All My Children Q&A: Eden Riegel Talks Returning To Play Bianca Montgomery

Fans are just a month away from the return of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live,” which will both debut online, thanks to Prospect Park’s The Online Network, on April 29.

And it’s not just the fans who are thrilled, so is Eden Riegel, the Emmy-award winning actress who is stepping back into the role of Bianca Montgomery.

“Oh my God, it’s so great,” Eden told of her return to Pine Valley, as we start the final countdown to the return of the beloved soaps.

She didn’t originate the role, but Eden defined Bianca for “AMC” audiences, playing the daughter of Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) who, after coming out in 2000, ended up becoming the most prominent gay character on daytime TV.

When the show returns, Bianca’s life has moved forward in years. Her eldest daughter, Miranda, is now a teenager, and bringing lots of drama to the small screen. Eden hinted at what’s ahead in that part of her storyline, and provided an interesting answer when we asked her if the racier show – which resumes via Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes on April 29 – will find Bianca returning with a love interest.

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Eden: It’s really tons of fun and a little bit surreal because I’ve had such a history with the show and it was such a huge part of my life… and I had to say goodbye to it… The final goodbye really felt like it was for good. Not initially because there was this potential that Prospect Park could bring it back, but very shortly thereafter, they couldn’t make the deals with the unions and it just started looking less and less likely. When they finally demolished the set, we were sure that that was it. And then to get a call a year later, that they really meant business – first of all, it was like a dream come true, but also it signaled to all of us the real commitment that Prospect Park was making to the show and how much they believed in it. Nobody resurrects something from the dead unless they really think that people want it and it has a place in our culture and that meant a lot to us all.

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Access: What was the conversation that got you on the show?

Eden: I have a family and I live in LA, and I was like, ‘I want to do it so badly, but I don’t know if I can.’ And then they came up with this really creative idea – they’re sharing the studio between ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life To Live,’ so there’s these hiatuses where we can return home to our normal lives so it’s not quite as disrupted… They really wanted me back on the show and that meant a lot to me because they needed continuity for the fans and they needed representation by somebody from the Kane family. Susan Lucci is the lifeblood of the show… She’s working on ‘Devious Maids’ right now and so she wasn’t able to make a full time return, although I have heard that she’s doing everything she can to come back at least for a visit, but, it was really important that the fans know that this is gonna be their show and not just a bunch of new faces. So, it meant a lot to me that they tried so hard to make it work and that they were excited about my character and had great ideas for what to do with her so I just had to do it because I wanted to see them through to this chapter.

Access: It’s really interesting what you said about having a representative from the Kane family because I hadn’t thought about that before … Does that put extra pressure on you as an actress … because you are the representative of this family.

Eden: Yeah, you know what’s really funny about that is when I first started on the show, I was a teenager and I was playing 16 and I was having big problems with my mom and she had this rebellious daughter that she didn’t totally understand. That was my first storyline and now I have a 16-year-old daughter on the show. It’s completely fully circle and I would say Miranda much more takes after Erica and Bianca sort of takes after Mona… One of the first major storylines that ‘All My Children’ featured was Erica Kane, a rebellious daughter and her mother, sort of a matriarchal type, who was trying to guide her daughter to a safer place. She was trying to keep her in check, but also celebrate who she was and we’re doing sort of a similar thing… It’s so interesting that it should happen right at the beginning of ‘All My Children 2.0.’

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Access: Is it true we pick up a few years later?

Eden: That’s right.

Access: The last time people saw ‘All My Children,’ J.R. Chandler had a gun, and he was hiding behind the walls as most of the residents of Pine Valley were gathered together. What can you tell us about where the show picks up?

Eden: By having a quick sort of fast forward you get the opportunity to restart things because things have changed a lot in these people’s lives and yet, they’re still struggling with some of the same issues, and, of course, that final cliffhanger has definitely affected — it’s ricocheted and affected people’s lives and Miranda and A.J. who were just little kids at that point are now teenagers and dealing with the fallout themselves. So I think it was a really, really smart move to do this time jump because then you just get so many more possibilities. You don’t have to quickly rehash and finish up old stories. You get to start fresh with the same people, but at a slightly different point in their lives.

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Access: Do they explain away Erica’s absence?

Eden: No. I think in a good way… there isn’t a lot of time on like, ‘Oh, where’s so and so?’ ‘You remember she’s out of town doing this…’ They don’t spend a lot of time on the exposition of that stuff so what you end up getting is the feeling that those people still are present. They’re just not featured. And soap audiences are used to there being a large cast and not every storyline can be dealt with every day so, it doesn’t have to be mentioned that Erica’s at the nail salon today. So I don’t know if it’s specifically mentioned where she is or what she’s doing… I don’t think that her absence is gonna be quite as palpable for the audience, which is good because I’m sure they’re gonna miss her enough and they can sort of believe that she is present.

Access: We’ve heard the show is going to be a little racier and the language is going to be a little racier. Is that true?

Eden: Yes, that’s what I’ve heard too. And I’ve definitely noticed it in the language and [how] the romantic encounters are described on paper – and I didn’t get to see any of them shot – but I do understand that they were quite racy and there’s a little bit more skin showing.

Access: Is it more cable-y?

Eden: Yeah, I think so. I think a funny thing happens when there’s much more creative freedom. Because we’re doing it on the web, there aren’t as many restrictions. In a strange way the show feels a little less edgy, I think it’s gone a little bit more to the heart of what the show originally was, which is relationship driven rather than plot driven.

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Access: You started talking about other people’s relationships on the show, so I’m guessing then that there is no romance for Bianca this time around?

Eden: They’re being very secretive and I can’t reveal anything and some of it has to do with — Bianca was very affected by what happened at the end of the show — the big cliffhanger and her family is very affected by it, so if I tell you what’s going on with her romantically, it’s a big reveal.

Access: Finally, we hear Alicia Minshew, who plays your sister Kendall, is coming back for a cameo. Is that correct?

Eden: She is coming back for a cameo… and I got to work with her… Yes, Alicia is coming and I got to do a scene with her, which was just amazing. Staring into her big brown eyes everything came flooding back, like our old relationship and we shared so many intimate scenes together and also we’re very, very close friends so it was a lovely reunion between Bianca and Kendall.

“All My Children” premieres online on April 29.

-- Jolie Lash

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