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Exclusive: Eva LaRue On Checking In To GENERAL HOSPITAL

Eva LaRue

Disney/Christine Bartolucci

Grand Entrance: Expect storyline fireworks when LaRue’s Natalia arrives in Port Charles.

Eva LaRue, best known to daytime fans for her ALL MY CHILDREN run as Maria Santos Grey (1993-98; 2002-05; 2010; 2011), makes her GENERAL HOSPITAL debut on Monday, February 26 as Blaze’s conservative mama, Natalia. (“I like that they kept my CSI: MIAMI name,” trills the actress.) LaRue spoke to Digest about how the Port Charles gig came about and what fans can expect from Natalia’s entrance onto the GH scene.


Soap Opera Digest: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you find out that GH was interested in you coming aboard?

Eva LaRue: In December, I got a text from [Casting Director] Mark Teschner, who I’ve been friends with for more than 30 years. He said, “Hey, I wanted to see if you might be interested in playing this role, Natalia, and gave me some backstory [on her] and told me, “When the character first came up, I called Frank [Valentini, executive producer] and asked him, ‘Okay, who all do you want to see [for the part]?’ And he goes, ‘I don’t want to see a bunch of people. I want Eva LaRue to do it. Will you see if she’ll come do it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I would love to come do that!’As far as I know, it’s a story arc coming in to be Blaze’s mom and she’s a typical, conservative Latina mom who is hyper-controlling and is not cool with finding out that her daughter is gay and is really trying to wrap her head around it. She wants to be supportive in everything her daughter does, and she also wants to protect her from the media if she were to come out — she’s just being a super-protective mom and trying to come to terms with the idea that her daughter is gay.

Digest: What appealed to you about playing Natalia and doing an arc on the venerable GENERAL HOSPITAL?

LaRue: I know — the iconic GENERAL HOSPITAL! Well, first of all, the scenes are so well-written and there’s so much depth and so much to chew on that as an actress, it is literally what you get into the business for, you know what I mean? All the different perspectives, wading through all the emotions. Natalia [intersects] with Sonny at one point and those scenes were really well-written and really great. It’s just been like this delicious meal for me to savor as an actress. That’s what I’m really loving about it, coupled with there being so many ALL MY CHILDREN people at GENERAL HOSPITAL now! It really is like old home week.

Digest: Once you signed on, did you have any anxiety about slipping back into the notoriously grueling pace of daytime work?

LaRue: Yeah, because jumping back into that pace is a little anxiety-producing! Your memory muscle really is like a rubber band and it stretches back out again, but when you haven’t been doing it, it snaps back to its original size. So it was definitely a little anxiety-producing but it was also super-exciting because it feels like you’re walking the tightrope again. And then the storyline is so good and the writing is so good, and Frank came down and directed my first two episodes, and that was amazing. So I just felt so supported. I felt great, really great [after filming her debut shows]. It was exciting! GENERAL HOSPITAL is such a great place to be.

Digest: Who from your New York soap days have you run into so far?

LaRue: I ran into Cameron [Mathison, Drew; ex-Ryan, AMC] and Finola [Hughes, Anna; ex-Alexandra/Anna, AMC]. It was so great to see them again. Immediately, Finola and I felt like we had 1,000 years of catch-up to do. Cameron, I’ve seen off and on over the years doing other ALL MY CHILDREN things, but I haven’t seen Finola in a bit. It was really, really fun to see her. I haven’t seen Michael [E. Knight, ex-Tad, AMC; Martin, GH] yet.

Digest: Did it feel like a moment when you saw the nurses’ station in person for the first time?

LaRue: Oh, definitely. That was definitely a moment, an iconic moment. Just walking around and walking through the sets, it feels very epic.

Digest: Tell me about working with Jacqueline Grace Lopez (Blaze) and Kate Mansi (Kristina) for the first time.

LaRue: I have to say, these girls are so great. They’re such good actresses. They’re amazing. I didn’t know them from Adam and we didn’t get a lot of rehearsal time beforehand, so we just kind of jumped in and it was more amazing than I could have ever hoped for. I felt like [Lopez and I] had a really great, immediate mother/daughter chemistry and I walked away from that first day just on a high.

Digest: You also mentioned Natalia intersecting with Sonny. What was it like to work with Maurice?

LaRue: He and I have been acquaintance friends for decade but we had never worked together before, so this was our first time. And it was just amazing! A few of my mom girlfriends who are huge GENERAL HOSPITAL fans were like, ‘You’re working with Sonny?! Oh, my God!’ Like, “So amazing!” But to actually do it felt pretty cool, pretty epic!

Digest: Have you gotten to connect with — or reconnect with, as the case may be — other GH folks who you were familiar with from your AMC days?

LaRue: I ran into Nancy Grahn [Alexis], who I’ve known for ages. So fun to see Nancy; we were catching up in the hair chairs. I haven’t run into Laura Wright [Carly], but she and I have been friends since she was on LOVING [as Ally] and I was on ALL MY CHILDREN because she and Kelly [Ripa, ex-Hayley] were super-good friends, and everyone lived in the W. 67th [apartment building close to the AMC and LOVING studios]. I’m really excited to get to see her. Every day that I go in, I kind of look around to see who’s afoot! That’s been really fun.

Digest: Your last daytime gig — playing Celeste on Y&R — had a pretty cool happy ending on Daytime Emmy night, when you won the award for Outstanding Guest Performer. Where do you keep your Emmy?

LaRue: The Emmy is in the living room on a little side table near the couch. We put flowers next to her sometime so she’s not alone [laughs].

Digest: Your GH casting made big headlines in the soap world. What did the big reaction from soap fans mean to you?

LaRue: You know, it’s interesting because I did not get the same level of excitement when I was at YOUNG AND RESTLESS, so I was surprised by the level of excitement for this. I just think this is, you know, me being back at ABC and it’s just such a beautiful fit. Not that I didn’t have a blast over at YOUNG AND RESTLESS, I totally did, but maybe because I was so outside the CBS [Daytime universe], those fans are are just not used to me or my face in their daytime schedule. So popping in over there, I think, was different than me coming back home to ABC and ABC fans who know me from ALL MY CHILDREN. I was excited [by the reaction]. I can’t even tell you, I got so many “Congratulations!” texts that day [the news first broke]. I was kind of like, “Wow, I don’t think anybody texted me when I went over to YOUNG AND RESTLESS!” But that was also during Covid, any and I was saying to kind of God, I don’t think anybody texted me when I went over to the rest of this. All my friends were, you know, like I had like 30 congratulations texts the day that the um press came out for this and I didn’t have any of that. But, well, we were also during, it was also during COVID and I think everything was just a little bit more low-key.

Digest: Do you still feel, in your everyday life, that love and nostalgia for AMC among the people who watched it and loved it?

LaRue: Oh, absolutely. I have to say, after doing CSI: MIAMI for almost 10 years, I still have more people stop me on the street about ALL MY CHILDREN. In Europe, it’s more for CSI: MIAMI, but here in the United States, it’s ALL MY CHILDREN first.It’s crazy to think about how long ago it was [that AMC was on the air] and yet, it’s so vivid for me because I didn’t go to college — that was my college! Those memories were so character-building and really imprinted deeply on who I am. It was a phenomenal time to be there.


Love And Carriage: On AMC, LaRue’s Maria and John Callahan’s Edmund tied the knot in 1994.