GH’s Mary Beth Evans: Minding Her Do’s, Q’s & Boy Toy Nikolas By Meg McCaffrey
ROLE: Katherine Bell, General Hospital
A/K/A: Kayla Brady, Days Of Our Lives; Dakota Lane, Rituals
THEY HAD A BALL: “Stephen [Nichols, Stefan] and I rehearsed the waltz for the Bacchanalia Ball several times but we also had little ear pieces in our ears and the choreographer was counting [the steps] for us and telling us to spin and turn. It was so much fun. I’d never waltzed before that.”
WHILE KATHERINE WAS AWOL, MARY BETH WAS A-OK: “I spent a lot of time with my kids and I trained for a triathlon. My girlfriend and I did this mini-triathlon together. We did lot of exercising, biking, swimming and running.”
CHECKING INTO GH: “When I went back to work, my kids were kind of in shock. They were so used to having me around. [Laughs] It was a nice time but I really like working so I was anxious to get back.”
SWINGING INGLE: “I love my scenes with Edward. I love our little toying and goofing around. [John Ingle] is such a wonderful guy, too, such a sweet guy. Everyone [at GH] is just so sweet. I love all of them.”
Playing the role of devil’s advocate, Mary Beth Evans answers the question: What if Katherine had never gone over that parapet? “For me personally, I love the idea that [Stefan and Katherine] could have gotten married and lived a happy life,” she muses. “That’s what I always wish for … but that’s not what makes good drama, I guess.” True, happily ever after in soaps never works. But what is making for good drama these days on General Hospital is Katherine’s return from the presumed-dead as a woman seemingly bent on exacting some sort of revenge on her former fiance, Stefan Cassadine. You see, it sadly dawned on Katherine just before her accidental fall that Stefan has been in love with another woman, Laura Spencer.
As the story goes, thanks to Mommie Dearest Helena Cassadine, Katherine survived that fall and lived to tell about. (The loosened parapet was meant for Helena, courtesy of Luke.) Since Ms. Bell’s return to Port Charles, Stefan has played a guessing game with Katherine. Specifically, Stefan wonders what exactly Katherine remembers before taking that swan dive– and does she recall his secret that Nikolas is his son? More importantly, what does she want from Stefan now and what other ammunition might she have? Figuring into this is Helena, since Stefan knows that Helena had something to do with saving Katherine’s life.
How does Katherine view Stefan (Stephen Nichols) now? “She just feels like he’s a complete bastard,” shares Mary Beth Evans. Right now Katherine’s nearing the end of her rope with him. “She just feels like he’s a complete bastard,” shares Evans. After all, he tried to mold her in the image of Laura. The rage and disappointment at being duped by the man she thought she’d love forever still simmer inside of Katherine. What remains to be seen is exactly what Katherine will do about it. She’s shacking up with the often nefarious Quartermaine clan, but Katherine could have another way of hurting Stefan — and Laura, too, for that matter — via their son Nikolas.
Would she sink so low as to use their son — her dear friend Nikolas — to get revenge? Stefan’s young “nephew” recently planted a steamy kiss on the older Katherine, moments after telling her that Stefan is still in love with Laura. Although Kat ( and viewers!) were a bit stunned by the smooch, get ready to keep being stunned. “We kiss again,” says Evans. “Quite a few more times actually.” But those forbidden kisses won’t come without consequence. “I think as things unfold, she sees this thing with Nikolas could be potential disaster, and Helena or Stefan or anyone could take her down.”
Below, Mary Beth Evans talks about her character’s compromising positions, how revenge could be sweet and what was behind her “Clone Helena” hairdo.
DIGEST ONLINE: So what did Katherine think of Nikolas kissing her?
MARY BETH EVANS: I think it’s a very conflicting time for her. She’s been such a close friend to him, so it was kind of shocking at first to her. She has these mixed feelings; she’s torn between what is right and her conscience, but she’s got an incredible attraction to him, too. And he also loves her like no one else has. There’s an incredible pull toward him.
DIGEST ONLINE: Will there be more kisses between Nikolas and Katherine?
EVANS: Many. We’ve [shot] three more since the first one.
DIGEST ONLINE: So obviously Katherine liked the first smooch?
EVANS: Yes. Like I said, it’s very compelling. She’s just kind of swept up in it, but then her mind takes over, “Wait. Stop! We can’t do this!” But then they’re back at it again.
DIGEST ONLINE: It’s intriguing that other television shows, notably Ally McBeal and Dawson’s Creek, have had these once taboo stories of older women attracted to younger men. What do you think of this whole topic?
EVANS: I guess it’s time. I was a little worried about it at first, but it’s getting easier. For me personally, I can’t imagine I’d ever go for a guy who’s 18 or so. But Nikolas is older than his age, I would say. And you just get swept up in the moment and the situation and age disappear.
DIGEST ONLINE: Since you came back to the show around Labor Day, it almost feels like you’re playing a new character.
EVANS: I think she came back feistier and more in charge again. Katherine is a strong woman, but she wants happiness by way of a picket fence, or some version of that, so she often lets a lot of things slide. When she gets burned again, she’s thinking, “I’m not doing that again.” I think she’s at that point now.
DIGEST ONLINE: What is her agenda now?
EVANS: I think she wants to make Stefan feel the pain she felt.
DIGEST ONLINE: What is the status of Katherine’s feelings for Stefan, now that she’s been told that Stefan is still in love with Laura?
EVANS: I think she has been incredibly hurt by Stefan. And she’s getting to the end of her rope with him… She’s trying to remember the last few minutes before she fell [off the parapet]. She sees Stefan, and there’s this little moment [where] she has this glimmer that maybe she should have given him one more chance. She goes to him and gives him that opportunity to come to her and start anew if there are any feelings left. And he doesn’t. Then, she just feels like he’s a complete bastard and forget it. She has those [negative] feelings but then, like anyone you loved once, she has moments of feeling sad and remorseful and wishing that things had been different.
DIGEST ONLINE: The bottom line is that Katherine doesn’t want Stefan back?
EVANS: No. She’s given him shots at it, but he keeps blowing it.
DIGEST ONLINE: What does Katherine remember before that fall off the parapet; she still doesn’t remember the secret of Nikolas’s paternity?
EVANS: Right [she doesn’t remember his paternity]. She remembers up to the point before that but she doesn’t remember that… She remembers the beginning of the conversation and the fall, so just that little bit she can’t remember. So she goes there and tries to remember, and she remembers everything but. It will probably come to her eventually, I imagine.
DIGEST ONLINE: Head Writer Robert Guza said about Stefan, “I don’t know that there’s a woman on earth who could make him happy… there is a hole in his soul.”
EVANS: I was sad when I read that… I think Katherine or someone who he really, really loves could change that, maybe that’s just a woman’s wishful thinking.
DIGEST ONLINE: Would Katherine ever use Nikolas to get back at Stefan? Now, there’s a way to really hurt Stefan.
EVANS: I don’t think so. I think that Katherine really does have feelings for [Nikolas]. I think there’s a part of Katherine that toys with the idea but tells herself, “That’s just ridiculous.”… But I think she might, as a way to protect herself, say something to Helena, so that if Helena was to find Katherine and Nikolas together, she would have some sort of alibi as to what her motives were… that would be different from love. But I personally can’t imagine Katherine using Nikolas for that.
DIGEST ONLINE: When you say ridiculous, what do you mean? Are you referring to their age difference or that Katherine knows better than to get involved with Helena’s grandson?
EVANS: Well, he’s much younger. And her conscience tells her that this is not right. For one thing, we’re such close friends but also [it seems ridiculous] because Nikolas is much younger.
DIGEST ONLINE: How invested is Katherine in Helena?
EVANS: She really appreciates Helena for saving her life and does feel that she got a bum rap and that the family picks on her too much. But there’s an element of her being a bit frightened of her too. I think as things unfold, she sees this thing with Nikolas could be potential disaster, and Helena or Stefan or anyone could take her down. So I think she tries to play it up for Helena, let’s Helena think… Nikolas [is] just going to help me get back at Stefan or something. But she would never want Helena to think that there’s anything romantic between the two of them, because Helena could kill her or Nikolas. So Katherine is in awe of Helena but somewhat afraid of her too.
DIGEST ONLINE: How much has Helena worked over Katherine?
EVANS: They spent several months together with Helena talking to her a lot at a very vulnerable time for Katherine, so whatever Helena said, Katherine probably really believed. I think Helena showed a side [of herself] to Katherine, that of a sweet loving woman, one that Katherine thinks is really who she is on one hand — the part that makes Katherine think that Helena has gotten a bad rap from the family.
DIGEST ONLINE: Can the friendship between Helena and Katherine go anywhere ultimately?
EVANS: I think it can. But the problem now is that Katherine is concerned about this thing with Nikolas. If Helena catches her, she will be in danger. And so will Nikolas. It’s taken a different turn because even though [Helena] is her ally or mentor, she’s now afraid of her, too. Katherine will have to cover and not be as honest as she might have been in the past.
DIGEST ONLINE: It seems to me that if Katherine wants to get even with Stefan, next to the Quartermaines, a great guy to team up with is Luke.
EVANS: Well, I love working with [Anthony Geary]. He’s so much fun.
DIGEST ONLINE: It seems like such a potential pairing: Luke and Katherine, partners-in-crime, especially as the Stefan and Laura relationship evolves. Might that be something in the cards?
EVANS: I have no idea. Believe me. [Laughs]
DIGEST ONLINE: Okay, so let’s talk about the folks who Katherine has teamed up with, so to speak, the Quartermaines.
EVANS: That’s a great place to be: [the Quartermaine mansion]. They’re all wacky and fun. I think Katherine can be with any one of the men in that room… They’re all just fun people. I have a lot of fun on those [tape] days.
DIGEST ONLINE: Katherine is set in the Quartermaine house, meaning she’s not leaving?
EVANS: If they don’t torture her. [Laughs] They’ll try and have tried. [Laughs]
DIGEST ONLINE: What is the best way for Katherine to use the Quartermaines to get back at Stefan?
EVANS: The buying of ELQ has something to do with it, but I don’t know what. She just feels very protected there, too. She knows Edward will defend her and there’s people around — she doesn’t want to be alone right now. She wants to be around people and I think she’s having a lot of fun there too!
DIGEST ONLINE: It looks like it! Regarding your haircut: You told Soap Opera Digest in character, “It’s the perfect way to say, ‘I am not going to be all the things that you were trying to make me. I’m going to take over this town… I’m not going to look like Laura. ” Can you elaborate on that?
EVANS: I had wanted to cut my hair for a while so that’s part of it. But I just felt for the character, it was the right thing to do. I mean, here’s [Stefan] fashioning me after Laura and the whole ball was absolutely the end there with the hair [like Laura’s] and the dress and everything. I thought that she would cut her hair and say, “I’m not looking anything like Laura anymore. I’m not like her.” And fight against the whole concept [Stefan had of her].
DIGEST ONLINE: Weren’t some GH viewers calling you “Clone Helena”?
EVANS: Yes, that first day back [to work with my new haircut] it surprised me how [Constance Towers, Helena] and I had similar hair. We were all laughing about that, too.
DIGEST ONLINE: So it was not a conscious decision to look alike?
EVANS: [Laughs] No. After that, they tried to change [Katherine’s] bangs a little bit or do something a little different. It was absolutely not a conscious decision.
DIGEST ONLINE: Did you get your haircut at the General Hospital studio or at a salon?
EVANS: There’s a great place in West L.A. called Prive, and there’s this great guy, Byron, and he’s fabulous. I’ve been going to him for a long time. When I had that sort of bubble with a flip, he did that. He’s a great stylist.
DIGEST ONLINE: So when you sat down in his chair, what instructions did you give him?
EVANS: I just said, “Let’s go short.” And he said, “Oh, I’ve been begging you to do this forever and I know exactly what to do.” It was very scary because I liked my hair long. It’s easy and cute and fun now.
DIGEST ONLINE: I have some questions about your co-stars. First up, what is it like working with Constance Towers?
EVANS: She’s incredible. She’s truly one of the nicest women and she’s so poised and regal. I never knew her before [GH]. I really just like her.
DIGEST ONLINE: Considering your past as Days Of Our Lives’ supercouple Kayla and Patch and as a loving Stefan and Katherine, is it a bit odd now playing a rather adversarial relationship on-camera with Stephen Nichols [Stefan]?
EVANS: No. We’re actors and we enjoy the story. For us, that’s more what it’s about. When we had the big ball, I was sad that it was the happiest and saddest day of Katherine’s life. It would have been so nice for Katherine to have been happy [with Stefan], but that’s not her character. Stephen’s character is not that. This show is so not Days Of Our Lives. I mean, Days Of Our Lives’ whole thrust is love stories and supercouples and that formula. General Hospital is not. Their very best characters do dastardly things, and I think that’s what makes it interesting and more real.
DIGEST ONLINE: Katherine’s not a likable character like Kayla. Did you find that enticing when you were offered the job?
EVANS: I had left Days and had been pregnant pretty much the whole time between the two shows. The baby was three months old. Shelley Curtis, who had been a producer on Days and is now one on GH, called and said that there was this great part and asked if I would be interested. I said, “Yeah, but I can’t play a villain.” Shelley said, “Sure you can.” [Laughs] So that’s how it happened.
DIGEST ONLINE: And did Stephen Nichols joining the show come about in a similar way?
EVANS: I took him to a Soap Opera Award show. He had worked a lot in the five years since leaving Days. He was kind of between jobs. I said, “I’d love for you to come work here… I thought there has never been chemistry with anybody like we had [on Days].” So I took him to this award show and everyone saw how fabulous he looked and how different he looked, and then they were kind of clamoring for him.
DIGEST ONLINE: What was Days Of Our Lives like to work on when you and Stephen were on it?
EVANS: It was very fun. It was also very family; there were no divas. Everyone worked together. The show at that time sort of had more of a wholesome kind of… I don’t know what. It just was very different than it is now.
DIGEST ONLINE: So what is Tyler Christopher [who plays Nikolas] like at work?
EVANS: He’s the sweetest. He’s very much like the character, very quiet, sweet. He’s a wonderful guy. He and Vanessa [Marcil, ex-Brenda] make the most beautiful couple.
DIGEST ONLINE: They’ll have beautiful children.
EVANS: That’s what I always think. She’s just blessed and a beauty.
DIGEST ONLINE: So how has fan reaction been to the new Katherine?
EVANS: Especially with the Nikolas story, everybody tells me, “Oh, I am so intrigued by it. I can’t wait to watch it. It’s so great.” Et cetera. That has been really positive.
DIGEST ONLINE: What’s ahead for Katherine?
EVANS: Her conflicting feelings for Nikolas and her desire for him now. [But inside she’s thinking], “What will people think? Is this too dangerous? Can she live with the whole picture?” Nikolas is pretty compelling, so it’s pretty hard to say no.