Way Of The Weston

Soap Opera Digest: Are you enjoying GUIDING LIGHT?
Ellen Weston: I love it. One of the first jobs I had as a kid was on GL [as Robin Lang Fletcher in 1963]. So, I really have an affinity for this show. I also love the form. I like to think of every day as a mini movie. It starts in one place and ends [in another], and we take the story further each day. That is a satisfying way of telling stories. But I think — and I believe all the writers on the show feel the same way — that we want to tell a mini movie each day. Even before I decided I would take the job, I watched it for a long time and said, “Wow. It has fabulous writers. It has wonderful actors, really top-notch.” And I thought, “This is a good place to be€� because if you are surrounded by people who love their work and do it correctly, there is nothing more joyful. Of course, I have enormous respect for [Executive Producer John Conboy] because I trust his instincts.Digest: How much input does he have with storylines?
Weston: The way we normally work is that I’ll discuss what I’m thinking about, and he’ll give his input. Then, I’ll put it down on paper, and we’ll work very closely with it so he and I are on exactly the same page. The good thing about John is that he is a great editor. If you are trying to fudge something and say, “I guess I could get away with that,€� he will spot it and say, “No, you’re not.”Digest: How do you strike that balance between honoring history and creating new stories?
Weston: It’s a very fine line to walk. I always proceed from backstory and go from little hints I get. Sometimes, I get them from a performance. I’ll watch the show and see something in Harley, or I’ll see something in Gus or Danny, just like I saw something in Reva. I’ll say, “That’s interesting. That’s part of the character of Harley. That’s part of the character of Marina or Danny.” Danny, for example, has a very secretive aspect to him, just in his face, his manner, the way he turns his head, the way he moves. This triggered something in me, and I said, “I’m going to use that.” It’s partly what the actors are giving me, which is why it’s so important to have this good a group of actors. No matter what you hand them, they can do it. It’s amazing. They find a way.I’ll give you an example: I looked at Edmund and said, “Gosh, he is an attractive guy, and yes, he is a terrible villain. He has done terrible things in the past.” But I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if Edmund realized the things he’s done in his life? And what is the journey for somebody who one day wakes up and goes, “God, I’ve been an awful, horrible creature”? Is it his only choice to continue being a horrible, awful creature? Or are we going to say to people, “There is redemption”? I believe in redemption. It can come from within. It can come from a loss, from religion, from a spirituality that has nothing to do with organized religion, but it is there and available to everybody. I thought I wanted to redeem Edmund because there’s something about him that is gentle and charming, even when he was at his most villainous. I thought he did love his brother. I remember seeing a scene once between Cassie and Edmund where she said, “Richard believed you could be better.” For a moment there, I thought Edmund was going to do it, but he couldn’t. That’s the trick. Richard, Cassie and Edmund are all in some way on the same trip. Cassie has to free herself from the agony of the loss. Edmund has to free himself from the guilt of who he was to this man who is gone. Then, there was Jeffrey. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a man who looks exactly like Cassie’s great love and Edmund’s great nemesis suddenly appear?” It’s not a ghost, it’s not woo-woo time and it’s not a long-lost soap-opera twin brother. It’s just somebody who looks exactly like this man. They say everyone has a double.Digest: Is it difficult to get story approval from P&G?
Weston: They’re wonderful. Obviously, they have their concerns and things they want to do, but that’s their right. It is a team. They have been enormously supportive of me. They’re in there with us.Digest: Why should someone watch GL?
Weston: If you watch daytime and you care about human beings and the deeper things they feel about life, about family, success, failure, career, love, lack of love, loneliness, fear, if those things interest you, this is the place to be because that’s the kind of story we’re telling. We’re telling stories about the things human beings want. You should watch GUIDING LIGHT because we have the best actors, writers and production staff. So, you’re going to see a prime-time show in daytime because that is what we have been doing. That’s what we’re going for. And the only difference between what we do and what you watch on prime-time is the time schedule. That’s it. Because [Conboy and I] feel the same way about our show as we did when we were doing prime-time. There is no difference. Why not be able to watch prime-time in daytime?

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