There is no denying that one of the standout performances of this Emmy season is that of Crystal Chappell’s stunning and raw performance as Dr. Carly Manning of Days of our Lives. As the good doctor’s entire world is shattered, and with no one to help her pick up the pieces of her broken and battered heart, she turns to drugs. With that, it gave Chappell a showcase worthy of her talents again in the daytime arena. Of course, the bittersweet irony is that Crystal was eventually written off DAYS. However, soap fans clamoring for Chappell on their television screens will get to see in her brand new role on The Bold and the Beautiful when she debuts on May 17th! (And you can always find her on the hit web soap, Venice)
We caught up with Crystal to share in the excitement of her Emmy nomination and to get her thoughts on everything Carly Manning! From playing her tough final storyline, to being nominated this year for a role she originated in the early 90’s, to now getting an opportunity to hang at the very exclusive luncheon of the Lead Actress nominees; here’s what Crystal had to say about it all!
Crystal, you put your heart and soul into this last storyline of Carly’s with her descent into drug addiction. With so much great material in that story to choose from, what episode did you submit for Emmy competition that landed you the Lead Actress nod?
CRYSTAL: It was the same thing I submitted for the pre-nominations which was Carly’s detox. It was just me and three really wonderful day players. There wasn’t a great deal of dialog on my part, but it was a good script with good direction. Carly was detoxing and hallucinating, and thinking that she is hearing her son. I really enjoyed the storyline and I think I talked about that with you at that time. It was very much a collaborative story we told. I am happy just for that reason that the nomination happened. A lot of people worked very hard on it.
Those scenes you were nominated for had to be very hard to do! It was exhausting just watching it. Was the story emotionally draining for you to do?
CRYSTAL: The whole story gave me headaches! I would go home with headaches because it was so intense. Certainly that episode was one of those days where I was sweating and rolling around on the floor. So that day of shooting was very intense! Look, it’s the stuff you want to be challenged with. I had no complaints.
Take me through Daytime Emmy nomination day. How did you find out you were nominated? What other great congrats did you receive other than from your loveable husband, Michael Sabatino?
CRYSTAL: I called my publicist Leslie Penny and we listened to The Today Show together as Kathie Lee and Hoda read off the nominees, so that is how I found out. Michael is always so sweet, as are family and friends. Then the B&B camp called to congratulate me! They are such classy people! I have to tell you, they are the nicest group of people. Fans were supportive and congratulatory, and I am especially happy for people who liked watching Carly and liked the story. It is a nice thing for them, too.
I spoke with your co-nominee Erika Slezak (Viki) of One Life to Live. She told me she loved your work in your nominated material. I thought that was terrific coming from her.
CRYSTAL: I turn into a little girl when you mention her name! (Laughs) It’s so true! I remember meeting her for the first time and thinking, “Oh, my God. That’s Viki. Don’t look stupid.” I was such a fan, and am such a fan. I remember when I first met her I was tongue-tied. That means the world to me to hear that Erika said that to you. That is just beautiful. She is a powerhouse.
What a great group of gals in the Lead Actress category!
CRYSTAL: Yes! It’s great that the Daytime Emmy are in Los Angeles this year. We will have a leading ladies lunch and that is always a blast. But, we do invite other people though. It’s the ladies plus some, because that is what we do. We have champagne and a good time. Laura Wright better pick up the bill! (Laughs)
If you could envision where Carly Manning is right now, where do you think she would be?
CRYSTAL: She is chanting in a Tibetan ashram. (Laughs) She is trying to stay off drugs! (Laughs) She is obviously not good with men. So she is going to sit there amongst all the monks. (Laughs) I have no clue. (Laughs) Carly is a great, great character. And still in my opinion, there are loads of story to tell with her. One of the reasons I came back to DAYS was that I was curious to see where she’s been.
Carly was one of my favorite characters from DAYS and of all soaps back in the early 90’s, which is when you first appeared on DAYS. And even when you returned a few years back, I was rooting for her. I think I love her more than you Crystal! (Laughs)
CRYSTAL: I do love her and I think she is flawed. It was fun to see the wall crumble. I have no regrets playing her the first time around, or the second time around. It was great to be entrusted with such a complex story. You know, Gary Tomlin who was the DAYS EP at the time told me at the 2010 Emmys, “We need to give you something more substantial!” It took him months and months to get that story approved. I never forget December of 2010 he came to me and said, “We are going to do Nurse Jackie!” That happens to be one of my favorite shows. I had an inkling the tides were turning. So, I just got into it like it was my last meal. Then, I saw the writers were doing the same thing. At one point I went to Gary and said, “I know sometimes actors complain about story, but I think it’s really important to tell you that I see the great care that is going into the writing of this. I just hope you will pass that along to all of the writers.” The dialog was spectacular. They challenged me and they made me go back to work. It was truly one of the best times I had as an actress telling that story. I never saw it as a dark storyline or a depressing storyline; I saw it as a viable real storyline for who that person was. And as a result of it, I had a lot of people talking about themselves and their family members suffering from drug addiction. It is more prevalent than others might realize, and in particular in the medical field. To me, it felt very relevant at the time, even though it was shrouded in this lovely soap opera guise.
Gary Tomlin is back at DAYS as Head Writer this time out, having been the EP when you last were in Salem. What are your thoughts on Gary’s return?
CRYSTAL: I am happy for Gary. I think he is a terrific executive producer, and he is an asset to any show. He knows what he is doing and there is a lot more to the job than people realize. He understands numbers and the big picture. He has been a line producer, a head writer, and an executive producer. He has done every job. At this particular stage of the game, it is very helpful to have someone like that in your camp.
I do want to tell you that my favorite performance, or shall I say single moment in the drug addiction storyline, was when Carly plunged the needle full of tranquilizers into her thigh the first time! She was so distraught and shaking, and so alone. It was upsetting to watch, and thus began her downward spiral.
CRYSTAL: It was the beginning of that story. When you see someone that strong desperately wanting love, and not knowing how to find it, and having too much done to her and not dealing with it, she took the easy way out and it took her down. But it took her to a place that she could recover from. And to me, there was this idea that people watch soaps for strong women. I think that is true, but I also think it’s all a matter of context. I consider a strong person someone who goes through difficulties and comes out the other side and learns from their mistakes. It does not make you richer, or mean someone is going to be in your life to love you, but you come out the other side alive and willing to move forward. To me that is Carly, and to me, she is a true heroine.
What do you think of Crystal’s performance as Carly in the drug addiction storyline? Would you like to see her walk away with an Emmy for the work? Let us know your thoughts!