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Rena Sofer On Her Surprise GH Comeback

Rena Sofer’s return to GH as Bensonhurst native Lois after a 27-year absence began the way most do. “Out of nowhere, Frank [Valentini, executive producer] reached out to me by text asking if I’d be willing to talk to him,” begins the Emmy-winning actress. “I said, ‘Of course.’ The last time I saw Frank was at Courtney Hope [Sally, Y&R] and Chad Duell’s [Michael, GH] wedding [in October 2021]; we sat with each other, and it was really great to see him. He was like, ‘I would love to get you back to GENERAL HOSPITAL.’ At that time, I was still on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL [as Quinn] and I wasn’t even discussing it with him. But with this Eddie Maine story happening, it just really seemed like an absolutely perfect time to have Lois come back for a short amount of time to try to get Eddie to remember that he’s Ned. So Frank reached out to me and asked me if I’d be willing to come back for a short amount of time and I said yes.”

The timing worked out well: Sofer had just sent her youngest daughter, Avalon, off to college, so with a kid-free home, she had time to focus on Port Charles and a role that has always held a special place in her heart. “I’ve played a lot of characters in my career and Lois is probably one of the top three characters I’ve ever played in 37 years of being an actress,” she declares. “So to be able to go back and do it was unreal.”

Though reporting to work on a show is nothing new for her, Sofer confesses, “I was so nervous. It’s not even nervous about being in the character. It was nervous about the timing of making sure I got to the set on time, and did I have enough time to run lines with everyone? That show is full of history; there’s so much history there for me, so it was like, ‘Oh, God, is it gonna be okay? Are they gonna like me?’ ”

Also top of mind for the actress was her overall look — more specifically, her hands. “The first, most important part of even getting back into that character was her nails,” Sofer explains. “When I got the job [in 1993], I was like, ‘I really want these nails to be like Madeline Kahn in High Anxiety.’ There’s this great scene where she and Mel Brooks are running to go and do something and Mel Brooks goes, ‘I don’t have a car,’ and she goes, ‘I have a car.’ And she’s wearing this incredible matching belted suit and it’s in this amazing pattern, and as she runs to her car, her car is in the exact same pattern as her suit. And I was like, ‘That’s what it’s gonna be. Her nails are gonna match her outfit. They have to be really intricate because besides being a mathematician in her brain, she’s got so much energy and she’s got so much OCD that every day she wakes up and does her nails before she gets dressed. She knows what she’s wearing and she does her nails to match her outfit,’ which is in my head. That’s my story. So one of the makeup artists in the makeup room has a cousin named Amber [Studer,], who is a professional nail artist, so I went and visited Amber. We sat down for three hours, we went through all the wardrobe that we had picked so far and we just created. And then once the nails were on, it was like nothing changed; it was amazing.”

Sofer then had to re-enter Lois’s world and try to figure out where she’s been. “There are parts of Brook Lynn’s life Lois missed,” she points out. “And I think my whole thing about Lois is being a great mom, so I needed to figure out what Lois has been doing, who she is, what’s important to her besides Brook Lynn. It’s just interesting to play her at this age. She’s still loud and she’s still mouthy. She was still a lot like me, except with a Brooklyn accent and nails. But also, the story isn’t about me. The story is about Brook Lynn. The story is about Eddie Maine and Ned, so I need to respect that. This is not about me coming back and telling my story; this is about me coming back and supporting the stories that are there with me trying to create the knowledge of who Lois is now, 27 years later. So that is challenging, but also, part of the fun.”

Since it had been so many years since her last time on set, Sofer admits, “I had no idea where I was; I couldn’t find my way. I think a very younger version of me would have been intimidated and scared and had a little bit of a wall up, like, ‘I belong here,’ but I didn’t go there that way. This is not my home and I need to respect that. I’m a guest, and I am grateful to have this opportunity, especially in the middle of a strike for the writers and the actors. To be able to act and help support my family when other people don’t have that opportunity? I’m really walking into these months of work with a lot of gratitude and a lot of appreciation, especially for the people who are there every day and who have been there every day for the last 27 years.”

Stepping into the Quartermaine mansion, she reports, gave her a sense of déjà vu. “I said this to Jane [Elliot, Tracy] when I was on set: You walk into the Quartermaine entryway and there’s a picture of [the late] Anna Lee [ex-Lila] and John [Ingle, ex-Edward] and Stuart [Damon, ex-Alan], and just looking at those pictures and remembering doing things with Anna Lee when she was in a wheelchair and then she slowly moved into the bed chair, and John, who always had a twinkle in his eye and was the sweetest man, and Stuart, and then knowing that they’re not there anymore, that was kind of hard-hitting.”

Another element that made her emotional was the fan response to news of her comeback. “Oh, it means everything to me,” she shares. “I mean, if they hadn’t spent the last 27 years constantly making little buzzing noises about Lois coming back or me coming back as Lois, I wouldn’t be in this position. It’s inspiring and I am forever grateful. This whole experience can really be summed up in that word. I’m excited and honestly, even though I did LOVING [as Rocky], GENERAL HOSPITAL really started my career. GH gave me a development deal with ABC, which led me to doing pilots and nighttime. I am very grateful for being able to have this option and opportunity during this time.”

One person who is particularly excited to watch Sofer’s October 10 debut? Daughter Rosabel, who she shares with ex-husband Wally Kurth (Ned). “Our daughter Rosabel was literally beside herself,” Sofer says. “She’s so excited that her parents are working together again. It’s so fun for her to see mom and dad, working together in a friendly and fun environment, and for me, working with Wally was always fun. Twenty-seven years was never going to change any of that.”

The Perfect Blendship

Wally Kurth (Ned) discovered his real-life ex-wife and former GH leading lady, Rena Sofer, would be coming back to Port Charles in an unorthodox way. “I found out because my daughter Rosabel texted me; I’m always the last to know,” he muses. “She texted me and said, ‘Hey, Dad, I heard Mom’s gonna be on the show with you,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, didn’t know.’ ”
Kurth was immediately on board for the reunion. “It’s great,” he enthuses. “Lois was such a huge part of the Eddie Maine [origin story] that it only makes sense, and I’m glad it worked out because I think the audience is gonna enjoy it. We just started and so far, so good!”

The duo had only filmed one show together at press time, but Kurth relays, “It looked to me like Rena just fell right back into it and she seemed pretty happy about it, so I was happy for her. She puts on the nails and she becomes Lois, and she just starts talking and she becomes Lois.”
Kurth admits he never imagined that they would reconnect on screen, but is jazzed by the turn. “That’s always fun. You just never know what to expect in daytime, and I think that’s probably why I like it so much.”

Lisa LoCicero, who plays Ned’s current wife/Lois’s childhood bestie, Olivia, is thrilled for the chance to work opposite Sofer. “I am so psyched,” she enthuses, calling Lois’s return “such perfect soap opera writing and drama.” While she has never shared the stage with Sofer, “I have met her a couple of times at various soap events and she has always been so delightful. And, of course, I was watching the show when Ned and Lois were a supercouple, back in the day when there still was such a thing as a supercouple that went on location to Coney Island and what have you! I just think it is going to be so much fun, whether it’s a triangle — Lois and Olivia are supposed to be dear friends, but there’s nothing that says your dear friend can’t also turn into your frenemy! — or if we are just really good friends, which could also be a lot of fun. We are so lucky to have her and whatever she introduces into our storyline, I know it’s going to be fun. I welcome it with open arms!”

Adds on-screen daughter Amanda Setton (Brook Lynn), “I am so excited to be working with her. I think that bringing her back into the fold and onto the landscape will create fertile ground for some fun storytelling. From what I understand and from what I’ve seen, Lois is a force to be reckoned with and a really fun character. I think giving more context to Brook Lynn by seeing her with her mother will be really fun to play and I can’t wait to explore that with Rena. It’s a whole new dynamic and it’s just a great dynamic to introduce into the show.”
Mara Levinsky