GH fans waited patiently for the arrival on the scene of Patricia Spencer (Dee Wallace), the older sister of Luke Spencer (Tony Geary). No one had ever heard of the character before, until the series began to unravel the traumatic back-story of Luke and the Spencer clan, and their tortured childhood past. When news broke that motion picture and television actress, Dee Wallace, most known for her work in the classic Steven Spielberg film, E.T., would be taking on the role that viewers knew was an important part, and that an actress of the highest caliber was needed to fill those shoes.
As we have finally witnessed this week, Patricia finally appeared on the scene, and actress Dee Wallace made her soap opera debut! In emotional scenes, a flipped out Luke finds Patricia with multiple sclerosis in a convalescent home, and there she is also reunited with her younger sister Bobbie (Jackie Zeman). After Luke finally has a break into reality, thanks to some good talking to by Tracy (Jane Elliot), he flees the hospital and heads to the Spencer family home to try to remember what happened to him all those years ago. In gut-wrenching scenes, and through an exquisitely produced, written, and performed episode, the secret that only Patricia also knew comes to light… Luke killed his father, and accidentally killed his mother with a baseball bat … and Patricia helped cover it up.
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Dee to get her thoughts on being in these riveting scenes with seven-time Daytime Emmy winner and icon Tony Geary, how she views Patricia and her importance to the Spencer family, and getting the opportunity to work with the stellar group of cast and crew over at General Hospital. She even previewed that there’s more drama ahead on Thursday’s episode. Here’s what Dee filled us in on, and more!
Those scenes with Tony Geary at the end of Wednesday’s 52nd anniversary, where Luke had finally remembered he killed both his mother and his father, were heart-wrenching. What did you think of his performance and being present for it?
DEE: I have to tell you, Tony is mesmerizing to work with and to watch. Some actors can look right at you like trucks going through you, and when you connect with Tony, you connect all the way. He’s a very generous actor, and he is a really sweet guy. Everybody on the set welcomed me and made me feel like family. I had never met Tony before this. It was really one of the nicest experiences I have had in a long time.
How did this come about that you were sought out to play the key role of Patricia Spencer?
DEE: I did not know they were looking for a Patricia, but the fabulous casting director, Mark Teschner, knew of my work, and thought I would fit with the Spencer family, and thought I would have the emotional life to fill it in. So they called and wanted to know if I would be interested. When I read Patricia, I knew who she was. I know the love for family that will make you give up yourself and do anything for them. I know that is a part of me. I do look for parts like that, because I want to make some sort of statement with my work.
Had you ever watched GH before?
DEE: Of course … Luke and Laura! Of course, and that’s like Tony saying, “Have you seen E.T.?” It is a part of our culture, General Hospital!
There you were as a young woman watching Tony! (Laughs)
DEE: Yes! Every young girl was watching Tony back then! (Laughs)
When you were filled in on the part of Patricia? How was it explained to you?
DEE: They told me it was a key part, and I would be playing Luke’s sister, and they had been talking about the character for some time, because I don’t take a part usually without reading it, because I need to know that I can do it justice. But of course, you get parts like in E.T., which I did get to read before I signed on. But I had enough information and I said, “Look, I need to know if she is emotional?” They told me Patricia was ill, and it was about a lot of love and emotion. I said, “Well, those are the things I do!”
It was so amazing to watch. It felt like you fit right in with Bobbie (Jackie Zeman) and Luke as their long lost sister. I felt as if you were immediately a part of their history and the Spencer clan. Not an easy feat to pull off!
DEE: Thank you! That’s a great compliment. It’s acting by fire. We shot four episodes in two days and I thought, “I wonder if it’s too late to get me out of this.” (Laughs) But the way I work as an actor, being on the soap really excited me. I don’t like to rehearse a lot. I don’t like to think about it too much. I really like to be just in the moment. My great challenge here was I studied people with multiple sclerosis. If we are going to play people with a disease, then we need to honor that disease, and those people, and what they go through. A lot of the symptoms of MS involve the vocal chords, and the speech slows down. I called GH EP Frank Valentini, and I said, “I really need some guidance here. I can’t slur my words, or have slow speech with these many words to say.” He led me to the physical. Wait till you see today’s episode! When you play anybody who is injured, dying, or sick, you still have to play them with energy, and so my biggest challenge has been learning all the lines, and getting them correct, and to honor that illness. That is why you see me holding my arm a lot, and kind of slumped over instead of sitting up. Patricia has very minimal make-up, as I am cringing! Oh, it’s just another not pretty part! I think I am actually famous for them. Well, you know, you can’t be in a hospital bed with false eyelashes. I have had a brilliantly wonderful time with all the actors, directors, and Frank Valentini.
So, did anyone know Patricia had MS?
DEE: She has been in a convalescent home. Luke tracked her down, and said to her, “Are you sick?” And she said, “I have multiple sclerosis.” So he didn’t know, or he didn’t remember. We read it as if Luke didn’t know. Everyone in the family just found Patricia.
I thought the young actors who played as young Patricia and Luke were amazing. Kudos to Joey Luthman and Chloe Lanier! What did you think of their performances?
DEE: They were incredible. I want to write to them. I think it means a lot to young actors to hear from people that they worked with; I know it meant a lot to me in the past.
When you all finished taping the final emotional scene on Wednesday’s air show, what happened?
DEE: These guys are pretty use to digging in their heels and shedding tears, and then going to lunch! (Laughs) It is a muscle you learn to let out and recuperate from pretty quickly. Otherwise, you go down on your lines. There were a few moments after the scene of everybody getting themselves back together, and then we had to plunge into what you are going to see on today’s episode. It’s really heavy duty.
What can you preview about the story as it picks-up today?
DEE: There is a lot more information about that night that gets revealed, and there is a lot more emotion. Luke is back to being Luke now, and the ending scene has to resolve what is going on with Luke.
You have had an incredible career in motion pictures and television. Do you look at it and realize just how much you have done and accomplished, and that it would be the envy of any performer?
DEE: Acting has been a great life for me, for the most part. There have been people that have hurt me, but people hurt all of us in life. Our job is to bounce back and create, or recreate ourselves anyway. I have always been glad that I chose to be an actor. I am doing a lot of other things in my life, too: I am doing healing work, author, and I just created this fabulous new little toy which is called “MySelfie Bear”!
Tell me about my “MySelfie Bear”.
DEE: It is a little teddy bear, and if the child pushes the paw it says a really positive statement. The power of the bear is that the child says it back in the first person. So the bear says, “I love my body.” And then the child says, “I love my body.” So the bear says, “I am so loved.” And then the child says, “I am so loved.” It’s really the beginning of the child claiming how much he loves him or her self, and his body, and the world. It was staggering to me to find out there was really no toy out there like this. I just like to create things!
Christopher Stone was your husband and he did a stint on DAYS as Dr. Bill Horton!
DEE: Yeah, and he went through the same thing I did, and said, “Honey, I really don’t know if I can do this.” I remembered that when I thought about taking the GH gig, you bet I did. But by the end of two weeks, he had said he had never had more fun than being on DAYS. I think he was on the show for about six month.
Did Tony Geary and you share any moment’s off-camera that you can share?
DEE: Tony was so sweet, and we talked about Kansas City, and how much he loved Kansas City; which is where I am from, and what great barbeque restaurants they had and everything! When I got down to my dressing room there was a lovely note and a bottle of Kansas City barbeque sauce from him. So sweet!
What can you tell me about working with dynamo, Jane Elliot (Tracy)?
DEE: Oh, my Gosh. The minute I walked out on the set she just threw her arms around me. It’s like a family there, and it has to be. You get in, and then you run it for camera, and then all the actors get together and they run the lines and run the lines, because you have little time to get the words down, and get out there and do it. Jane Elliot said to me about learning the lines so fast, “This is what I am doing to stave off Alzheimer’s disease. My brain is always working all the time, all the time.” (Laughs)
Everyone knows you from E.T.! It is an incredible film, and you were incredible in it. But as an actress, do you ever get sick of people gushing over that, when you have also done so many other performances that you would like to be remembered for?
DEE: Is it nice to be attached to a film that changes people’s lives and is still changing people’s lives? You don’t forget that. Hell no! I will talk about E.T. till they put me in the grave and are playing the theme song! (Laughs)
Your final thoughts on the opportunity to be a part of this incredible and important story in this history of the iconic Spencer clan of GH?
DEE: My final thoughts are it has been a wonderful new experience at this turning point in my life as an actress. It reminded me of why I wanted to act. It was good, and loving, and powerful, and you can’t ask for more than that – the reveal of Luke killing the two parents – I said, “That would be enough to screw a guy up!” And I will say, the grace in which Tony pulled that off was quite astounding!
What did you think about the performance of Dee Wallace as Patricia Spencer? What do you think about Dee’s comments on the harrowing scenes with Tony Geary and being part of the ensemble cast of GH and the Spencer family? Share your thoughts below!