On the occasion of her 35th Anniversary, Finola Hughes looks back on the highlights of her run as Anna.
Favorite Thing About Playing A Spy? “Who doesn’t love a spy? Who doesn’t love somebody who can outsmart or outthink? And who doesn’t love the capacity of going out into the field and setting people up or getting secret codes, finding out [whodunit]? I mean, that’s the coolest job!”
Best Memory Of Working With Tristan Rogers (Robert)? “Well, it’s all memorable. When I first started, he was the first person I worked with. He was just really encouraging. Everything I learned I sort of learned through him. He started us all off, this whole relationship and dynamic. We had an awful lot of fun in the beginning. Another memorable thing, I thought, was doing [the GH spin-off] NIGHT SHIFT. I really liked that story and we got very close and we both really loved the idea of the two of them kind of always being there for each other. And now having him back, it’s a whole new thing. We’re in a different stage in our lives and we talk about different things. I formed very good relationships with people that I’ve worked with, I’m happy to say. I think everybody does. I’ve been really lucky with my co-stars.”
Best Thing About Playing Mom To Kimberly McCullough (ex-Robin)? “I think with Kimberly, it’s that your relationship just grows. And not only does it grow, but it sort of evolves and it changes. When I first met her, she was this little 7-year-old, you know, a child, and I was obviously a mother figure to her. We would always have fun, but I was definitely responsible for her comfort on the set and blah, blah, blah. And now, I call her for advice, I talk to her — it’s just this amazing, evolving relationship. I’m lucky to have that in my life. Nothing to do with the show, but just as a person, she walked into my life all those years ago and now she’s such a big part of my life.”
Favorite Anna Era? “My favorite time as Anna was always when we were deep in the middle of some sort of investigation. There was a lot of spy work going on and I was playing with the big boys. Back in the ’80s, that kind of wasn’t done. Now it’s more prevalent, that a female will have a role where she gets to play in the police department or whatever. People enjoyed her so much back then because she was given as much play as the guys were. When we were in one of Scorpio’s back rooms or something and we were working with the computer and we were solving stuff — I’ve always enjoyed that. And I think the audience responded because she was a single parent and she was raising a kid. I think it was a genius move to give her a kid. I think it was just a great storytelling gift because it made her a woman. She was fighting to right the wrongs in the world and also to raise a child. I think that anchoring her in the world of women and motherhood like that made her a true warrior for women, for the female audience viewers at that time.”
Best Thing About Working With Ian Buchanan (ex-Duke)? “The best thing about working with Ian is just that we’re really kismet spirits, two people separated at birth. He has a better sense of humor and a better vocabulary than me. He’s super-sharp-witted and fast, so there’s that. And just his generosity and spirit over the years, it’s a beautiful thing. He’s [my son] Cash’s godfather, and how lovely it is to share my children with him. He’s so generous. He has a fantastic bond with my children. It’s really something special.”
Favorite Anna Adversary? “It would have to be Faison. You can’t top Faison! There hasn’t been a better villain on our show.”
Best Thing About Working With Anthony Geary (ex-Luke)? “Tony! I was really nervous about working with him because I had never worked with him. It was the same way I was nervous about working with Mo [Benard, Sonny]. With Tony, I realized that it’s like you step into a set with him and there is this bubble of creativity that sort of sits between you and he’s just all about the craft. He’ll do anything to make this thing in the middle of a scene better. So, it became about talking about the craft, it became about talking about the scenes, which made my nerves go away. We have a product. We have something enjoyable, an illusion that we need to create for the audience. And then you just get involved in that and that takes away your nerves. He’s really a collaborator. Not that I didn’t expect that, but I’ve seen him work with the younger generation and he just really brings them along, which is really cool. I got to take my kids Cash and Sadie to visit him a couple of years ago. He hosted and took us around Amsterdam. Your relationship at work becomes something other and friendships are formed. It’s really quite something.”
Favorite Location Shoot Memory? “I have many! One was amazing, when we shot the backstory for Robert and Anna. We shot it in Santa Barbara, but it was supposed to be Italy and we had washed up on the beach. It was really cool and exciting. We drove in a vintage Jaguar at one point, which [Rogers] wouldn’t let me drive! And then we went over a bump and he smashed it and I was like, ‘See now, I should drive this.’ Of course, he won’t remember that! The one in the snow was amazing, when I got rescued; that was really cool. And then the one that we did on Catalina Island; I rappelled down a mountain with someone and we actually did that. I think Shaun Cassidy [ex-Dusty] was in that. And then I loved the location shoot that I did with Ian when we were [supposed to be] in Scotland. Location shoots are fun!”
Best Thing About Playing Anna On ALL MY CHILDREN? “It was great, I must say, to get some badassery back. She fits like a glove. We’re never allowed really to bring it out [in real life] because either people find it threatening or you turn into something that doesn’t fit into the mold, and that’s always a risk you take as a woman when you kind of are outspoken or stand up for yourself. It’s given me a lot of opportunity to live out that fantasy for myself about fighting and getting physical and speaking my mind and being smart and solving crimes. I miss it now because I don’t work for the PCPD anymore.”
Best Thing About Working With Anders Hove (ex-Faison)? “I mean, talk about creating something strange and dangerous! He pushes the envelope the same way that Tony [Geary] pushes the envelope. Anders is even more dangerous; he just wants to see how far he can take the weirdness. You kind of go on a trip. He gives you permission, always, to just go as far as you want to, and I need that sometimes, because maybe I play in an area that doesn’t always go there. I don’t like to impose that on something that doesn’t call for it.”
Favorite Thing About Working with James Patrick Stuart (Valentin)? “We’re both major fans of each other so it’s very silly when we get in scenes together. We’ve known each other for thousands of years, before the soaps. I just adore him. He’s a really great person. Anna and Valentin have a different kind of relationship. A lot of people who act like the way that the character of Valentin behaves have a very deep wound and Anna has seen that deep wound because she knew him way back when.” Now You See Me: The actress notes that her character has a special insight into James Patrick Stuart’s Valentin.
Best Thing About Working With Wes Ramsey (Peter)? “Wes is like a Renaissance man that has been catapulted out of the ’30s and ’40s and has landed in the 21st century. He’s just this old soul. He’s very poetic and gentle and also quite humorous. I look forward to a resolution within this storyline. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but I look forward to working in more depth in this storyline.”
Best Thing About Working With Maurice Benard? “I love working with him. I mean, he’s king of kings. He’s just the best. And I love also working with Steve [Burton, Jason]. That’s a really different dynamic. What I like about those two guys is they’re intense and they think really deeply about what they’re doing. There’s nothing I appreciate more than that. They very much do a lot of reading between the lines. It’s a gift if you get to work with any of these people, honestly. I remember when Anna and Sonny were sort of chasing after Jeffrey Parise’s character [Carlos], it was very cool. There was a moment where I asked him not to shoot him. You’re talking to the guy who’s like the hero of the show and kind of always wins, so it was interesting to try to figure out how to appeal to him on the right level and to appeal to the character.”
Best Thing About Working With Michael Easton (Finn)? “Everything! It’s really silly; I’m almost like a fangirl. He sits across the table and I just stare at him. How did I get so lucky to work with him? I mean, he’s just the best. Not only is he a fantastic person, he’s so good at his job and he’s just so logical and funny and worldly. He’s got a great vocabulary, which I admire. Anyone that can make me laugh, I’m a fan of.”
Best Thing About The Devotion Of Anna Fans? “God, it means the world. I think I would speak for all actors when I say that you try to tell the story and try to let people in to the character. When that works, there really isn’t a greater gift because you feel like you’re being heard and seen as both a character and an actor. They sometimes see more even than I realize. I get kind of amazed at that. Like, a few weeks ago there was a scene that aired that I did with Michael [Easton] where I was defending Peter. I did try, very slightly, to show Anna’s doubt, even though I was protecting [Peter], and a lot of fans picked up on that. It is beautiful when subtleties are seen.”