Nancy Stafford (ex-Adrienne/Felicia, THE DOCTORS; 1982) will play the titular role in the romantic film, First Lady, which opens on February 14 (www.FirstLadyMovie.com), and also stars Corbin Bersen (ex-Todd, Y&R et al) and Burgess Jenkins (ex-Billy, Y&R). Here, Digest catches up with the soap alum.
Soap Opera Digest: What can you tell us about your character in First Lady?
Nancy Stafford: I play Katherine Morales, the First Lady of the United States! When my husband, the President, dies in office I’m asked by the Vice President to run with him as “First Lady” in his bid for the White House. I love the film and I adore Kate—she’s smart, and yes, flawed, diplomatic, and absolutely determined to keep the dignity of the office from falling into the hands of their ditzy, selfie-obsessed Millennial political rivals. I love the clash!
Digest: What interested you about the project?
Stafford: Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play FLOTUS?! And in a modern-day fairy-tale! I’ve wanted to do a rom-com for a while, and this one is a charming Prince and the Pauper kind of story — it’s two people falling in love as teenagers, who separate and live successful lives, then reunite later in life, and hopefully find their happily after.
Digest: How did you like working with Corbin Bernsen, who plays King Max?
Stafford: Corbin’s terrific! He’s totally charming in this role—the audience will love him! We had great chemistry on camera and a lot of fun!
Digest: You’re known for your dramatic roles, how did you like acting in a light comedy?
Stafford: I absolutely loved it, I want to do more! There were lots of comedic moments and scenes with Andy Griffith and me on MATLOCK all those years, and sitcom roles on FRASIER and WHO’S THE BOSS, so this was fun to get back to! And I love that my character, Kate, ran the gamut of emotions in this story — from tragedy and death of a spouse, to wielding authority and getting push-back, to having a crush and experiencing the childlike “blush” of new love again. It was a great ride.
Digest: Do you have more projects coming up?
Stafford: I’ve got several TV series and movies I’m developing for production — hopefully one or all of them will get a green light soon! I directed my first feature film, Damaged Goods, which hopefully will be released later this year, and I’m slated to direct another film soon, called Grace.
Digest: How would you sum up your experience on THE DOCTORS?
Stafford: It was incredible! I was a total newbie and working with such seasoned and fantastic actors was like a Master’s class every day. I soaked it up like a sponge! Playing a dual role — a daughter and a mother, who ages to almost 80 years old — was crazy by the end of the show! I felt like I’d been thrown into the deep end of the pool! I was stretched beyond what I thought I could do, terrified, and absolutely exhilarated! It was the time of my life!
Digest: Was THE DOCTORS your first professional TV job?
Stafford: I’d done a six-week recurring role on ONE LIFE TO LIVE that year, but THE DOCTORS was my first series regular. Before that I’d done lots of TV commercials and had been studying at Stella Adler in New York.
Digest: Do you remember how fans reacted to your character?
Stafford: Do I ever [laughs]! I’ve played lots of nice characters in my career, but on THE DOCTORS I got to be bad! The dual roles of Adrienne/Felicia Hunt were so fun. And fans definitely let their opinions be known — that’s why I love our soap fans!
Digest: What was your most memorable experience while you were on THE DOCTORS?
Stafford: One day walking home from filming the show at our studio at 30 Rock — Rockefeller Center in New York City — two very elegant looking women dressed in business suits and high heels were walking toward me. They didn’t even seem to glance my way, but just as they walked past me one said to the other “Ugh, there’s that bitch, Adrienne!” The other nodded, and they glared at me with looks that would kill!” Another time, I was walking along and a random middle-aged woman walked up to me, punched me in the chest, and yelled “That’s for Dr Jeff!” She knocked the wind right out of me! Soap fans are committed fans!
Digest: So many famous actors like Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn and James Earl Jones, started on THE DOCTORS. Have you ever met any of them?
Stafford: Actually Alec Baldwin [ex-Joshua, KNOTS LANDING] was on THE DOCTORS [as Billy] with me during that last season we were on the air. Our story lines didn’t intersect much, and I only had a couple of scenes with him. But he was so fun to watch—so dangerous and wild as Bill Aldrich.
Digest: What can you share about your personal life?
Stafford: I’m a blessed woman! I’ve been married to musician Larry Myers for 30 years now, have an amazing stepdaughter, Katie, who couldn’t be more mine than if I’d given birth to her, and a terrific 18-year-old grandson, Blake. We live in a suburb just outside of Los Angeles. It’s beautiful, peaceful, and full of friends we love.
Digest: Would you ever appear on another soap, even short term?
Stafford: Sure, it’s such a fun genre. I love playing characters who are complex, not always what they seem, but who also have to ultimately face the consequences of their actions.
Digest: And finally, are you related to Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R)?
Stafford: Nope, no relation, but I wish we were. I’ve always thought Michelle is stunning!
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