We Love Soaps: It is so wonderful how the spirit and continuity of GUIDING LIGHT is continuing through these [fan] events.
Beth Chamberlin: It is a testament to the uniqueness of GUIDING LIGHT. These events are a testament to the fact that not only did we feel like a family, but the fans felt like they were part of a family with us, and we felt that in return. It is a big extended family. This is a testament to saying those are not just empty words.
We Love Soaps: Its been nearly a year since GUIDING LIGHT wrapped. In this past year what have you learned about yourself?
Beth Chamberlin: I have to say that I realize even more how fortunate I was to be a part of the show. I will be honest with you. There were a few months after the show ended, until the beginning of the year, that I was secretly glad I wasn’t working. Not that I was glad GUIDING LIGHT was canceled. But as an actor you have to have to have full well to draw on. And soaps deplete that well. I really felt the well was depleted, and I really needed to live life a little bit to fill the well back up. So I was secretly happy I wasn’t working for awhile. But now that I have gotten beyond that so I can look back at GUIDING LIGHT and say, “What an amazing experience” and how fortunate I was. I screen-tested for tons of soaps and prime time series before GUIDING LIGHT. I feel very fortunate that I ended up on that particular show.
We Love Soaps: You mention how the work can be depleting. Beth always had a crisis going on that involved a lot of crying. However, in this story of Coop’s death, she really held it in a lot. What is more draining as an actress, to do an outpour of emotions, or the emotionally reserved scenes?
Beth Chamberlin: I have to say it’s 50/50. Sometimes there is an incredible release. When you do cry, you get it out in the scene. And then you can leave it there a little bit more. Whereas when it’s kept inside, and you don’t cry during the scene, you end up crying when you get back to your dressing room. You have built up that feeling, in this case the incredible loss, and that has to be released some place. So you’re either crying when you are on camera, or crying when you are off-camera. Also I adored John Driscoll. I was devastated he was leaving the show. It was a great story with him leaving and Philip’s return, but I was devastated. I said to him, “I believe this is the best thing for you, John, but selfishly I’m sad you are leaving.”
We Love Soaps: It was from Coop’s death that you had the Emmy reel you submitted. It was so beautiful and such a range of intense emotions.
Beth Chamberlin: When that show first aired, a lot of people called me and said it was fabulous. I watched it, and I didn’t really like it that much. I think that’s because it was a little too close to the bone. Sometimes we reveal a little too much of ourselves. I think I became uncomfortable seeing myself raw. Then I was choosing Emmy reels - which was an interesting situation because there was no show to go to. I couldn’t go to the show and ask what shows to submit. It was just those shows that I had kept, that I had asked for a copy of. I was removed by having so many months after we shot it so I was able to say, “I like this, and all those people who said they liked it were right.”
It had the agony of what she was feeling, the guilt, but it also had strength and her dealing with Alan. Those were interesting scenes. She was in a position where she was determined he was not going to get to her, and of course he did, and she ends up slapping him and yelling at him. But she went in thinking, “He’s not going to get to me again,” and that is a very interesting thing for an actor to play. Then I had a nice scene with Philip at the end.
We Love Soaps: If you had won the Emmy, who would you have thanked?
Beth Chamberlin: I actually had a little list in my pocket because when I get nervous I forget people’s names. Of course I wrote down my husband’s name. I was in a very unique position because I really could just thank who I wanted to thank. The first person I was going to thank was Paul Rauch. Paul brought me back to the show in 1997. He was very supportive. He loves actors, and he actually allowed the character to change. He wasn’t afraid of her changing. That opened doors for me to play in her in a way she hadn’t been played before so I was really able to make her my own. Actually all the headwriters through the years I was going to thank. I got great stories through the years from Barbara Esensten and James H. Brown, Claire Labine, David Kreizman, and Jill Hurst. All these people wrote wonderful things for me. It was this impossible situation, who do you choose? I also had crew, cast, Beverlee McKinsey and Michael Zaslow for teaching me to do this, and Tina Sloan for being more than a friend standing by me. I didn’t have to be politically correct, I could just say that.
We Love Soaps: I love that you give credit to so many artists who are no longer with us.
Beth Chamberlin: Exactly. Actors that you worked with long ago. Without whom you wouldn’t have known how to do a scene if you hadn’t worked with them. Or writers that had written you scenes where you had to figure out how to do something that was maybe a weakness of yours that you had to work on it so it became a strength.
We Love Soaps: We have learned this year that with every ending there are new beginnings. And we have seen many new beginnings in your career this year. We loved your work in STEAMBOAT. Please tell us about your work in the CELL.
Beth Chamberlin: CELL was so much fun. What a top notch group of people to work with. When someone I really respect said to take a look at this, I thought, eh, I don’t know. But I looked at one episode of CELL and said, “This is really good!” I had to leave, and my husband watched all the episodes that have been up at that point, and he also said, “That is really good.” So we decided that I would do it. It was actually shooting the weekend of his birthday, so that was a big deal. Mark Gardner, who is the writer, director, producer, is a real perfectionist. He actually rescheduled the shoot for me. Because the original shoot was supposed to be the weekend of the Emmys which I couldn’t do. So he rescheduled it, but that put him in the position of having to edit the show in ten days. It really put him in a tough position. Yet it is so well done. And I have read his backstory. Before he even wrote one word he wrote this very detailed backstory. Everything you are seeing has meaning. He has dropped bread crumbs, but season two will explode.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."