BY Michael Fairman
September 24 2009 4:35 AM ET
How are your cast mates feeling now?
There is a real sadness. Half of the people who have worked on the show all these years, we will be leaving them behind, and it’s heartbreaking. I just don’t know. I feel like I want to look upon it as an opportunity for the show, and hopefully it will prove to be a successful venture.
So, in the meantime, will Opal continue to have heart issues?
It’s a funny thing. I am not actually sure Opal ever had a heart problem. It’s just these palpitations. It has to do with anxiety and horrifying visions more than anything else, like an actual physiological heart issue. It becomes very useful at various times!
What do you think about Opal’s visions of the great beyond?
I love it! I have enough of that experience in my own life that I love, and by and large they have used it quite well. It’s been quite amusing and at times quite tender. I always hoped at times they would do a little more with me and Ryan, because that is where that first thing started, way back when I was channeling his dead wife, Gillian. That made a close bond between Ryan and me, which Cameron Mathison [Ryan] and I have tried to maintain within the confines of what they write for us. It gives an opportunity, or gives us something that creates tension and anticipation, but has the potential to be humorous. And they have found a bit of that. All in all, I think it works well. I love the fact that they are more and more reconnecting Opal with all of the characters; and that she is the glue in Pine Valley.
How is working with on-screen son Michael Knight [Tad]?
It is heavenly! He is definitely a lot of fun, but so much more than that. He always stuns me with his originality. As an actor, what you strive to do and long to do is truly live in the moment when you are acting. It’s very tough and difficult in soap operas. You don’t rehearse anymore, so it is much more challenging. But Michael always brings something of his own and something spontaneous, and whether it’s funny or poignant, it always feels very true to me. Working with him is one of the greatest delights for me in every way. I feel my acting is enriched and made better by working with him.
You replaced Dorothy Lyman as Opal. And it is really interesting because your relationship goes way back!
We have a long history. We both grew up in Minneapolis. I did not know her in high school, but I knew her brother. I did a little student film with him and I auditioned for her at one time. There was some talk of me doing this play she produced, A Couple of White Chicks Just Sitting Around Talking. They eventually got Susan Sarandon for it. That was the first time I was connected with her. Then she was going to produce a comedy revue called Serious Business and I was a part of it. Later, Dorothy was directing me in another play off-off-Broadway… in a dreadful play [laughs], and while we were rehearsing it one afternoon she said, “I have to go do this audition and I will be back in an hour,” and it was for the part of Opal. So she got that role and turned it into what she did with her brilliance. Then I understudied her on Broadway and it was like all these times we were interconnecting.