Thursday, August 12, 2010

THE BAY The Series Interviews: Mary Beth Evans, Part Three

In Parts One and Two of our interview with Mary Beth Evans, the multi-talented and multi-tasking actress discussed her role(s) on the new indie soap THE BAY, as well as her unforgettable roles on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GENERAL HOSPITAL.  In Part Three below, she discusses the rewards and challenges of portraying Sierra on AS THE WORLD TURNS, the almost-job at ONE LIFE TO LIVE, and why lightening did not strike twice for Steve and Kayla on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.  

Mary Beth Evans: After GH I went to AS THE WORLD TURNS very soon.  And I loved that.  It was such a fun show, such an incredible group of people.  It was really like doing theater out there in Brooklyn.  Chris Goutman always treated me like royalty.  I just went back and it still surprised me how much they write in the scenes. I am sad it’s ending.  It’s a great show with amazing people.  I love Sierra too.  She’s a strong Evita-type woman who runs her own country.  The theme there and back at DAYS has been the mother.  I have an incredible relationship with my kids and I try to bring that to my characters. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Speaking of which, you had a storyline as Sierra that we had never seen you play out before, which was the loss of a grown child. 
Mary Beth Evans: That was horrible.  That was played by a sweet kid name Todd [Rotondi], he was really nice.  That was tough.  And then when my daughter, played by Peyton, was buried alive, that was devastating.  Any of those kid stories go beyond my imagination.  I never want to think about those things.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You are a mother, we have followed your career and your real-life pregnancies.  How was it then to play a woman who has lost her grown son?
Mary Beth Evans: I have to say I don’t relate it to my own children.  And usually when I am playing a loss I think of things I love, which is weird.  I don’t know why it’s backwards like that for me.  I can’t explain how my little actor head works on that.  But loss is huge.  You can relate it to a million different things in your life. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Those performances were heart wrenching.
Mary Beth Evans: Thank you. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: There were speculations and rumors about you joining ONE LIFE TO LIVE in 2004?
Mary Beth Evans: It was a weird thing.  I was doing AS THE WORLD TURNS and I got offered ONE LIFE.  I called WORLD TURNS, where I was not under contract.  I said, “I love you guys, I don’t want to leave, but if you’re not writing for me for awhile I’d like to go do this.”  He was like, “Sure go do it.”  Then very soon after they said, “Wait we really do want to write for you and have a contract with you.”  My first feelings were to stay with them because I really liked them.  So that’s what ended up happening. It wasn’t premeditated.  That would have been fine too . It would have been working with Bob Woods, and I love Bob Woods. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: He had been on DAYS for awhile [from 1986-1987].
Mary Beth Evans: And we have been friends since then.  That part bummed me out.  But I felt like I knew these people, I liked these people, I wanted to stay there. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You worked in both California and New York. Which do you prefer?
Mary Beth Evans: I prefer L.A. because I live here.  At the time I had high school kids.  My husband was here juggling the kids and I went back and forth.  For me that was great fun, for him, not as much.  After doing the show for six years, I just wasn’t feeling well.  I was having gastric problems and all this stuff from all the flying and all the time changes.  I don’t know how Marie Wilson did it.  I couldn’t do it like she did.  After some brief moments of aggressiveness,  I asked Michael Bruno to call DAYS OF OUR LIVES and told them it was time to have a meeting.  He made the call, and we were brought back three weeks later.  WORLD TURNS was happy for me, they gave their blessing, and I went back to DAYS with Stephen.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In between WORLD TURNS and DAYS there was a pie business that got started.
Mary Beth Evans: Oh yeah, all that crazy nuttiness.  I had been making apple pies forever, a family recipe.  My husband read this article in the paper and this mail-order apple pie things and said, “You should do that.”  I said, “Oh my God, you’re crazy.  What if someone ordered one?” He said that would be a good problem.  So it was a long and windy road.  I eventually took it to QVC and sold 3000 in seven minutes.  I have been in the Williams-Sonoma website catalogue this year and last year.  I have morphed it into some other little projects.  I still don’t make a fortune but it’s a nice interesting product.  So that’s good for it being just a whim.  I am a crazy busy person.  I am doing THE BAY, I am doing the blog, I am doing another pilot presentation with a friend of mine, now I’m back at DAYS.  I don’t think I’m ever happy if I’m sitting still.  In the summer, if my kids are home and they hanging out, I can not deal with it.  I say, “Where is your job? Where is your thing?” I don’t know if it’s fair, but I think everyone should be up and hustling all the time. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So you came back to DAYS in 2006 with Stephen Nichols.  It was such a beautiful first.
Mary Beth Evans: Yes.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And then...
Mary Beth Evans: Things went a little awry here and there.  There were three or four different head writers during the time we were there and different producers.  Ed Scott was really into those characters, but not everybody was.  And then they had the huge huge budget cuts.  We all understood that.  A whole group of people were let go and everybody got cut.  You just try to do the best you can.  I really appreciate that they have brought me back because I really do love that show.  I went back for Frances Reid’s funeral and I am back now.  Who knows how long it will be for.  But it’s nice because they write it as Kayla coming in and taking care of some business.  I’m giving my daughter the once-over, my brother the once-over, and really get in there.  Who knows if it will be ongoing recurring, I have no idea.  It’s not even in my radar to be concerned about it.  I just go, do my thing, I’m happy to be there, then I’m happy to go. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What I appreciate about the current writing team is that they seem to know and care about the details of the history.  So when Kayla comes back she’s the same character, they remember her story, they remember her friendship with Melissa, they remember her issues with Philip.
Mary Beth Evans: I agree with you.  I think that part is great.  As long as it’s fun for everyone it will keep going. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What’s gratifying for those of us who have watched you for 26 years is that we get to see more Mary Beth Evans in 2010 than ever before.
Mary Beth Evans: I appreciate that.  Like I said, I just can’t stop moving.  As long as I can find work I will be going there.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for Part Four, in which Mary Beth discusses her blog, adapting to change, reinvention, and life lessons learned.  Plus, what is the one thing that scares her? Find out tomorrow.

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City.  He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."

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