Fresh off her Daytime Emmy win as Outstanding Guest Performer, Alley Mills is returning to GH in the role that won her the gold: Heather Webber.
“I didn’t expect it to be such a deep experience for me, because I’ve been around for so long,” says Mills of her victory. “It really was an amazing night. I’ve never really cared about awards, but it felt like somebody saying, ‘Hey, girl, good job for 72 years!’ I was the kid in the fifth grade play in New York City and now, here I am! That’s what feels so cool. And that it was for Heather really matters to me because she was such a trip for me to figure out and play and I love her, so it was sort of a tribute to her for me, too.”
Mills jumped at the opportunity to reprise Heather. “Frank [Valentini, executive producer] told me that Heather had to stay in prison for a while so that people didn’t think I could just run all over upstate New York and kill people,” the actress says. “But he had told me that he wanted me to come back after I was so rudely arrested and confronted by Laura in the hall [laughs].” And Esme, Heather’s daughter, getting her memory back was the perfect set-up for another appearance by her deranged mom. “I just love working with Avery [Pohl, Esme],” Mills enthuses. “I feel like Heather has had this whole life behind the scenes, kind of clocking everything that was happening with Esme and working to get back to her daughter somehow.”
When Esme shows up at Pentonville to pay a visit to Heather, “That is just thrilling for her,” Mills reports. “She is so psyched. I mean, this is the first time ever that Esme has come to her and is not upset with her. Without her memory, Heather is just sort of this weird person who gets her in trouble, this bloodline that she’s sort of ashamed of. But with her memory back, I look at her and I realize, ‘We’re so much alike, she’s so much like me.’ Heather knew that was going to be true, but it’s the first time that she sees this side of her. She’s never really gotten to se Esme in action before. It is amazing for Heather to see that glint in her eye, to see a side of her that is vengeful and passionate. Heather gets to see her real daughter for the first time and it’s amazing to her.”
Though it had been several months since she last portrayed Heather, Mills had no trouble getting back into the character. “She’s sort of remarkably easy to slip back into,” the actress chuckles. “It was easier than I thought it would be! It was really nice to have a little break from her psyche, though. Every once in a while my granddaughter runs lines with me and I think I scare her because Heather is pretty intense! But what I love about Heather is that she’s an overcomer, she’s a survivor. I love that part of it. I love to slip back into, ‘How is she going to do this? How is she going to help her daughter?’ And the darker part is that she gets so excited [at the idea that] her daughter is as bad as her!”
While her first scenes are with Pohl, Mills delighted in running into a cross-section of GH talent backstage. “It just happened to be a day where a lot of people were there working, and it was great to see everybody — I saw Maura [West, Ava] and Cynthia [Watros, Nina] and Genie [Francis, Laura] and Maurice [Benard, Sonny], who I love working with. It’s just a great group over there and I have more [episodes] to shoot in January. I’m looking forward to it!”