Susan Batten, best known to soap fans as ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Luna Moody (1991-95 and subsequent appearances as a ghost) pops up on GH next week as home-shopping star Flora Gardens.
The actress, who has remained close friends with her former OLTL colleague, GH Executive Producer Frank Valentini, says, “I’ve been writing for a while and during Covid, I think we all felt like we needed a little soul replenishment. I told Frank, ‘I miss acting. I miss that whole energy of being part of a collaboration of actors and I feel like I want to do that again. If anything comes up that you think might be fun for me to do, just let me know and I’ll do it.’ He called me and said, ‘Okay, there’s this character named Flora Gardens.’ I said, ‘Does she have teeth?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it!’ And I just had a blast.”
Because it had been a while since she’d done daytime, Batten battled her fair share of nerves before taping. “I think because I’ve been writing so much, I hold a lot of words in my head so the brain had not turned to jelly. But I was still very nervous. I was thinking, ‘Holy smokes, how do these people remember this much dialogue? How did we do this years ago?’ I made my husband rehearse with me so many times, he probably knew my lines just as much as I did! And when I flew out to California [from her home in Connecticut], I made him FaceTime with me so that we could continue to work because there is no time to really rehearse or run lines on set because it goes super-fast, but it all kind of fell into place.”
Taping her scenes was a whirlwind. “There were moments where I felt like, ‘Oh, my God, my hands are moving like crazy,’ or, ‘Oh, my God, I can feel my lips flapping and I don’t know what’s coming out!’ The same thing happened to me when I got married, though, so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m having an out-of-body experience here,’ and you kind of leap back into your body, ground yourself, breathe, and just do it. It was just so much fun and I valued the whole experience.”
Batten spent a week on the West Coast and enjoyed reunions with Valentini and other past OLTL colleagues, Director Gary Tomlin and Senior Producer Mary-Kelly Weir. “It felt like old home week,” she beams. “Being surrounded by those familiar faces really just made me so happy. Frank and I stayed up late at night playing Wordle [laughs]. He’s just a sweet, wonderful, lifelong friend and I just adore him. I kind of grew up on ONE LIFE TO LIVE and everyone there became my second family.”