Soap Opera Update
20 years and 20 quotes
By: Bill Lieberman
Erika Slezak has been
portraying Victoria Lord Buchanan on the ABC daytime drama ONE LIFE TO LIVE for
20 years. We offered for her commentary 20 subjects pertaining to her character;
her storylines, her life and the world around her. Here are her replies.
Twenty years on ONE LIFE TO LIVE ** "Just unbelievable. I mean
if you told me, I wouldn't believe you. It's crept up on me. I still picture
myself as that 23-year-old girl who walked in here, had never been on TV before;
and managed somehow to get through the first day. I still know how I felt, I
still see the studio, I still picture it- I can tell you everything I did that
day. And I know that the costume designer Hazel Roy came before we started to
tape and put a penny in the pocket of my suit jacket. I kind of looked at her
questioningly and she said, "That's for luck. I think I saved the penny; I sure
as hell should have because that's the luckiest penny I ever had in my life.”
Clint Ritchie (Clint)** It's odd. Clint and I have been married on the
show for ten years or something. ..or nine year. He knows, I don't. It's like he
is my other husband. I treat him so familiarly without any kind of real personal
relationship. We get along beautifully, we laugh together, we rehearse. We have
all the advantages of being married and being happy together, "without the
difficulties...because we don't have to go home together."
Niki Smith** "She's a delightful character. A wig -- which means extra
hair and makeup time. It means long hours, but it means fun.”
Heaven storyline** "It was beautiful, it was fun, I got to talk to
everybody and see all these wonderful friends who had "left the show. And I was
comfortable the whole time~ I wore flat shoes and white chiffon. I always said;
'I hope when I die, that's how I go -- in white ballet flats and white chiffon
with my hair neatly combed and almost no makeup on.”
Eterna** “Eternal. Eterna was a very good idea that went on too long,
and as far as I was concerned involved too many people. I think that was the
problem with it. It was an awfully good idea-- the device of being stuck
underground and finding out all these things and all the people with all the
relationships. They were all very interesting people and all interesting things
that were happening, but the device of placing nine major characters in danger
just went on too long. And we ate a lot of dirt --especially the last two days.”
The Old West** "'My favorite story. I loved it. I have this personal
affinity for the desert. I am fascinated by the desert. I love it. I had never
been to the desert until I went out there to shoot. And I was only there 18
hours. I arrived at 11 0' clock at night because we had terrible flight
connections, and when I got up at four o'clock, in the morning and went to hair
and makeup, I had essentially never laid eyes on it. I hadn't seen daylight. And
at five o'clock in the morning we left to drive to Old Tucson, and I sat with my
mouth open in the van. I was stunned by the beauty of that country .And the
whole Old West story is totally wrapped in that kind, of feeling for me. I loved
Miss Ginny -she was, my favorite character of all time. I truly loved her."
Viki having a stroke** "A very viable, real story; probably the most
real them they've done in terms of what can really happen to people. Very few
people run around and get amnesia and have comas and come out of them and do all
the silly of people have strokes and have comas and come out of them and do all
the silly things we do on soaps. Millions of people have strokes and have to
suffer and come back. It's not something that's automatically going to kill you.
It's something that is desperately difficult to live with and to deal with...for
the stroke victim, for the family. And I was very, very pleased that ABC and
Paul (Rauch) decided to do the story .I was delighted that they let me do it. I
found that whereas it's th e most difficult story I've ever had to do. It was
also in many ways the most rewarding."
Worst storyline** "The worst storyline I've ever been involved in I
wasn't involved in, because I was clever enough to get pregnant with my second
child and they wrote me out and they replaced me with Christine Jones. And thank
God – that was the worst storyline. I played it for about two months. ABC was
very nervous because it was a story about drugging Viki. And I was really
pregnant and ABC said, 'No, We don't want to be drugging a pregnant woman. We're
just going to replace you for about eight months, so go and have your baby,' And
I said, 'God bless you!"
If ONE LIFE TO LIVE wasn't in your life"** "Hopefully I'd be
acting someplace else. When I came to New York and auditioned for this job, I
auditioned and immediately left to do Othello in Buffalo. And, then I came back
and auditioned again for this If I hadn't received that second audition, I
would've auditioned for something else. I might be doing a lot more theater,
which is kind of what I love, but there's simply no time for. Or maybe I would
have dropped, off the end of the earth -- maybe I would've married some nice
gentleman some place and be living in Iowa…and being very happy ."
Would Erika Slezak live in Llanview **' Yeah. It's a nice little town,
That's what I like -- I like living in nice little towns. Even with all of the
heartbreak and trials and tribulations and all of the gossip…it wouldn't be
happening to me -- it would be happening to that woman Viki Buchanan, who lived
at the other end of town in the big house."
Winning two Emmys** "That's an honor, that's a joy, that's a thrill.
Every time I pass them in the living room, I kind of go “Wow!' I stop myself and
I think, 'Wow! They're mine! That's really fabulous! How neat that somebody gave
me those.' I mean that. That's not a lot of horse you-know-what. I am really
honored by that. I work very hard, but a lot of people work very hard, and a lot
of people don't get recognized…ever. To be nominated four times and to have, won
twice is just neat! It's wonderful!"
Actors that you miss Lee Patterson (Joe), Robin Strasser
(ex-Dorian), Brynn Thayer (Jenny), Steve Fletcher (Brad) and
Judy Light (Karen) of course.
Fame and fortune** “Fame an fortune are nothing if you're not happy
and healthy. And I think it's wise for all people in this business to bear that
in mind. What we do is so totally insignificant and stupid in view of the world.
What are we doing? Please! Are we inventing a cure for cancer? No! The guy whose
inventing a cure for cancer should be famous, but he's not. Nobody ever heard of
him. They hear about the buffoons – the ones who put themselves on the screen,
whatever screen it might be. And it's kind of shallow of people to put people
like actors on a pedestal, which they do, simply because we appear on
television. And I'm hoping that over the next 20, 50 years, whatever, the
mystique of television and film and all that will diminish somewhat, and people
will leave us alone to get on with our jobs.”
Daytime's future** "This is a medium that has no ending. Daytime has
been successful all these years because it caters to a very real need in the
audience -- to see something that's not nighttime fantasy. People watch daytime
because it's like their lives. When the characters are true and real, they're
like your neighbors- somebody you can care about and root for and be concerned
about and worry about, as well as being entertainment. I don't see that ending
Untrained actors** "You're going to get me in trouble now. It's not
their fault. There are lots of people in the world who do have the advantage of
going to a good drama school and just decide that they want to be actors.
There's nothing wrong with an untrained actor; they have to get their training
somehow, they have to learn. If they want to learn on a soap, that's fine, but I
think that they should develop an enormous sense of humility."
Your children becoming actors** "You just sent a lightning bolt
through my heart. I don't want them to be actors. I am wise enough to know that
when they're grown up, they will do exactly what they want to do. I am hoping
they will not choose this life because it is too uncertain"
Most memorable piece of mail** "I have two. One of them is not so
nice. Somebody sent me a pile of human excrement in the mail…many years ago.
Probably the sweetest, most flattering letter I've ever had was from a gentleman
who had come back from Vietnam and was deaf. And he wrote to me to thank because
he said, 'I enjoy watching your show because I can read your1ips.' Thank you
your enunciation. 'You ' re one of the few people who actually move your mouth
enough so that I can read your lips.' This is in the day obviously before closed
Happiest time of your life** "Probably the last 20 years, It certainly
would have to be; it includes my getting married, my children, and that's the
happiest time of my life. It's still going on.
Unfulfilled dream** "I'd love to be on Broadway. I guess I have wanted
it because my father, among other things, worked on Broadway. That was the
pinnacle to me -- to be on Broadway.”
The Persian Gulf War** “It's obviously justified, but it is dreadfully
sad that one man can cause this kind of international disaster. It has such a
wide-reaching effect all over the world. I'm a Democrat, and I have more
admiration for President Bush than I have for anyone, probably in my 1ife, the
way that he's handled, himself, the way that he's handled this crisis. He's an
extraordinary man. He's a gentle man and a gentleman. And a strong man and a
fair and a wise man. And I realize why he obviously had to do this. It's just a
disaster that hopefully will be ended very soon.”