Over 36 years after exiting ALL MY CHILDREN following a three-year run as heroine Jenny Gardner Nelson, Kim Delaney returns to daytime this week in a top-secret role on GH.
Her comeback was instigated by GH’s head honcho. “They were looking for this character, and actually, Frank Valentini, our executive producer, just called me; he just came straight to me and said, ‘Are you interested?’ ” explains Delaney. “It was very flattering. We started talking about it and we had a meeting and it sounded great. I liked everything he had to say and I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ ”
While a return to soaps was “not necessarily” on her radar, Delaney — who followed up AMC with an Emmy-winning stint on NYPD BLUE, along with starring roles on CSI: MIAMI and ARMY WIVES, among other projects — says, “I always feel that it’s about the character and where you’re working and who you’re working with, and the producers, because the producers [set the tone of] the show.” And thus far, she describes GH as “a lot of fun! I knew it would be fun, and it’s here in Los Angeles, and it just all worked out in a great way.”
As did her first day on set, despite some understandable disorientation. “I didn’t know where anything was, so I was asking for a lot of help,” she recalls. “I had a lot of helpers that day, you know, finding your way around the set, reading the way their call sheet is, which is different, [dealing with] masks — we all wear masks until we shoot, so everybody is wearing one, no matter what, so you’re not really seeing anybody’s faces in rehearsal that’s in your scenes. But I got through it! I guess whenever you start something new, you feel a little, ‘Who are these people? How are we going to do it?’ Anything new that you walk into, you have to figure out how they’re shooting, where the cameras are, working with the directors. But everybody was really welcoming from the get-go. The first day I had a lot of support and help and it was great, and then the second day was just jumping right in.”
She has also found it relatively easy to keep up with the show’s quick shooting pace and wrap her mind around daytime’s notorious gobs of dialogue. “It’s definitely more pages per day than prime-time or on a film [laughs]! But, you know, I got back into it, and the way we shoot at GENERAL HOSPITAL is more in the sets [shooting multiple scenes on one set, as opposed to shooting the script in order], whereas way back when I was doing ALL MY CHILDREN, we were there all day long. Everybody was there all day long! So, it’s just different. I am impressed [by how much is shot in a day]. I hear there is going to be more in the future, from what the other actors are telling me, so I have to stay ready! That’s my job, is to stay ready.”
While they have yet to share scenes, Delaney’s former AMC brother, Michael E. Knight (ex-Tad; Martin, GH), is her castmate once again, which she calls “a very fun coincidence. I saw him last week. I have seen him around [over the years]; I still talk with him and Darnell [Williams, ex-Jesse, AMC] and Larry [Lau, ex- Greg, AMC]. Susan Lucci [ex-Erica, AMC], once in a while, too; she came down [to Atlanta] and did ARMY WIVES with us for a couple of episodes.” As for the possibility of reuniting on screen, she says, “I’m hop- ing! I mean, I think Michael and I really want to do some stuff together, so we’ll have to make a stink [laughs].” Delaney is touched that so many AMC fans still fondly recall her years as Jenny — and lament the character’s infamous death by Jet Ski (“Isn’t that hysterical? They are loyal fans, I’ll tell you that. Very loyal fans”). “It was a great character,” she muses. “I didn’t realize it because it was my very first acting job…. It was magic in a bottle. And I loved doing the show. I really loved doing it. The only reason I left is that it was my first contract, it was a three-year contract, and I was just new and wanted to see what else was out there. And I explained that to [late AMC Creator/Head Writer] Agnes Nixon. We stayed [in touch] for many years.”
Delaney, who still has a collection of her old Soap Opera Digest covers, thanks to her father, who cherished them, is grateful for the foundation AMC gave her as she launched her career. “I’d go to work and go home and study, go to work and go home and study,” she notes. “It gave me a very strong discipline on how to prepare a character and how to prepare for the next day’s work. [Working in soaps], you’ve got to just put one foot in front of the other, truly.”
And to the fans who’ve followed her since her Pine Valley days, she has this message: “Just, ‘Come back and watch!’ I’m sure it’s going to be fun. I know what I’ve done so far is really fun and everybody in the scenes with me … I think it’s going to go a lot of interesting places,” she teases. “We’ve got to keep [my storyline] quiet right now just so that [the fans] are surprised. They’re all trying to figure out what I’m doing, I know! I’ve been reading some of the stuff [online] and they all want to know how I’m coming in. I hope they enjoy it. That’s what I’m hoping for!”