In Part One of our interview with the beloved and fascinating Lilly Melgar, the actress discussed her career pre-GENERAL HOSPITAL, and how her thoughts and beliefs assisted her in achieving her lifelong goals. In Part Two below, Melgar discusses life in Port Charles, her friendship with Ricky Martin, and her character's tragic "boom".
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So your lifelong dream from childhood came true. You were cast in GENERAL HOSPITAL as Lily Rivera in 1994. What was that like?
Lilly Meglar: I remember the first time I walked down that hall [at the studio] and saw the pictures of the greats before me.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Like who?
Lilly Meglar: Luke & Laura, Duke & Anna, Scorpio & Holly. I would have thought that I would have been so nervous there. This is what I had wanted my whole life! But instead, it was like, “Yup, here I am, where I always knew I would be.” It was a quiet confidence. It was a groundedness. I didn’t expect to feel that comfortable. But it makes sense now that I understand things on a deeper level. In retrospect I can look back and say, “Of course I felt comfortable there, I had already been there in my mind.” At the moment I didn’t understand it, I was just grateful to be there and keep my composure. But when you have been there in your mind so many times, and then it happens in the physical world, there is a quiet confidence because you always knew this moment was coming. I knew it would happen. It was exactly where I was supposed to be, and I knew that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You had created space for that in your consciousness first.
Lilly Meglar: Yes, I saw it in my head. I believed it. Frequently we wish for things in our head, but we don’t always believe we can achieve them. This was one I really believed.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So Lily enters Port Charles. Was it all you hoped it would be?
Lilly Meglar: It was so much more. Wendy Riche was like a mom to Ricky Martin and me. I never imagined experiencing that kind of emotional support. Ricky, of course, was one of my best friends in the world, and we leaned on each other with our fears, with our insecurities, we were just each other’s pillars. And then I had Maurice [Benard] who believed in me from our first scene. He was so encouraging, and took me under his wing. Vanessa [Marcil Giovinazzo] and I became really great friends. We really got each other and that felt great to have that connection with her. When we would have to fight on screen we knew exactly what to whisper in each other’s ears to get each other going.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What would she whisper to you to get you going?
Lilly Meglar: We would always use men. Whatever boyfriend or crush we had. That’s where we would go. We knew we were both capable of getting them [laughs]. I mean, come on, we were young, that’s where we would go.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Lily was so kind, sweet, virtuous, seemed to know the right thing to do. She seemed to me almost a one dimensional symbol.
Lilly Meglar: I think that was the case for awhile. I do believe at the end we started to get to see more of her inner strength. They had a rating system for characters [from viewers] and one of the producers told me that the turn around for Lily was one of the biggest they ever had. She was a character that wasn’t liked but became someone they were liking. And I understand that because I was into it. I thought, “Now we’re talking, now this is getting meaty.” By the time she was with Sonny, she was no longer, “Yes, I’m going to say the right thing because I always choose to say and do the right thing.” It became, “There is so much emotion going on inside me right now, but I’m going to choose grace in this moment because I love him.” You could finally see all that. You saw that when she finally had the courage to leave Sonny. She was done. She decided, “Enough, I’m going to have this child on my own.” We had the scene where Sonny gets on the plane, gets on his knees, and cries and cries. He realizes, “I do love you, I do want this!” Then he loses her, and that is why it had such an impact. I believe she really started becoming interesting in the end.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And then“Clink-Boom,” Lily died tragically in an exploding car meant for Sonny. I still remember that shock. Back then we didn’t have spoilers like now, I had no idea watching the show that day that Lily was leaving. I really came to like Lily by that point.
Lilly Meglar: Yes. There was also the scene where she told Sonny she was pregnant. I still love that moment between them. She was trying so hard to deliver good news but everything inside of her is breaking because she knows he doesn’t want it. And he’s trying so hard to be gracious when he’s torn. There is so much going on between them with minimal dialogue. That was powerful. Or another scene when she turned to him and said, “What is wrong with us? We became that couple that has nothing to say to each other.” That was where her inner power started coming out. I mean, it is easy to always be the feisty confrontational impulsive character. It’s harder to be someone who has all that going on inside of her and is choosing not to release it. To me that is so much more interesting, and that was what was happening with Lily. So as much as it saddens me that we didn’t get to see her full evolution, I’m also very honored to have had such an unforgettable death! I mean, if I’m going to go, what a way to go.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Just this week there was a scene between Sonny and Robin where Lily and her death were discussed. During our first talk at THE BAY party Lily had just been mentioned in a scene between Sonny and Brenda. They still refer to his pain about that.
Lilly Meglar: Why can’t they pay every time they use my name? (laughs)
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: That’s probably why they spelled “Lily” with only “l.” So after GH was your lifelong dream, what was it like for you to get the news you were let go?
Lilly Meglar: Wendy Riche called me upstairs. She shared with me the story they were going to do for ratings. She beautifully said to me, “Based on our personal relationship, I would not let you go if I didn’t know that you were ready to fly.” I get choked up still. She is so special, so instrumental in our growth as actors, and as people. Ricky Martin and I leaned on her so much. I don’t know many people who get to get on a show and have a producer who takes you in like a mom would. She believed in me enough to write me in, to make my dream come true. We had acting coaches on set, me and Ricky would go on weekends. All because of the integrity of the work Wendy was seeking. I don’t know if you can get any luckier than that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How did you respond at the time?
Lilly Meglar: I was okay with it because...there had been times when Maurice and I would work out natural conflicts between our relationship so we could bring levels of realism to Sonny and Lily’s marriage. But they were very adamant about Lily being a certain way. So that was difficult for me. There were other colors I was dying to show and explore, and I wasn’t able. So I was okay with it. I said, “Well, if you can’t go the route I’ve been wanting to go, then this is probably the best way to go.” And six months later I was on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Come back for Part Three where we discuss the highs and lows of Lilly's brief stint on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, as well as hard life lessons learned following her departure from daytime.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at Shouldless@gmail.com
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