Playing a role written especially for her “was a gift,” according to THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL’s Lesli Kay (Felicia). Not surprising, considering the gift came from her husband, Keith Coulouris (ex-David/Reid, AS THE WORLD TURNS), who wrote, directed, and co-starred in the indie film Shadow People.
The movie centers around a couple with a secretive past whose relationship is on the rocks. They rent a guest house from a wealthy couple and things take some surprising — dare we say “soapy” turns — among the four. “It’s a very risquè movie; it’s not a family film,” Kay explains. “Most people loved it. That makes me feel good.”
Indeed, the film bowed to a robust turnout at its Los Angeles premiere. “It was phenomenal — around 250 people. Alley Mills (Pam, B&B) and [her husband] Orson Bean came,” Kay notes. “We had a lot of good people there to give good feedback — big actors who could be jaded. We’re thrilled. Keith is thrilled. He had total creative control on this.”
If necessity is the mother of invention, it was more like the father in this case. “What happened, seriously, is that I was let go at GENERAL HOSPITAL (where she played Lois). I was in between jobs, pregnant and not able to work,” Kay recalls. “Keith said, ‘I’ve got to take matters into my own hands,’ so he wrote this. He said, ‘I’ve got to write us out of this hole.’ Between the kitchen and the living room was a little nook, and we stuck a little desk, a computer and a headset in there for him, and he wrote it. Then I got B&B, but I’d already committed to doing this. There was no one else. The role was written for me and you’re not going to get anyone to play this type of role for no money. I was cheap,” she laughs.
Of her character, Kay says, “Gretchen is very manipulative, but for a reason. People have said it’s like watching a train wreck. You don’t want to watch these characters, but you can’t help but watch. Then, at the end, there’s a huge payoff. It’s one location, five people and an intriguing film.
“I was given something my husband knew I could do,” continues Kay. “If anyone else was casting this movie, they’d cast Angelina Jolie or whoever. Because it was a low-budget, indie movie, I was able to do it.
“I don’t sit there and think, ‘Maybe it will propel me to filmdom!’ That’s never been my goal,” she confesses. “I did it to help Keith and propel his career. If that means I get film work out of it, great, but film work is difficult. You’re away from your kids, it’s not 9 to 5, you don’t have your weekends. It’s a whole different ball game when it comes to being a mommy and a film star. I like my daytime gig, but it’s cool to have people come and say, ‘You translate on the big screen.’ It’s nice to have that in your lifetime and to be given it by your husband and have it written for you by him is even better. It’s a juicy role. So it’s incredibly romantic. He put a lot of faith in me.”
The role did not come without its pressures for Kay. “I had a 6-month-old baby, I had just started at B&B and was heavy into that storyline. B&B was supposed to be three months and should have been over before we started shooting, but it wasn’t. We were hot into the next part of the story, and thank God they were willing to work it out. I said, ‘I’ll get divorced if you don’t let me do this movie!’ I shot the movie six days a week and my one day off, I shot four or five episodes of B&B. It was nuts. When that month started, I said, ‘I’m going to take a deep breath and go.’ Luckily the [film] location was near home. I was running back and forth at lunchtime and then came home and learned lines for the movie and B&B.”
Kay also had to learn to adjust to a different acting style for her husband-turned-boss. “He has a thing about large acting,” she points out. “He doesn’t like it. He likes subtle. This character is often on cocaine and very energetic, yet he wanted subtle. We fought a bit, but ultimately, he got what he wanted and he was right. I don’t often say that!”