Thinking Marty/Susan Fans Comment Update: John enthuses, “As for Susan Haskell, she is incredible. It’s too bad it took such an ill-conceived story like the one Marty has had this year for me to realize what she can really do with powerful material” … while MissD concurs, “(Marty/Susan) has been a fave of mine and is the reason I recently came back to the show. I’m glad to hear that she understands why people are so unhappy with the recent Todd/Marty storyline and that she is not so happy about it herself” … and more. See Comments below.
Dear Thinking Fans,
Despite the recession, I took the plunge and booked passage on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise” March 20 - 23. And am I glad I did! It was a never-before-seen opportunity for fans to mix with more than a dozen stars in a relaxed, casual environment during the three-day sail from Long Beach, Calif. to Ensenada, Mexico and back. Viewers and journalists alike had many opportunities to have thoughtful dialogues with the actors without the constraints of time pressure and huge crowds.
I was able to get eight amazing interviews with top actors on today’s shows. I’ll post these interviews over the next few weeks. In them, you’ll read scoops, insights, and uncensored quips directly from the performers themselves. I learned so much about the craft and talent that goes into our dramas every single day, and felt the sincere love and devotion the actors have for their respective shows. I can’t wait to share all these interviews with all of you Thinking Fans, so please keep checking back to Marlena’s site for the answers and responses you won’t read anywhere else.
By Damon L. Jacobs
During the “Rock the Soap Cruise,” I sat down for a long chat with the Emmy-winning Susan Haskell of One Life to Live. I found her gracious, humble, and willing to speak to me even after signing autographs for three hours! With a cloudless blue sky above and the Pacific Ocean sliding by around us, we spoke of many things, including the phenomenal reaction to her first stint as Marty Saybrooke (1992-1997, with brief appearances in 2004 and 2005) compared to the response she has received since returning in mid-2008. And she talked about why she came back and how she perceives her popularity after being absent from the show for ten years.
D: Susan it is so nice to meet you.
S: Ah, likewise, thank you.
D: So finish the sentence for me: Marty Saybrooke is the quintessential ____
S: (laughs) Tortured woman!
D: Yes! I was also thinking “survivor,” especially because of the story that was told about the gang-rape between 1993-1995.
S: Yes I would agree with that.
D: When you came on the show Marty was a bit of a troublemaker, then had the this traumatic event happen to her. How did you approach this experience?
S: I was thrilled, actually. They came to me about the gang-rape story line, they wanted to make sure I was okay with it and I said “absolutely.” It was an amazing story, they wrote it so well, they really handled everything beautifully. I just thought, “We need to put the message out there.” I knew they had rape stories on other shows. But the follow-up, what happened after, which is what you mentioned, her strength is what I wanted to make sure got on there. I had so many people calling and writing, telling me they had been raped and it was helpful to them. That was just amazing for me, to think that I can do what I love to do and actually help people.
D: Was it important to you to help others in your job?
S: Oh, absolutely. I’m on TV, it’s lovely that we’re entertaining people, and I think that’s great. But when there’s more to it than that it’s a real chance, it’s a real gift. Some people would write and say, “I would never have come forward if it wasn’t for this story. I wouldn’t have told anyone. I thought it was my fault.” It was amazing, I was blown away by how much it helped.
D: Your performance in that story was just so emotionally naked. How did you know?
S: I just imagined myself there. I do. I imagine myself there, and then whatever happens happens.
D: Were you clear with the writers where the story was going and how it would proceed over the next two years?
S: No, that kind of thing kind of unfolds. But we would touch base, we were make sure we were on the same page. I always made sure I knew a little bit about what was coming up so I could make it make sense and know where it had to go. You don’t get that in life, but on a soap opera you can, so you can fill in that space as well as you can. They had my back, they really did.
D: What about this time? Has the rape story had the same kind of impact?
S: (pause). No. I don’t know if they could get that back. That was just amazing the way it affected the whole town and big families. But I think what they came up with this time was a different way of reintroducing the character and giving me something a little different to play. It’s such a sensitive subject, you don’t want to make it trivial, and I still try to make sure it doesn’t become that. But I don’t know, I hope people still get something out of this story again.
D: Have viewers shared with you about feeling helped this time the way they were last time?
S: Not as much. But it’s a different situation. It’s not the same response. A lot of people were upset. Even though I didn’t know who (Todd) was they were upset .. .and I get that.
D: How was it for you to be involved in a story line that had many fans feeling betrayed and not giving you a positive response?
S: You know, I don’t take things personally, and I understand, I totally get it. I was concerned about the same things that were bothering them. But that’s part of it, too. It doesn’t always go the way you might think, and that’s soap opera.
D: How do you deal creatively when things are not going the way you may prefer?
S: Well, I’m not the boss. I don’t get the final say. But I do have really good communication with the writer and the executive producer, so I call them all the time if something doesn’t sit right with me. And they are very very open to what I have to say. Which is nice. I mean I don’t have the main story points. But within that I try to keep it as honest as I can.
D: What led you to come back to the show?
S: The timing, I think. We were enjoying the East Coast, obviously Thorsten is working there too, and the kids were getting old enough so I could be gone a little bit. And the fact that I’m not gone all the time is perfect. It gave me a chance to do what I like to do but not be away from my family for too long.
D: Ten years went by between seeing you as Marty. Why do you think there was such a clamoring for you after such a long period of time? Why do you think you connect with viewers in that way?
S: You know…I can’t say that it’s just me. I think that the story really created that. I really do. I was given a real opportunity and I was thrilled it lasted like that.
D: But were you surprised that after ten years that people really wanted Susan back?
S: Yes, I was. I really was.
D: Why would that surprise you?
S: I don’t know. It’s ten years! You think something is forgotten. But it was nice, really nice the way people responded, that they were still thinking about it.
D: But why the clamoring for you versus another performer who’s been off the canvas for ten years and isn’t so much asked for?
S: I think that it just has to be about the writing and what I’ve gotten to do. And she’s a really interesting, complex character.
D: As a viewer, it seems to me you go to an emotional place that many can’t go to. Marty’s pain is almost primal, like how she wailed on the hospital floor after Todd’s rape a few months back. It seems you take it to a level that a lot of actors won’t go to. Is it me, am I just projecting this?
S: I don’t know … I just do what hits me. You know what I mean? That’s just the way it feels. I don’t know, that’s just what comes out.
D: How is it for you to do scenes like that?
S: It’s pretty tiring. I go home very tired at the end of the day. You know it’s not real, but it’s just physically it can be tiring. I can walk home and see Thorsten and the kids and know everything is fine. It’s just literally a physical thing.
D: What would you like to see happen for Marty now?
S: Oh goodness … I think the story with her son is important. I’d love to have them continue with that and show more of that mother side to her, to develop that relationship even more. And being happy once in a while wouldn’t be too bad. I know it’s not always as dramatic. But Bob Woods is a friend of mine and I would love to work with him a little more. And I love Hillary (Smith), we’ve had some nice stuff together. I don’t know, it’s a constant learning process because of the amnesia process and just where she is.
D: Would you like to see her get her memory back?
S: I don’t know if that’s necessary. It’s almost set now, and she keeps getting these flashbacks. I think that’s probably more interesting than just, boom, knowing everything. It’s more fun if it’s hard to figure out.
D: What would you like to say to the Thinking Fans out there, especially the readers of this column who aren’t so thrilled with the way the story went this time?
S: Just know that the old Marty is there. They’re going to keep seeing more of her. And remember, it’s just drama. And these are just people’s ideas of how to do a twist in the history of what had happened. And I understand. I understand where they are coming from.
D: You understand because …
S: I was concerned as well. Very concerned. But it not my final decision, and I love Ron (Carlivati). He’s a great writer, and I think the show is very interesting right now. But yes, it was hard for me, too.
Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve. He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.