Soap Opera Digest: What has it meant to you to have so many fans and people from the daytime community express their support for you when the news of your exit broke?
Rebecca Budig: I was just thinking about this — I deleted Twitter from my phone because I just found that I was spending too much time on it. I would get sucked into it; it was something to do while Charlotte [her daughter, who turns 3 next month] was napping or whatever. But I was just thinking that I need to tweet out to the people who have been so supportive because it has been mind-blowing. All the people who have reached out in this medium — other actors and writers and producers or what have you — to have them reach out meant the world to me. It surprised me. I feel super-flattered, very unworthy and just super-grateful. Super-grateful.
Digest: Does it make it harder for you to leave, knowing that there was a strong fan base for Hayden?
Budig: I didn’t really have an understanding of whether people liked Hayden or not, probably because my life is so busy with my daughter that I don’t have time to scour the Internet for those things — thank God, because I’m sure there are people out there who don’t like Hayden! But it does make it harder because I feel like they started to write a really great story around Hayden with me leaving. It gave me a lot of insight into her and made me feel like I could put my claws into her a little bit more, where I was struggling with that, I guess, when Ron [Carlivati, ex-head writer, who created the character] left and I was sort of finding my way with who she was. Everywhere I’ve gone, like at the grocery store, I’ve been running into fans who have approached me, like, “I love Hayden, why are they getting rid of you?” And I’m like, “I don’t know, it’s the story, it’s just the way it is, it’s the business.” But, yeah, it does make it a little harder to know that people did like Hayden, for sure. And if I had known Michael Easton [Finn] was going to write such a nice, sweet blurb about me [leaving, on Facebook], I would have left a long time ago [laughs]. I’m kidding! But it was so nice of him to go out of his way to say something.
Digest: Did you get a lot of support from your co-workers during your last weeks?
Budig: Yes. A lot of people didn’t know until maybe the last day or two, and the way we shoot now, we don’t see everybody [in the cast and crew]. So there were a lot of people that I didn’t get to say good-bye to, but we texted with each other. Everyone was really great and really sweet and supportive.
Digest: Did you part on good terms with Executive Producer Frank Valentini?
Budig: Yes, Frank and I parted on good terms. I mean, look, at the end of the day, he’s running the show, and he has to do what’s right for the show, and I’m appreciative to him for bringing me over there at a time when I needed it, when I needed to go and work. And I’m just really grateful that I had the chance to go and work there. I’ve made lifelong friends in Jane [Elliot, ex-Tracy] and Michael. A lot of good stuff has come out of me being on GENERAL HOSPITAL and so I am truly appreciative of him.
Digest: What would you like to say to the Hayden fans?
Budig: God, how do you say thank you to these people who are so loyal, so dedicated and so kind and so supportive? I don’t know, I don’t even feel like “thank you” is really sufficient. My gratitude is unending and I hope that — I mean, it would be amazing if their determination would bring Hayden back, but I don’t know how those things work. But they should stick around to the end, because Michael and I had some really good scenes and got to do some good things together. Hopefully, they will follow me wherever I end up. I mean, I want to bottle them all up and put them in my pocket and take them with me to auditions and say, “Hey, see these people? They’re behind me, so give me the job.”
Digest: You would be open to returning to the show in the future, though?
Budig: Of course. If I had the chance to work with Michael Easton and Becky Herbst [Elizabeth] again, it would be an easy decision.