Soap Opera Digest: What did you think of each other professionally before you started working together?
Gina Tognoni: Oh, I thought Amelia was horrible. Absolutely horrible.
Amelia Heinle: Oh, that’s how it’s going to be, huh? Okay, lemme take my earrings off.
Tognoni: Actually, I thought she was quite possibly the most beautiful girl on television. Lauren Bacall beautiful.
Heinle: That’s such a nice compliment.
Tognoni: You’re classic, you know, classic.
Heinle: Oh, my God. I don’t deserve that.
Tognoni: And Amelia is so loving, just buckets of love.
Heinle: Like a golden retriever [laughs]!
Tognoni: And then I began to focus on her hair a little bit too much. It’s unbelievable, the head of hair this girl has.
Heinle: I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Digest: Amelia, what did you think of Gina?
Heinle: Well, first, I didn’t think we were going to be able to find a new Phyllis. I thought they should just leave that role well enough alone. But I was excited when I heard Gina was cast as Phyllis because I’ve seen her performances over the years and I felt she was perfect. She’s such a kick-ass actress who could handle this role, and I felt like our show was going to get better with her on it. So, I came up to her in hair and makeup and I was like, “I’m so glad you’re here!” like a stupid dork. But I don’t know anyone around here that doesn’t like Gina or doesn’t want to be around her. It’s just fun to be in her presence. And she’s sexy.
Tognoni: Thank you, honey.
Digest: Before this story, did either of you think, “Oh, I wish I had more scenes with her?”
Heinle: Oh, yeah. I always thought they should make us rivals. I think it’s the perfect opportunity because Phyllis is a strong woman who works for a company and Victoria is a strong woman who works for a company, and we could definitely play more of that.
Tognoni: I think it’s a great opportunity to tell the story of strong women in the business place, how they handle family and all of those challenges, in a way that people want to see. And we have a head writer, Sally Sussman, who is so into that. I think it has fanned the flames of enthusiasm, and I hope we see more of it. I think we will.
Digest: What was your reaction when you found out your characters would be embroiled in this romantic triangle?
Tognoni: Well, it’s like, “Yeah, good!” When you’ve been doing this so many years, you know what’s working and what has a lot of potential.
Heinle: Honestly, the first I learned of it was when they asked the three of us to do a photo shoot together and I was like, “Ooh, love triangle!” Honestly, we’re due for a good one and I just love them.
Tognoni: Me, too! They’re so easy to sell.
Heinle: I’m loving Victoria being in a love triangle with Phyllis. It’s something spicy. Phyllis and Victoria are two totally different characters and I love it.
Tognoni: I agree.
Digest: Amelia, Victoria usually has two guys fighting over her. How do you like her being the one that has to fight for love?
Heinle: I love it. Are you kidding me? When she decided that she wanted Billy back, I think she’s taking a really cool approach to it. She’s got a game plan, and it’s different than just whining she wants Billy back and then they get back together. It’s going to take time.
Digest: Gina, Phyllis and Billy don’t have a lot of people rooting for them in Genoa City. Do you hope that changes?
Tognoni: I like the challenge of the outcast. It’s better for drama and conflict. That’s sort of our job, to look for the story, and it gives me something to push against, because whenever things are sort of in alignment, it gets flat real quick most of the time.
Digest: Fans seem to really love Billy and Phyllis together.
Tognoni: Yeah, there’s a lot of support. I think the audience likes to see Phyllis in a corner and fight, so I think she’ll always have a lot of conflict. I love seeing the audience get behind the characters. That’s a good sign, I think.
Digest: When Victoria first found out about Billy and Phyllis, she was pretty mature about it. Do you like how the women are handling the situation?
Tognoni: Yeah, I do like the strength and the maturity in it, because it gives us a chance to be passive aggressive and have a plan, and that’s fun for the audience. I think it’s a cooler way of telling the story.
Heinle: It also speaks to who they are in the business world. It’s not going to go to nasty for now because they’re not in high school. They’re grown women and instead of being pissed off, we get to play, like, “Okay, let me approach this a different way.” And I just love it. I don’t even know what they’re going to write next, but I hope they write some fun encounters with Victoria and Phyllis.
Tognoni: Amelia’s very good at the subtle, and I tend to be a little more forthcoming with a lot of things.
Heinle: Oh, please, that’s not true! You have a finesse that makes it so workable. I think you and I actually discussed that because a scene was written real catty, but we just decided to turn it into a conversation.
Tognoni: I think we’re due for a good bitch-slap pretty soon. I think it’s going there.
Digest: That being said, are there any juicy clashes coming up?
Heinle: Not that I’ve seen.
Tognoni: Me either, but I wouldn’t doubt that’s coming down the pike. I would not be surprised if we see it soon.
Digest: I think it would just be a waste if we didn’t see you two really strong actresses have a really good, immature fight.
Heinle: That would be amazing.
Tognoni: Which is the exact opposite of what we said.
Heinle: I know, right? They could be very mature, and then they could just have a moment of weakness. You know that famous scene where Jill sprays water at Katherine and they get into this huge fight? I love that. I haven’t had one of those, I don’t think, ever.
Tognoni: Oh, my God, me either. Not in a really long time. But you know what? The answer to that is you earn the big moments and hopefully we will.
Digest: Would you be down for a cat fight?
Heinle: Of course. I think we would make it funny. As long as it looks like something that might actually happen, not that I’ve ever been in a cat fight, but I’ve certainly seen it and it’s really funny.
Tognoni: Oh, my God. Yeah. Like on TMZ.
Digest: What are you like together on the set?
Heinle: I might be a little too enthusiastic. I get shushed a lot. I got shushed on set the other day, but you know what? I’m being one-upped by Daniel Goddard [Cane], because he is way more rambunctious [laughs].
Tognoni: I’m more, like, “Okay. Let’s go, let’s go. Let’s do it.”
Heinle: You are a professional. But I love when Gina messes up! I’ll be in my room with the monitor on and she’ll mess up and make the funniest faces I’ve ever seen. One eye will roll and she’ll stick her tongue out.
Tognoni: I’m angry. I get very angry with myself.
Digest: Both of your characters wear awesome clothes, but they definitely have their own style. Do either of you get jealous of the wardrobe the other one is wearing?
Heinle: Oh, yeah.
Tognoni: Yes. The other day, Amelia had a blazer with a belt on the outside.
Heinle: Did you like that? With the puffy sleeves?
Tognoni: It was so dang cute.
Heinle: I was so busy making fun of my sleeves but it was cute, actually.
Tognoni: Can I tell the story about the dress?
Heinle: Oh, my God. I’ll never escape this story.
Tognoni: She comes out of her dressing room in this dress that’s super low-cut and she looked stunning. That day I had on a crew-neck thing, and I’m staring at her, when she suddenly goes, “Oh, my God!” I’m like, “What?” and she says, “It’s on backwards! I’m supposed to be backless!” And I thought, “For God’s sake, it’s on backwards and she still looks amazing!”
Heinle: I thought, “Wow, this is really low-cut. Okay. I’m gonna rock it!”
Tognoni: Oh, you rocked it.
Heinle: The sad part is we’d already started taping, so we had to finish taping with my dress on backwards [laughs].
Tognoni: She figured it out after the second scene.
Heinle: And even sadder is, I’ve done it before! That was the second time I’ve worn my dress backwards. I need a handler.
Tognoni: Yes, she does. [laughs].
Digest: We’re seeing a devious side of Victoria that started when she blackmailed Jack, and now she’s getting tricky in battling Phyllis for Billy. Amelia, how do you like that Victor side coming out of your character?
Heinle: I like it a lot because they’re keeping it clean. She still has a moral compass that she never strays far from, which I like because it’s type-A personality. But she’s going to fight, and like I said, this is part of her game plan rather than crying and moping. She’s got a little bit of an agenda, which I think shows her strength, so I like it.
Digest: Phyllis has a history of resorting to really outrageous maneuvers.
Tognoni: Illegal, violent, questionable.
Digest: Would you like to play that at some time, or do you prefer that Phyllis is staying on that high road?
Tognoni: You know, I like to see her try to make a better decision. But it’s like when my mom would show the wooden spoon whenever we acted up, then put it away. That was enough for us to see. So, yeah. I like that high road, but I like both. w