This interview originally appeared in the March 6, 2007 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
Her Pursuit Of A Normal Life Led AMC’s Melissa Claire Egan Right Back To Where She Started
Somewhere in the home of Melissa Claire Egan’s parents is a videotape of the actress’s first appearance on ALL MY CHILDREN. Not the one that aired last July – when she was introduced as Annie, the comely single mom who has snared Ryan’s affections – but her real AMC debut as an extra in the scenes with Tom and Livia back in 1994.
“I wasn’t a child actor,” says Egan of how her 13 year-old self came to spend the day in Pine Valley. “But I grew up in Westchester, an hour outside of the city, and I would audition every once in awhile and booked some things. I had auditioned for the young Bianca, like a year before – didn’t get it, obviously [Gina Gallagher did] – and had watched the show as a kid, like, ‘Oh, that’s the one I auditioned for!’ So I was excited about it. I totally remember sitting in the green room with all the other extras – and now, my dressing room is right across the hall. It’s just so funny how things come full circle.”
Back then, Egan – Missy to pals, “Boots” to AMC crew members, thanks to the brown pair she sported in the love scene (her first) she taped with Cameron Mathison (Ryan) just a few days before her sit-down with Digest – considered acting “just a fun hobby, not a major focus. I liked being a kid! I loved doing the school play, love being on the swim team, love playing lacrosse.” Acting full-time, she says, “was something I knew I could do later and wanted to do later. I wanted to have a normal life.”
By all accounts, that’s precisely what she had (save for an increase in teasing from middle-school bullies who enjoyed rankling her about her appearance on the cover of the board game Girl Talk, a slumber-party staple). And after graduating with a theater degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003, she moved to Hollywood – with guest-starring gigs on the Wilmington, NC based series DAWSON’S CREEK and ONE TREE HILL on her resume, no less, as between football games and finals, she’d gotten herself an agent in nearby Greensboro.
At first, Hollywood didn’t seem to care. “I didn’t even have an agent for the first two years! It was a nightmare! So I waited tables and hostessed and then finally, in November of 2005, I got my first real agent. And from the second I got the agent, it was boom, boom, boom.”
Indeed it was. The first two booms (auditioning for YOUNG AND RESTLESS’s Colleen and AS THE WORLD TURN’s Lucy) went bust, but the third – the part of Annie – was a bull’s-eye. She was thrilled to get the role, in part because she had feared she’d be considered too young for the gig (“I’m 25! I’m irresponsible! I can’t pay my ConEd bill on time, much less take care of a 4-year old!”), and in part because AMC held a special place in her heart. “Not only did I watch it as a kid,” she notes, “but I always watched it in L.A. while I was getting ready for auditions. I’d be blow-drying my hair and watching Kendall and Babe, you know? And now, they’re my co-stars!”
Seven months and one cross-country move later, she feels very much at home in Pine Valley. She’s forged tight friendships, especially with leading man Mathison, “We just make fun of ourselves and each other all day long,” she smiles. “Most of my scenes are with him, which is like sharing a desk with someone at an office. I tell him about the boys I date and we laugh a lot – which is important when you’re standing there in your bra and panties and boots! And the fact that he’s a sexy beast? I don’t mind that. It’s hard to get paid to make out with Cameron Mathison,” she quips, “but I’ll do it if I have to. I’m admirable in that sense, but I’m not gonna lie: It’s a tough life.”
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
The first time Digest met Melissa Claire Egan, she was at the AMC studio dragging Cameron Mathison down the hall to the set of THE VIEW. What gives? “I’ve always loved THE VEW,” the actress explains, “and my favorite part, as Cameron knows, is Hot Topics. I don’t feel comfortable going by myself because I think I’ll get kicked out, but if you bring Cameron Mathison, it’s like, ‘Oh it’s fine!’ Poor Cam. He loves THE VIEW, too, but if it’s like, 10:55 and we’re done taping or have a break, I will always come knock on his door, like, ‘Time for THE VIEW! Hot Topics starts in three minutes! Come on, Cam, T minus three!’ He’s so sweet; he always goes and watches me from the sidelines. He’s like, ‘You’re just using me as a key to get into THE VIEW!’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, Yes, I am.’ I mean, seriously! That’s how I make Cameron Mathison spend his day.”
Did You Know?
*Growing up, Egan sed to see Eden Riegel (Bianca) and future film star Scarlett Johansson at auditions.
*The actress starred in a 2006 Super Bowl commercial for Taco Bell.
Just The Facts
Birthday: September 28
Hometown: Pound Ridge, NY
Her Cell Phone Ringtone: “Float On” by Modest Mouse
Her TiVo List: GREY’S ANATOMY, 24, SEX AND THE CITY (“I’m obsessed:) and 30 ROCK.
Her Signature Karaoke Jam: “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” by Meat Loaf. “It reminds me of going to bat mitzvahs when I was 13. I won a couple of karaoke competitions in my day.”
Celebs She Gets Mistaken For: Jennifer Garner and Rebecca Budig (ex-Greenlee).
Sib City: Egan has an older brother, Ryan, and a younger brother, Scott. “Growing up with boys, I’m definitely a boy’s girl. I like being girly, but I also like football and I have a potty mouth and crude sense of humor.”
Girls Club: Alexa Havins (Babe) and Chrishell Stause (Amanda) are his closest pals outside of work. “We used to hang with Sydney [Penny, Julia], too, but now she’s pregnant and can’t go boozing [laughs].”