By Damon L. Jacobs
Combine the beauty of Jennifer Garner and the comic timing of Debra Messing and what do you get? The hysterically entertaining and insightful Elizabeth Hendrickson! During SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” we talked about her experiences and life lessons learned from mistakes on All My Children and her current run on The Young and the Restless.
D: What part of yourself are you bringing to Chloe in Y&R these days?
E: Humor. I’d say 98% of her humor comes from me. When I was on All My Children I got really bored with myself. I came into this job (as Chloe) as literally a blank canvas. They had absolutely no idea. They had seen me in something on stage and brought me in to read and they just created this character for me. So I knew from being on AMC that when I started Maggie, I didn’t really take control . I didn’t realize that whatever you bring, they use. Like if you start to eye roll all the time you’ll see “Maggie eye rolls.” That’s how I found they would write my character, and I didn’t take advantage of that. So when I came on as Chloe I said, “The world is my oyster. I’m going to make this however I want to make it.” I knew I was just coming on as recurring, so I said, “I’m going to make them fall in love with me and then they’ll ask me to stay.” So I created the whole thing, and thankfully
“Once you start to play the happy couple it means you have to be naked like five times a week, I’ve got to do sex scenes in a shower. But I have a really hard time getting naked on the show, and my boyfriend doesn’t like to see me kiss other people and really I don’t either.”
Maria Bell and some of the other writers have some experience with comedy and were adding to it. And I made her bitchy, because I figured the nice girl wasn’t going to stay around. I needed to bring conflict to the story.
D: She was not originally written to be Esther’s daughter. How did you feel about that turn of events?
E: Oh my gosh! I mean the fact that I had family ties was awesome because then I knew that maybe I was staying around for a little while. And it helped make sense of why she was the way she was, and why she did have this sort of bitter outlook on life and love.
D: Why do you think Chloe has such a bitter outlook?
E: I think she was brought up not in the household and because of who she was, she was sent off. So I think she’s out for revenge, and that’s why she is so jealous. It’s sort of like the self-sabotage thing. She doesn’t think she deserves any better.
D: Was there ever a time when you felt that way about your own relationships?
E: I’ve never had that much faith in relationships (laughs). Sorry, Dave! (Her current boyfriend). This is the first successful relationship I’ve ever had. I totally have daddy issues like any other girl. I think every woman and man have their own father issues. My father left when I was really young. I had a stepfather who came into my life and sort of took over, and I was like “No no no no no.” There’s a lot of divorce in my family. I just never had a lot of faith in relationships lasting. Usually, anytime I get comfortable, I run. It’s just so much easier. And it’s the same with Chloe, she’s sort of the same way. And then you start to see her with Billy, and Billy’s like the one who really had her. I think he brings out her soft side, and her feisty fun side. But he also brings about her vulnerable side, a side she doesn’t like people to see.
D: Where is Chloe’s father in all this?
E: I think he’s dead. He was Tiny. And, someone killed him, I don’t remember who.
D: But Chloe also grew up without a father. Has that affected her choices?
E: Oh most definitely, and that’s why she is so adamant about the baby having a father. That’s why she went after Cane, because the last thing she wanted was for her daughter to be raised the same way she was. and she didn’t want history to repeat itself. That’s why she made all the choices that she made. See? It all comes around (laughs).
D: When you started on AMC as Frankie, that was another spitfire character, but it totally went awry. You were wonderful, and then you were gone.
E: But I knew that. That was a three-month contract. And then I left, and they loved me, and they were like, “Oh, she has a twin sister.” And obviously that twin sister had to be a complete opposite. So I went from mean to nice. And then I was nice and perfect, the best friend, then I was confused.
D: Maggie was just so undefined, as you said.
D: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to Elizabeth eight years ago, starting on AMC?
E: Trust yourself.
D: What would you like to see happen now with Chloe?
E: I would love to see her take over one of the businesses. I would love to see her take over Jabot and have like a “Devil Wears Prada” kind of thing, because I really love her bitchy side. I still want to keep her with all that conflict. I would love to see her run the show and piss off some people.
D: Would you like to see her work through some of her father issues and have a healthier relationship?
E: Most definitely, but I like to have relationships not be perfect. It’s so much more fun to play that than to be the happy couple. Once you start to play the happy couple it means you have to be naked like five times a week, I’ve got to do sex scenes in a shower. So would I like for her to figure it out and have a great relationship? Yeah. But I have a really hard time getting naked on the show, and my boyfriend doesn’t like to see me kiss other people and really I don’t either.
D: Many people may be surprised that with two such hot costars, you feel this way.
E: No, it’s just not reality, it’ s just not normal. No one likes to see themselves getting naked on TV. I have to work out for a good two weeks! So do I want her to fall in love? Sure. But I don’t want to be in the shower. If we could have a good relationship without all the “Bow–chicka–bowow“ (sung to the tune of “Brick House”) I’m fine with that.
D: I think it’s clear that you’re feeling so much more comfortable as an actress on Y&R than you did on AMC, and it’s really helped the audience connect to Chloe.
E: And I understand the soap world a little better now. When I came on AMC I was this new fresh person, I was very green. And I’ve always been a take the bull by the horns kind of girl. But for some reason … I just didn’t want to stir the pot. I was happy to be there, I was learning. For some reason I held back because I just didn’t want to take control of it. That was just my own fear, probably of failure. Whereas whenever I’ve just gone for it, I’ve never failed. So coming on Y&R, it was nice to take control of my destiny. I feel I did that. And yes, I think we all have a tendency to want to please other people. It makes so much sense that you should really only be pleasing yourself at the end of the day. Of course you want to make other people happy, but you can’t make anyone else happy until you make yourself happy.
D: I complete agree with that. What else would you like to say to the Thinking Fans reading this who are interested in learning more about psychological profiles of their characters?
E: This is great! Now you’re making me think even more about my character and like, “Oooh wait, I should be diving a little bit deeper.” Have they ever done a therapist story line on this or any of the shows?
D: It’s rare. The Bold and the Beautiful did a great story about Stephanie going through therapy and forgiving her mother, but usually they’re not done realistically.
E: I remember when I was on AMC I was part of an abuse story line. And had I stayed, what I thought would have been fabulous was to go through the rehabilitation part of it and actually have group therapy sessions. That would have been really interesting. So let’s finish with this: Everyone should be in therapy!
D: Even though we don’t believe in “shoulds” …
E: Yeah (laughs).
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.