By Michele Dargan
OK gang. A rare treat!
I had the opportunity to ask veteran actress Adrienne Barbeau a few questions about her role on General Hospital, her career and her work as a novelist.
On GH, Barbeau plays the no-nonsense Suzanne Stanwyck, who heads The Alliance to Save Exploited Children and works closely with Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo).
An icon in the movie, television and theater world, Barbeau’s career spans 40 years – and still going. She appeared as the original Rizzo in Grease on Broadway and she portrayed Maude’s divorced daughter, Carol Traynor, on the hit television show Maude.
Barbeau also has appeared in various horror films, including The Fog, Swamp Thing, and Creepshow.
Barbeau has not only been appearing as Suzanne Stanwyck on General Hospital, but she also has a new novel out called Love Bites. Love Bites is the sequel to her much acclaimed first novel Vampyres of Hollywood.
The main character in Love Bites is Ovsanna Moore – a Hollywood siren, horror film legend, and cut throat producer. She also happens to be a 450-year-old vampyre.
Barbeau creates an interesting mix of cinematic vampires, the nature of celebrity and the entertainment industry.
Michele: How did the General Hospital role come about and why did you decide to take it?
Adrienne Barbeau: I got a phone call from my agents saying I had an offer from General Hospital to do a 4 or 5 week arc as an ex-journalist who runs an international children’s charity. I had just finished proofing the galleys to Love Bites, wasn’t ready to start writing anything new and was delighted to be asked. And then, when they gave me a detailed description of the character, I got excited. She sounded like the kind of woman I like to play.
Michele: What has the experience been like so far, working on General Hospital?
Adrienne Barbeau: I’m having a great time. From day one, everyone has been warm and welcoming. There’s a feeling of family on the set, from the writers and producers and casting team to the hair and make-up and wardrobe departments, the crew and the cast. You can tell they enjoy working together. And that makes me want to go to work.
Michele: How long will you be with the show?
Adrienne Barbeau: Well, the 4 week arc is stretching into a lot longer and that’s fine with me. I’m really enjoying myself.
Michele: What can we look forward to when your character, Suzanne, actually gets to Port Charles and what characters will she interact with?
Adrienne Barbeau: I don’t know much more than you do, really. I know Suzanne works with Jason and meets up with Sam and probably gets into it with Diane, but more than that, I’ve yet to read.
Michele: How do you compare working in theater (Grease), primetime (Maude) and now daytime (General Hospital)?
Adrienne Barbeau: Well, sitcoms and daytime are similar in that they’re taped in a proscenium style, with four cameras shooting simultaneously from the audience’s viewpoint. No master shot followed by close-ups and over the shoulders and moving the lights around and doing multiple set-ups. With sitcoms, you rehearse like a stage play for 4 days and then you shoot straight through the half hour of dialogue like you’re doing a play. With daytime, you rehearse like a stage play, too. The only difference is you rehearse for 4 minutes! Actually, we block each scene once, run through it for the camera crew once, and then hopefully get it in one take.
Michele: Which characters were among your favorites to portray and why? What were the best traits about those characters?
Adrienne Barbeau: I loved playing Ruthie in Carnivale – the HBO series set in the depression era. Ruthie was a snake dancer who saw dead people and had a love affair with the young boy who brought her back to life with his powers to heal. How cool is that!
I got to dance with snakes and have my first love scene with someone other than the Swamp Thing. Of course, I’d chipped a disc in my back dancing with the snake and when time came to get in bed for the love scene, I could barely move, I was in such pain. But the show was fantastic and one of my all time favorite jobs.
I love Billie in Creepshow, too, just because she was such an outrageous character and, I hope, far afield from who I am. And Stevie Wayne in The Fog, Maggie in Escape From New York, Rizzo in Grease, Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof – I loved each of them for their strength and their fearlessness and their moral code.
Michele: Was writing a novel something that you always wanted to do and how did it come about that you decided to write a vampire novel? Where did you get the idea for Vampyres of Hollywood?
Adrienne Barbeau: It wasn’t, actually. I never thought I’d be writing something for someone else to read. I started writing in a journal when I was twelve, but it wasn’t until I took a writing class (just for the fun of it) when I was in my 50s and had to turn in homework assignments, that my instructor suggested I show them to an agent because she thought I had the makings of a book.
So my first book was a memoir, There Are Worse Things I Could Do, and when it became a best-seller, I was approached by another author, Michael Scott, who suggested I write a horror novel. Since I hadn’t had any experience writing fiction, he offered to write it with me, and we came up with Vampyres of Hollywood.
They say write what you know and what I know is being a scream queen and being Armenian and portraying all the kick-ass characters I’ve created in my acting career, so that’s what I created. There’s a lot of me in Ovsanna; I just wish there were more of her in me. I hope, if I’m ever put to the test, I’ll be as fearless.
Michele: What do fans of your first novel have to look forward to in the new sequel Love Bites?
Adrienne Barbeau: I think they’ll laugh a lot, and I hope they like the sex scenes. I especially liked writing Orson Welles morphing into a rodent and Mary Pickford looking like Cyndi Lauper.
Michele: Do you see another novel in your future and will it be another in this vampire series?
Adrienne Barbeau: Right now I’m concentrating on settling in at General Hospital, but what I love about writing is that I can do it anywhere, anytime. So I suspect I’ll be getting back to it in a few months. I don’t think I’m done with Ovsanna yet – she’s so much fun to write. And I’d definitely like to know what happens to Maral, now that she’s been Turned.
More details about Adrienne Barbeau and her work can be found on http://www.abarbeau.com.
You can also follow Adrienne on Twitter at twitter.com/abarbeau and “like” her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Adrienne-Barbeau/146564835210.