General Hospital Happenings© 1999-2011
A Word With Adrienne Barbeau
I recently had the opportunity to interview the very gracious Adrienne Barbeau who is currently playing Brenda's friend, child advocate and charity head, Suzanne Stanwyck, on General Hospital. Adrienne is also the author of three books, the latest of which, "Love Bites", (St. Martin’s Press; Hardcover) goes on sale beginning August 31st.
Everyone has a vice or indulgence...what's yours?
Reading serial novels with a continuing main character. Whenever I find a new author that I love, I go online and buy everything they've written since they started; I like to read the series in order. Everyone from John Sandford, Lee Child, Alex Berenson, to Robert Crais, Harlen Coben, Robert B. Parker, and Julie Smith - and a whole bunch more...
What skill do you wish you had?
I wish I could speak more languages. I can get by in French and Spanish, a little Armenian, and I'm learning Japanese, but boy, I wish I were fluent in several more. That, and really playing the piano.
Is there a role you have always wanted to play?
Nope. Not really. I loved Jane Fonda's role in "Klute", and Sophia Loren's role in "Two Women", and Joanne Woodward's in "The Three Faces of Eve". And I always love playing Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof", but I never think about specific roles I'd like to play.
What did you read before going to bed last night?
My script for today's taping of General Hospital. And a couple of chapters of Randy Wayne White's "Twelve Mile Limit".
What makes you angry?
Oh, it takes a lot to make me angry. I get annoyed, but not often angry. I'm too busy trying to figure out why the person is acting the way he is, to get to the point of being angry about it. Plus, life is too short - I just don't let a lot of things bother me.
Obviously, Adrienne is nothing like her alter-ego, Alice,
(right) at the end of the 2009 short film, "Alice Jacobs is Dead".
You went through quite a lot in your younger years, and by your own admission you had some wild years, you made some poor choices in men and career and some great ones, had some infamous relationships and some failed relationships, some incredibly special people who have come into your life, some painful losses, you have been a singer, dancer, actor, talk show host. Now you are also an author, married again and the mother of three sons...Keeping that in mind, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give to the Adrienne of 40 years ago?
Honestly, there's not much I'd tell myself to do differently. Maybe if I'd gotten a sense of my own self-worth a little earlier in life I would have achieved more at an earlier age, but something good came out of every choice I made and I wouldn't change any of that.
Pictured on the cover of your autobiography, "There Are Worse Things I Could do", is your 1978 pin-up poster that actually rivaled Farrah Fawcett's poster of the same decade. Is there any particular reason you made no mention of this poster in your book?
It never crossed my mind to talk about it. There really wasn't much to say. I think the idea to do it came from [ex-husband] John Carpenter, or maybe my manager at the time, Ron Weisner. The photographer, David Alexander, had just done that great shot of James Taylor in the box, for one of his albums, and I think he'd photographed Linda Ronstadt for one of hers. The bustier [I wore] was his idea and I loved what he came up with.
Tell me about your husband and children. (Adrienne gave birth to twin boys at the age of 51.) In what ways, if any, are you a different mother now, than you were with your first son (now grown).
Raising my two 13-year-olds is a completely different experience from raising my son, Cody, who's now 26. Primarily because the boys (William and Walker) are so completely different in their personalities from their older brother. And in part because I was a single mom raising Cody. Cody was a composer and musician from an early age, and a major video gamer. William and Walker love video games and they both play in bands, but their primary love is soccer.
What past times as a family do you enjoy?
spend almost every week-end from September through June at soccer
tournaments. And the boys are extremely social. If I'm not driving
them somewhere to meet their friends, then we've got 3 or 4 extra
teenagers spending the night, every night of the summer. I got a lot
more reading done when I was raising Cody!
Many people may be unaware that you began your theatrical career in 1963, entertaining American G.I.s on Army bases throughout Southeast Asia before you went on to Broadway...
How did you first become involved in that? Do you have any particular memories to share of that experience?
I still have such strong images from that tour in my memory. Watching the red alarm light atop a refrigerator during a performance in a mess hall in Korea, so we'd know if the North Koreans had crossed the DMZ [de-militarized zone] and we needed to stop the show. Hearing that three G.I.s who had been at one of our shows had been killed by snipers waiting under the bridge we took to get back to our billets [temporary living quarters]. Visiting the department stores in Tokyo that sold everything from mascara to $350,000.00 blown glass art pieces. Performing on a tiny island in the Pacific that was an atomic testing site, where no women were stationed, and we were singing outdoors in between two runways. The guys couldn't hear a word we said, but they didn't care. They were a great audience!
Who were some of your mentors in life and what did you learn from them?
Hmmm, I don't think I've had anyone who mentored me in the true sense of the word, but I sure learned a lot about doing comedy from my brilliant TV mom, Bea Arthur [from "Maude"].
You played the role of Bea Arthur's daughter, Carol, in the hit series,"Maude", for six years. Carol was a strong feminist and regularly espoused her views on the show. Do you believe that Carol influenced other young women and viewers in general who were watching at the time?
I hear from so many fans about the influence Carol and Maude and the show itself had on them - women who were young at the time and who were just finding their strengths independent of their families or husbands or boyfriends. I had one fellow tell me he learned what a real family was like from watching Maude - how people could yell at each other and still love each other and how that was okay. And a lot of young gay women looked to Carol as a role model, too.
Did Carol influence you? Did you share her views at the time?
She certainly influenced me; she forced me to examine how I felt about all the issues we dealt with on the show. Fortunately, I shared her beliefs. So it wasn't hard at all to say those wonderful lines our writers wrote.
If I recall correctly, you appeared as Senator Cretak in an episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". I remember that internet rumors were running rampant at one time that you were also the original pick for the lead role of Captain Kathryn Janeway on "Star Trek Voyager" but decided against it. Is there any truth to that?
Wow! This is something I've never heard. I'm sure I would have loved playing Captain Janeway on "Voyager", but no, I was never even in contention. At least, not to my knowledge.
You once revealed that reading "Good-bye, Columbus" led directly to losing your virginity. Care to elaborate on that just a teeny bit? [wink]
It's a funny story - pretty outrageous when you find out I thought the man I was dating was Philip Roth - but I can't do it justice here... I actually told the story to Johnny Carson on my first appearance on The Tonight Show, back in the 70s. You're not old enough to remember that, are you?
Although I was a teen at the time, I missed that particular episode, darn! [Luckily for all of us, Adrienne does discuss this in her memoir.]
You have mentioned that as a child you read, Dale Evans' "Angel Unaware", a book about her daughter with Down Syndrome who died at the age of three, and that you wept over it and still remember the last line of the book to this day. What was that line, and why do you think it has stayed with you all these years?
To the best of my recollection, and I may be wrong, but this is what has always stayed in my head: her daughter says to G-d, "And now, Father, may I go and try my wings?". I think what I took away from it was that out of such a sad, painful loss, came joy and optimism and a wonderful new journey.
You have an unusual yet touching story about how you became an author which you say was inspired, in part, by the loss of your best friend, and what you believed was a sign from her many years later which moved you to attend a writing class. You've starred in a number of supernatural flicks in the late 70's and 80's with films like; "Swamp Thing", "The Fog" and "Creepshow". You were also previously married to John Carpenter who is considered the master of horror films. Besides your autobiography, you are the author of two vampire novels....Did your relationship with John and his predilection for the horror genre along with your own experiences make it inevitable that you would choose to write about the supernatural/vampires?
I wish I could say yes, because that would sound a lot more interesting, but the fact is I've probably only seen ten horror films in my life. I'm not a fan of the genre at all. I love acting in them, but I don't like seeing them. I do have a belief in metaphysics (my boys are convinced I'm psychic; I know my grandmother was) but I don't read much horror either. I think I wrote, "Vampyres of Hollywood", because a female vampire gave me the opportunity to write the kind of woman I aspire to be - strong, fearless, independent and, oh yeah, still looking good for her age.
Speaking of which...you are a beautiful woman...how do you stay in shape?
Wrangling two 13 year olds. I live on grapefruit juice and brioche.
What, if any, personality traits do you share with Ovsanna Moore, the main female character- both a movie scream queen and 500 year old vampire- who appears in your book, "Vampyres of Hollywood" and in your new book that is coming out at the end of the month, "Love Bites"? I imagine many readers see you in that role when reading it; was that intentional?
Well, they say, "write what you know". I know Armenians (I'm half), and I know Hollywood, and I know ballsy, take-no-prisoners heroines. Ovsanna is the kind of character I love to play. We've got the same taste in men - and women, for that matter - and we've got the same sense of humor. She's got a better wardrobe than I do, and more cars.
Are some of the other characters that appear in both of your vampire novels based upon your real life show biz acquaintances?
Oh definitely. My good friend Tom Atkins (we worked together on "The Fog", "Creepshow", "Escape From New York", and "Two Evil Eyes") plays a major part in "Love Bites". And what fun I had writing him in!
Were you surprised by how well your previous books were received?
I was floored. I couldn't believe it when "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" made the L.A. Timesbest-seller list. I'd never even considered that could happen. And I didn't have any idea what Publishers Weekly would say about "Love Bites" (even though they gave a good review to "Vampyres of Hollywood"). I was driving down Highway 5 from San Francisco when I heard they raved about "Love Bites"; I had to pull over at a Wendy's so I could call everyone I knew! And then it got four stars in Romantic Times Magazine and I really wasn't expecting that. A romance magazine is reviewing my vampire novel and saying it's hot? Wow.
Why do you think people are so fascinated with vampire stories?
That I couldn't tell you. I don't have a clue.
Would you/have you ever considered writing a screenplay?
Not my table. I think I can write good dialogue, but I don't have any feeling for the screenplay format.
You are also known for your singing, especially in stage musicals and concert halls...I hear you've done some recording. Anything available for your fans on a CD?
I do have one album available on iTunes and also from CDBaby.com. How nice of you to ask!
How did you end up on General Hospital?
You know, I just got a call from my agents saying General Hospital was offering me the role. It pretty much came out of the blue. And I jumped at it, especially when I heard the character description.
There have been a number of high profile stars who have guested on soaps recently. Do you think this an indication that the soap genre is no longer seen as training ground or somehow less honorable, within the acting community?
Actors want to act. I think more and more of them are realizing what a great gig this is. It's an opportunity to explore a character in depth and reach an incredibly loyal, enthusiastic audience. It takes major acting chops to handle a medium that films 100 pages of dialogue every single day!
How long will you be appearing on GH? (We are hoping you will stick around!)
I'd love to stay as long as they'll have me. So far there's no end in sight.
You have mentioned before that Suzanne may become interested in a male in Port Charles. Can you give us any hints?
I honestly don't know any more than you do. I know her eyes light up when she meets Jason Morgan (Steve Burton) but whose wouldn't?
What General Hospital actors have you taped with thus far?
Thus far, all my scenes have been with Vanessa and Steve and Brad Rowe.
What actors would you like to work with on GH?
I'll be delighted if I get to work with the entire cast.
Is there anything about working on GH that has surprised you or made a particular impression upon you?
I was impressed with the sense of family generated throughout the entire building - from the writers and producers and casting department in their offices on the 4th floor to the crew on the stage and the actors and wardrobe department and hair stylists and make-up artists and security personnel on the ground floor. They've all been together for years and they all seem to enjoy being there.
What do you do at the GH studio while waiting to tape your next scene?
I'm either studying my lines, reading a book, or on my computer...I just had to read a script for a film I've been offered. But really, the show is so well run, there's not a lot of downtime once we get to the studio. It's hair, make-up, get dressed and get onstage.
Have you become friendly with anyone on the set of GH?
I'm enjoying getting to know everyone on the set - the crew, the creative team, the stylists, and the actors. Carolyn Hennesy (Diane Miller) and I met years ago in a writing class and it's been great fun catching up with her especially. And really, each actor I've met has been welcoming.
In your scene with Brenda that aired on August 20th, your character is listening to Brenda share some of her history with Sonny. Suzanne makes a comment to Brenda about guns and bullets, how they can heighten emotions, "until the bleeding starts, and then the dying...and then its all sort of grim and dismal...in my experience.". Are we going to learn more about Suzanne's backstory?
Well, I have a back story for Suzanne. As an actor, that's part of my process with every character I portray. So those lines had a meaning to me, based on what I've created for Suzanne's life, but it's not something I've mentioned to anyone else. And if the day comes when there's something in the script that references the writers' take on Suzanne's past, then I'll make those adjustments. But for now, your guess is as good as mine.
Posted Friday, April 27th, 2010
ghhshirley, General Hospital Happenings©
Fans of Adrienne Barbeau may enjoy this demo tape on youtube.
Picking up where "Vampyres of Hollwood" left off, "Love Bites" brings back the unlikely duo of Beverly Hills detective Peter King and Scream Queen Ovsanna Moore, the famous Hollywood actress and producer who just happens to be a 450-year-old vampyre. It's only two weeks since Peter and Ovsanna faced off with the Cinema Slayer, and already life is getting complicated.
First there’s the werewolf attack. Then a mutilated body at the Sportsmen’s Lodge turns up. Several of Ovsanna’s clan members, including Orson Welles and Mary Pickford, are vying for attention. All of this makes it hard for Peter and Ovsanna to get together. And it doesn’t help that Ovsanna’s personal assistant and sometimes lover, Maral, will do anything to get Peter out of the picture.
Peter and Ovsanna have to fight for their relationship and their lives. Ovsanna enlists her clan, the Vampyres of Hollywood, to help battle a menagerie of supernatural beasts straight out of Alien vs. Predator. This isn’t a box-office ratings war, it’s a fight to the death.
In "Love Bites", Adrienne Barbeau once again mixes horror and suspense with a humorous commentary on the nature of celebrity and the entertainment industry. Publishers Weekly writes: “Barbeau drops plenty of Hollywood names to comic effect, and the fast and furious final pages will leave fans hoping for a third installment.”