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Exclusive: GH's Finola Hughes Dishes Anna's PCPD Return, Breakup With Valentin And More

It’s been a transitional time for GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Anna, who split from Valentin but reunited with another one of her great loves: Her commissioner’s badge. Digest checked in with Finola Hughes for her take on the state of her character.

Finola Hughes

Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Let’s start with Anna’s recent return to the PCPD as commissioner. How do you feel about Anna having her badge back? “I love it! I love it so much. It’s just great. It just feels like it’s a complete character because I feel like that part of Anna that’s very cerebral and just takes care of business was missing for a while. I do like that justice part of Anna, I really do, and I enjoy playing it. I think that’s what I came up doing [on the show]; it’s what we would do [when Anna worked with] Sean and Scorpio — you know, sitting in Sean’s office and just sort of parsing it out and thinking about it and talking through it. I really enjoy that part of Anna.”

I do, too. Having her at the PCPD just feels right. “It does, it really does. She wears a suit well, and it’s a part of her in the same way it is for Diane, you know, playing the lawyer, or for Alexis [when she was a lawyer]. That sort of authority portion of their characters I think is, is very important.”

In recent weeks, we’ve also seen a shift in Anna’s perspective on Sonny that I’ve found really interesting. What was your reaction as you started to see this coming up in script? “Well, sadness for me, initially, really more than anything. Not for the character, but for me, Finola, who really likes working with Mo [Maurice Benard, Sonny] and really adores him as a person. I was like, ‘Okay, I can see why this is necessary.’ I may be speaking out turn here, but I do feel like [the show’s new writing regime] is writing it so that there’s real delineation as to who’s on what side [of the law]. It was really interesting and nice to play this kind of, ‘Oh, I did some really bad things back in the day. and you understand me’ [dynamic with Sonny]. There are some scenes coming up where I discuss this in depth with Genie [Francis, Laura] and they’re pretty great. We talk about this gray area where friendships kind of mask what a person actually is and you kind of turn a blind eye as to who they are because. there’s a portion of the person that you can identify with and that you feel sorry for and that you feel like you, you’re the same as — but then you’re not actually doing those same things as this other person is. You’re not living in that world. So therefore. you have to divorce yourself from that world. So for me as the actress, I’m sad that I won’t be playing the kind of scenes that I got to play with Mo. However, I can see where that is necessary in the storytelling part of it. If Anna is going to be the commissioner of police, she can’t turn a blind eye to organized crime in the city. And if somebody who has been kind and friendly to me and to my family is part of that exercise, then I have to make those decisions and distance myself from that person. And we talked about this, me and me, Maurice.”

You and Maurice talked about being bummed that you wouldn’t get to play the camaraderie the characters had developed? “Yes, exactly. I also think, too, that it’s important for the characters to acknowledge what they are to each other, and I think it was important for Anna to acknowledge what the character of Sonny had done for her daughter. In order for the character to move forward and not be blind to how he helped her daughter, I think it was kind of important to go through that space of time where they had an understanding. And also, he does kind of understand where Anna has been. That’s what I liked about their friendship; it was an understanding. I thought that was interesting. You don’t often get to play stuff like that. But I think in order for Anna not to look like she’s not upholding the law, she needs to make her position firmly stated.”

It’s early days of Anna interacting with John, but could you see a romance potentially brewing there? “I don’t know, I really don’t. But I think it would be interesting to continue to develop more of a law enforcement presence in Port Charles. I think that would be amazing, but I don’t know what they have planned.”

I think a lot of fans are hoping there is more Anna/Valentin to come. “I know. See, that’s really hard to turn away from. I worked with James [Patrick Stuart, Valentin] the other day and it was really good. It’s really fun, really great working with him.”

Anna’s been too busy to wallow in her heartbreak, but how do you imagine that her split from Valentin has been sitting with Anna? “I honestly feel like when we did those split-up scenes, they were so well-written in as much as they explained the fact that she just couldn’t be with him right now because she sees him as a father first and she still can’t forgive herself for what she did [shooting his daughter, Charlotte]. I think that’s going to be a long time coming and it creates a very gray area for her and Valentin. It’s just such a difficult [obstacle]. How do you go back to having a relationship with somebody if you shot their daughter? You can’t just go for a burger, you know? It just doesn’t seem right! And I think she knew that; I think she sort of knew that it just wouldn’t work and it would be better [for them to separate]. I think it was even in the writing, [when she said], ‘Let’s try to make this as clean as possible,’ or ‘painless as possible,’ something like that. It was quite well-written and her trying to be an adult. I feel like she thinks she’s done the right thing, but there are still feelings there.”


Disney/Christopher Willard

In The Hot Seat: Anna (Finola Hughes) gives Jason (Steve Burton) the third degree this week.

This week, we’ll see your first scenes with Steve Burton (Jason) since his return. What was it like to work with him again? “Oh, it was so great. It’s so amazing,. I always say to him, ‘I feel like you have to bring your A game when I’m in scenes with you.’ Same as Maurice, same with Laura [Wright, Carly], with Genie, with James. You’ve really got to bring it because you know that he’s ready to go. It’s really just so great having him back. He takes the work so seriously and I appreciate that so much.”

Before Anna gets to question Jason, she seems to be having doubts that him being Dante’s shooter is as cut-and-dried as it appears to be. “I think the most important thing for her is [hearing from him] that he didn’t shoot Dante. That’s like the most important thing she needs to know. She knows what she believes in her heart and that is that he couldn’t possibly have, but she needs to hear it from him. And in those scenes, she catches him in sort of … not a lie, but just an omission. And she doubles down on it, on something he doesn’t say. And then they’re at an impasse in a way, which is fantastic. I think those scenes are going to be really good.”

Later in the week, we’ll see some important scenes between Sonny and Anna, which reflect the shift in their dynamic that we were just discussing. “Those were really hard, because it’s your own personal feelings about how you feel about the actor, and then you feel the way the character needs to feel. It’s really interesting, the different ways you get to know a character. Anna got to know Sonny on a different level, which is extremely vulnerable. They both were very vulnerable with each other and they told each other secrets, and when you tell each other secrets and then you turn around. and you’re like, ‘Well, actually, no, we’re done,’ it’s really very difficult. I think we hit all the levels, but it was hard. To do, I’m not going to lie. was hard to do. I’m not gonna lie. It was hard to do on both levels; it was hard to do because I adore Maurice., and it was hard to do because Anna has gotten to see parts of Sonny that are vulnerable. So that makes it doubly difficult. And also the fact that he listened to her, when who she could she really go to to talk about her grotesque past, as she sees it, where she was playing both sides? That’s not something she’s proud of — and it’s even worse when somebody forgives those portions of yourself, like when Laura said, ‘It’s okay, I think you should go back to being the commissioner,’ and Anna felt like, ‘Oh, no, don’t be kind to me.’ ”

Because Laura was showing her a grace she isn’t entirely convinced she deserved? “That’s exactly it. I think it’s painful for Anna when people show her that grace because Anna does not think she deserves any of that. And I think that’s why she keeps pushing forward, and why she pushes Sonny away, because she has to be right now. She has to do right and she can’t slip up. It’s almost like, ‘I’m gonna get rid of anything that ties me to what I see as being underhanded in my life. I’m just gonna cut it all out.’ The other day, Frank [Valentini, executive producer] was directing me in some scenes and he directed me to walk away and cross to the other side of the set, and I was talking at the time. He said, ‘This is you trying to convince yourself.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s correct! I’m trying to convince myself of the nobility of working in law enforcement.’ Anna is taking this very seriously and trying to uphold the law.”