Sunday, October 4, 2009


Longtime AS THE WORLD TURNS star Ellen Dolan recently spoke with We Love Soaps about her two decade role as Margo Hughes, the demise of GUIDING LIGHT and her upcoming birthday plans.

We Love Soaps: First I want to say that it’s so great to see Margo back in the thick of things on the show.
Ellen Dolan: For a hot minute, yeah.

We Love Soaps: Is it only for a hot minute? Or is there more?
Ellen Dolan: I have a very blessed role. I’m mixed in all the time because I’m always telling people what to do. But this little bit now [with Riley revealed to be Adam] will come to an end soon.

We Love Soaps: What could fans do to make it more likely that we’ll get to see Margo in more stories?
Ellen Dolan: I tell the fans all the time you’ve got to write. You’ve to petition. I think there are things you vote for online. There a certain amount of hits if people watch your stuff. I’m not a computer person so you’d have to ask my kid. I think that’s more of what they look at than anything else. And, you know, drop to your knees and pray. God knows that’s what I’m doing. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason these days. We’re in such a panic. We’re in such a spin.

We Love Soaps: Panic?
Ellen Dolan: About what’s going to happen to television. Not just daytime, not just soap operas, but television is changing so quickly. And everybody seems to want to be on it. It’s a good job, it’s a good gig. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. It’s a well-paid, steady job.

We Love Soaps: Some writers and actors are experimenting with taking their stories to the internet. Crystal Chappell and Martha Byrne are both developing web soaps. Is that something you could ever see yourself doing?
Ellen Dolan: Martha just asked me to do something. I’m not going to be here. I’m going to France for a week long bike trip that I’m not in shape for. But I think she has a couple of different ones planned. Martha wears many, many hats. If it’s for a friend, I will definitely do it. The biggest problem is our [monetary] units haven’t caught up to websites yet, to webisodes. So how do people get paid? Actors have to eat like everybody else. So if a friend asks me to do it, fine. Other than that it really has to be through my agent and on the up and up so everybody gets their 10%.

We Love Soaps: You have always brought such a tough determination to Margo.
Ellen Dolan: That is a polite way of saying Biiiii....

We Love Soaps: No, no, I really love the way she comes through everything in her life. Even now, there’s such a fire inside her. Are you like that?
Ellen Dolan: No. [Laughs] Not at all. I don’t fight with anybody.

We Love Soaps: What part of you do you bring to Margo?
Ellen Dolan: Hopefully her sense of humor, because they don’t write her very funny at all. Anything that’s in there that brings a twinkle to anybody’s eye is what I bring to it. In fact, they have to take a lot of it away. They don’t let me do it a lot. But, I bring my hairdo in, which they change all the time. We have big hair problems. [Laughs] Mostly my humor, and through the years Margo has taught me to cry and now I can’t stop. Any commercial, Hallmark card, I’m just [sobs]. It’s just this mechanism. One time when I was doing GUIDING LIGHT, [Kim] Zimmer was doing a scene with me and she was just crying. In the middle of the scene. I said, “Why are you crying?” She said, “I can’t help it, it’s just a muscle, it just goes.” And now I understand, it just goes and goes all the time.

We Love Soaps: There was a lot of crying during the rape story line of 1992.
Ellen Dolan: That was a tough story. [Pause] And it didn’t get revisited very well. The two times they revisited it it was not very complete, I didn’t think. The story was taken was over here, and then, oh by the way, brought it back to Tom and Margo. So that pissed me off. [Laughs]

We Love Soaps: How is that for you when stories aren’t getting told the way you prefer?
Ellen Dolan: Well, I’m not the boss so it doesn’t really matter, that’s pretty clear.

We Love Soaps: What would you like to see happen for Margo?
Ellen Dolan: [Pause] You know, you would think you’d expect me to say something like “she kills somebody,” but she’s been on a killing spree lately. And then I was going to say, oh yeah, she was shot, finally shot after 20 years. I don’t know, she’s really done a lot. I’d really like to do some scenes with my husband. I haven’t seen him since July. I think I’m in a pretty nice niche now where I’m just busy with everyone and everything. Oh, I would like to go undercover, I would like to play another character undercover.

We Love Soaps: There was such a poignant scene recently when you spoke to Hal’s picture, and they actually showed the picture of Benjamin Hendrickson, which we as fans very much appreciated. How was that for you?
Ellen Dolan: That’s always hard. For everybody. We also have a lot of fun with it, too, because he would. There is someone in wardrobe who just did a two day fundraising production of some show, and he played two characters and one of those characters wore Benjamin’s wig on backward. So he’s still out there.

We Love Soaps: You showed up at the Paley Museum when they honored GUIDING LIGHT. Was it important for you to be there?
Ellen Dolan: Yeah, I didn’t go out to L.A. so it was the only chance I got to say goodbye. And to do it there, where you have the history of the show, it was amazing. It’s so sad that it’s gone. And it’s so sad to think that we might be next.

We Love Soaps: Are you thinking that?
Ellen Dolan: I’m trying not to because you’ve got to stay positive. The more positive energy you put out there, the more it will stay up. But people are stopping me in the street and saying, “Geez, sorry about the cancellation of your show,” and I’m like, “What do you know that I don’t know? Stop saying that!” Even my kids come home and say, “Hey Mommy, my teacher said that your show is going to go off the air.” It’s like, stop saying that, I’ve got bills to pay, I can’t do that. And I can’t do anything else, I know nothing. I can memorize words and cry on cue. That’s all I’ve got. [Laughs] I have nothing to fall back on.

We Love Soaps: Would you ever consider teaching?
Ellen Dolan: No, I’m a terrible teacher. I tried it in graduate school, and I was really bad. I don’t think I can teach, I don’t think I can direct. I don’t have that ability to get people to explore things in such a way that will give what I need from them. I’m writing though. I can write!

We Love Soaps: What are you writing?
Ellen Dolan: I write the beginnings of so many things. I’m writing a play. I have a theater workshop that I work with. We’re very excited, because in this economic environment, there are small theaters that are still making it, we have our own space.

We Love Soaps: How could someone find that?
Ellen Dolan: And it doesn’t have to be in that show, it could be anybody. I’m fundraising all the time for them.

We Love Soaps: And you mentioned you’ll be bike riding in France?
Ellen Dolan: In a couple of weeks.

We Love Soaps: Is this a fundraiser?
Ellen Dolan: No, it’s learning to drink and drive. We’re going to Bordeaux on bikes. I don’t know how that little wine glass it going to stay there but I’m going to give it my best. Doug is going with some friends. They do this every year and so he signed us up this year for my birthday.

We Love Soaps: That’s great.
Ellen Dolan: Great. I’m going to ride a bike in France for a full week for my 54th birthday. He’s so mean! But I’m going to do it.

We Love Soaps: You are one of the actors who says the words that are written, but it seems there’s so much more going on in your head then just that.
Ellen Dolan: Oh, there’s a lot going on in this head that nobody knows, or should know.

We Love Soaps: But just your ability to convey that on screen makes you fascinating to watch even after all these years.
Ellen Dolan: I’ve got to say, I hope daytime continues. It is fun and hard place to work. And it’s a necessary story telling device. So network television, keep us on the air, we serve you well.


  1. ATWT beat both AMC and OLTL in the ratings last week. So, maybe there's life in the old man of soaps.

  2. Great interview! Too bad they don't let more of Ellen show through in Margo. I think people would like her a lot better lol!

  3. Ellen is so consistently terrific in her performances as Margo on ATWT and also as the original Maureen on GL in the early 1980s. Keep On Rocking, Ellen! :)