Chloe Lanier, who won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actress in 2018 for her portrayal of vixen Nelle Benson, is popping in to Port Charles for a visit this week.
The actress was a regular on the show from 2016-18 and 2019-20, when Nelle fell to her presumed death after a heated confrontation with Carly. While the show is keeping the details of Nelle’s reappearance under wraps, Lanier reports that her comeback came about “when Frank [Valentini, executive producer] texted me. I was on a plane and he said that he had an idea for something [involving Nelle], and I was like, ‘Oh, okay, cool.’ He didn’t tell me what it was, but I was like, ‘Sure, that sounds great!’ ”
Once she officially signed on, though, tapping into her inner Nelle proved more challenging than she’d thought it would be. “I completely forgot how to play the character,” she groans. “I was looking at
videos of Nelle online for days, like, ‘It has been two years since I had played this role.What did I even do? What were my speech patterns? How did I walk as Nelle?’ All of these things that were once so clicked-in for me, I had totally forgotten how to do, but hopefully it translated and I was able to slip back into character the way I did it before. I’m hoping!”
It was also a bit of a shock to Lanier’s system to have to commit so much dialogue to memory. “Nowadays, some of the audition sides I get sent are maybe 10 or 12 pages,” she explains. “That’s nothing compared to what you’re asked to do on a soap opera! So it had been, you know, two years since I’d done that amount of material in a day. I had quite a few moments of panic! Before I went up to set, I was like, ‘I don’t know this. I worked on this, I have prepared this, but for some reason, it’s just not sticking!’ I was definitely having a panic attack about the whole thing.”
While she battled nerves about the work itself, it was nothing but “really fun” behind the scenes, Lanier reports. “It was so nice driving onto the lot and seeing everybody again and getting to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I got to catch up with the people in hair and makeup and with Laura [Wright, Carly]. It’s always so lovely to see her. It was just cool and pretty
surreal to be on set with everyone. Frank was there while I was filming and he and I talked for, like, 30 minutes; he kind of filled me in on what’s been going on in his life for the past few years, and I did the same. He was such a big part of my life for such a long time and it was great to catch up with him.”
She had another meaningful reunion with her fictional mom, Cynthia Watros (Nina). “Truly, she’s one of the sweetest people ever,” Lanier praises. “She kind of took me under her wing when I was going through a rough time a couple of years ago. I don’t even know if she knows this, but she was such a rock for me and it was such a pleasant surprise to be able to see her again. She’s just a really great person and I really admire her.” Ditto Katelyn MacMullen (Willow), who Lanier has kept in touch with (“She just helped me with a self-tape [audition] a few weeks ago”) and got to see at the studio. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone nicer than Katey,” the actress declares. “I didn’t even think it was possible to be that nice until I met her! In fact, it is shocking how nice — how truly nice, not fake nice — she is. She is just a beautiful person inside and out, and it’s always so much fun to be around her.
“There are a few people that I worked with before that I didn’t get to see, which was a bummer,” Lanier continues. “Mr. Chad Duell [Michael], I didn’t get to see, unfortunately. Didn’t get to see Josh [Swickard, Chase]; I just love him and his wife, Lauren. I was so upset that I didn’t get to see Maurice [Benard, Sonny]; however, I did just text him because his son, Joshua, was on an episode of the show that I’m absolutely obsessed with, THE REHEARSAL on HBO.”
Since leaving GH, “I’ve been splitting my time between New York and L.A.,” Lanier shares. “I’ve been primarily in New York this past year, and it’s been fantastic. There’s just something about the energy of New York City — and there’s something about being in a city where not everybody is an actor or a writer or a musician and you get to be around, you know, real people! It’s been really great for my psyche and I’ve been really enjoying being able to go back and forth between the coasts.”
The actress has remained close friends with two of her former GH co-stars, Brytni Sarpy (ex-Valerie; Elena, Y&R), who she describes as “one of my best friends in the world”, and Hayley Erin (ex-Kiki). “Hayley is my other half; she’s basically my sister and I talk to her every single day. She’s my writing partner and we’ve created a show together that we’ve been working on for the past couple of years and we’re going to start pitching it next month. We’re going to be very busy with that and I’m super-excited about it because we’ve put our hearts and souls into it.”
And if GH comes calling again? “It’s always an honor to go back and I’m happy any time I get that call,” Lanier says. “Nelle is a very fun role to play, but it took a lot out of me when I was doing it full-time, so it’s really fun to get to come back and play her every now and again.”