Soap Opera Digest: Let’s go back to the beginning. What did you think when you heard that you would be working together after all these years?
Deidre Hall: I was so thrilled, I could not wait. Chomping at the bit. We hadn’t really spent much time together before this, and then I think it’s fair to say we didn’t know each other terribly well, and it was just, as they say, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We bonded over the characters and how much fun we were having and the creative process, and then it turned into great social fun!
Judi Evans: Absolutely! I don’t think I’ve had this much fun with someone and in a story at the same time ever.
Hall: Who knew we were both so much fun?
Evans: I was so excited to be working with Dee, and then she made all my dreams come true.
Hall: That sounds so wrong.
Evans (laughs): Oh, that does, huh? But in a good way!
Digest: How did you form such a tight bond?
Hall: We’re all easy to get along with and we all like working together. We’re more grateful to be in the job, but when you have multiple scenes together, you end up in a dressing room pounding lines, discussing, and suddenly things come up that you never knew about somebody, and then you bond through that. We just decided we’re going to be friends now. We’re just going to be off camera, social friends.
Evans: We started out as distant cousins and became soul sistahs.
Digest: What was the process in finding both Hattie and Bonnie and how they related to each other for you both?
Hall: I found Hattie ages ago because she’s been around for a long time — but she was suddenly in prison and trying to figure out who she was in prison, and it turned out she was a wheeler dealer, and she figured out that if she was in the kitchen, she can own the world. “You want meatloaf? You be nice to me. You don’t want your meatloaf, get over it.” So, she had cracked the code on how to survive prison, and then she met Bonnie.
Evans: It’s the same with Bonnie. She was a wheeler dealer her whole life, and in prison had to learn a whole new pecking order. Sometimes, when you meet someone, you just click. You don’t know why or how, and then you’ve got someone who’s got your back. I know Bonnie’s never really had anybody who’s got her back, so I think it meant a lot to her meeting someone that she clicked with. It’s a whole new world on the outside, and so they became even closer.
Digest: Those first scenes you did together where Hattie is waiting for Bonnie in the meeting room looked really fun and full of energy.
Evans: I think fun doesn’t even begin to describe it. Fun was the appetizer. We just found a really good rhythm together and just really enjoyed it. They were like, “Okay, run,” and she’s such a great running partner [laughs].
Hall: Listen to you! Whatever it was, we kept trying things and trying things, and what it does is give you courage and a safety net, so I knew that whatever I wanted to try, Judi would be there. And she knew that she would find a receptive partner in whatever she wanted to try, so that gives you more courage to go farther.
Evans: Completely. A lot of times, you don’t have the opportunity to let creative juices fly, and with Dee, like she said, there was a safety net. “You do this? I’ll follow.” It’s a really good partnership.
Digest: What was the reaction from castmates while you were filming it?
Hall: When we were shooting it, we got told that people were standing around the monitor just screaming at it, so that’s high praise from your cast, when they stop what they’re doing to watch what you’re doing.
Digest: Were there times where they’d be counting down and you had a moment of, “Wait. Which character am I playing?”
Hall: No, I think we were always highly prepared by then. They would schedule our scenes so if we’re Hattie/Bonnie in the morning, then we have time to change hair, change makeup, change clothes, run the other lines for the afternoon shoot as Marlena/Adrienne.
Evans: That helps so much, too, because you get to really be in one space and then have a little time to get in that other space and into that other head and into that other character, so the scheduling was really helpful.
Digest: It must be such a fun gift in a way to play two roles, because on a soap opera, you do tend to play the same character. And here you’re not only having an alter, but at the same time.
Evans: It was a gift. The best Christmas/birthday/Mother’s Day gift all in one. On soaps, you have so much dialogue, you shoot so fast, you have no time for rehearsal, so you’re always challenged in the stories you play, but this was such a big challenge, and that’s a gift as an actor, because you really like to stretch. Sometimes when you play the same character for years, it’s hard to stretch, so this was fantastic.
Digest: Were there ever times you had to tone Hattie and Bonnie down?
Hall: I know there were moments where they had to rein us in a little bit because we just kept going to the wall, and — you know what I’m talking about, Judi.
Evans: Yes. We were definitely balls to the wall [laughs].
Hall: At one point, I called her a name and they stopped tape and they said, “You can’t call her that.” That was so much fun. An argument ensued, “What do you mean I can’t call her that?”
Evans: “Let’s try it, it’ll be fun!”
Hall: “No no. Do it again, don’t call her that name.” We just tried everything. We tried everything, and I think some things made it in.
Evans: It was awesome!
Digest: Let’s talk about Morgan’s [Fairchild, ex-Anjelica] addition to the story. What was it like to work with her?
Evans: I only knew her from her work and I was always a huge fan. I don’t know who was more excited, me or my husband [laughs].
Hall: I didn’t know that. I had not met her either, and heard lovely things about her, and it’s all true. She is as invested and professional an actor as you’ll find.
Evans: A lovely woman.
Hall: Lovely, lovely woman. She’s completely self-sufficient and a consummate professional on top of all that.
Evans: Absolutely. I really admire her strength and courage and just her professionalism. She’s an amazing lady.
Digest: Judi, what did you think when you heard that the character of Anjelica would be back?
Evans: Oh, I was really excited because it added a whole new level to everything we were doing. I mean, for Adrienne and Wally [Kurth, Justin] too, it was just really exciting. It was really fun to bring that around full circle.
Digest: What’s something you learned about each other that you did not know before?
Hall: Judi is crazy funny, she is just a great sport. I have little girl parties at my house and she became one of those gals. We have manicures and facials and body wraps and whatever, lunch and stuff. Judi’s in. She’s one of us. A soul-sister.
Evans: Aww, honestly, I was just going to say almost the same thing. Deidre is funny — she’s just a riot! Such a good soul. You’re an amazing woman. So strong and so vibrant and I knew that already, but I didn’t know just how incredible — I swear, such a wonderful lady. I’m just really glad I had this opportunity and that we had the opportunity to get close like this. It’s just been just a shot in the arm that personally, you’re a great, great girlfriend.
Hall: You know this, Judi, but I’m a big believer of women friends, especially when you’re working a full-time job — and Judi, you have two [jobs] — and you’re the head of a family and household, and women friends can tend to fall by the wayside. I think there’s nothing as replenishing as a female friend. I’m single and I’ve been able to make time for that in my life, and we have girl parties and events so we don’t lose touch.
Evans: I just feel so blessed to have this friendship because I have two boys at home, one’s over 50 [laughs, referring to husband Michael], so it’s nice to have a woman friend. No matter what — hell, high water, dark of night, broad daylight — you pick up the phone and boom. Five years could go by, but it’s like it was yesterday. It’s nice. It’s just wonderful.
Digest: What would you say to Ron Carlivati [head writer] who was the executor of this story for you both?
Evans: Well, I’m on my knees prostrate right now, “Thank you, Ron. Thank you, Ron. Thank you, Ron.”
Hall: He’s such a treasure, and he was there the first day we began shooting these scenes and stuck around to watch what was happening. Later, he said, “I had no idea. I’m writing more of this.” He’s a big believer in breaking up the tension with comic relief. He’s a big believer in close relationships, and I think he found both of those in these characters, and he writes them in a funny way. He writes them quite different from Marlena and Adrienne. I think he enjoys the humor and the off-beatness of Bonnie and Hattie, so we’re looking forward to doing a lot more.
Evans: Definitely, and soaps need a little humor. They need a shot in the arm. He’s brilliant at writing very separate, very different relationships. Even in the big, funny, craziness, there’s still the reality of these are two girls who are friends and been through a lot together. They’re war buddies.
Hall: You know my other favorite part? He comes to the set. He talks to actors. He listens. He shows up.
Evans: There’s not that barrier of, “Oh, I can’t talk to the actors.” He’s really, truly invested in the show and in the characters and the cast. It’s beautiful.
Evans: And he’s funny!
Digest: Any message for the fans with regard to this story?
Hall: Oh, my gosh. The audience must tune in. They can’t miss it.
Evans: Must-see TV is back in daytime!