Tamara Braun, who played Carly from 2001-05, returned to GH in 2017 in a new role, Dr. Kim Nero. The show opted to write out the character, and Kim left Port Charles last week. Braun gave Digest the inside scoop about her exit.
Soap Opera Digest: When and how did you get the word that Kim was being written out?
Tamara Braun: Well, I was told by my representatives; Business Affairs called my reps and they informed me that they were writing my character off. Contractually, they need to let you know six weeks [out], so it was six weeks [before my last tape date]. We were on our last three-week vacation, so it was right in the middle of the vacation that I found out.
Digest: And how did you feel about it?
Braun: Well, I was a little surprised, because weeks before, Frank [Valentini, executive producer] had told me that I had really big story coming up that he was excited about. So it was a little shocking, yeah.
Digest: Did you tell your friends at work right away?
Braun: No, I didn’t tell people right away; I just thought, “Oh, whatever, let it just be.” We were on vacation, and then I think I worked two days that first week back and then I had a personal appearance to do. Those two days I was there, I didn’t work with Wil [deVry, Julian], who I usually work with a lot, but on the personal appearance, he was there and I was like, “Oh, I’d better tell him [laughs]!” So, I told Wil while we were away, but I asked him not to say anything because, I don’t know, I just don’t like to make anything that big of a deal.
Digest: When word did get out at the
studio, what reactions did you get?
Braun: Oh, everyone who found out and said something about it was kind. A lot of people really didn’t understand it. I got that from a bunch of people, saying they just didn’t get it. But everyone who did talk to me about it or brought it up or said they’d heard and shared their thoughts with me also, of course, wished me support and encouragement once I left.
Digest: So, in the buildup to your exit and really in the wake of Oscar’s death, Kim’s behavior took a bit of a turn. The drugging incident with Drew, in particular, was a big flashpoint for fans. Did that give you pause or make you worry about the longevity of the character?
Braun: Yeah, actually, that was the first time that I was like, “Oh, they’re going to write me off.” And I actually told Wil that; I said, “Okay, get ready to say good-bye! We won’t be working together much longer!” And he kept saying, “No.” I said, “No, this is so out of left field.” And to me, it seemed so out of character. And it wasn’t being dealt with in any way. So, to me, I absolutely thought, “Oh, that’s the first warning signal.” And I struggled. I really struggled with that story point, because to me, it wasn’t even a story point, because it wasn’t explored. I felt that if those were going to be story points that were going to take place, then it needed to be an issue that they explored with intention and handled with care. This is no longer the day where rape turns into everlasting love. And it shouldn’t be. So, for me, I had concerns on a personal level, on a human level. What are we doing and putting this out there for? I have no problem playing what’s thrown at me and I will play it to the best of my ability. I just think if we’re going to do something like that with a character who’s not a villain or evil, right, then it needs to be explored and it could be a teaching moment.
Digest: The turn toward the unlikable that Kim took in recent months — was that harder to play than the earlier material?
Braun: Well, what was hard to play about it was, there was always this, “Oh, I know you’re grieving, Kim, I know you’re grieving.” It’s like, “No! If she’s going to be this, let her turn, then! Let her turn!” But there was always some sort of excuse. It made not just what the character was doing unlikable, but just the character so unlikable. There’s characters you love to hate, and there’s characters you love to love, and there’s characters you just end up hating [laughs]! And I think that’s kind of what happened with the direction the writers took Kim. You went from feeling for her, for this great, terrible loss she suffered, to not having any reason to have any sympathy anymore. And that was a shame, and that was hard. But, you know, I had to just play the honesty and the truth of the situation that was written for me, for Kim, because that’s my job.
Digest: Kim’s relationship with Charlie was a main throughline of the character. Were you sorry to see them end on the sour note that they did?
Braun: Absolutely. I think that Charlie was such a rock for Kim, such a strong support system for her with everything with Oscar, and I think that it was a shame that it did end on such a sour note. But having said that, I think that bringing Kim into Julian/Charlie’s life certainly gave an opportunity for the character of Julian to be more redeemed after all the horrible things that he had done, so in that sense, it was a nice thing. But in terms of how it ended, yeah, I think it was not the way I think either of us wanted it to end.
Digest: What was your last day of work like?
Braun: Quick. I was first out and headed off to rehearsal of my play [Death With Dignity…Comes In A Milkshake, which wrapped its run in mid-November] and an audition.
Digest: Were you emotional at all about it?
Braun: No, I knew it was coming. There was no hoopla; I just finished, and a lot of people didn’t know I was going, so I said good-bye, but I had to run.
Digest: When you look back on the years as Kim, what have been the highlights for you?
Braun: I am really proud of the work that I did on the storyline of Oscar dying. I think that the writers did a wonderful job of telling that story. I think it was honest, it was loving and painful and truthful and I really think they need to be applauded. I feel good about playing that story, and grateful for it. I’ve had a lot of people share with me the impact of that storyline on them, and some of these people are parents who have lost a child. They have shared with me how much it touched them because it really spoke to their experience with their child. When you get that kind of feedback, you’ve done something right, so I applaud the writers and I’m grateful to have been part of that and to have shared that. And I have a new, dear friend in Wil deVry. It was such a joy to be able to go in to work and work with somebody who was light about the work and professional and kind and always prepared and willing to work and run it. We just have a good time with each other, so that was a really nice gift. I’m really grateful for that.
Digest: I will say that I enjoyed seeing such a warm relationship between
you and Rebecca Herbst [Elizabeth]
Braun: Oh, I loved that! I loved that. It was so much fun to get to play that and be that and Becky’s so lovely. I think the two of us enjoy each other and have mutual respect, so that was so nice, to play that. I think most women who are on soaps crave true friendships between women because it’s rare, but it’s really important — it’s important for us as women who watch shows, it’s important for us women who live in life, to have female friends and know the importance of that, the strength of that. So I think that whenever a show creates a friendship, a good, strong friendship between women, the actresses playing and taking part in that friendship are very happy about it. So, we were hoping to get to explore that more. When we were told what was going to happen with the Franco/Drew storyline, the flash drive storyline, I thought to myself, “Ooh, okay! This is going to be an interesting storyline. I hope they really explore the relationship of the women, of the friends, having to deal with that, in an honest way, because that’s an interesting, very difficult situation to be
Digest: Their friendship went south, as we know, over the course of that storyline. As a viewer, do you think you would have been Team Liz or Team Kim?
Braun: I would have been Team Friendship — until it blew it up and then I think I would have been Team Liz [laughs]!
Digest: Would you be open to doing another soap?
Braun: Yeah, of course! Soap has been a big part of my life. It’s a medium I know well, and soap fans follow people; they’ve always followed an actress they like, so I’ve been fortunate in that respect when I’ve gone to different shows. So, absolutely.
Digest: Is there anything you want to say to the fans?
Braun: Oh, yeah. You know, I love the fans. They are wonderful and I would just like to thank them for always being so wonderful and supportive of my work. I’ve said this before and I will always say it: There is nothing like a soap fan, and nothing like the support and dedication that they have, and I really appreciate them and I’m so grateful to them for all the love that they’ve shown me through all the years.