Soaps.com Interview With General Hospital’s Michelle Stafford
Stafford with GH costars. (FayesVision/WENN.com)
“They have raised the bar for this.”
For the past year Michelle Stafford has been playing coma comeback kid Nina Clay on “General Hospital” – today is her one year anniversary – and she has loved portraying someone who isn’t exactly all there. And while there is no telling what Nina and her cohorts will get into during the upcoming two-day event when “General Hospital” broadcasts live on May 15 and May 18, it will definitely be worth watching Stafford told Soaps.com.
“I’ll just say there are a lot of things they are teasing.”
Read more about what Stafford thinks is in store for her character, who she’d love to do more scenes with, and what talent she’s sure Nina would have if she was booked for the Nurses’ Ball.
Soaps.com: So two days of live shows – is that intimidating?
Stafford: Not for us, because actors are crazy people and love hanging from a thread and walking the tight rope. We are naturally those people. So we are all really excited. There are some actors who aren’t in it who are not happy to not be in it.
Soaps.com: Have you ever done anything like this before?
Stafford: Well, talk shows are live. And stage, which I think daytime TV and soap operas are as close to stage as you can get. Because even when we shoot, we are shooting knowing that this is the take that is going to be good. We don’t have the luxury of doing a bunch of takes anyway in daytime TV. It just isn’t like that anymore. So our mindset when we are doing it is that this is the one that is going to go. With that, doing a live show, it won’t be that different from how we tape normally. But, there is the added element of, “Oh my gosh, if I forget a line, that’s it.” We can’t stop.
Soaps.com: How much prep work has gone into the live shows? Are you rehearsing a lot more than you normally would?
Stafford: We have a very long rehearsal time on Thursday, the day before. It is going to be way extra rehearsal time, just for everybody to get it together. I think it is tough on cameras and sound – those are the two departments that are really going to have the toughest time. Not the toughest, but it is more challenging for those departments. And there are some really quick wardrobe changes. They have raised the bar for this. There is some really wild stuff happening that you have to really prepare for normally, and they are doing it for the live show. So if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. There are a couple of things they are doing I really can’t believe they are going to do that are crazy.
Soaps.com: What can we expect from Nina during the live shows?
Stafford: Someone has a secret that is going to be revealed, and somebody is getting married, and for somebody, something really bad is happening to them – really bad. So it is going to be one of us that is going to be a part of that… But you know who Nina is interacting with, and there are some surprises within that. I was really surprised – I was like “What? I really didn’t expect this.” So that will be part of it.
Soaps.com: We missed Nina at the Nurses’ Ball. What would her talent be if she was there?
Stafford: Juggling. I think she juggles. Somebody asked me why she wasn’t there, and I said she’s tone deaf, being in a coma and all. It made her completely tone deaf. But she would juggle.
Soaps.com: And it has been about one year now that you have been on the show.
Stafford: Actually, a year ago today was my very first day playing Nina.
Soaps.com: Happy anniversary!
Stafford: Thank you! Of course, not counting that day I woke up and said, “Silas.” My first real day playing Nina was today so it has been exactly a year.
Soaps.com: Has it been what you expected?
Stafford: No. I didn’t really expect anything though. I go way back with Frank [Valentini], and he has always been so wonderful and supportive and always appreciated the work that I did. So I knew he would have something really interesting for me to do, and I really have wanted to play somebody who was “off.” I feel like when you start a show like that and they want to bring you into the fabric of the show and kind of tone you down, you still at least have the foundation of being that person. And I think there are some things coming up in the way future that are really, really interesting that I have been told about, and if they choose to tell those stories, it would be really cool.
Soaps.com: Do you have a lot of influence over the evolution of Nina?
Stafford: I think only in the way I play it. I am not an actor who calls up the writer – I am not that person and never have been. I have known other actors to be like that, and sometimes I think I should be, but I am just not that person. The writers write it, and I do it. So I think that it is just the way that I play it. Maybe it aids the writers to go a certain way. Also, when they put you with another actor, sometimes it is great, sometimes it is not. So that helps the writers creatively see how actors respond to each other.
Soaps.com: Is it fun working with Roger Howarth (Franco)? It looks like you guys are having a good time playing Nina and Franco.
Stafford: Roger is great – he is a really fun actor who is really smart. And I think you can tell that from his acting. He is really a very interesting person, and he throws something out there and I love responding to it, and I think I do the same thing for him. So he is very professional.
Soaps.com: Is there someone you wish you would have more scenes with?
Stafford: There are so many great actors on that show, don’t you think? Finola [Hughes] would be great because we are really good friends. All of the women on the show are really fun. I’d love to work with Laura [Wright] and Finola and I have worked with Maurice [Benard] a little bit. They are all so great, and I am really glad to be working with Michael [Easton] and Roger as well.
Soaps.com: Can you tell us anything about what is next for Nina and Franco now that they have trust issues?
Stafford: It is very sad because it was so hopeful. I kind of like what is happening to the Franco character because of Nina. I like seeing that. You put two characters together and it changes each of them, the essence of the other character. Sometimes two actors can be good together but their characters don’t really aid each other. I think that the Nina character is very good for Franco, to show a different side of Franco the audience hasn’t seen. Because Roger is such a great leading man. He is so filled with passion and it is really great to see that come out in a character. They are in love. They are completely in love. But they are such flawed human beings they don’t even know how to express it correctly. I think it is a very interesting relationship because very few people – "Oh hi, I’d like to take you out to dinner, let’s go out, I would like to now date you, I love you." It doesn’t really happen like that in life. Most of my relationships that I personally have been in, it came out of left field. And I think that is the majority of the world. It just doesn’t happen how it is supposed to, how it happens in books, how it happens on TV or in movies. I think they are a great representation of that. They are quirky and common criminals. They are both whacked out, but who’s to say two crazy people, two completely whacked out people can’t be in love? Who’s to say two people like this can’t find a beautiful love? That is how I see it and think it is a really interesting story.
Soaps.com: So are we ever going to find out what Rosalie’s [Linda Elena Tovar] secret is?
Stafford: I hope I am playing it right, because I don’t know. But I am playing it like it is a big deal. I am really selling that secret. It is good when characters have secrets. I am sure we will, I just don’t know when. I am assuming in the next couple of months.
Soaps.com: Tell us about your new web series for NickMom, Secret Life of a Single Mom out in June. What can we expect?
Stafford: It is kind of an irreverent take on being a single mom. Nickelodeon came to me and said they didn’t have anything that speaks to the single mom, and there are so many single mothers out there. And they loved "The Stafford Project" and wanted a show that was irreverent and speaks to the single mom, so that is the show I am doing. Basically I break the fourth wall in the show and am like, "Seriously, look at this." It is what the single mom is thinking but it actually speaks to all moms, and all human beings. A single friend of mine was over and watched the rough cuts I have, and was laughing out loud. It is kind of the minutia of the everyday mom life and dealing with kids. The great compliment was a guy was replacing my window, and I had the show on, and he started laughing. I was like, "Okay, that joke works." They are just two-minute vignettes, web shows, and if people like them I will continue to make more. And if they continue to like them I will make more and more and it might be on their channel.
Soaps.com: What is the status on Season two of "The Stafford Project?"
Stafford: We are working on it, but it is one of those things that someone has to now pay for it. The Bank of Stafford paid for it. We need to figure out how to make money on it because Bank of Stafford just can’t keep paying for it. It will happen, but we just need to find the funds.
Soaps.com: And your upcoming film "Durant’s Never Closes" looks like a really gritty role.
Stafford: It is. I play the ex-wife of Tom Sizemore’s character and it is an art film and will probably do the art circuit. People have really loved the script and are talking about how it is for Tom how "The Wrestler" was for Mickey Rourke. It is that type of gritty film about a man who is down and out and going over his life and trying to fix his life. I play the love of his life that he screwed up. It was great working with Tom, he was amazing, and it is a period piece. It is kind of quirky as well. It has a "Sixth Sense" element too where you find out the secret at the end, which is always a fun script. I can’t wait to see it.
Love Patrick and Emma’s duet at the Nurses' Ball? Buy the song by Jason Thompson and Brooklyn Silzer on iTunes.
- Hollie Deese