It’s been a rough go for the Julexis army over recent months on ABC’s General Hospital. But those moments have provided two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) with such meaty material that it has been riveting to watch this soap vet remind us all why she is one of the premiere actresses of the genre.
This week, viewers have already seen a horrific chain of events, which have included: Alexis being unknowingly set-up to botch her testimony while on the witness stand (and that she did!) that would have sent her husband, mobster and murderer, Julian Jerome (William deVry) to prison for life. Then a short time later comes the news that that the verdict has already been reached. When it is read, Julian is found ‘not guilty’ on all charges. It’s another blow to Alexis, whose entire life has been bottoming out. It appears she has only been able to find solace and comfort with booze, in order to help her cope through the endless terror she feels, the destruction of her marriage, the loss of her ability to practice law, and plenty more deep-rooted psychological issues that have been brought to the surface by all that she has suffered. But how far will Alexis fall? Will she find the strength to pick herself back up? What happens when a woman, so in control of every aspect of her life, finds herself feeling isolated and alone, and realizing that she is unable to control everything around her?
For the answers to those questions and more, we chatted with the one and only, Nancy Lee Grahn to get her perspective on the twists and turns in Alexis’ life, and if there is a future for Julexis … or, if there is no going back … and what she has thought of all the material she has been given to play. As we, the audience, know, her performances just might land Grahn some Emmy gold come next year. Always insightful, candid, and with that brilliant sharp wit, here’s what Nancy had to say about what’s going down in Port Charles for Ms. Davis!
When did you first find out that Alexis would begin a battle with the bottle? How did you feel about her going down that path?
NANCY: We typically don’t find out things too much in advance, which makes it tricky sometimes, but when I was told, it made sense to me. Alexis has been brought to her knees in every area of her life. Faith and trust are shattered. I don’t blame her one bit for wanting ANY moment of relief. And when you can’t find grace in the worst moments, you find something else. It’s not a battle yet as I see it. It’s the only escape she’s able to muster right now, and she doesn’t owe anyone any apologies for not taking the high road at this juncture. Then we’ll see what happens.
The entire foundation of Alexis’ life has been torn apart. She has gone through, in short order: her husband trying to kill her, her stabbing him, and now she can’t even practice law, which is a gigantic part of Alexis’ identity. Would you say this is one of the more exciting times as an actress in your soap career?
NANCY: Any time my role as an actor is motivated, clear about what she wants, how she feels, and given the story to connect all of that, it’s a good acting day. Yes, Jean Passanante and Shelley Altman (co-head writers, GH) have made me happy to come to work.
Alexis was drugged by Paul (Richard Burgi), and that literally has a major hand in Julian being exonerated due to her messy testimony. What does she think happened to her? Will she figure it out?
NANCY: She has no idea. She is understandably disoriented, and disconnected from herself. The color of her world has changed dramatically. At that this point I don’t think anything she says, does, or feels surprises her. Post traumatic stress will do that to you.
Do you think Alexis is so disturbed, that in fact, she could still be deeply, madly, in love with a man who tried to kill her?
NANCY: I don’t think that it is possible for any woman to be in love with a man who didn’t just have a bad moment and try to kill her, but it was in essence, a torture kill. He was going to slit her throat with the same knife that Helena used to slit her mother’s throat. It is however, possible to feel you somehow deserved that and can’t differentiate between love and abuse. I don’t think that is Alexis’ issue. She has many for sure, but that isn’t one of them.
Speaking of the dagger, what did you think about the scene where Alexis used it to stab Julian? Were you surprised at that turn of events when you read the script?
NANCY: I loved it. It was Shakespearean in structure, well thought out, and a very brave writing choice. And bravo for letting the chick save Sonny (Maurice Benard) for a change. (Laughs)
Alexis looks so miserable right now, even recently watching her daughter Sam (Kelly Monaco) finally be happy, and wed to Jason (Billy Miller). And of course, she was getting schnockered at their wedding! Is Alexis truly happy for Sam?
NANCY: Of course! She’s beaten, not bitter.
Do you think Alexis and Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) can forge a better mother/daughter relationship, after Alexis interfered in Kristina’s burgeoning relationship with Parker (Ashley Jones)? Would Alexis truly be OK with whatever sex Kristina wanted to be with?
NANCY: I don’t think Alexis gives a rat’s tush about Kristina’s sexual preference. She wants her daughters to avoid pain, that is all.
We are all talking about the incredible Emmy-worthy scenes both you and William deVry have had thus far this year. Will you submit yourself, come Emmy time, for Lead Actress? YOU SHOULD!
NANCY: Ha, ha, thanks Michael. As much as I believe we are all supporting actors, it is after all, a team sport. If there must be these categories, I am, and always have been a lead actress. Unfortunately I’ve been at the hands of writers that didn’t agree. I literally had nothing to submit for years. Not one day in an entire year for years. It reflected the poor use of my time on screen, but I’m happy to report that Jean and Shelley have rectified that. I not only have a tape I wouldn’t be embarrassed to submit, I’ve got a few. It’s so nice to have these two women now in the house. Frank Valentini, (executive producer, GH) is not too shabby, either. It’s good to love your boss.
With Julian being found not guilty at his trial, and now being a free man, how do you think Alexis will cope with this? Will she be scared for her life … or, be drawn back in by him?
NANCY: Scared and seriously pissed.
Alexis has recently been haunted by Julian. She is seemingly coming unglued. How far would you say the writers are going to take her … to the lowest of lows?
NANCY: I hope so! More to climb out of. The deeper the abyss, the more of a challenge that it is to get her on the right track.
Two female head writers, Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman, have been steering the ship for some time now at GH. It seems under their watch, Alexis has become front and center again. Do you feel that female writers know best how to write for female characters?
NANCY: Not at all. Patrick Mulcahey wrote for me brilliantly. Chuck Pratt was terrific for me on Santa Barbara. It’s about the investment the writers have in the character, as well as the actress. Jean and Shelley have demonstrated enormous respect for both. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them.
Julexis has been one of the most popular pairings on the soaps. Would you say there is somehow hope for them to reconcile and be together … even if Alexis signs divorce papers?
NANCY: There’s always hope, right?
Alexis and Sonny have a wonderful on-screen relationship. He has been trying to protect her through her entire turmoil with Julian. What has it been like working with Maurice Benard (Sonny) at this point in the Alexis/Sonny relationship?
NANCY: Maurice and I have always acted seamlessly together. We get each other.
And lastly, have you had a favorite scene within in all of this Alexis drama that you left the studio after a tape day, and went, “Damn, that was good!”
NANCY: Ha, ha. I never do that. I’m always tweaking my performance in my head on the drive home.
What did you think will happen to Julexis? Will Alexis continue her downward descent? Who will help her through her ordeal? Have you loved the performances of Nancy Lee Grahn throughout this story? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!