Classic soap vixens are a dying breed.
Thanks to this past year’s writers’ strike, daytime-TV fans have been treated to a rare gift: the birth of what could become one of the most legendary bitches in soap history, thanks to The Young and the Restless casting acting sensation Elizabeth Hendrickson as mean girl Chloe Mitchell.
After coming close to landing various prime-time TV and film contract roles (she can currently be seen as a regular cast member on web-show hit, Imaginary Bitches), the former All My Children star decided to return to the soap world during the strike when Y&R called for a meet-and-greet audition.
Impressed with her acting chops, Y&R cast her in a recurring role as stylista Chloe. Almost immediately, Hendrickson struck gold as the new Mrs. Cane Ashby on daytime’s No. 1 soap opera.
Critics and viewers fell for her adventurous and comedic performance instantaneously, which is reminiscent of the divas of yesteryear, like As The World Turns’ Lisa Miller, and Another World’s Rachel Cory.
Consequently, Hendrickson’s inspired interpretation of Chloe grabbed the attention of co-head writers Maria Arena Bell and Hogan Sheffer. To honour her talent, CBS offered the Northport, N.Y. native a contract and created a kick-ass back story that helped Hendrickson turn Chloe into a force to be reckoned with. In turn, Chloe has become one of soap’s best new characters.
Today, the scene-stealing vamp has not one, but three love interests (Cane, Billy and herself), a core family (Esther is her mother; Katherine, her godmother), a killer wardrobe and a pregnancy bump, to boot. Hendrickson is clearly not in Pine Valley anymore.
TVGuide.ca spoke with the sexy and talented siren about her iconic AMC lesbian character, her co-star and friend Eden Riegel (Bianca), whether or not there will be a second season of Imaginary Bitches, and what makes Chloe a three-dimensional bitch.
TVGuide.ca: Did you ever think you’d be starring on daytime’s biggest and best soap in a breakout role so soon after leaving AMC?
Elizabeth Hendrickson: No, this has been a lovely surprise. I used to always watch Y&R when I was on AMC. I always liked the look and feel of the show, so I’ve always been a big fan. Chloe wasn’t even on the page when I came in for a chemistry audition. To see how the role evolved from those initial scenes has been astonishing. My top soap choices were Y&R first, and General Hospital, second. So I’m very happy. Life is good.
TVG: Both Chloe and Binks were pregnant at the same time!
|TVG: Eden Riegel [Bianca] is back on All My Kids with a new love interest, the three-dimensional Tamara Braun [Reese]! Are you jealous? I know an imaginary hit man you can contract…
EH: [laughs] Eden’s mine, dammit! I’m so jealous that she has a new girlfriend. I haven’t seen Bianca and Reese’s debut yet, but I taped it. I’m so excited Eden’s back on AMC. She’s by far the most talented woman I’ve ever worked with. We’ve become very close friends — and we miss each other so much. I’m sure she’s going to take the show by storm.
TVG: Let’s hope. Do you know how AMC is going to explain why Bianca dumped Maggie for Reese?
EH: To be honest with you, I have no idea. I’m assuming they’ll start saying horrible things about Maggie while she’s in Paris!
EH: I know! How cool is that? If and when Chloe gives birth, I will call Eden for some tips.
TVG: Any dish on your co-star Daniel Goddard [Cane]? I hear he’s a big diva on set!
EH: [Laughs] No, he’s the anti-diva, I’m afraid to say. Daniel’s the hardest-working person I have come across. He carries a week’s worth of scripts with him at all times. He’s always studying his lines, talking about the motivation of his character, and his method. During a recent trip to Toronto, all we talked about was our characters for two hours during dinner!
TVG: You have chemistry with everyone on the show — especially Michael Graziadei [Daniel].
EH: I love working with Graz. He’s so much fun to work with. What a talented kid! Whenever you’re in a scene with Graz, you never feel like you’re working off the page. We met a few years ago through friends of friends.
TVG: Refresh my memory — were you and Billy Miller [Billy; ex-Richie] on AMC together?
EH: No, we weren’t, but we feel like we were. Billy’s my new favourite boy to work with. I can’t believe how much fun we’re having together. I think we have a lot of chemistry. He’s a sweet Texan boy. For someone who hasn’t been acting for a long time, he sure knows what he’s doing. He has a lot of talent. I’m really excited to see where our storyline develops, because we all know he’s the father of Chloe’s baby. I can’t wait until the truth comes out.
TVG: My heart bleeds every time Chloe insults my poor Esther.
||TVG: Did you know Chloe was Esther’s long-lost daughter, Kate, and that she was having Billy’s baby, not Cane’s, from the beginning?|
EH: They didn’t tell me anything until I had to know. I’ve dealt with that for years on AMC; that’s how soaps work. I am a newbie, so I’m not going to give my two cents. I just told Y&R, give me what you want, and I’ll act it out to the best of my ability. As an actor, I created an initial back story for Chloe, so I could explain her behaviour at first. When they finally told me her real back story, I was so happy because I could finally make Chloe three-dimensional.
TVG: Do you think Y&R is planning to have Chloe and Cane fall in love? That’s how most classic love stories begin; you know, two people hate each other and are stuck in a marriage of convenience.
EH: Lily and Cane have a really strong fan base. From what I have seen, I’m still developing my fan base, and I know a lot of fans aren’t happy with Chloe splitting up Lily and Cane. I hope fans see Chloe’s vulnerable side through the pregnancy.
EH: I know! Chloe is so mean to Esther. You should see Kate [Linder’s] face when we tape our scenes, because she takes it so personally! I have to remind Kate that I love her. But you know what? I think it’s realistic. Chloe and Esther remind me of a lot of mother-and-daughter relationships. It actually makes a lot of sense. Chloe is very young and immature — as well, hurt and ashamed about her upbringing. She’s not going to let her mother forget it easily, either.
TVG: Do you ad lib at all? Your performance is so animated and infectious. You could host the Creative Arts Emmys and make the ceremony exciting.
EH: Thank you. Once in a blue moon, I’ll ad lib. More often than not, I just infuse my real-life personality into Chloe. Our writers come up with the best zingers and lines, so it’s easy to be inspired on Y&R. In fact, this is the only comedy I’ve been blessed to do on daytime that is actually working! Comedy and soaps don’t necessarily go hand in hand as you know. I try not to ad lib. I get scared — I want to keep my job. I have writer friends in soaps who say, “when I see my lines changed, I cringe!” Sometimes if the line doesn’t work, then you have to collaborate and make it resonate, but on this show that’s a rarely a problem.
TVG: Do you feel insecure in this business because AMC brought you on as Frankie and then killed you off almost immediately before re-hiring you to play her twin sister, Maggie?
EH: I knew going into AMC the gig was a three-month contract. But I have always been very aware that anyone is expendable in this business — even with a three-year contract. So, I treat every day like my first day. People take this job for granted, as did I on AMC, but I now know we’re lucky to be working. And Y&R feels so right. After week one, I was screaming: “I want to work here forever!” They’ll have to fire me to get rid of me!
TVG: It’s surprising that you’re so successful in this new incarnation because it’s hard to soap-hop and recreate past successes on daytime with a new character. For many AMC fans, Maggie was iconic.
EH: I know. And Y&R airs at the same time as AMC. A lot of my fans are great — they know me personally and they have supported me in this new role, because they’re happy I’m working. My fans are my friends.
TVG: Would you agree that Chloe is your breakout role?
EH: Yes. This is by far the best character I’ve ever played. For me, it’s very freeing as an actor. I can play Chloe for the rest of my life. Chloe hits a different chord with me. There’s a lot of me and a lot of my alter ego in Chloe that I would never consider bringing out. I’m in no way as heartless as Chloe is, but it’s fun to be naughty.
TVG: Was it difficult playing Maggie because of AMC’s passive-aggressive approach to Bianca and Maggie’s romance?
EH: It was frustrating, because Eden and I knew what the fans really wanted. We also thought it was an important story which needed to be told. We had amazing chemistry, and it sent out a great message. A message that was only about love and friendship and support. In this medium, I think we broke through. Today, Bianca is engaged and having a baby with her lover. Five years ago, that would have been unheard of. This time around, I hope AMC chooses to honour their fans and Binks. If they don’t, shame on them.
TVG: Will there be a second season of Imaginary Bitches? Also, will Y&R let you continue to be a part of its cast?
EH: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I have to look at the fine print in my contract. If Imaginary Bitches could shoot around my schedule, it would work. As long as it doesn’t air opposite Y&R, I think it wouldn’t be a problem. So far, I haven’t heard anything about Season 2. Andrew [Miller, Imaginary Bitches’ creator/writer/director/editor] is so talented. Bitches is a collaborative effort by talented artists — and that’s why it’s not a surprise it’s a sensation. It’s funny and good — and guess what? Viewers like funny and good. Daytime TV could learn a lot from Imaginary Bitches. Andrew better not recast me, is all I’m saying! [Laughs]
TVG: I’d kill him. Was it a challenge for you and Eden to create a new chemistry on Imaginary Bitches since you were playing friends not lovers?
EH: No, it was easy because our Imaginary Bitches’ relationship is exactly our relationship in real life. We hadn’t worked together in three years, so we were so excited to be onscreen again. We can make anything work. The only thing that was different was we didn’t have a fake kiss that would be eventually edited out!
TVG: I always thought Y&R should recast Mac with Eden. And she only has a four-month contract with ABC right now. Would Eden ever consider playing a role other than Lesbianca?
EH: Well, I know Eden’s a huge fan of Y&R. I think she would be honoured to be on Y&R. When I booked Y&R, she called to say, “you’re so lucky, knock ‘em dead.” However, I also know that Bianca is like her child, and she has an attachment to the character. But I don’t think she’d ever limit her options, you know? I would personally love to have her on the same stage.
TVG: You’re not the only one.
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Nelson Branco is a Toronto freelance entertainment journalist, who regularly contributes to Hello! Canada, The National Post, The Los Angeles Times' theenvelope.com, TV Guide USA, tvguide.com, Inside Entertainment, OUT, and fab magazine, along with spearheading the soap coverage for TVGuide.ca's popular daytime TV hub. After graduating from Ryerson University in 1997, he moved from Toronto to New York in 1998 to take on the roles as senior news editor at Soap Opera Update. Branco first freelanced for Soap Opera Weekly as an intern in 1994, and after leaving Soap Update to help create and launch Bauer Publishing's In Touch Weekly in 2003, Branco continued to freelance occasionally for its sister publication, Soaps In Depth. Most recently, he helped create and launch Canada's first celebrity magazine, Weekly Scoop in 2005 as its news and entertainment director. Branco is also a contributor to a new TV show titled Planet Soap to air in Canada and America.