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Exclusive: Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) On GENERAL HOSPITAL's New Direction



GENERAL HOSPITAL fans are buzzing with speculation about how the show will change once material scripted by the show’s new head-writing team, Patrick Mulcahey and Elizabeth Korte, hits the airwaves in the coming weeks.

One of its longest-running stars, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), has worked with Korte, already a member of GH’s writing team, and praises her as “incredibly skilled and focused and incredibly dedicated to the show.” Her storied history of collaborating with Mulcahey stretches back even further, to when they worked together on SANTA BARBARA, where Grahn played Julia Wainwright Capwell; they also overlapped on GH during her early days as Alexis. The actress says that she “couldn’t be happier” to have Mulcahey back at GH. “He’s also coming back in a different capacity, where he’s in a decision-making position,” she notes. Which, in her view, can only be a good thing. “He is pretty much the reason I’m still in soap operas,” she asserts. “He wrote so many of the words that came out of the mouth of my character [on SANTA BARBARA], the best, articulate words that just blew my mind and were so satisfying to say. I thought, ‘I’m not going to be able to have a better part anywhere else than on SANTA BARBARA,’ and I attribute most of that to him, because he wrote a lot and he wrote particularly well. I mean, you could tell — you’d read the script and without even looking, you’d know Patrick wrote it. And it was such a satisfying experience. And as a result, I’ve gotten to know him over the years. We’re good friends and he is incredibly versatile, kind, smart funny, with just the right amount of cynicism. He’s just one of my favorite people on the planet.”

Asked to describe his writing style, Grahn says, “He’s a great humanitarian and I think that always manifests in good art. He’s skilled and he admires probably one of the best and most influential writers in daytime, Doug Marland [former head writer for GH, AS THE WORLD TURNS, and GUIDING LIGHT, among other soaps, who passed away in 1993]. Patrick worked with him and sort of learned the ropes through him. He’s a thoughtful writer and I think he knows what he’s doing.” One of his strengths, according to Grahn, “is telling stories that are coming through characters and flow through the characters. And hopefully, when you watch the show, it might move in a direction where you’re caring and feeling more — and that’s, I think, what our job is. Like I said, I certainly stayed on SANTA BARBARA because of Patrick’s beautiful words and the depths that he would go to in dimensionalizing and realizing the characters. He loves to make characters dimensional and interesting and I’m excited to come to work to see what he’s going to write. And for me to be doing this this long and then to feel like, ‘Oh, this is going to be fun!’ — that’s pretty great. I think there’s every reason for people [who watch GH] to be encouraged. I just feel that really positive things are happening at GENERAL HOSPITAL and that it’s going to be fun for people to watch. I think he and Elizabeth are a great team.”

Speaking of which, Grahn recently had a blast playing opposite James Patrick Stuart (Valentin) and Cynthia Watros (Nina) in the scenes where Valentin revealed that he was new owner of The Invader — and that he was installing Nina as his new boss. “That part was so fun,” Grahn smiles. “I didn’t see that coming! I love Cynthia and working with Cynthia and of course, I love working with James. Clearly, Nina and Alexis are polar opposites and have nothing in common, so [working together] is not gonna go well! There’s no commonality there, other than that in real life, we adore each other. But that leads to some fun stuff, and she gives as good as she gets. It’s a good mismatch; it’s good when you have two people with contrasting ideology.”