May 20th, 2008  |  Leave a comment

THE ALLEY MILLS INTERVIEW – THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

AlleyMillis.jpg
By Michael Fairman

Listen to the audio:

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TV SOAP:
Were you surprised to find out that Pam was returning to “B&B” this time as a whack-job?

ALLEY:
I was somewhat surprised.  I did not know at first, it started with Stephanie being shot.  I was just coming back and thought maybe I was just still in love with Eric.  I did not realize I was quite nuts until I read the scripts.  Nobody really told me.

TV SOAP:
So, you figured out that Pam must have been on some sort of medication for a mental illness?

ALLEY:
Of course, not many people sit by somebody’s bedside and squeeze it like a pillow like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, with foam practically dripping from their mouth.  Then I       went, “Oh, she is taking a turn!”  Then I read ahead.  Ann, Betty White’s character says, “Have you taken your medication?”  Then I went, “Oh, I love it.”  So, that is when I realized I was on medication the whole time and somewhat normal.

TV SOAP:
So the meds are the great Pam “neutralizer”?

ALLEY:
It’s so much more fun to be off your medication and in life.
(She laughs)

TV SOAP:
The last time we saw you and your alter ego, Pam, was during the shooting of Stephanie storyline.

ALLEY:
After the shooting of Stephanie, I stayed on the show quite awhile as a suspect.  Then my mom, Ann, says, “You better come home darling.  What have you been doing?”  I was sitting there with my dog, which was eating my sandwich.

TV SOAP:
Pam has quite a dog as her sidekick.  How is working with the dog?

ALLEY:
“Tiny”, is the dog.  I love working with the dogs.  There are actually two dogs.  There is one that growls and grits its teeth, but he is the sweetest thing and his name is Hudson. Then, there is another dog playing Tiny, who leaps at the suspect.  Jennifer Gareis, who plays Donna, is actually terrified of dogs!  And in recent episodes that aired in the States, this time Stephanie and Eric are on the outs and Eric is with Donna.  Theoretically, I think I am helping Stephanie by saving Eric from Donna.  But of course, in Pam’s deranged mind she likes Eric too, and she hates Donna.  In the scenes I shot with Jennifer I had to use this wonderful man named OJ, who is this 60-year-old African American wrangler, because the dog would leap and Jenn could not be in the scenes.

TV SOAP:
What kind of dog is “Tiny”?

ALLEY:
He is a Doberman Pincher.  I am not afraid of dogs, but at the end of the scenes where I leap at Donna and leap at her again, I’m holding the dog by the leash, and OJ goes, “Good boy!”  Then, he takes this fake arm that “Tiny” has been holding onto the whole scene.  The dogs have really huge jaws, so it was quite scary.

TV SOAP:
So, how on earth, did you tape the scenes between Donna and Pam and “Tiny”?

ALLEY:
During the entire dialog, it’s a close-up of me.  OJ would be in Jenn’s spot, and I would be talking and the dog would leap at OJ.  Then, what we did was tape the whole thing without the dog.  I pretended to lurch forward with an empty leash going backwards and forward.  It is really hard though, because you have to remember what people did and where they were positioned.

TV SOAP:
How crazy is Pam going to get?

ALLEY:
It’s pretty deranged, but I put a tea bag in my mouth.  My husband, Orson Bean, who is a comic said, “Make sure to make the string hang in your mouth as long as possible.”  My husband helps me with the comic side of being crazy.  The crazy part I have already explained to Donna, is how I get obsessed and how I am borderline psyzophrenic.  I have told this to her to freak her out.  I am mostly keeping normal around other characters.  It’s mostly around Donna that I am freaking out.

TV SOAP:
Does Stephanie know what is wrong with Pam?

ALLEY:
Stephanie does not know what I am doing, and she does not know about the fact that I am off my meds.

TV SOAP:
How far will her insanity go?

ALLEY:
I don’t know.  Who knows?  Brad Bell (creator and head writer, “B&B”) knows. Everyday you pick up a script and go, “Oh thank you Brad.”  You just don’t know.  I know I am just going to mess with Donna with her exterior.  Pam is trying to get Eric uninterested in her.  Pam basically thinks all that Donna has going for her is her sex appeal, and wants Eric to just notice that. Her main motivation is to get Eric turned off.

TV SOAP:
Is Pam adversarial with Sister Stephanie, at this point?

ALLEY:
No.  Stephanie and I are having fun.  I tell her that I am responsible for everything that I do to Donna.  So this is what I do: I turn her hair green, I keep her in a tanning booth for 15 minutes or so… so she turns black, and her teeth gets stained.  So she loses her confidence.  Stephanie thinks it’s really fun, but she does not know I am mentally unbalanced, but I think she might know.  She knows that Pam has had a really rough childhood.  So, my excuse for me being mean and crazy is what happened to Pam as a child.

TV SOAP:
For those who don’t know, please recap the childhood abuse that caused the problem for the Douglas sisters.

ALLEY:
Even though Stephanie was the one that got abused by our father, Ann, our mother, would make me play piano in the next room while Stephanie’s beatings were going on. Even though it’s just soap, the show got so many calls from South American countries from people who had been abused.  They had an abuse hot line, which was used a lot.  I think Brad was freaked out by it, and it turned into a very serious thing.  I don’t think people talk about that in their lives, especially in other countries.  So, when I first came on the show, the whole thing was very serious.  The childhood was very bad.  As bad as it was for Stephanie that our father was creepy and hit her, it was left vague what he really did to her.  But Pam heard her screaming and saw the blood on her back.  I am six years younger than her and was always left out of what really happened.  Pam has lived with her mother her whole life, which is pathetic.  I think Pam has probably been on medication her whole life, and Ann has repressed everything.  She let her little girl get hurt in the next room.

TV SOAP:
My theory is obvious, that Ann has been medicating and drugging Pam her whole life! What are your thoughts on that?

ALLEY:
It has not been said that Ann was drugging Pam to keep her in check.  She just said, “Pammy have you been taking your pills?  You know what happens when you don’t take your pills!”  You get the feeling that Ann is the regulator.

TV SOAP:
But, you have made the whole crazy scenario a little like Lucille Ball from “I Love Lucy.”  Is that on the money?

ALLEY:
Yes.  It’s really interesting, because Brad had kind of made it comic like a Lucille Ball, trying to get Donna.  I love that!  It’s really fun and it’s fun to be funny.  If it were too cruel and too mean, it would not be the same thing with Donna.  Everyone likes to get the bimbo!  It’s fun!  The truth is, in real life I have a friend who is a lot like my character. But the truth is, the manic factor of this disease is actually quite fun.  When you are around people who are really manic, it’s fun.  The other side of it is not fun.  It’s really, really dark.  Brad has it in the writing that, “If Pammy does not take her pills; she goes to a really dark place, Donna.  I am going to take you with me, if you don’t back off!”  My threatening to murder her was pretty nasty. You just never know where this is going to go.

TV SOAP:
How long will you be back on the show this time?

ALLEY:
It’s been six weeks since I have been doing this story with Donna.  Then, you never really know till Brad wakes up in the middle of the night!  He gets these ideas and then the next thing you know… Pam is off her medication!  Last time, I was after Eric, so he changed that.

TV SOAP:
How is working with John McCook (Eric)?

ALLEY:
John is a doll, great to work with, and hysterically funny!

TV SOAP:
How is it working with Susan Flannery (Stephanie)?

ALLEY:
When I started working on the show, she was so powerful in the child abuse storyline.
Susan is an amazing actress.  I like her as a person and to hang out with her in her dressing room, running lines.

TV SOAP:
Do you run lines with her and go through a certain rehearsal process?

ALLEY:
She does that everyday, which is fantastic.  When you arrive at the studio, the first thing you do is blocking, even before make-up and hair.  Susan wants every one of the actors in her scenes to get together, whether it’s one or four people.  In this case, Susan had the four of us, John, Betty, her and me, and we would run every scene three times.  Then we would talk to each other about anything that we didn’t think felt real. Then, Susan will change lines to make it real if she has too.  She says, “Be free.”  You know if you run the scenes three times, then it’s not a free-for-all in front of the camera.

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TV SOAP:
How do you feel about working with you new on-screen rival, Jennifer Gareis (Donna)?

ALLEY:
I think she is great!  She will let me make fun of her without hurting her feelings.  That is the thing that gets kind of tricky, when you get into something.  I, as Pam, don’t like Donna, and Jenn is a very vulnerable girl.  She is young.  I keep forgetting at times that she is.  But, I want to make sure she doesn’t think I hate her.  I want to be free to feel it when we are taping.  So, I try to have lunch with Jenn and stuff so she knows that I like her as a person, and then I can be really nasty to her on stage.  Jenn is getting her MBA at Pepperdine, so she is not an airhead.

ALLEY:
Most actors I know would not be able to go and learn lines this fast.  “B&B” tapes four days a week now.  So, we tape one and half episodes per day right now.  There is a luxury in that you get a long weekend.  If you are in a heavy storyline, it’s a lot of lines, and if it’s emotional scenes where you want to be there, then you have to get them under your belt before then.  I am doing a play by J.M. Barrie who wrote “Peter Pan.”  It is called “Alice Sit By the Fire”, and every Thursday through Sunday I am in that, too.  So, it’s been a challenge to do both things, but I am alive! (She laughs)

TV SOAP:
Have you been to Australia yet?

ALLEY:
I have never been to Australia.  My husband lived there and the kids went to school in Melbourne.  I want to go really badly, and he has promised me he would take me.  We have really good friends that live there in an Arts Colony where a lot of people from the television business live.  It’s called Daylesford and it’s in Victoria.

TV SOAP:
In closing, by your best guestimate, what do you think is coming down the pike for Pam?

ALLEY:
My guess is maybe we are going to get another facet of Pam; the inside of her… of what this whack job is really going through.  I never know till I pick up a script.  It all depends upon the pill jar.  Do you know what I mean? (She laughs)

TV SOAP:
Now that you have spent time on a daytime soap, how is it stacking up against your other primetime work, such as “The Wonder Years”?

  1. ann rich says:

    Love the dress you wore to Ridge’s and Taylor’s wedding (July, 2011). Wondered if you can reveal the label? Enjoy your part very much.

    Reply

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