Life With BethBy Mark McGarry Posted: Sep 29, 2004
Let's get one thing straight first. Beth Ehlers (Harley, GUIDING LIGHT) has been happily married to a man named Matthew Christian for eight years. They have two children, Hank, 4, and Will, 2. But everyone wants to know about her much-publicized relationship with former co-star Mark Derwin (ex-A.C. Mallett; ex-Ben, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) and her latest (on-screen!) love interest, Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus), so that's where the conversation inevitably leads over lunch at a fancy restaurant near the GL studio.
Rumors persist that Ehlers and Derwin don't speak to each other, but Ehlers insists that that's not the case. "I don't know that we didn't talk when we broke up," she confides. "We broke up and I got married and he got married, and I don't think we ever were fighting. We just grew apart. We had spoken a couple times [after the split]." Then, finally, they ran into each other at a soap benefit. "I was at a Make-A-Wish event. I walked into the room, I was standing there talking to someone, and I hear, 'Hey.' I turn and he's standing right there. And I'm pregnant (with Hank). Somebody came up to take a picture and he was like, 'Dude, you've got to give us a second. My ex-girlfriend's pregnant. We're both freaking out here.'"
After the photog left them alone, "Mark asked, 'How are you doing? How's your family?' It was very strange," Ehlers chuckles. "And then it wasn't. Then it was fine."
Now that that's settled, Ehlers addresses the "new man" in her life — Ricky Paull Goldin. "We respect each other's work," she says thoughtfully. "There's something very natural when we're on-set together, we are Harley and Gus. I'm in love with him. When I'm in a scene with him, I am in love with him; I want to put my arms all over him and just grab him. He wrecks me. Even when I watch the show, if I see him on and he talks about Harley, I'm like, 'Oh, he loves her so much.' I get sucked into it." Ehlers pauses, then thinks aloud, "I can't believe Ricky and I have worked together for three years. That is shocking to me. When he was in negotiations [earlier this year], I was like, 'Don't you f---ing dare leave.'" (Goldin re-signed.)
Ehlers says she's learned a great deal from Goldin. "When Ricky and I met I had a very specific process that I stuck to and a very specific approach to my work that I think I'd gotten very comfortable with. He's crazy. He came in and loosened me up. He forced me to loosen up in order to keep things alive on the set. I never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. I think slowly we have overlapped each other. He's absorbed my process and he's calmed down and he makes clearer choices for me, and I've picked up some of his stuff. We complement each other."
Now, Ehlers would just like GL to write a great storyline for Gus and Harley. "I said to John [Conboy, GL's former executive producer], 'I know you guys don't want to mess with them as a couple, but we could be fantastic if you would throw a bone.' They've never investigated these two. They've never looked into who these two are. We've been skating along. What's come between them? Nothing. He had the whole stuff with his father where she stood by his side. They kind of stand by each other's side. Harley got shot, but that wasn't breaking up."
Gus fans may want to skip the next paragraph...
"Break these two up," Ehlers declares. "I don't think Harley's in any rush to get married again. No way. They need to confront something. They need to go to hell and back before they decide to get married. It's all a little too easy for them. It's all a little too happy. I think Harley contributes to it being that way. Gus would be a little rough and tumble, because he hasn't come out of so many bad relationships like she has. She's been in it and she doesn't want to get back in it. She wants everything to stay happy. I want something to come in to make them confront each other. Maybe they can say some things that aren't so nice and then see if they're supposed to be together."
Or maybe Mallett could return. "I'd love to have him come back to our show, have closure in our story," perks up Ehlers. "He gets a hiatus [from the ABC sitcom LIFE WITH BONNIE], and I know his family's on the East Coast. When I left the show [in 1993], Harley married Mallett and moved to Florida. They were working in Florida together. When I came back to GL it was because Mallett had had an affair with his partner, which we never thought was realistic. Mark said, 'I'd never cheat on you!' He was furious when he found out about the storyline."
If Mallett doesn't come back, Ehlers has another idea: "I love working with Bradley [Cole, who plays Jeffrey]..." she suggests. "I'm open to it. But," she adds with a bright smile, "my heart is with Ricky."
Okay, before her husband, Matt, asks for a divorce, let it be known that Ehlers also talks a lot about her real-life family.
"We love to cook," shares the 35-year-old actress, describing a regular night at home. "Any excuse to break open a
bottle of wine...My in-laws are living with us now. That's been great fun. We love them, and they have such a good time with the kids. I have an excuse to make a fun meal every night, because you're cooking for somebody else. We also watch TV and we talk. We read books to the kids and do puzzles."
Ehlers says she wants another baby, "a girl for my husband. Mommy would be kicked to the curb, the same way that Daddy was kicked to the curb! I would like to see my husband with a little thing with a ponytail in his arms. I don't want to think that that part of my life is over, that I'm done having babies, that I'm done nursing babies."
"Having children has changed me," she reflects. "There's something profound about it. It's amazing how they become your every priority. I was never a sentimental person. I was always a very stoic person. I'm not one to give in to tears easily. If I get a card, I'm like, 'Oh, that's nice,' then it goes in the garbage. When they found Elizabeth Smart I had to pull my car over because I started crying so hard. I have become very sentimental. That is a side of my personality that has not been in use for a long time."