We Love Soaps: Your role on PORT CHARLES came soon after DAYS OF OUR LIVES?
Louise Sorel: Immediately.
We Love Soaps: What was that role like for you?
Louise Sorel: Oh, I don’t know, I think I was trying to make her blonde or something. I don’t know if it was funny. I tried to make it funny. She was in bed the entire time. And frustrated all the time. It was like a salve for me, because I went from a place where I felt rejected to a place where they said, “Oh, it’s so wonderful to have you here!” And I thought, “Oh, that feels so good.” You feel like you need a little stroking. And they were very sweet. I got to bring my dog. It was a nice ambiance.
We Love Soaps: And then on ALL MY CHILDREN you played a slightly amoral judge.
Louise Sorel: Yes. I think that was first done by Holland Taylor [on THE PRACTICE]. It’s funny, you know, you go away for awhile, which I’ve done a lot, and I’ve been doing with my writing. What I’d love to do is get help with a website, maybe with the fans or the people that I talk to so that I can get my writing out. So I can share my writing, that is so important to me. It’s not about soaps. It’s about my life, sort of a memoir. Not that I think I’m that interesting. It’s not so much me, it’s the places that this person ends up. When I was doing a play on Broadway, in 1963, in November, on the day of [John F.Kennedy’s assassination]. My anger was so profound. And I had to get to the theater that night, it had happened too late in the day for the theater to go dark. I was on stage with Charles Boyer. I’ll never forget it.
We Love Soaps: How did you go on?
Louise Sorel: With his hand. There wasn’t anyone who wasn’t weeping. These are stories that have poignancy not because of me but because of the time. I’ve been writing a lot of it.
We Love Soaps: When you talk about it you look very excited.
Louise Sorel: This friend of mine said, “You should see what you look like when you read your writing and when you talk about it.” It’s really my passion.
We Love Soaps: How did this return to DAYS happen for you?
Louise Sorel: The producer called me and said, “Hi Louise, it’s Gary Tomlin calling.” And I said, [reluctantly] “Hi.” And I thought, “Oh my God,” because this man has never called me. We knew each other, we both had wheaten terriers. So I said, “How’s your wheaten?” I was saying every thing I could say, because I knew what was coming. [Laughs] He said, “So where are you?” And I said, “I”m in New York. I gave up my apartment in L.A.” He said, “Well, you know, Crystal is coming back.” I said, “I heard that!” Then he said, “Well, so, we’re thinking about bringing Vivian back.” I was so shocked. Truly. I know Gary, which is nice. He was saying “John [Aniston] is still here,” and I said, “Yes, John’s a sweetheart.” [Laughs] I mean, I didn’t know what to say. He said, “Well I’m going to get back to the writers, then I’m going to call your agent.” Anyhow, that’s how it happened.
We Love Soaps: Are you excited?
Louise Sorel: I am, but I’m nervous. I don’t have a place to live. I want to put things in order so when I walk in it’s peaceful and in control and know what I’m doing. I’ve never been caught off guard like this.
We Love Soaps: Any thoughts on what you would like see Vivian do this time?
Louise Sorel: See this is where I usually get myself in trouble. So this is when I say, “Whatever they want.” We’ve done so much on that show, I don’t know what I could do. What more could I do?
We Love Soaps: The one thing that seems very different from now than for most of the 90’s is the more reality based stories. It’s still out there, of course, but the conflicts are more grounded in day-to-day issues.
Louise Sorel: Then what are they going to do with me?
We Love Soaps: Well, during your first year on the show, Vivian was quite grounded. She had a larger than life personality, but she was pretty down-to-earth before she went the science fiction herbal route. Maybe we’ll learn more about Vivian and who she is.
Louise Sorel: See, I don’t know what the relationship with Carly is anymore because that was long gone. And that was only because of Lawrence, my nephew. Then I heard something about Michael [Sabatino] coming back. Is he?
We Love Soaps: According to Crystal Chappell’s Twitter entries, he is. I don’t know if that’s going to be long term or a few appearances.
Louise Sorel: I don’t know, but that’s the connection I have on the show. And then with Drake [Hogestyn], somehow I ended up being related to Drake.
We Love Soaps: You were his aunt. Vivian turned out to be John’s aunt. But later even that was rewritten.
Louise Sorel: I just don’t know how I hook in. But you know they’ll come up with something. I had had an idea. Now they’ve done this on every show, but I just know what I can do, which is the other character, Vivian’s sister, who comes from England, and is her conscience. They kind of did it with somebody else. So I don’t know, those are fun things to think about.
We Love Soaps: You have always been someone who has been known to speak her mind, and as you said, have gotten in trouble for that. How do you decide when to speak out for what you believe in, and when to hold back?
Louise Sorel: That’s a good question, because sometimes I’m not as savvy as to when I should speak out. I get on my high horse and [makes a sound of frustration]. I try not to make it about petty things. I really try to make it something that will make a change that will improve things. But that doesn’t mean that everybody is going to agree with me on that. At this point I think I’m back peddling even more so that...I don’t know. [Pause] You get sort of lessoned in this process as you work on soaps. It is so difficult, and people have so little time, and it’s not their fault. The director is under pressure, everyone is under pressure. Terrible pressure. More so because they have to cut back now.
Something happened when I first went on DAYS. And I wouldn’t do this now. But I was not used to the way they worked. We read the scene at six in the morning. I got onto the set and this director said, “Now sit down here, stand up there, make a left, turn your head to the right when she says that...” And I said, “Come here. I can’t do this. I can’t work like this.” I said it very quietly, with a lot of respect. I said, “I don’t know when I’m going to turn my head. We haven’t read, I don’t know.” So I went upstairs, and said to the producer, “You’re probably going to hear about this...” I tried to explain that it’s very hard for me to automatically do things He said, “Well, take him out to lunch.” And maybe I should have. But I just said, “Why?” [Laughs] You just have to find a way to make your little fights historic moments when it isn’t so difficult. It’s hard.
We Love Soaps: Do you think you’ve paid a price in your career for being so outspoken?
Louise Sorel: [Pause] No, I don’t think you could say, but see the thing is the reasons. For instance, on SANTA BARBARA it was not about that. They knew that what I was doing was right because I cared. So I don’t see that as paying a price. I’d say you pay a price for being someone who is fighting for animals. You pay a price because it takes so much out of you. It hurts. And all the stuff I do trying to save animals has quite frankly made me sick at times. So I pay a price. But I don’t think I paid a price. I don’t think anybody punished me for that. They might have thought “Oh God, here she comes,” [laughs] but then I usually do that for them. I say, “Look who’s here, oh boy, aren’t you happy?”
We Love Soaps: There were rumors that you were admonished at DAYS for referring to James Reilly smoking something in your acceptance speeches.
Louise Sorel: I think I may have said that. One person, I won’t say who, but I think he was a troublemaker who said he was my friend, said, “You know, Jim didn’t think that was funny.” I said, “He didn’t? How could he not think that was funny? I don’t believe that.” But Jim didn’t speak to the actors. That was his thing. So I will never know.
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part One
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part Two
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part Three
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.