General Hospital Exclusive: Natalia Livingston Responds to Fans’ Outpouring of Support — *and* Reveals Whether She’d Resurrect Emily Quartermaine
“I’m grateful to be remembered,” the Emmy winner tells Soaps.com, “especially with warmth and affection.”
Earlier this month, Soaps.com marked the anniversary of the death of General Hospital heroine Emily Quartermaine with an article lamenting the mistake that it had been for the show to dispatch the legacy character, not to mention jettison her talented portrayer, Natalia Livingston. The story got a huge response from readers who shared our opinion, so we let the actress know: Hey, even all these years later, fans still care. A great deal.
That “means a lot to me,” she tells Soaps.com. “It really does. I’m grateful to be remembered. I’m especially grateful to be remembered with warmth and affection.” Her message to you? “Thank you. Thank you for your kind words. Thanks for supporting the character and the work I did.
“It was such a fun, beautiful, challenging time in my life,” she adds, “and it’s nice that others responded to the storylines in the ways they did.”
Credit: Courtesy of Natalia Livingston
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
Since Emily’s demise — as well as a short stint on Days of Our Lives (as Nicole’s sister, Taylor) and an ill-fated General Hospital return (as Emily’s twin, Rebecca) — Livingston has relocated to Alanta, where she now lives with husband Matt Aldag and their two children, Coco (Colette), 2, and Hux (short for Huxley), two months. “I love our neighborhood,” says the soap vet. “Our neighbors are our friends. I live close to my father and get to see him often — socially-distanced, of course.
“I’ve built a meaningful business for myself [at the Actor Boutique studio]. I haven’t auditioned in years,” she continues, “but there’s the opportunity to do so here if I ever feel like it. There’s so much to do and experience, and the people are warm and down-to-earth. It really is a dream come true for me in many ways.”
Two of those ways are, of course, Coco and Hux. “I wish you could meet them,” says Livingston. “They are the cutest, sweetest little human beings on the planet. Of course, I’m a little biased.”
The newborn is even letting Mom get a little shuteye. “Hux is finally waking up at 5:30 a.m., which is nice. I feed him, and then I get a quiet, peaceful hour by myself until Coco wakes at 7 a.m., and the wonderful whirl of a day begins.”
Owing mainly to these strange times in which we’re all living, the actress has “decided not to have extra help. And, I’m doing OK on my own. Truly, I’m enjoying every minute with them. I know life is short, and these are such precious times. One of my favorite quotes is ‘Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.’ I think about that all the time as I move through my day.”
Credit: John Paschal/JPI, Doug Piburn/JPI
Would She Return to Port Charles?
Once in a while, Livingston also reflects upon the bright lights of Hollywood. “I think of it from time to time,” she admits. “Like I said, General Hospital was a beautiful chapter in my life. I loved it.
“I wouldn’t close that door,” she adds. “There would just be a lot to think through.”
If the ABC soap called tomorrow and said, “Guess what — we want to bring back Rebecca,” what would her portrayer’s gut reaction be? “I guess my gut reaction would be to wish that somehow Rebecca would end up being Emily,” she says. “That somehow they really killed Rebecca and Emily was alive all along. That would definitely be more attractive [than playing Rebecca again]. I miss Emily. They could have done so much more with her.”
And Rebecca… well, that idea just never quite worked. “I think there wasn’t a clear vision for her,” suggests the Emmy winner. “Maybe they were trying to make it catch with Nikolas in a different way, but it just couldn’t.”
Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI
Even the Hard Times Were Good Times
Not that Livingston is anything but grateful for her time in Port Charles. Ask her what the highlight of her run was, and you’ll find that she’s hardpressed to pick. “There were so many,” she says. “The day-to-day work was the highlight. I love to act and I got to do it every day.
“The people were the highlight,” she continues. “I had so much fun and met some truly beautiful people. General Hospital was good to me. The people were good to me. It was a special time. I’ve remained friends with several to this day. And winning an Emmy [in 2005] for my work was a highlight. That meant so much to me.”
As for lowlights, Livingston has trouble naming one. “There were hard times. Challenging times. But looking back, I’m grateful for them,” she says. “They refined me and taught me a lot. They led me to where I am now. We all have ups and downs. I guess it’s just the way you look at things in life. I’ve been so blessed.”
What do you think, General Hospital fans? Isn’t it time that Emily joined the ranks of Port Charles “living dead” and returned to complicate Nikolas and Ava’s marriage? Or do you have another idea for a comeback storyline in mind? Hit the comments, and while you’re here, check out the below photo gallery of characters that can never, ever be recast.
<p>Since Vanessa Marcil has trained us to think that like the swallows to Capistrano, she’ll always return to the ABC soap, we <em>and</em> the ABC soap would both balk at the notion of replacing her as “the one that got away” from Sonny and Jax. Besides, can you imagine the poor actress tasked with working into her performances more than 20 years of history that she wasn’t around to play? #daunting</p>
<p>Suggest recasting Jane Elliot’s queen of mean, and we’ll fix you with same bemused glare that Tracy would. It couldn’t — also can’t and won’t — happen. When an actor has created a true original, as Elliot most certainly did, you don’t do it the disservice of attempting to Xerox it. (See also: why there’s not a <em>Mona Lisa 2</em>.)</p>
<p>One of these days, Victoria Rowell and the powers that be at CBS are gonna have to settle their differences once and for all. Otherwise, there’s no way for Devon’s adoptive mom to bounce back from her ill-fated attempt to cliff-dive. The show definitely can’t recast; it learned <em>that</em> the hard way <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/gallery/soaps-temporary-recasts-best-worst-list-photos/33rd-annual-daytime-emmy-awards-arrivals/" target="_blank">when Kent Masters King spelled Rowell</a> in 2000.</p>
<p>Sure, you can recast a character like Jackie Templeton, even though she was briefly played by movie star Demi Moore. But the adventurer played by Jack Wagner since the 1980s? No, no and no again. The soap-hopping <em>Melrose Place</em> vet is as closely identified with his breakout role as he is with his pop hit “All I Need.”</p>
<p>We pity the fool who’d even <em>try</em> to don one of the brooches left behind by this three-time Emmy winner. When the soap vet (previously Laura Horton on <em>Days of Our Lives</em>) retired in 2012, her character was killed off — and dead is the way she should stay, looming over her descendants in judgment, much like her portrait (which, for our money, never should have left Eric’s living-room wall).</p>
<p>We’ll admit, we’ve entertained the idea of <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/days-of-our-lives/news/572452/days-of-our-lives-recast-hope-kristian-alfonso/" target="_blank">other actresses playing the part</a> that Kristian Alfonso exited in 2020 after almost four decades (off and on). And we can’t deny that we wholly accepted Robert Kelker-Kelly <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/gallery/soaps-best-recasts-all-time-ranked/" target="_blank">when he took over for Peter Reckell</a> in the 1990s as Hope’s true love, Bo Brady. But at this point, having withstood so much change, we suspect viewers would revolt if anyone else tried on Alfonso’s part for size.</p>
<p>When Anthony Geary retired in 2015, his rascally alter ego reminded everyone that Lucky and Lulu’s papa is a rolling stone and hit the road. It was a perfect exit, one that allowed Geary to return to facilitate the sendoff of the actress at No. 13 and leaves open the door for future visits. And let’s be real, after nearly 40 years, <em>General Hospital</em> could no more recast Luke than it could switch the focus of the show from the hospital to the Mob. OK, bad example.</p>
<p>Credit where it’s due: At times, it must be tempting to blow up the <em>Young & Restless</em> canvas by revealing that, while Kristoff St. John died in 2019, there was a mistake and his character lived; he just… uh, looks different now. But the show has never gone there and, as far as we can tell, never will. That’s smart. Respectful. Right.</p>
<p>Recast Port Charles’ dimpled don? Fughedaboudit. If Maurice Benard retires — and he’s been <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/577003/maurice-benard-reveals-when-retiring-from-general-hospital/" target="_blank">known to toy with the idea</a> — the character will have to be retired along with him. Fans may have bought Billy Miller as Sonny’s right-hand man Jason, but no way would they buy even the reincarnation of Marlon Brando as the kingpin with a heart of gold.</p>
<p>Another actress ever replacing Melody Thomas Scott in the role that she assumed in 1979 is about as likely as Victor ever truly replacing Nikki in his heart: It just ain’t gonna happen. And thank heavens for that. Scott is as closely associated with her beloved character as Eric Braeden’s mustache is to his.</p>
<p>When Darlene Conley passed away in 2007, executive producer Bradley Bell knew that he could no more recast her outré character than kill her off. So ever since, Sally’s been said to be traveling the world with a rotation of young hotties. “Darlene was a bigger-than-life character,” Bell told <em>People</em>’s <em>Bold & Beautiful</em> special, “so she had to live forever.”</p>
<p>Remember back in the 1980s, when <em>General Hospital</em> lost Laura’s portrayer so Janine Turner was introduced as a <em>new</em> Laura, Jackie’s sister? Luke didn’t fall for the stand-in any more than viewers did, and if ya think <em>that</em> went badly, just imagine how the audience would react if someone other than Francis ever tried to play the <em>real</em> Laura.</p>
<p>Twin sister Samantha and lookalike Hattie might at times have tried to make us believe that Marlena isn’t so special, but we know better. So if Deidre Hall chooses to take her leave from Salem, the NBC soap is going to have to do what it’s done when she’s exited before: kill her character off or ship her out.</p>
<p>Should the day come that Eric Braeden decides to retire, the Mustache will have to be shaved, so to speak. The audience simply would never accept anyone except the Daytime Emmy winner in the role that he made his own in 1980 — and has been making iconic ever since.</p>
<p>If ever there had been any doubt that no one but the late Jeanne Cooper could truly embody the Duchess — and honestly, there wasn’t — <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/574493/soaps-temporary-recasts-best-worst-list-photos/" target="_blank">Michael Learned’s temp run in the role</a> erased it. As fine an actress as the star of <em>The Waltons</em> is, even she couldn’t outshine Kay’s baubles the way Cooper had.</p>
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