General Hospital’s Laura Wright (Carly) recently scored her third Lead Actress Daytime Emmy nomination, (she has one previous win in the category) and played a critical role in the special 52nd anniversary episode of the ABC daytime drama series that went back in time to 1963, where viewers learned the shocking past of Luke (Tony Geary) and his family secret. Wright portrayed Luke’s mother, Lena, in the emotionally wrought and intense show, which won raves from viewers everywhere.
Currently, Carly is knee deep in more familial problems in the present day, as her son Michael (Chad Duell) recently flipped out, thanks to an assist from brother Morgan (Byran Craig) and former flame Kiki (Hayley Erin) to try to get him to lose custody of baby Avery in Michael’s vendetta against the Corinthos clan. Carly desperately is trying to repair her relationship with Michael that was blown to smithereens, thanks to Franco (Roger Howarth) in Laura’s Emmy-nominated performance. Carly is also trying to get the low down on Hayden (Rebecca Budig), her new rival who arrived out of nowhere in Port Charles who is manipulating Carly’s buddy, “Jake” (Billy Miller). Will Carly get the goods on Hayden, and finally figure out that “Jake” is Jason?
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with one of the finest actresses in the genre to get her thoughts on all things Emmy, as we head into the final week prior to the 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Telecast, which airs on Pop next Sunday night, April 26th (8PMET/5PMPT). Plus, Laura shares her thoughts on getting to work opposite Tony Geary during the stunning 52nd anniversary episode, and what fans can expect from Carly in the very near future. Here’s our conversation with Laura!
What happened when you learned of your Daytime Emmy nomination? What did you think of GH landing the most nominations of any daytime series?
LAURA: First of all, I loved seeing Chad Duell (Michael) in Supporting Actor, and it’s just awesome. I love that GH is represented so well this year. When I learned of my nomination, my brother was the first to call me and congratulate me, and then my friend Christine Cooper, who is also nominated for editing in two categories for General Hospital. Then my husband sent me a text, and then I texted my daughter. I had told her if I was nominated that she would get to go. My mom called, and GH executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati also reached out to me. It was just a great day!
How did you come to the decision to go with the episode, and the reel of your performance where Carly blasts Franco (Roger Howarth) at the Hallowedding for destroying her son Michael’s life with his bombshells?
LAURA: I owe it all to Michelle Stafford (Nina, GH). If my name is called, I am going to tackle her. I was down to two reels: the episode before that one where it is heavily Chad’s performance and he finds out that Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Carly slept together, and that they covered up the truth that Sonny killed his father AJ. Michael says to Carly, “You’re dead to me.” He then leaves. The next episode is where Carly turns on Franco, and I thought, ‘Did it have enough vulnerability in it? Did it have enough pain?’ It had Heather Webber (Robin Mattson) with a gun, hello! It was just a lot of me in it. I am a big energy, and if you watch five scenes of that you worry someone will say when watching it, “That actress! Shut her up!” I was more afraid of that, but Michelle Stafford was like, “Hell, no! You’re vulnerable in it, and it’s all you. You have to submit it.” My daughter Lauren liked it, too!
This was truly one of those perfect storm reels!
LAURA: Yeah, it was! It was really perfect. The hard part of this was that show, and the episode before it, was all shot in the same day, and we were so tired after those scenes. When I was screaming “Michael!”, and he was walking out of there, I literally almost caved to the ground. It was emotional hard work, and then I had to turn around and do the scenes with Franco. I thought I barely even know these lines; I just had all those scenes to do. I guess playing it all in order actually was great, because you are definitely emotionally still there. I know General Hospital submitted the episode of the Hallowedding for one of their Drama Series nominations, too.
And, you had to walk around in that wedding dress for hours and hours while doing this deep emoting in the scenes! (Laughs)
LAURA: You’re not kidding! And I had to wear that stupid necklace (laughs)! And I was like, ‘I would never wear this!’ Now here is the funny thing. I went shopping, and I actually saw the thing! Betsey Johnson has a whole evil eye collection! (Laughs) Then I got more Twitter pictures from fans showing me evil eye necklaces. Then our costume designer ended up pasting the extra ones to my dressing room door, so now I would see evil eyes every time I walked into my room! (Laughs)
I was thinking Carly would never wear that necklace!
LAURA: EVER! (Laughs) I would be doing scenes with Maurice Benard and he would go, “What the hell is that?” We could not stop laughing about it.
Didn’t Sonny and Carly have sex, and then afterwards she still had the eye-cam on her?
LAURA: I know! (Laughs) Those are things you have to laugh at, and throw humor in it, like when you are pregnant. You either will have a hard time with it, or laugh at the fact that you walk like a seventy-five year old man. You have to find the humor.
What do you think about the women you are nominated with in the category of Lead Actress?
LAURA: I have to honestly say, I think Gina Tognoni’s (Phyllis, Y&R) reel is absolutely amazing. I picked her to win the moment I saw it. I know Gina, and I know how hard she works, and especially walking into being a recast in a role, and especially one that is coveted and loved so much. And to fill those shoes, and do it so individually, and do to it so well without stumbling at all, I was beyond impressed. I only saw the two minute clip she submitted for the pre-nomination, but I loved what she did. And as for Maura West (Ava, GH), and the scenes in the crypt with Sonny, I was there when they taped it and I loved it. We all deserve recognition for what we do. What we do is insane now with how fast we have to work, and how much we have to do with no rehearsal. It’s just unbelievable, and not only do we do it, but we do it well. So when it gets down to the five finalists, it’s anyone’s trophy. Who even knows what someone’s perception is? I am super-excited, and it’s Alison Sweeney’s (Ex-Sami, DAYS) first time nominated ever … how great is that? If she walks away with an Emmy she is going to dance off that stage! And as for Peggy McKay (Caroline, DAYS)… what if she gets up there on stage and goes, “Hell yeah!” like I did. It would be Peggy’s first Lead Actress win. I have been really enjoying the ride, and am so flattered. We are so lucky that these shows are on the air, and that we have such loyal fans.
I was so thrilled to see your cast mate Lisa LoCicero (Olivia) finally land a nomination! Jason Thompson (Patrick) also had a riveting reel, of course along with Tony Geary’s (Luke) outstanding work.
LAURA: Oh, my God! When Lisa’s name was announced, I was jumping up and down, and I am sure Lisa wanted to, too, but she is very pregnant and that would be hard for her to do. I tell you, the first thing she said after I texted her was, “What the hell am I going to wear?” She is due in like three weeks! Jason Thompson (Patrick) is so friggin good! Tony Geary’s (Luke) reel was fantastic. I love that Finola Hughes (Anna) is nominated and Donna Mills (Madeline)! Donna is so excited.
I want to say how fantastic you were playing Lena, Luke’s mother, in the harrowing and heartbreaking 52nd anniversary episode of General Hospital. It was truly a very effective and moving hour of television.
LAURA: I am overwhelmed and blown away by the response, and the kind words everybody had … the fans, the producers, directors, and people coming up to me at the studio. When they asked me to play that role it worked out perfect, because it was Carly playing Luke’s mom. I was so honored and excited to work with Tony Geary, and to play his mother and his wife! The clothes, and the sets, and the costumes – everything was from 1963 – and they went all out from the shoes they got for me to wear, and the hairdo. We kind of walked through it, and Frank Valentini said to me, “She’s got to be more afraid of him.” I went back on set to do the scene again, and all of a sudden she came to life for me. I realized I had a watch on from 1963, and I referenced the watch, and the nervousness, and always making sure the hair has to be perfect, and having a teen aged daughter who seemed worried. It was like when we got on set and the cameras were rolling, and Tony comes in, and the kids are there … it became so real!
What was your reaction when they came to you, and told you that you would be playing Luke’s mother in this crucial episode?
LAURA: I was like: “Oh, my Gosh. Are you serious?” Tony was really happy about it, and I said to Tony, “Oh, my God! I am so honored.” But then the episode after the anniversary episode, when Luke says to Carly, “Did Barbara Jean ever tell you that you look like our mother?” His tears and my tears … it was amazing! Tony is amazing.
The actors who played Young Luke and Young Patricia were also amazing.
LAURA: Amazing! Even the little Bobbie was so adorable! We really wish we could have done more passes at the scenes, because we wanted to get more shots and stuff. We had to go to shoot the scenes in the hospital where I was already bloodied, and then I had to get my make-up redone. Then, I had to go back and re-shoot it from Luke’s point of view, and then from the father’s point of view. We had to shoot it a lot of different ways.
You got to play another character other than Carly, and it worked so beautifully on-screen.
LAURA: It was nice for me to feel like an actor. I have been playing a daytime female character for 24 years, and it’s my life and I love it. After I finished the anniversary episode I thought that now I have actually played a character, and it was something so foreign for me. I feel like I wanted to honor those women who were in that situation. How many women were terrified and had no way out? In that time, you were supposed to go back to that man. There was no hope, and there was no help. The kids had to watch it all go down. I think that is why this also really affected people, because it seemed so real. I have to say Ron Carlivati wrote a pretty accurate description of what went on in 1963 in many households.
What did you think of the reveal that Luke accidentally killed his mother, and murdered his father!
LAURA: Oh, I loved that, are you kidding? I know they were trying to figure out how to tell this, and when they shot her getting hit with the baseball bat through the window … that was awesome! You got to see me hitting the couch and bouncing off of it. There is a funny story with that; I had to land on my back for the blocking. But, I was worried about getting hit in the face with the baseball bat, so I think in one take I went too early, and I got stuck in the couch! (Laughs) They yelled “Cut!” (Laughs) Bill Ludel was our director. He worked so hard on this show to make everything was right. He is such a pleasure to work with on set, too. I loved the black and white throughout the episode, and then in the end it turns to color. It’s just brilliant.
Now, on GH, what is Carly going to do about her son Michael?
LAURA: People are saying to me, Carly needs to slap Michael, but we have to remember Sonny killed his father. It was like the episode the other week where Morgan (Bryan Craig) is going to call Child Protective Services, and Carly is like, “Hell, no!” That scene with Carly where she says, “Michael saw the good, the bad and the ugly. Now we bail on him the first chance we get? We cannot do that! We cannot lose sight that this is our kid.” Sonny and Carly have not made the best decisions, but they should not bail on Michael, because he is trying to figure his life out. They are his parents. They stick out, and they deal with it.
As of now, Carly has yet to find out how Morgan and Kiki set-up Michael to look like a horrific parent to baby Avery! What do you think she will do when she finds out?
LAURA: Well, what happened is Carly found out Michael knocked over the baby and was drunk, and so when Morgan walked in he said, “Let’s just call Child Protective Services.” Carly said, “Don’t touch that phone.” She says to Morgan and Sonny that she has seen both of them do horrible things when drunk. She is like, “This is Michael! We are not going to treat him like the enemy and call the police and Protective Services.” However, wait till you see the scenes where I do find out what Morgan and Kiki (Hayley Erin) did! It’s pretty intense. Bryan was awesome in it, and as hard as we worked those scenes, I hope the payoff is there for the audience, and the fans when they do watch them.
Do you want the Sonny and Carly romance to continue?
LAURA: I hope we don’t break up. I have never worked with Maurice like this before. You saw when Protective Services comes to pick up baby Avery and she tells Sonny she is not leaving his side. Even if she does not believe in what he did, she will stand by him. It’s been really nice playing this ‘sense of home’ with Maurice. There was an episode that recently aired with Jake (Billy Miller) where she says, “If you would know anything about Sonny, you would tell me, right?” I think that shows her love for Sonny. She is committed to Sonny right now, and that’s all I know.
What can you tell me about working with Billy Miller? Do you think Carly is truly attracted to “Jake”? Or, will she keep it a friendship, since at some point she is going to have to find out he is her beloved Jason?
LAURA: I love Billy. Carly doesn’t know he is Jason. To her, he is “Jake”. It’s a whole different energy, and a whole different experience, and so we will see what happens. I don’t think Carly is attracted to Jake. Of course, she has mentioned a few times he is a good-looking guy. I think their friendship has evolved more. Carly has her hands full with Sonny and Michael right now, and Jake has this whole thing with Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and Hayden (Rebecca Budig). I just think Carly has this instant connection and friendship with Jake. I think the point of that storyline-wise is she is always going to feel that connection with Jason, even though she doesn’t know this guy is Jason. For me, I don’t think being attracted to Jake is a factor in Carly’s head. I think she truly loves this man as a friend. When Carly considers someone a friend, she becomes mama bear, no matter what. I like working with Billy Miller. He is totally different than Steve Burton (Ex-Jason, now Dylan Y&R), and a totally different personality. Billy is really funny, and the more that I work with him now, the more that we banter. I think we work well together, and there is a fun energy there.
Maurice Benard is one of the finest actors out there. How has it been for you to work with him as his love interest?
LAURA: He is the easiest guy to work with him, and it’s so fun working with him, because I don’t come out on set with agenda and he doesn’t either. Maurice knows I am along for the ride with him. When we have very emotional, or powerful scenes, Maurice always comes up and hugs me every single time. Maurice is a true professional, protective of other actors, and a pleasure to work with. I never have a concern.
What was your reaction when they told you GH was doing two live shows this May?
LAURA: I don’t think it’s going to be horrible, but I do think people will be tuning in to see if we mess up! I think its going to be a lot of work. We are airing a live show when everything else is taped ahead. Hair, wardrobe, make-up will be done at a different time than we usually do, and while we are doing the live show, we will then have to be rehearsing the other show. It’s going to be long day … that’s what I’m sayin’. (Laughs) I know that Frank did this, and it worked well On One Life, so I know they know what they are doing.
Rebecca Budig (Hayden) has come to General Hospital! What do you think of that? Looks like Carly has a new nemesis!
LAURA: LOVE HER! I hope she stays. Hayden is a great enemy for Carly, and a great actress to work with. Rebecca is such a professional, and so funny, and a joy to have around. It’s a great gig for her being a new mama! You just watch what’s to come between Hayden and Carly!
What do you think about Laura Wright’s chance to win a Daytime Emmy for her performance in the Hallowedding? Did you enjoy Laura’s turn as Lena Spencer, Luke’s mother in the exquistely done 52nd Anniversary episode of General Hospital? What do you think Carly will do when she finds out that Morgan set-up Michael to look like an unfit parent to baby Avery? Do you hope Sonny and Carly continue to stay together? Do you like the rivalry between Hayden and Carly? Comment below!