March 13th, 2009  |  Leave a comment

THE HILLARY B. SMITH INTERVIEW – ONE LIFE TO LIVE

This week on “One Live to Live”, fans have been witness to drama at its best, as Nora and Bo’s son is in a tragic car accident that leaves repercussions and a ripple effect across many lives of the citizens of Llanview.

It also affords long time viewers and new ones an opportunity to see one of daytime’s greatest actresses, Hillary B. Smith, as she takes front and center stage as a guilt-ridden mother dealing with her son Matthew’s paralysis, and seeking justice for those who caused it…which means her friend Marty’s son, Cole!

Many fans of the show are hoping the writers and producers may use this storyline as a vehicle for Nora and Bo to finally get back together. But will that happen? I chatted with Hillary about her current storyline, the upcoming return of Nathan Purdee as Hank Gannon, the
re-cast of her on-screen daughter Rachel,
and Nora losing every trial involving
Todd Manning!

Here’s Hillary…

hillarymain.jpgListen to the audio:

Play

MICHAEL:

There has just been a huge moment on-air, where Nora learns of the car crash involving Matthew. How is Nora going to hold up through all of this?

HILLARY:

I think how any parent would be. First, there is the “Oh my God”, and then there is “OK. Everything’s OK. We just have to go through this process. What do you mean he’s numb?” And then there’s thee “What? Cole was driving under the influence? What?” And then, there is the complete loss of control because it all could have been prevented. She goes through her own anger and blame. It’s so easy to blame Cole, but basically he was still living in her house, and she didn’t notice his drug problem. In the past, Nora had dealt with her own daughter Rachel’s drug use. So there is all this stuff going on with her.

MICHAEL:

Then she finds out the tragic news of Matthew’s condition.

oltl.jpgHILLARY:

Yes. Then she finds out he is paralyzed and it enrages her and intensifies her feeling of guilt, because she was not there for him. Every mother wants to protect her child; even if it isn’t something she had no control over. You feel guilty. You feel guilty when something goes wrong with your child and you could not have prevented it, even when you have a hand in it. The guilt is overwhelming, and it eats at her, and eats
at her until she finally
explodes and arrests Cole.

MICHAEL:

Nora is all about law and order and justice, so naturally she is going to go for the jugular in this case against Cole.

HILLARY:

She is all about law and order and justice, and what is right, and making sure he does not do it again, and she is enraged. She is going to throw the book at him and nail him to the wall. But at the same time, she has these scenes with Marty when she goes to arrest him and Marty says, “Well, he is not here,” and Nora says, “You’re hiding him!” Finally, it kind of comes out in these scenes with Marty, where she says, “You know, none of this would have happened if you would have just stayed dead.” And, that’s a moment where even Nora goes, “Are you hearing yourself and what you are saying?” She finally breaks down and has this complete meltdown and she says, “I am sorry. I did not mean that.” That is when she is realizing she feels guilty and responsible that she did not notice Cole was on drugs. But she has to arrest him.

bo_nora1.jpgMICHAEL:

Does Bo feel guilt, as well? Perhaps, for letting Matthew go to the dance even though he was grounded? It was so awful seeing the kids set Matthew up at the dance, too!

HILLARY:

When you have parents that are divorced, and something tragic happens to your child, the first thing you do is look at each other and go, “Ok, I heard that. Did you hear that?” And the next thing is you absorb it the way you absorb it, and you go through your own personal process. Then you come together as a process and you function as a team. I think Nora and Bo are still trying figure that dance out. For Bo’s part, letting him go to the dance does not have anything to do with drugs or knowing someone is on drugs.

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MICHAEL:

Eddie Alderson (Matthew) has been so great; do we need “hankies” for upcoming episodes? The last couple of days on the air shows, I have been so upset watching it. It’s heavy material and very sad!

HILLARY:

I think there are no heroes and many victims. Not only does Eddie do beautiful work, but also Brandon Buddy (Cole) is spectacular because of his guilt. This was just tragedy for everyone, and Matthew is paralyzed from the legs down, and is a paraplegic.

brandon_matthew.jpgMICHAEL:

Have the actors or the show’s producers guided Eddie into how to portray this type of story, when you have no use of your legs?

HILLARY:

Everyone has given Eddie exercises and hints telling him, “Eddie, You don’t know how much you use your legs and your feet, and nobody understands how much you use them, until you can’t. So here is what I want you to do. Sit in a bathtub and hold yourself by your arms and you will get the feeling of weightlessness in a pool. Also, make a decision as to where your paralysis comes from and really try to do things by isolating those muscles.” Eddie is an athlete, so he knows how to use his muscles and I have to say he is doing a great job!

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MICHAEL:

Who do you think Nora loves? Clint? Or, do you think there is still any chance for her and Bo?

HILLARY:

This is going to be very interesting, because when you are pulled into a tragedy like this, it pulls you in different directions and aligns you with the strangest bedfellows, as they may say. I think she loves Clint. I think she has had awakenings that the man she fell in love with is not there now, so she has had to say, “Wait a minute.” But, he is still good and kind to her and her son, and I think she loves him.

clint_bo_nora.jpgMICHAEL:

But, one would hope Nora and Bo would be drawn together because of the tragic circumstances surrounding their son.

HILLARY:

I think this whole situation, with Matthew and bringing Nora and Bo back together in this realm where nobody will understand what they go through except each other, will be very interesting to see what happens. It could make them fight, because when Nora and Bo thought Matthew was doing drugs, it put them at odds. Nora had dabbled and Bo hadn’t. It just pointed out the things they didn’t know about each other and set them at odds. So, when you get down to the basics, when something you love is going to be taken away you go primal. You don’t think in the terms of you did this, and you did that. And, I think whatever hurt came between Bo and Nora gets shelved. It just comes down to Matthew needs them and they need each other.

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MICHAEL:

Fans of Bo and Nora have been rooting for a long time to get them back together. I know I have!

HILLARY:

If there ever was a chance for them to get back together, I think this scenario would be the ideal way to do it. They are both so preoccupied with the hurt of what’s going on with their child that they can’t hang onto the pain they caused each other. So, if there was ever going to be a door open to that relationship, now would be interesting and now would be the time they would be most open to it.

MICHAEL:

Now I know Nathan Purdue (Hank) is coming back and a new recast for Nora’s daughter, Rachel!

nathan.jpgHILLARY:

Yes, Daphne Duplaix. I screen-tested with her.

MICHAEL:

And what did you think?

HILLARY:

All the actresses were beautiful, and they were all talented. I had a ‘sneaker’ for her and she was just right. She had Ellen Bethea’s (Ex-Rachel) earthiness, which is a very beautiful quality and a hard one to come by.

MICHAEL:

I loved Ellen!

HILLARY:

Well, Ellen Bethea was my Rachel, and Ellen had a very centered and grounded quality and a presence about her. Then I find out Daphne has three kids and “duh”, that’s why! So, now I understand why she’s got those qualities. She’s there and present, and there it is. I have to say, I have worked with her a couple of times and I have to say, “Wow. She is a pro!”

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MICHAEL:

Will you have story with Nathan?

HILLARY:

Nathan is Nora’s guy, and he is one of all the ex-husbands she stays in touch with. I am sure she scratched her head and said, “And Why?”

MICHAEL:

Remember, she’s Nora Hanen Gannon Buchanan Hanen… and wasn’t there a Colson thrown in there at one point? (He laughs)

HILLARY:

And who knows? Maybe we can add another Gannon or Buchanan to it!

MICHAEL:

hillaryda.jpgIs Hank coming back for Matthew?

HILLARY:

He comes back to help out, but he is a professor at Georgetown now. He is a very smart man!

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MICHAEL:

Now, let’s talk about all the court stuff against Todd! Nora can never win a case involving Todd!

HILLARY:

No, not ever. I love the writers; they gave me a nod in the script: “It doesn’t’ matter how or what evidence I have. He still walks away.” That was my favorite line. At least I got him to confess, which is one of the most important things.

MICHAEL:

How is doing the courtroom material after all these years and the legalese that comes with it?

HILLARY:

It’s not as much fun as being a defensive attorney because she is now the DA. When you are the prosecutor there is a modicum of just presenting the facts, and not to elaborate or embellish. I learned this in my little research, district attorneys are very dry because they don’t want to seem that they have to embellish facts. So they are usually just presenting the facts, and the colder and more straight-forward they are, the more powerful it tends to be. Defense Attorneys can be flamboyant: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit, “and all that type of stuff.

trevor.jpgMICHAEL:

How about the dynamics between you and Trevor St. John (Todd)?

HILLARY:

I enjoy working with Trevor. He can be unpredictable. But my work with Trevor… he makes me think and he makes me work at it. He makes me step back and watch a scene from different directions and then come back to it, and we had these in his jail cell. I basically try to get him to plead guilty for Marty’s sake. Trevor got me thinking about it in an exciting way, and he made it a much more exciting thing to play.

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MICHAEL:

Do you miss Catherine Hickland (Lindsay)?

HILLARY:

Oh, I miss my “puss, puss”…yes.

MICHAEL:

I have to say I miss some of the Lindsay/Nora scenes, such as fighting in a trash compactor!

HILLARY:

Not having her there has been sad for me personally, and I know it’s a loss for the show, for sure. I am just hoping at some point, it’s allowing for a good set-up for her to come back and it will be more powerful.

hickland_hillary.jpgMICHAEL:

How hilarious were the recent episodes where you and all the Buchanan’s got rip-roaring drunk when you realized David Vickers knew that he was a Buchanan, and was going to kick you out of your house that Asa left you?

HILLARY:

I loved the whole Buchanan scenes with David realizing he is a Buchanan. It was a blast! The funniest was this: “Alright now, who’s DNA and we believe in this guy, because?” Man, he is a bad DNA analyst, but it was Ron Carlivati’s (head writer, “OLTL”) nod to the 1968 storyline by having Rex put in there. Did you catch that?

MICHAEL:

Yes, I did.

HILLARY:

It was his little nod to Rex, as Bo, from the ‘Time travel’ piece.

MICHAEL:

You won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1994 for the amazing courtrooms scenes at Marty’s Rape Trial. As you look back, what moments or storyline are you most proud of?

HILLARY:

There are a couple of things, like the rape trial and we did that for six weeks and it was hard work. There were many nights I would stay in a hotel, near the studio rather than go home and take care of my little kids, and then have to be back at work in the morning. That was tough. It was a lot of work, and I was very pleased at how it came out. I loved the blind story, and believe it or not, I did not enjoy the coma, but I did enjoy the paralysis and the stroke. I tend to be a very technical actress, so to have my mind have to deal with technical aspects, really makes me happy. I liked playing the paralysis and the aftermath of it. But I did not get a chance to do it much.

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MICHAEL:

What can we say for One Life to Live fans to watch for in March with Nora?

hillarysmith.jpgHILLARY:

I think I would have to say watching a mother trying to be there for her son, and do her job, and face the realities and that juggling. That is what I am playing. This is a woman who the odds have turned against right now and she is trying to keep a modicum of normalcy in her life, for her son sake. She wants to make sure she is doing her job and doing it well, and catching herself when she finds herself getting emotionally involved and not being a proper DA. I think the uncovering of Matthew’s condition and how it happened, and then the aftermath of that is a great journey for me, but others have a journey. Marty has a journey. The kids have a journey. It’s a terrific story!

MICHAEL:

Finally, how is working with Susan Haskell (Marty) again after so many years?

HILLARY:

It’s like getting back in your comfortable shoes. It’s like, “Oh, yes.”

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