“It was two hours of makeup to do Ruth because it was a prosthetic nose, it was contacts, it was the wig, it was the nails,” sighs Ehlers of the role she played for several months in 2004. “She was a totally different person and all the shadowings make my face look different. It was a big job.”
Big enough that even an actress as accomplished as Ehlers was daunted by the task. “I was nervous about it because some people were saying, ‘You should play her really broad. Play her like Mrs. Doubtfire,'” she confides. “I was like, ‘I can’t, because [then] I undermine what every other actor has to play. They have to take me seriously. I’m working with Grant [Aleksander, ex-Phillip] who is trying to set up a murder mystery. I can’t do that to him.’ So trying to figure out how to play her, make her funny without undermining other people, was really hard.
“I’ve never been one of those actors that wanted to played twins,” she explains. “I applauded Martha Byrne (Lily/ex-Rose, AS THE WORLD TURNS) for doing it; I applaud other people who have done it. For Martha, there would be nights she couldn’t go home. She had to stay in the city because she was playing both characters. I don’t want to miss my kids’ childhood.”
Despite her doubts, Ehlers succeeded in the role so fully that she caused some double-takes. “On the set, people didn’t recognize me. Crew members and stage managers, when I first walked out that first day, didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t wait to get it off. I have to be honest. I had a fat suit on. My breasts were heavy. They were four pounds. That’s a lot of weight. I pity the girls with big boobs, I was like, ‘How do you carry these around?'” she laughs.
And now that she is Ruth-less, that’s a big weight off of Ehlers’ shoulders.