On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Daytime Emmy winner, Cady McClain (Dixie) over the weekend at the All My Children Fan Club Gathering to ask her about the shocking turn of events that led to dead-as-a-doorknob Dixie being risen from the ashes and given new life as the 40-year-old soap prepares to end its network television run on ABC Daytime on September 23rd.
With not-to-be missed episodes, Tad and Dixie fans will see major moments beginning to play out on-screen this week, with a key episode on Monday August 8th. McClain, a savvy soap veteran opens up about how her return as Dixie came to pass, her unbelievable on-screen chemistry with Michael E. Knight (Tad), the upcoming Tad and Dixie reunion scenes, and how she handled the news that both AMC and OLTL were to be to shipped off of network television. We found Cady to be witty, funny, smart as a whip, and filled with deep emotion on the subjects we bantered about.
Cady, did you want to come back to All My Children and revive Dixie one more time after the poison pancake debacle, or were you just done?
CADY: I think I had really let it go, I had just decided, they were not calling. It’s dead. She’s dead. She ate the poison pancakes. She was a ghost twice! Maybe I would come and talk to Tad as the ghost; you know I thought I was going the way of Jenny Gardner! (Laughs) First, I had heard that Lorraine Broderick was hired as head writer, and I thought, “Hmmm. What is going on here? Lorraine has always liked me and been very supportive of me.” And then like in a second, I got a text from Julie Carruthers, the executive producer of All My Children, and I literally had to sit down. I almost fell off my chair.
At the time you got the text, did you for a moment think, Dixie might turn out be alive this time?
CADY: No! It was just, “You want to meet for coffee? Are you in New York still? What is going on?” And I am like. “You tell me?” (Laughs). So we had sat down and had some coffee and they informed me they wanted to bring me back for a year and that was before the show was canceled. So, we were talking and in negotiations and then I got a call from my agent who said, “Ah, sit back down. The show has been canceled.”
Now we have amped up sped up version of what would happen if Dixie came back to her loved ones very much alive due to the network television conclusion of All My Children which is upon us. Did it feel sped up in the storytelling to you?
CADY: Yeah and I suppose that is kind of what we have. And in a way, I am kind of glad. I mean, there are times when it feels like, “Whoa. This is happening so fast!”
And there are times, if you had the luxury to tell the story over a year arc; it could also feel drawn out into infinity!
CADY: Right, exactly and especially for the fans who are like, “Would you please exit the crypt!” (Laughs)
When you first heard the news that AMC was canceled, as someone who has consistently worked in the daytime genre and has been an actress associated with playing a beloved character on this show, were you shocked by the news?
CADY: I was in frozen shock for a couple of days, especially announcing both One Life to Live and All My Children being canceled at the same time. And then, I got very depressed. I had to lie down and really feel sad about it. It is a genre that works really hard. Everyone in the business knows no one works harder than those in the soaps. It is five shows a week, fifty two weeks a year. We kill ourselves to put on programming like that. It is very dramatic, emotional, and relevant programming, and not everyday do you hit it out of the ballpark. But you have to keep the story going and sometimes when soaps do it well, it is amazing. It felt like soaps were misunderstood, not being wanted, not being liked, all those painful feelings that rejection brings, and then it felt like an opportunity of: let’s show them how good we can be. Let’s do the very best job we can do and keep continuing on to the very end and see what happens.
Michael E. Knight and you have this undeniable on-screen chemistry. Tad and Dixie are one of the all time favorite couples in the history of AMC. The big reunion scenes are set to air on Monday August 8th. Were you good with it and how they wrote it?
CADY: The reunion is really good! I am very good with it and Michael and I were talking about this. There is nowhere else in our lives where we have this experience of true love that has lasted over our entire lives. And in the world we live today, not many people have that with their partners. Not many people have that anymore with one person. Whether Tad and Dixie have fallen apart or cheated on one another, certainly, there is something about them that they just love about each other and they know each other and they are family. That has great value; having that one person who has always fought for you and stood by you and wanted for you. I am getting emotional just talking about it. Michael and I because of our friendship have some of that, but it really blossoms on-camera. It is this fantasy world we get to go to and it’s this very precious thing that is available to find in real life, but very hard to find.
Over the years, Michael E. Knight has turned Tad into this extremely relatable, everyman type of guy with his sweet and sincere performances. I believe he has grown as an actor, and he is just amazing to watch.
CADY: It is sweet. Michael has had an amazing journey as a person and as an actor in his career. It is funny; I see acting just like some people see painting. It is sort of this thing that it is outside of yourself, but you and your craft keep growing at the same rate… as you grown in your craft, you grow as a person. So, as he has grown as a person his acting has just expanded into this other rich facility and that is really hard to get. I remember in my first acting class they said, “You will be an actor in twenty years. So just stick with it. Everything you do up till then will be about learning how to do this.” And that is where I feel where we are both at now. I can do this and I get it, and it’s become wide and rich inside both of us.
When you found out the reason Dixie was back and very much alive, thanks to Dr, David Hayward’s machinations, (although viewers don’t know and have not learned the whole story yet) where you like, “Oh my God! This is so far-fetched!”
CADY: I loved it! I thought it was “camp” and I think the element of “camp” in soaps makes it so much fun. It’s silly and larger than life, and why not? It’s like where anything can happen. It’s almost like being in Wizard of Oz land. You have your real characters and then you have these fantasies. So, I was fine with it. (Laughs)
When you film your final episode of AMC, and you have to leave the studio and say goodbye to everyone for the final time (even though the show will be moving to the web, and we don’t know if you will be with it at that point) what will be your takeaway and fondest moments with the series?
CADY: We have four or so more weeks to shoot, so I am not done yet. I will definitely remember what I shot most recently that is coming up to air. I remember that very deeply and fondly already. I also think I remember and will take away living on set the most over the years I have been on All My Children. I have talked about this before with Michael, that there is this wonderful world we get to live in and have happy families and Christmas time and miracles, and that has been a wonderful place for me to escape my own life, and for all the people that watch All My Children too. We all escape there. So I will miss that escape, I truly will.