble on the road!
Сообщение отредактировал Centurion00077: Воскресенье, 05 сентября 2010, 21:09:00