ALL MY CHILDREN Alum Eva La Rue On Joining Y&R As The Rosales Matriarch
Best known to soap fans for her stints as ALL MY CHILDREN’s Maria Santos (1993-97, 2002-05, 2010, 2011), Eva La Rue will hit Genoa City later this month as Celeste Rosales, mom to Lola and Rey. After wrapping her first week at her new job, the actress called Digest with the inside scoop on her return to daytime.
Soap Opera Digest: Welcome back to daytime! How did this come about?
Eva La Rue: A lot of interesting things have happened in the last few weeks, actually. So, [Y&R] put the fishing line out and said that it was a seven-show arc and they were looking for someone to play the character of Lola’s mom, and I said, “Yeah, that could be really fun! Pop over there and do a story arc.” And then I woke up the next morning to my dad dying.
Digest: Oh, Eva, I’m so sorry.
La Rue: Thank you. But literally I was driving down to Long Beach, where my dad lived, and I got the call that it had all worked out [with Y&R]. And it’s one of those strange things when a parent dies; my first thought was, “I’ve got to call my dad and tell him about THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, he’s going to be so thrilled!” And I know he would be thrilled. It’s been really crazy, a roller coaster of a couple of weeks. But it couldn’t have been better timing. It couldn’t be a more fun, hopeful thing to look forward to doing. Peter Bergman [Jack] and I have been friends for 30 years and yet this is the first time I have ever gotten to work with him! It’s really exciting. It’s been really nice to have something else to be focusing on. Right now, we’re on hiatus from the other show I’ve been doing, [hosting] CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: ANIMAL TALES. We got picked up for a second season, but we don’t start again until July. And not only that, but I got here, and there are, like, a zillion people that I’m friends with on this show! So the energy is great, the set is really great, they have a totally workable schedule, which is fantastic. When I left ALL MY CHILDREN, they were squeezing in seven or eight shows a week. It was about 75 pages a day, which was just a mind-numbing amount of words to say. That was really stressful and I always swore that I wouldn’t go back to a soap specifically for that, because of the amount of stress that you don’t even realize you’re under with that much dialogue to learn. So this is fantastic. I was like, “What?! You guys have Mondays off? You do a four-day week and you’re out of here by 6 and you only do one show? This is awesome! I would do this in a heartbeat!”
Digest: How do you and Peter know each other?
La Rue: The first time I met Peter, it was after I did SANTA BARBARA [where she played Margot in 1988] and got married to John O’Hurley [ex-James, Y&R, et al, her ex]. He and I were invited to Peter’s house for a Christmas party. It was the first time I met him and [wife] Mariellen, and it was the first time I met Lisa Rinna! She was dating someone from YOUNG AND RESTLESS [Peter Barton, ex-Scott] at the time. And then Lisa started on DAYS [as Billie] really just as I was starting on ALL MY CHILDREN, right as Vanessa Marcil was starting on GENERAL HOSPITAL [as Brenda]; we all kind of started in that same time frame, that same year. Anyway, Peter and I have been friends ever since, but never had any reason to work together.
Digest: And has it met your expectations?
La Rue: Oh, we’re just having a blast. My character is so excited to meet the Abbotts, and specifically Jack Abbott because he’s so famous, so she straight-up just throws all kinds of flirt at him and it was so fun to do. Michelle Stafford [who is returning as Phyllis], I’ve never worked with, but I’ve known her for ages, so I’m hoping we have some scenes together. That would be awesome! I’m guessing that we will, because her [on-screen] daughter and Lola are kind of involved with the same dude. And then my daughter, Sasha [Calle, Lola], is the biggest sweetheart. I haven’t worked with Jordi [Vilasuso, Rey] yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to work with him in the near future. It’s funny because everybody online keeps talking about how there’s no way I could be Jordi’s mom. I actually don’t know how old Jordi is, but I am guessing I’m 13 or 14 years older than him. But you know what? It happens! My grandmother had my dad at 14.
Digest: Have you met Jordi?
La Rue: I just did! When I wrapped for the day and was leaving, Sasha brought him to my dressing room so we could say hi. That was great! And I was introduced to Jordi on Twitter before that through Alicia Minshew [ex-Kendall, AMC, who worked with him when he played Griffin], which was fun.
Digest: The six degrees of separation that goes on in daytime is pretty amazing.
La Rue: Totally! Especially now that there are fewer shows. It’s just really great when you walk in and you know a bunch of people. I just had such a crazy case of nerves on my first day, walking into a really established family of people, and they were so welcoming and so awesome, and because I have friendships there, it just made it so much easier. It was really great.
Digest: What were you so nervous about? The memorization aspect?
La Rue: Yeah, that’s always a factor. It’s like, “Am I going to be able to pull this off again?” Peter and I were talking about this the other day, that there’s always that question in the back of your mind. You’re like, “I’ve got it. I totally know it.” Then you get on set and you’re like, “Do I know it? Maybe I don’t know it! What if I don’t know it?” The panic starts to kick in! But when I was done with my first day, I felt like, “I don’t know why I was so nervous!” The first day was great, a perfect ease-in. Super-simple; I just had two scenes that day. And honestly, it was just so great to be welcomed the way that I was. Everyone was just so effervescent and excited. It could not have been a more awesome first week.
Digest: The fan response to the news of your casting has been pretty enthusiastic, too.
La Rue: That was awesome. I have to say, that was the most positive, loving, welcoming reception from any fan base ever. I was so excited to read all the tweets and all the positive feedback. The only not-positive feedback, and I won’t even call it negative because it really wasn’t, it was just funny, was that I was too young to play Jordi’s mom. So that I was happy about. I was like, “Okay, great! I’m glad they think I look too young to play Jordi’s mom!” And now I’m seeing on my Instagram and stuff, people responding with, “Natalia Boa Vista [her character from CSI: MIAMI] hits Genoa City,” and, “Dr. Maria Santos and Dr. Cliff Warner [Bergman’s AMC character]!” It’s really fun.
Digest: You said that the character is sort of starstruck by Jack. What else can you tease about her?
La Rue: She’s sort of starting to emerge in the new scripts I’m getting. She’s definitely a fiercely protective defender of her daughter in an old-school kind of way. She’s very hyper-vigilant, let’s put it that way. She’s a super-likable character and a really good mama, but we are definitely going to have our fun mother/daughter combat scenes. That will be really fun.
Digest: Does the vibe at Y&R strike you as reminiscent of AMC at all?
La Rue: No, not in the tiniest! Here, the dressing rooms are sort of set up all over the place, in different areas, and the makeup room doesn’t really have room to hang out and have lunch. The way ALL MY CHILDREN was set up, we had this sort of fantastic dressing room layout; it was on a grid, with big, floor-to-ceiling windows at the end and everybody would hang out by the windows and run lines, and we’d hang out and have lunch in the makeup room because it was big and there was room to do it. So this just has a different feel, but it’s no less congenial and fun and collaborative. And of course, Peter is just the best at, “All right, let’s all get together and run lines!” He loves to run it, which I love to do; that’s super-ALL MY CHILDREN. I just guess that everybody does that, but maybe they don’t! But that’s really great because then you get to hang out with your other scene partners. It’s really awesome.
Digest: Now, you said that this is just for a short stint. Was that critical to you signing on?
La Rue: No; that’s actually, initially, what they were looking for. I’m guessing they threw a line out to several actresses — I don’t know, but I’m guessing — and when I said, “Hey, yeah, I’m interested,” and as soon as I said, “Yeah, let’s do this,” it went from seven episodes to, “What about 10 or more episodes? Would you do a bunch?” And I said, “Yeah, I’ll hang out!” So, it’s still supposed to be short, but we’ll see what it ends up being. With my dad passing and everything, the timing could not be better. I’m really, really excited to be here.