General Hospital Q&A: Kelly Sullivan On Black Swan-Esque Kate/Connie, Show’s 50th

Kelly Sullivan may have pages of dialogue and two distinct characters to keep track of on “General Hospital,” but she still remembers exactly what happened on her very first day on the soap in 2011.

“I was just reaming someone out,” Kelly, who started out playing prim and proper fashion editor Kate Howard, told in a new interview. “I was like, ‘Do you have any idea who you’re speaking to!’ It was pretty awesome.”

Things only got better for the actress, who has a musical theater and Broadway background, as — not long into her Port Charles residency — Kate started to have episodes, and eventually transitioned into the outspoken, sexually manipulative and coincidentally, equally good with the pen (she did revise Molly’s young love novel for an adult audience) Connie Falconeri. (Connie was Kate’s original birth name, but she was the girl Kate left behind when she got out of Bensonhurst following a very dark incident that was revealed last year on the show).

As we inch ever closer to “GH’s” 50th anniversary celebration, Kelly took a trip down memory lane with, recalling some of her favorite scenes, and describing how she helped in the development of Connie. Plus, she hints at what’s ahead for the highly-anticipated Nurses’ Ball! The ‘GH’ book – ‘Love In Maine’ — is out. Did you ever expect to have your photo on a book alongside Joan Collins and E.L. James?

Kelly: (Laughs) That would be awesome. I love it. I think it’s hysterical and such a great idea and a really cool thing for the show to have and for people to have – the fans. I love it.

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Access: Have you seen it in a bookstore yet? Your photo is on the back of the book!

Kelly: Oh my God, I didn’t know my photo was there! I have to pick that up. I got the press release from our PR person [who said it was] in stores. I have to grab a copy or maybe I’ll get one at work.

Access: You’ve been playing Kate for a couple years now, and Connie more recently. A lot has happened – Sonny, Trey, Joe Scully Jr.. But do you still remember your first day on set?

Kelly: I do. I started my very first scene – it was a phone call and I was in an elevator. They’re like, ‘Go in this little box, the doors are gonna shut and we countdown. Then, start talking.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is so weird. I can’t see anybody! I’m in this small, little box.’ Then the doors opened and all these cameras were there and I’m just like, ‘Are my eyes even open? I don’t even know.’

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Access: Who was the first cast member you met when you got to ‘GH’?

Kelly: Actually, right before I started, I got an e-mail from Lisa LoCicero [Olivia Falconeri] and I hadn’t even started yet. She just texted me and the title of the subject line was, ‘What’s up Bensonhurst?’ She just sort of introduced herself and was very kind and said, ‘We have a lot of scenes coming up on your second day, and I just want you to know I’m here for you if you want to get together or run lines. Here’s my number.’ I told her I’d never forget that gesture of kindness and friendship. She’s one of my dearest friends at work and I just love her.

Access: You have one of the best jobs on the show – getting to play these two very distinct women. When did they actually tell you would end up playing two characters?

Kelly: When I first got the job, I certainly got the breakdown of Kate Howard, then a couple weeks went by and the head writer at the time, Garin Wolf, called me up to his office and sort of sat me down and started to explain to me his vision for this double character. I just became really excited about the thought of a person who had this other side of her. I asked him at one point, ‘So, what you’re explaining to me is almost like a ‘Black Swan’ type of thing?’ And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Yeah, actually that’s a good analogy.’ Nothing was written out yet, but he did tell me that little things were going to be planted… It started with these phone calls to her shrink in Chicago and then it started really getting into it in January of 2012… When Ron [Carlivati, ‘GH’s’ head writer] came in, he took what was already planted and took off with it and through just trial and error and writing and sort of us figuring out who this person was, and what she wanted, we sort of created it together… He really let me find her and continue with storyline and bringing in Trey and Joe Jr. and sort of just adding layers… just made it — every day I go to work, I [am] just like, ‘This is a dream!’

Access: When anniversaries come about it’s fun to reminisce and think about your favorite scenes. Do your favorites tend to be darker, harder work, like with the Trey death storyline or lighter?

Kelly: I think one of the most fun memorable times for me with Connie, was the whole wedding sequence ..

Access: Where she turns up with Johnny?

Kelly: (Giggles) Yeah!

Access: Look at you laughing just thinking about it.

Kelly: Oh my God, I just love that whole time that whole storyline and working with Maurice [Benard, who plays Sonny Corinthos] through that, [and] all my scenes with Johnny afterward… I feel like that… just humanized her. And, of course, the scenes with Trey were really challenging for me, certainly dealing just with subject matter alone, but I really sunk my teeth into her pain and suffering. I thought they were brilliantly written and I really felt very fortunate to be able to explore that aspect of her.

Access: Someone is going to have to submit those scenes for award consideration, I would hope.

Kelly: Yeah, I love ‘em I really cherish those scenes.

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Access: How fun is it on set with the golden age of soap characters back? Have you bonded with anybody who came back who was on the show when you were just a kid?

Kelly: Yeah. It is funny because I remember the first day we were doing — I think — the Valentine’s Day scene and I met Jack Wagner and I’m just looking at this guy like… ‘Oh my God. This is so great.’ They bring such a sense of history, rich history, to any room they’re in. They’re pros. It’s just amazing. I love it. I’m always like, ‘Who’s in today? Who am I going to meet today that I can just sort of rub shoulders with?’ and Genie Francis — these people that you kind of grew up watching. They’re beautiful and they’re so sweet and they’re just regular people just like you, going to work, getting their hair and makeup. It’s pretty brilliant.

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Access: With the Nurses’ Ball coming up what can you hint at?

Kelly: Well, it’s funny. I’m not in the Nurses’ Ball.

Access: You’d think Connie would have snuck in!

Kelly: I know! I think they’re trying, story wise… to find the next place for my character… and just timing wise, it just worked out that I can kind of go away off camera, get my integration and then come back, so I actually haven’t been around. I don’t know what’s going on. I just get little texts and I read the Tweets. I know Richard Simmons came and I was so bummed I missed that day because I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that day. But, it sounds like it’s just going to be incredible [with] musical numbers. And I just can’t wait to see it!

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Access: Finally, Ingo Rademacher, is back on ‘GH’ and now, on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Are you planning to visit him in the ballroom?

Kelly: I’d love that. I’m really happy for him. What an exciting adventure. I would love to be there and I know Kelly [Monaco] had such a great experience and my God, she almost won the darn [All-Stars] show. It’s really great when you have co-stars and friends that do things like that because it’s just a fun thing to support and appreciate. He’s got a lot to look forward to. From what Kelly was saying, it’s just like a full time job, along with a full time job.

“General Hospital” airs weekdays on ABC.

-- Jolie Lash

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