This is the “dessert” part of my lunch with Louise Sorel, and the end of the interview we did together. I was impressed not only with her ability to entertain as an artist, but her with her dedication and passion as an animal rights activist. In this part we talked more about the causes that are near to her heart, and some hard life lessons learned.
We Love Soaps: Does it surprise you that after nine years off DAYS OF OUR LIVES that people are so thrilled to have you come back?
Louise Sorel: Yeah, I guess it does. I’m not surprised they liked the character. You know, I’ll tell you a story. I had to get an endoscopy done. And I’m lying down, and they’re trying to find my vein, and the doctor says, “I’m so upset that Hope left.” And I said, “Hope didn’t leave.” And I’m engaging in this insane conversation while he’s jamming a needle in my arm. And he says, “I didn’t like that new Bo who came in, I liked the old Bo.” And I said, “Could we not have this conversation right now?”
We Love Soaps: As we have said on our website, we have been celebrating the 25 year anniversary of Santa Barbara starting on the air. If you could go back and give yourself any kind of advice, what would it be?
Louise Sorel: “Keep your trap shut.”
We Love Soaps: But why though, I’m curious why you would say that?
Louise Sorel: I guess it’s a combination of my sense of humor, which is really warped. Any my view of life, all of this plays into everything you do. And you do have to learn how to keep things separate, and I sometimes do crossover. As an example, someone said the other night to me, “So! You’re looking forward to this?” And I said, “No, I’m looking backward at it.” That’s how things come out of me. I mean, that’s actually based on a truth, I am going back. But if you use those lines, if you twist things like that with someone who is writing an article, then sometimes it’s taken the wrong way and that’s where I kind of have to zip it. I’d say I would give myself a note to zip it on occasion. Although, the part of me also feels like you want to be true to yourself. And you don’t want to sell yourself at as just this clean-slate nice-thinking pleasant person, which is boring. It’s not that I’m trying not to be boring, it’s just that I see things in a way that amuses me. And it doesn’t always amuse the other person so much.
Louise Sorel: There is a guy who came on Santa Barbara. John Conboy. I liked him. He had a lot of style, a lot of panache. He fixed up his office, he loved beautiful sets, and he had a certain kind of ability to laugh. He had a problem with that story line that I was telling you about with the rapist. I went into his office one day and he had just had a big explosion with an actress. He was beat red, and I said, “Never mind, I’ll see you later.” He said, “Get in here, get in here.” So I said, “John, how do you feel about this rape story line?” He said, “Look at this, look at this,” and he had a sheet of paper that said, “Augusta’s rape story line—bad taste.” The Dobsons were at the other end of the hall. He said, “Go down there and talk to them!” But I was right. I felt I was right. And then finally they did pay attention, they did soften it. So, you have to pick your moments. I’m not always good at that.
We Love Soaps: I don’t think I am either.
Louise Sorel: It’s hard. I have an actress friend, Marj Dusay. She gets frustrated with this stuff all the time, and she’ll just say, [in a deep voice] “Oh honey I just go in there and do it.” She just has a way. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t upset her. But she’s grounded, and she just says, “Well, Hell. If that’s what I’m supposed to do I’ll go do it.” And then she doesn’t get into it. And I think that’s great. Deidre Hall once said to me, “Louise, could you ever just take a check, do your job, and go home?” I said, “I don’t think so.” Because she just did was she was...you know. And I said, “I guess you’re right, I just can’t.”
We Love Soaps: Maybe there’s a peace in that. I’ve tried at my job just going in and doing what I’m told...it’s not working.
Louise Sorel: Well you can’t give up yourself. That’s the thing. You have to know when you’re giving up who you really are, and what feels right to you. The things is how you make it not about your ego. It’s about what your gut is saying and that you know you are genuinely trying to make something better. Sometimes people come in and they make a lot of trouble so they can just get attention, but that’ s a waste of time. It has to be because what is in your hand is what feels valuable. And then you’re just giving it and say, “Look I think this would help.”
We Love Soaps: In an interview with Soap Opera Digest in 1992, you said you are looking forward to “the gracious days, that time when you’ve had a particular kind of life and you move into a state of grace where it all makes sense.” Are we there yet?
Louise Sorel: I said that? No. That’ll happen when you’re right at the edge of the [makes a jumping gesture]. That sounds good, I’m still looking forward. They come and they go, but every once in a while when we’re talking about the world and what’s going on, friends of mine will say, “Where can we go? Where can we not have computers and phones and mail and pettiness? The South of Italy or France of some place. Cut off communications and be.” It doesn’t mean you have to go that far away. I meet people who seem to be able to do it in this insane city! So I go to meditation class and try to do some things that help. And I don’t manage all the time, particularly like now when I have an animal who is having problems. That really undoes me like nothing else.
We Love Soaps: Your dog?
Louise Sorel: Yes. If I could go down and close Ringley & Barnum Bailey circus I would. Because they are abusive.
We Love Soaps: If someone wanted to get involved and stand up against the abuse of such animals, what you recommend for them?
Louise Sorel: There’s so many of them. Defenders of Wildlife is excellent [http://www.defenders.org]. There’s IFAW [International Fund of Animal Welfare, [http://www.ifaw.org]. A group of which I’m on the board, with whom I went to Africa. They’re working very hard in Meru, helping to bring trucks and equipment because of the poachers there. They take their lives in their hands there because the poachers will kill the guards. And they’re still poaching elephants there. We orphan elephants in Nairobi that need taking care of because their mothers have been killed. The whales, the battering of baby seals in Canada. It is one of the most grotesque acts of human being—beating down a baby seal. It’s inconceivable. Really, that’s what I’m more about. And maybe after this year I’ll feel free enough to go off and do those trips.
We Love Soaps: So are you saying in a year you’ll be available for that?
Louise Sorel: I don’t know, it could extend on the show. But at some point I’d like to do the hands-on [work]. I don’t know if I have the clout. It takes a kind of importance to do that.
We Love Soaps: But you’re a human being and you’re passionate.
Louise Sorel: Yes, you can do it in smaller ways, any little thing helps.
We Love Soaps: There are so many of our readers who admire you, have followed your career, and are so excited you are coming to DAYS. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Louise Sorel: It’s such a cliché. The thing is you are so grateful to people who like watching you or you wouldn’t be working. So I always thank them because if they don’t care about you, nobody will. I’m suddenly looking on the chat things [online] and they’re tough. [Laughs] So I have to stop reading. I got a really sweet call from the stage manager Franny who told me everyone said, “Oh goody, Louise is coming back.” That’s so sweet!
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part One
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part Two
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part Three
- Lunch with Louise Sorel, Part Four
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.