This interview originally appeared in the May 7, 1996 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
Lauralee Bell Is Nothing Like Her YOUNG AND RESTLESS Character — Really!
The first thing you need to know about Lauralee Bell is that she is one of the most professional and well-liked actresses on the YOUNG AND RESTLESS set. The fact that her parents (William J. and Lee Philip Bell) created the show may have had something to do with her getting the job in 1983. But Lauralee’s connection to the Bells has little to do with her keeping the job for 13 years. And you know what? It’s time to let the whole Cricket thing go.
“I’m sure people think that I’m very much like Cricket,” states Bell matter-of-factly, “and I probably used to be. But I’m not anymore.” The character has grown a lot since she was a love-struck kid pining over rock star Danny Romalotti; hence the change from Cricket to Christine. “I love her,” Bell continues, “but I’m glad there’s more of a difference now. It’s more of a challenge to play. I mean, I respect her determination. Part of your lifetime happiness is definitely being successful in your chosen profession. But if you’re not happy when you come home at the end of the day, then you’re not going to be happy. There have been times when she’s put her relationships on the back burner for her career. There’s got to be give and take.”
Bell has very definite plans to settle down someday and have kids. But right now, she is busy decorating her first house and enjoying the dating life in L.A. — which used to include Michael Damian (Danny). “Yes, we went out,” she says, choosing her words carefully. Things changed when Damian left L.A. — and Bell — to move to New York and star in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway in 1993. “We stopped spending a lot of time together. The whole Joseph experience was every adjective possible: It was exciting, challenging, scary, demanding. He had to go do this, and I’m glad he did. It was the best thing that ever happened to him.:
When Damian returned to Y&R the following year, he shared his life lessons with Bell. “He said, ‘I know you think you know who you are and that you’re not going to change, but you are.’ Because he did. And it was the smartest thing anyone ever told me. I wouldn’t listen to that from a mom or a dad or even a brother. And I don’t know that I listened to him at that time. But I have changed so much between 22 and 27, it is amazing.”
One of those changes includes speaking her mind. “When I was younger,” she recalls, “I would just go, ‘Oh, that’s okay.’ I acted like everything was fine. Then I would go home and be like, ‘I wish I said everything I wanted to say.’ People respect you more if you do. And now I do.” Considering that she spends much of her day with her ex-boyfriend, how are things with Damian now? “I could never say anything bad about Michael,” she responds. “We had a very good time. We learned a lot from each other.”
Bell’s social life since Damian has included hanging out with TV stars like Scott Baio, co-stars like Joshua Morrow (Nick) and cute guys from her high school like Scott Martin (he flew in to escort her to the Soap Opera Digest Awards in February when she was up for Outstanding Younger Lead Actress), whom she’s now dating. “That was a great weekend,” she enthuses. Suddenly, Bell stands up in one of the ritziest restaurants in L.A. and unbuttons her pants. “I got a tattoo,” she announces, beaming.
Evidently, while everyone else was gossiping about the awards show and reporting to work the next day, Bell and her date tromped off to a tattoo parlor. “We had such a great couple of days together,” she recalls, wistfully. “I wanted to remember it. Sure, I have beautiful long-stemmed roses that he gave me, which I can dry. But I wanted something more….” So now she has a tiny red heart on her right hipbone to remember the weekend. “I’m proud of it, too,” she continues. “I was asking questions like, ‘When I get pregnant, is this thing going to stretch?’ and they said, ‘Well, are you going to lose the weight right away?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I will,’” so they said, ‘Then it should be okay.” So, my heart will get really big when I’m pregnant.”
At the time of this interview, Bell had yet to tell her family about the tattoo, but she had no qualms about what their reaction would be. “My brother, Bill, will be like, ‘Are you sure they sterilized the needles?’ she chuckles. “My parents are really, really cool. So I didn’t think, ‘Oh, what will they think?’ because this summer at the beach ,it’s going to be out there. And I think they’ll both be like, ‘Oooh!’ That’s one thing that people don’t get. They are just a ball. After the awards show was over, we went to Trader Vic’s and my parents were drinking mai-tais through these long straws. We put three straws together, so there’s Lee Bell drinking out of this long straw into my rum keg.”
And Bill Bell? “My dad is one who thinks up all the sex [on Y&R], so he’s got to be pretty open-minded,” she laughs. “He’s the kind of guy who will call me and say, ‘Hey, did you see Drew Barrymore pulling up her top on DAVID LETTERMAN? Wasn’t that great?’”
At work, though, the lines are very carefully drawn between Lauralee the actress and Lauralee the daughter. For example, Lauralee, the actress had a disagreement with Mr. Bell the boss over which clip to showcase at the Digest awards. “I felt strongly about one, and my dad felt strongly about another,” she shrugs. “Ultimately, I lost. He’s the boss. And even though I was kind of disappointed, I respected him for treating me like everyone else. He’s been in this business a long time, and he was probably right. As I say that, I’m gritting my teeth! But how can I doubt him? Obviously, he knows what he’s talking about.”
“Let me tell you something about Lauralee Bell,” booms Eric Braeden (Victor). “She is an exceedingly charming, unpretentious, helpful, unassuming woman who could have been the opposite of everything I just described — which says a lot about her and how she was raised. She has a great sense of humor and has not once ever tried to pull rank. Obviously, she has great strength of character to have withstood the temptation to be otherwise.”
“It’s been great working with Eric,” Bell lobs back, “because I learn a lot. He’ll take those long pauses between sentences — or even words — that real people would. In the beginning, that seemed strange. But then I would watch it on-camera and it would work. It made the scene so natural. HE thinks his way through everything.”
While she adores working with Braeden, Bell hopes to continue sharing scenes with Doug Davidson, who plays her hard-luck ex-fiancé, Paul. “I love working with Doug,” Bell gushes. “He’s my favorite person in the world. I tell him everything, because he’s not going to judge me. If I’m having a difficult time crying, I just look at his picture [Bell has a picture of him on her desk] and I think, ‘Oh, my God, he broke up with me!’ I can’t imagine not working with him. That would be really hard.”
Co-stars she loves, a thriving social life, a close-knit family, beauty, talent and a great job. Lauralee Bell has so much more going for her than Cricket — er, Christine. And when Bell does settle down and have kids, she’ll be ready. “I’m taking piano lessons so I can be the fun mom at Christmas,” she confides. “I’ll be the rockin’ mama at birthday parties: ‘Come over here, kids. Five cents and you can see my tattoo.’”
Now, would Cricket ever say that?
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: December 22
Her Phobias: “Needles and snakes.”
The Word She Hates The Most: Meal. “I don’t like what your mouth has to do around that word.”
Why She Prefers Midwestern Guys: “They offer you their jacket without thinking, ‘Will my shirt look okay with the jacket?’”
Her Favorite East Coast Pal: ATWT’s Martha Byrne (Lily) “She’s not a girly girl.”
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