Kim Johnston Ulrich (NBC)
Kim Johnston Ulrich, Hannia Guillen and Eva Tamargo (Lori Wilson, Soaps.com)
After nine years of playing the entitled and ever-meddling Ivy Winthrop Crane, Kim Johnston Ulrich has been through it all on Passions - blackmail, a lightning storm, a tsunami and even DirecTV. So after speaking with her on the phone, I wasn’t surprised to learn that walking away from Harmony wasn’t exactly easy for the actress.
“We had been preparing for awhile because we knew the end was coming, but the last day was just devastating. It was really hard. I was crying a lot,” she recalled. “I don’t cry a lot. If you notice on the show, I barely have to cry. It’s a big deal if I have to cry. It was hard; it was sad; it was bittersweet; it was everything. It was difficult.”
Since she’s been there from the beginning, Kim has seen all the bizarre twists and turns the show has taken, but unlike some of her unsettled castmates, she took it all in stride. Even though she didn’t realize Passions was going to go down a path of the outlandish when she first auditioned (“I thought it was just another soap”), she let me know that when things started going the paranormal route, i.e., Grace levitating, she just went along for the ride. “I was pretty much up for anything and at the very beginning, when some of the people would be screaming and yelling, I in fact was the one who kept saying, ‘You do have a witch and a doll. Pretty much anything goes,’” she said, referring to the characters of Tabitha and Timmy. “Once you embrace the fact that there’s a witch talking to a doll on the show you can pretty much go anywhere.”
But that doesn’t mean she was a fan of every bizarre storyline. “I kind of didn’t understand the whole Vincent thing. That one kind of threw me. I actually loved all the supernatural stuff. I love supernatural and that’s kind of my genre. I loved all that, but the Vincent stuff I just didn’t understand,” she laughed.
As for her favorite moments to play over the years, Kim pointed to her scenes with Ivy’s children, but like many of the fans, even she had a limit to the never ending romance of her on-screen son and his paramour. “The Ethan and Theresa stuff drove me a little insane,” she admitted. “At the end you’re just like ‘Really? Again?'”
When it comes to her own character, Kim feels the writers wrapped up Ivy’s storyline as best they could, but was a bit disappointed with how some of Ivy’s relationships were left hanging. As she pointed out, “You know my daughter got carted away to the loony bin and I didn’t see her. I said, ‘Oh, she’s gone? Oh well!’ (laughs) I never had a scene with Pretty and I was kind of sad about that. I like Melinda (Pretty) very much. So I didn’t have a scene with her, and Fox was killed (laughs). I would have liked to have had more scenes with the people who were in my immediate family. And then James and I, our characters weren’t married. I think they forgot that we aren’t married. They sort of just think we are on the show.”
While the fans are still watching and waiting for Passions to bring everything to its conclusion, the actors finished taping their scenes months ago. Since the set went dark and her nine year run on the soap came to an end, Kim has been keeping busy, but she’s not exactly sure where the time has gone. “I can’t believe it happened in March and it’s been this long! I’ve kind of been going around going, “How did I work? How did I work?” I’ve been really busy with my kids. I’ve been attacking all these projects you put off. I’ve been auditioning a little,” she explained.
One thing the actress has made time for is keeping in contact with many of her castmates including Tracey Ross (Eve), Dana Sparks (Grace) and James Hyde (Sam). She also stayed in contact with Eric Martsolf (Ethan) through a former mutual nanny and even Kim’s husband, Robert Ulrich (a prominent Hollywood casting director) has helped keep tabs on her former co-workers, as she shared, “James called me when my husband was casting something he thought he was right for, and Eric too. Actually Robert has had several of the kids in for different things so I have heard from him about them.”
Aside from her disappointment over NBC canceling Passions last year and DirecTV not putting more of an effort into their commitment to the soap, Kim thoroughly enjoyed playing Ivy and would have stayed on had Passions been picked up again. Noting that Ivy had a tendency to be a little “nasty,” Kim stated, “I enjoyed [playing Ivy] very much because she was passionate and whatever she did she went full out and did it. So it was fun. She was a fun character to play. I would have hated having to play someone who was always sweet and good.”
Even though Passions may not have ever reached the top of the daytime ratings charts, the show’s fans have been a dedicated bunch. After almost a decade of loyal viewing, Kim can’t thank the viewers enough. “We had great fans and we appreciate it so much. All of us, I know I do certainly and I’d love to end up on another soap so they can watch me again.”
We here at Soaps.com can’t wait for that to happen and wish Kim success in every aspect of her life after Passions.