INTERVIEW: Robin Mattson Reflects On Her Career, Roger Howarth and Playing Heather Webber

Robin Mattson began her illustrious soap career with a role on GUIDING LIGHT at age 19. Decades later, and with four Daytime Emmy nominations to her credit, she is still going strong, playing GENERAL HOSPITAL's always entertaining Heather Webber. We Love Soaps spoke with Mattson this week about the many roles in her career, including unexpectedly being hired in 1980 by GENERAL HOSPITAL, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. Read our brand new interview below:

WE LOVE SOAPS: I'd love to talk about your many soap roles in retrospect. You played Hope Bauer on THE GUIDING LIGHT in 1976 and worked with people like Don Stewart and Stephen Yates. Was this your first job in New York?
ROBIN MATTSON: I was in New York doing a commercial for Clairol. I thought since I was there I might as well look at some modeling agencies and some acting agencies. They sent me for this part of Hope Bauer and it was overnight that I moved to New York at 19. It was pretty wild. We used to do the show in real time. When the commercials went on, we broke. I remember we went live once, and lost power once.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Hope was more of a young ingenue. And so much different than the other characters you've played.
ROBIN MATTSON: When I went in to read for Gloria Monty [and the role of Heather Webber] I thought, "They'll never cast me as Heather." Because I was the girl-next-door, good girl ingenue on GUIDING LIGHT, I never thought they would go there.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You took over the role of Heather on GENERAL HOSPITAL in 1980 when the show was skyrocketing into pop culture history and was #1 in the ratings. It had become a phenomenon. What was that like?
ROBIN MATTSON: I probably didn't understand it in the way you just described it but I knew it was iconic and was gaining popularity with Luke and Laura. When I joined the show Kin Shriner wasn't on but he came back and then the Heather and Scotty days were a lot of fun.

WE LOVE SOAPS: After GH you played Delia for a while on RYAN'S HOPE in 1984.
ROBIN MATTSON: It was a good move for me in terms of the reasons I left GENERAL HOSPITAL, which were strictly business. The terms were met by the same network when I went to RYAN'S HOPE, which was a half hour show. It was sort of a political move. They weren't, in my understanding, doing right by me in my job at GENERAL HOSPITAL. So the same network (ABC) said to me, "Hey, come over and do this half hour show. We want to kind of reinvent Delia Ryan." And I did. It was a short-term deal and it worked well for me. I liked the show a lot. Business is business.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Next you were Gina in SANTA BARBARA. As much as I love Heather, Gina may be my favorite role that you've played. Gina and Keith (Justin Deas) were one of the greatest Dynamic Duos on soaps ever!
ROBIN MATTSON: I love Justin Deas. Gina and Keith had a fun chemistry. They were an interesting combination. Roger [Howarth, who plays Todd on GENERAL HOSPITAL] is different from Justin Deas, and you probably get this, but he totally reminds me of a young Justin Deas. Roger Howarth is just incredible. Sometimes I will insist with my husband that he sit down and watch a show. He will go, "Roger is so good." And I say, "I know!" I heard he was coming back sooner than later. I've really missed him.

WE LOVE SOAPS: I suggested he play a recast Steven Lars on Twitter and that didn't meet with much positive response. [Laughs] I honestly don't care as long as his character shares scenes with Heather.
ROBIN MATTSON: I really enjoy his creative process. He's so funny, and smart and good. I love working with him. That combination works.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Before this week the last time we saw Heather was a really sweet scene in the police station where Todd threw a crazy fit so that Heather could have a final phone call with Steven Lars. There's so much zaniness with the two of them but also a sweetness as well.
ROBIN MATTSON: Roger is that way in life, too. He's got this sweet, natural funny way about him. I think he's an incredible actor.

WE LOVE SOAPS: SANTA BARBARA was so popular around the world. There so many international fans that love any information we publish about the show, especially the fans in Russia.
ROBIN MATTSON: Yes! Russia and India. That show had many fans all over the world.

WE LOVE SOAPS: After SANTA BARBARA you played Janet From Another Planet on ALL MY CHILDREN. Did you enjoy that experience?
ROBIN MATTSON: It was an interesting move. I had a good run there. It was a very positive experience.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You were then Sugar on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
ROBIN MATTSON: That was a lot of fun. It was really a kind of different character for me and I had a good time.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You then went back to GENERAL HOSPITAL as Heather for six months and worked with Jed Allan from SANTA BARBRA, who was then playing Edward.
ROBIN MATTSON: Jed is so lovely, and so generous. He's someone I've loved working with.

WE LOVE SOAPS: In 2007 you played a madame, Cheri Love, on AS THE WORLD TURNS. They killed her off before she reconnected with her son, Noah (Jake Silbermann). Would you have stayed on the show longer? I never knew if they killed her because you wanted to leave or if it was a huge missed opportunity.
ROBIN MATTSON: They didn't play it out.

WE LOVE SOAPS: They turned her ex, Colonel Mayer (Daniel Hugh Kelly), into a psycho.
ROBIN MATTSON: The father was homophobic. I think he suggested somehow she was an awful mother and turned him into a homosexual instead of it being a natural thing. You are who you are. They made it like she turned her son into something that was conceived to be negative by her husband. They swept her story under the rug as far as I'm concerned. I didn't want to leave. They blew it. They really missed an interesting storyline I think. By the time they realized the potential it had, the story was already written ahead. They already had their minds made up.

WE LOVE SOAPS: A couple of months after Cheri died, her sister sent Noah a box of her things. Fans wanted you to come back and play the aunt.
ROBIN MATTSON: I never knew that!

WE LOVE SOAPS: In 2010 you started a short-term run as Lee on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. What was it like working on DAYS?
ROBIN MATTSON: It was fun. I came home from the gym one day and my husband said, "You've got a call." And I thought, "That would be fun....oh....no, we have a trip planned." The executive producer called back again and said, "There's something else that might actually be a little more off-beat and fun for you." And I said, "Okay!" I'm always happy to get that call and it was all on reputation.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Last year you returned to GENERAL HOSPITAL as Heather. In the past year, the fun is back on GH and the return of Heather was a big part of that. My impression is that the vibe on set is very happy now. What was your impression when you came back?
ROBIN MATTSON: The combination of Ron [Carlivati, head writer] and Frank [Valentini, executive producer] has been a really good one. They obviously have a good working relationship, and a great knowledge of the show, and have come up through the ranks and know the history. I think they've brought new life to GENERAL HOSPITAL, for sure. Putting Heather in scenes with Todd would not have been the first thing I would have thought of, but it was a wonderful combination.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mattson posted an update on Facebook on Friday, April 19: "Today is my first time working with Roger Howarth since his return to GH and I'm really looking forward to it. The air date for that show is Friday, May 17, 2013."

WE LOVE SOAPS: Is there anything Heather hasn't done that you would like to see her do?
ROBIN MATTSON: She's come around a little bit. She realizes she's made some mistakes, like when she turned herself in and talked to her son for the last time. [IN A MYSTERIOUS VOICE] Maybe there's something wrong that's fixable.

WE LOVE SOAPS: A brain tumor! Soaps have used that one many times to excuse a character's past.
ROBIN MATTSON: Yes! [Laughs]

WE LOVE SOAPS: If you go back back to the beginning of your career and give young Robin Mattson a piece of advice, knowing all you know now, what would you tell her?
ROBIN MATTSON: It's all luck, and it's all an accident. Like I said, I was just in New York doing a commercial. I met with a couple of people and GUIDING LIGHT was replacing that role at that time, and they said, "You start tomorrow." It's kind of just luck of the draw. I'm not saying there's no skill involved, or that people don't work really hard. Of course they do. But it's freakish to get cast at 19 and move to New York overnight. It's been a very wild ride.

Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He appeared in FRANCOPRHENIA and the documentary SOAP LIFE in 2012.

4 comments:

  1. I love Robin! She's a great actress. I hated seeing the Dillon family written off of AMC. I was disappointed when Janet returned a few years ago and Robin didn't play her.

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  2. Robin Mattson is the main reason I'm watching GH again! As great as it is to have her back, I feel she deserves much better storylines where Heather isn't simply playing a psycho, and more screen time, like in the good old days with the Diana Taylor plot. It's frustrating when she disappears for weeks. The show could really do without some of the younger characters, who really aren't very interesting and are often downright annoying.

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  3. Thank you so much for this interview. I have loved this woman since the mid-1980's when I became obsessed with everything "Santa Barbara."

    Some people worship Susan Lucci, some worship Kim Zimmer or Jeanne Cooper as their soap queens.

    For me, there's only one Queen of Soaps and that is Robin Mattson!

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  4. Thank you. THANK YOU! I have loved Robin Mattson since the 1980s and think she is an amazing actress who should be getting mega attention for her skill at serious drama and comedy. The woman knows how to do it all - and, she can cook too! :)

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