This interview was originally published in the May 29, 2007 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
How One Great Marriage, Two Beautiful Kids (Off-Screen), Two Adorable Kids (On-Screen), Two Emmy Nods, Two Hunky Co-Stars And One Fantastic Decade-Long Job At GH Equal Rebecca Herbst’s Perfect 10
A few weeks from now, live from the Kodak Theatre in the heart of Hollywood, Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) could be fainting dead away on a television screen near you. Okay, so we exaggerate. But if Herbst does find herself accepting a golden lady as this year’s Outstanding Supporting Actress, she assures us that dropping to the floor could be a distinct possibility. “I’m the kind of person who wants to pass out when they get up on stage in front of a group of people,” laughs the actress. “To me, that is seriously my biggest fear. When I was in school, I used to beg the teacher to let me do two written book reports instead of one oral, which is crazy. I would be so nauseous.”
If push came to shove, however, and her name was at the end of “And the Emmy goes to…” Herbst imagines that she’d probably be able to keep herself upright, but she’d certainly have a tough time wining it from there. “Of course, I know that as long as I remembered to thank Brian Frons [president, Daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group], Jill [Farren Phelps, GH’s executive producer] and Michael, I’ll be fine [laughs],” she nods. “But I honestly know that it’s not going to happen this year and that’s okay.”
Forget false modesty, if that’s what you’re thinking. For her, the nomination came as an honest-to-goodness shocker after many months of sporadic story for Elizabeth (remember the material she’s being judged on comes from last year’s crop, not this year’s Liz-gets-pregnant-by-Jason storyline boon). On the morning the nominations were being announced, Herbst was clueless — and sound asleep. “I didn’t even know that was the day,” she grins. “Mitch [GH’s publicist] called me around 5:30 or 6 in the morning and of course I’m like, ‘Okay, who died?’ I just remember asking him who else was nominated and said, ‘I’ll talk to you later.’ And it was so funny because Michael said, ‘Who was that?’ And I said, ‘Mitch.’ He said, ‘Oh, what did he want?’ And I said, ‘I guess I got nominate.’ Michael goes [quietly], ‘Oh, okay. That’s great.’ And then he didn’t say anything, so I sat there for a minute and was like, ‘Hello?! I got nominated!’ So he sat up and went, ‘Babe, that’s great!’ And then we both went back to sleep!’
Now approaching her decade anniversary with GH, Herbst admits that she’s been having a lot of then-and-now moments. “I look back on my first nomination and I think, ‘How sad,’ because I had only been on the show for less than a year and I just didn’t appreciate it,” she notes. “And looking back, I didn’t really earn it. Yeah, maybe I put out a few good performances because I had that whole rape storyline. That was great, but had I put in all the years and the experience and the growing to deserve that? No, I didn’t. So now, I feel like I have worked to be where I am and I can appreciate that. And I only say these things now because my husband is constantly telling me, ‘Give yourself more credit.’ But I look back 10 years ago and I’m like, ‘My gosh, I was this single, you, just-turned-21-year-old.’ And now, my whole world has become so complete.”
Due in large part, obviously, to a blissful home life with Saucedo and their kids. But also, Herbst points out, to this job of hers. “I love the fact that she has this love for both Lucky and Jason,” She says. “It’ makes everybody happy and I love when the fans are all kept happy. The Liz/Lucky people are happy because the characters are married and she’s making an effort. But then, the Jason people are like, ‘Well, she is having his baby….’ And I’m still really good friends with Steve [Burton, Jason] and Greg, so it’s like my family.”
When Herbst first found out that her character was going to become pregnant again, she admits that visions of Baby No. 3 for her and Saucedo danced in her head, but not for long. “Jill came to me and said, ‘You know, if you’re thinking about having another baby, it could be the time to do it,”” recounts the actress. “OF course, this was 10 moths ago, Ella was just turning 2 and she definitely went through that whole ‘Terrible 2’ thing. So I was like, ‘No, that’s not happening. I’m pretty sure we’re done. I have my boy, I have my girl; they’re both healthy. I’ve got my perfect little family. We’re done.”
But isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? “Then, of course, last month, I said to Jill and Bob [Guza, head writer], ‘Would you guys kill me if I got pregnant?’ And they were like, ‘What?!’ I said, ‘No, no, I’m not pregnant, but I am thinking about it.’ And Bob said, ‘It’s really weird, nobody ever comes to us to ask if it’s okay [laughs].’ I said, ‘Well, I know you can’t technically fire me if I get pregnant; however, I know that you might not want to work me. And if I’m not working, I can’t afford another kid!’ But they said, ‘No, we wouldn’t do that.’ I was just putting it out there, that’s all [laughs]!”
Muses Herbst, “I’m just so thankful and grateful that after 10 years, they’re still writing me a story. Because there were a few years there where all I was doing was pouring coffee and answering phones. But even if I am just serving coffee at Kelly’s or answering the phone in the hub… those have benefits, as well, because if I’m not on-screen, that just means I’m at home with my kids. Robin Christopher [Skye] said, ‘Do you know how nice it is to be nominated after so many years, because that means so many people are still pulling for you??’ Sometimes, you have your day and to have my day after 10 years is pretty nice.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: May 12
Oh, The Good Life: Herbst has been happily married to former co-star Michael Saucedo (ex-Juan) since 2001; they have two kids, Ethan, 5, and Ella, 3.
Nods Maker: The actress scored her first Emmy nomination (for Younger Actress) during the 1998/99 awards season, and her second (for Supporting Actress) this year.
Ink Well: Last year, she re-upped with GH for three more years.
Parental Guidance: Herbst admits offering advice to first-time-dad-to-be Greg Vaughan (Lucky, who welcomed son Jathan on May 4. “He is so cute when he holds [Liz and Lucky’s] new little baby. You see this nervous excitement on his face. I said to him today, ‘Does this make you excited?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I can’t wait.’ Then I said, ‘Does this make you a little nervous?’ HE said, ‘Oh, nooooooo. Not at all!’ And I’m like, ‘You’re such a liar [laughs]!”
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