#TBT

#TBT - Maura West

Maura West

Credit: PGP

Granted, it’s an over-statement to call her mysterious. She has given forthcoming — though admittedly infrequent — interviews. She is warm and gracious at fan events. She has even given birth on TV. But for whatever reason, AS THE WORLD TURNS’s Maura West (Carly) still seems somewhat inaccessible, as though we have never met the “real” her. We dance around the topic throughout the interview, until the very last second, after she has already been thanked for her time. “I know that people have the wrong idea about me. They think I’m a bitch,” she finally blurts, cutting off all protests with a Carlyesque shriek: “They… think….that…I’m…a…bitch — bitchy!”

Well, that’s Maura West. Shrewd, saucy and sensitive, she calls things as she sees them, with the theater trained diction and delightfully arch delivery of a latter-day Katharine Hepburn, drawing out each word for juicy impact, even though you can always tell when she’s biting her tongue. She rarely says more than is necessary, but paints such a lush picture with her descriptions, they almost sound like a script (and we mean that in a good way). It’s true that she has never courted the press, but it’s equally clear how much she appreciates her fans. She is practical, yet passionate about her priorities, which are family and work, always in that order. She is a wife who recalls being “Comically enormous” during her seven-months pregnant walk down the aisle in 2000; a mother of three who can’t beat her 8-year-old at chess and makes plenty of time for cuddling. She accurately describes herself as loyal, honest generous and stubborn, with a “wicked” sense of humor. One thing we’re pretty certain about is that she is not a bitch. A lot has changed since her last interview, in 1999, when her family consisted of Scott DeFreitas (ex-Andy) and son Ben (now 8), from her first marriage. Since then, she and DeFreitas wed and had two more kids — Joe, 4, and Kate, 2. “I’m older, happier and more content. Scott is a great dad and a really good man. I’m really lucky. I’ve learned a lot from my marriage to him,” praises the actress. But pressed about her private life, West seems to struggle to find some detail that isn’t entirely ordinary. “We’re really kind of a traditional family. There are no big secrets in my life,” she insists, then adds, “We’re like a typical family that is quirky. We are emotional people; we allow our children to be. We respect their emotions, and there’s no burying of anything, which is really healthy, but it can be a circus in my house, because people are allowed to be free. It’s a circus! Circus mazurkas! You never know what Joe is going to be wearing. Probably nothing, if he’s in the house. He’ll come running out and leap from the counter to your arms, naked. Even if he doesn’t know you. It’s wonderful.”

She’s getting warmed up, and her next statement is, for some reason, a surprise. “I should do my own reality show — put cameras in my house,” she muses, then finishes with a lyrical flourish. “Music is always playing. It’s ring-around-the-rosy in the kitchen. It’s pickles and cinnamon bread.”

One of the many reasons that life is so idyllic at the West/DeFreitas home is the household’s newest addition. “Kate is — I cannot say this, I know, without sounding totally hokey — but the light of our lives,” she gushes. “She’s come into our house and created an incredible balance among everyone. The relationships between all of us are better with her presence. My relationship with my boys is better. Not that it was ever bad, but the element that she’s brought is so good and loving and fun that it’s just created a fantastic environment. I think everyone in my family would agree. She’s something else. A wildcat. She’s fiery and sweet and soft and innocent and tough and smart and a handful when she wants to be. She runs my house. I used to be the queen, but I abdicated — she is the queen now. She’s gonna rule the world.”

Things are so perfect right now, she is almost afraid to screw things up by adding more. “I’ve thought about this a lot, because when you’re going on NO. 4, it’s not just ‘Ohhh, let’s see what happens.’ At this point, the college fund’s gotta be ready. You have to be a little smarter about it than ‘Ooops.’ And the balance that Kate has brought, what will happen to that? It’s so good right now. That could completely turn around and then I would have to have a fifth or something,” she laughs. “But I also think, and I’m projecting, probably, my own neurotic problems, if I were to have another girl, I think it would change Katherine. I worry that it would change her spirit or identity as ‘the girl.’ She knows very well that she is ‘the girl.’ And I want to preserve that because it’s so wonderful… and three is a lot!”

As a mother, her hopes are simple. “I want them to never get sick. To be healthy, to use their brains. They all have them, I can see already that they’re bright,” she says. “I want them to use the gifts that they were given and do whatever they want to do. Scotty and I will be there. If they say, ‘I want to be an actor,’ we’ll say, ‘Good.’ If they say, ‘I want to be a plumber,’ we’ll say, ‘Good.’ We all know people who go to work every day, dragging their feet, so miserable, stuck in something they don’t want to do. I would hate for that to happen.”

West, thankfully, is not one of those people. “I would never leave a job like this. How could you?” she marvels. “The people who sort of come and go, this is a stepping-stone for them, and that’s great. I have three children, and I don’t think in this industry that there’s a better position to be in than what I do. Eleven o’clock, I was done with work today. I’d be halfway home if we weren’t talking! It’s just such an awesome job when you have children, and I love it. I will do other things when the kids are older. Right now, my children and Carly are my focus.”

That’s Maura West, quite simply, in her prime. “I’m happiest now. I get happier all the time,” she says. “Knock wood, but my life just gets better.”

JUST THE FACTS

Birthday: April 27

Flick Picks: “My favorite movie of all time is The Lion in Winter, and I recently, finally, saw Lost In Translation, which I loved.”

Bedstand Reading: “Right now, it’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. The last novel that I read from cover to cover was I Don’t Know How She Does It. That was a fast read because I really identified with it.”

Internet Phobia: “I very occasionally start to read something online, but I’m so horrified and in such physical pain when I see: ‘I never liked Carly; never will.’ I have to stop. It’s just not good for my soul to sift through that.”

Safe Haven? On the restricted-access “Car-jacket” founded online message board Park West: “Do you think they’d let me be a member?”

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