Recently I had the great fortune to speak with Lynn Herring about her past work as Lucy on GENERAL HOSPITAL and PORT CHARLES, her current work as Audrey on AS THE WORLD TURNS, as well as some life lessons she picked up along the way. It brings me much pleasure to bring to you the We Love Soaps Lynn Herring Interview.
In Part One, Lynn shares her insights on what made Lucy a hit, which writer(s) captured Lucy’s spirit, and her thoughts on the famous raised eyebrow.
We Love Soaps: I’d like to ask you some questions in our interview about what you’re doing now, as well as your past work.
Lynn Herring: I have to tell you, my kids kept telling me that YouTube had a lot of GH and PORT CHARLES highlights and I never thought about it. But last night I was on the laptop, and all of a sudden you can watch all this stuff! I didn’t know any of this. I went through about ten clips with Felicia, and all these different things. I love that it’s archived because Kin [Shriner] would always say, “Well we do the show today and then it’s gone tomorrow.” It’s so nice to have the highlights around it, I didn’t know you could do it.
We Love Soaps: Reflecting on Lucy Coe, in the 17 years you played her you worked under many head writers. Between 1986 until the end of PORT CHARLES in 2003 you had many writer’s take on this very complex woman. Which writer do you think really got Lucy? Who gave you the most meat?
Lynn Herring: Because she grew as a character, it’s really not fair to say which one gave her the most meat. When Gloria Monty started the whole crazy thing, they had one view. And then you evolve as a person and as a character. But Claire [Labine] really had a grip on a lot of the emotionality and her sensitivity and vulnerability when she wasn’t just being the bad girl. But you can’t really pick one because even through PORT CHARLES she just kept evolving. I’m not sure it’s fair, it’s almost like asking which kid is your favorite, because they each had a unique take on it. What I think helped too were the costars, how they would write them, and their approach to Lucy. I have to say that Michele Val Jean, who is still a script writer on the show, probably had the best dialogue. She wrote for Kevin and Lucy back when they were first starting to date and it was kind of like an old 1940’s banter film. The story was laid out, but she gave the voices to the seduction of becoming Kevin and Lucy. I remember the dialogue was so crisp and fun and romantic.
We Love Soaps: Yes, it was, and it really seemed like the first chance for Lucy to grow up.
Lynn Herring: Yes, thank you! That’s true, because he was a mature person and I had to deal with his problems when he was Ryan. And she had to become a woman instead of a little girl who was self-serving.
We Love Soaps: As an actress, do you prefer the more reality-based character story lines, or the science fiction fantasy stories?
Lynn Herring: Good stories are good stories. I mean we did vampires, and for me it still worked on PORT CHARLES. Like some of the loopy things I watched last night that Kristina [Wagner, who played Felicia] and I did, dressed as nuns, running through Europe, if the characters are likable you can stick them anywhere. As long as they believe they are in that situation, they’re going to tell you that story. We had a discussion on AS THE WORLD TURNS yesterday about plot driven vs. character driven [stories]. And a lot of time when you try to tell the plot so quickly, you lose the characters, but you’ve got to put the characters in a story. So that’s a very good question, it’s complicated. I still believe people have to like the characters, or hate them and yell at the screen. They have to have some gut reaction.
We Love Soaps: Why do you think the viewers embraced Lucy from the beginning throughout her entire run?
Lynn Herring: Well the bad girl always wins the viewers at first. When I got to come in, mess with people’s heads, and be so self-driven, that was pure entertainment. They said, “This girl is going to be entertaining because we don’t know what she’s going to do next.” And then what I love is that they let her show the cracks in the facade, and her vulnerability, and how much she wanted to be liked, and how much she wanted to succeed. And I think her drive to be part of society and to have money and then to have a family was every person’s dream too. I hope that even through the bad stuff she was still human, but a little larger than life so you could have some reaction to her.
We Love Soaps: I have to wonder how much of that was written on the page and how much was brought to her by you?
Lynn Herring: I hope it’s both obviously. But I have to say at this point, you really have to admire the characters who have longevity. I admire the actors on AS THE WORLD TURNS because they have to have something they’re giving the audience, something the audience may not even know they’re getting. Some human quality is exchanged that is intangible. You really want to see this person and you hurt for them, or hate them. There’s something wonderful about the long-term characters that the audience keeps identifying with thirty years later. It has to be the actor/actress and the writer combined.
We Love Soaps: There are some actors out there who are "acting." Then there are some artists who inhabit their roles. I see you as inhabiting everything about Lucy on screen such as her speech and her mannerisms.
Lynn Herring: It’s a very good question. [With artistic ability] is it innate? There are some people who have to come up with what their gestures are going to be, and other times you are organically that person in that moment. It’s interesting, can you teach that? Or is it part of your imagination and your willingness to tell a story? That’s a tricky thing for young actors too because you don’t want to indicate emotions. You want to be giving them to the audience fully.
We Love Soaps: Was it organic for you, or something you learned?
Lynn Herring: I think it’s organic, and, I also grew up watching soap operas in Louisiana. I had an aunt that watched every day and set up two TV trays for my sister and I. And I think I knew what I liked from a young age, probably like you did. I remember getting the job on GH and thinking, “Boy this is a huge responsibility because I cannot be phony and I want to be as real as possible.” As soon as I would walk on that sound stage and slap on those eye lashes and the clothes it was Lucy. It wasn’t an effort at all. It became an easy process of wanting to tell the story.
We Love Soaps: What shows did you watch growing up?
Lynn Herring: They put us in front of YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. And then I tell Kin all the time that I had watched him in college on GENERAL HOSPITAL. A lot of the girls in my sorority would always have that on. I was a Tri Delta and they loved Scotty. And when I actually got to work with him, oh my gosh, screams across the country!
We Love Soaps: I have always said that Lynn Herring can say more with the raise of an eyebrow than anything that is being said on the page .
Lynn Herring: [Laughs] That is so funny. That is something that I had no idea [I was doing]. I think Lucy inhabited me, something happened!
Stay tuned for Part Two in which Lynn reflects on her time on the GH spinoff PORT CHARLES, and how she was treated when it ended.
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.