Eden Riegel (Bianca, AMC) Discusses Bianca's Rape

Soap Opera Digest: Let’s talk about filming the rape itself. What was that day like?
Eden Riegel: When we shot those scenes, it was a very grueling day. It was all day; there were only four people in the episode, so it was very work-intensive. And beyond that, it was just haunting emotionally. I had trouble sleeping. This is really serious stuff, and it sticks with you.Digest: Did the rehearsal process differ in any significant sense from a less demanding day of scenes?
Riegel: I did meet with Wil de Vry [Michael] and we sort of rehearsed it on our own, which we don’t normally have time to do, but in this case, we made time. It definitely required more work than an ordinary episode. But of course, the fallout has been very intense, as well. It’s been a grueling month and continues to be. It is a tough storyline; I think it has to be done, though. People are being raped.Digest: The terror in your performance seemed incredibly real.
Riegel: I really was scared, which is a compliment to Wil. Michael’s an evil guy, but isn’t he fun to hate? I think Wil de Vry is amazing. He has one of the hardest roles on our show right now. I really appreciate the performance he’s giving. When we were doing the rape scenes, he surprised me by showing Michael’s enjoyment. It wasn’t just that Michael was a predator; it was fun for him. As an actor, it was a total shock to me and put me right in that moment. I was running from him and he was laughing at me, like he was enjoying it.Digest: Were you frightened or intimidated by the gravity of the storyline when you were first told about it?
Riegel: Absolutely, I was. To be honest, I didn’t know if I could handle it. But I knew it was a very important thing to do and that the show was serious about handling it well. I knew we could reach people, and that it was powerful stuff. I could feel the power of it. And I knew I should put myself through this because ultimately it might help somebody, touch somebody, make people talk about it. And rape is something people should talk about.Digest: In a very real sense, soap operas are uniquely positioned to explore social issues like rape because unlike episodic television, soaps don’t need to resolve a problem within a half-hour or an hour.
Riegel: That’s right. There’s an incredible opportunity with this medium. The fact that you can live with these people every day, that there’s no rush, that we can take the time to really look at each moment…. Every single moment is fraught with so much tension, love and pain and so much emotion because the stakes are incredibly high. Just watching these humans quietly go through and try to figure out how to exist in this new world, in this unfamiliar territory, it’s so human and quietly devastating to watch every day, and only soaps can do this. I’m really impressed with the way our writers and producers are using the medium to its fullest, that they’re taking advantage of everything soaps have to offer. It’s such good drama; it’s ordinary people in crisis. It’s not hysterical; it’s just humans trying to survive.