‘General Hospital’ Star Nancy Lee Grahn on Her 25 Years (and Counting!) in Port Charles

A quarter of a century ago General hospital scored a casting coup by hiring fan favorite Nancy Lee Grahn, winner of the Daytime Emmy for her race as Julia Capwell on Santa barbara, to play lawyer Alexis Davis, the illegitimate daughter of Mikkos Cassadine (John Colicos).

Over the years, Grahn has been involved in a myriad of stories both in the courtroom and in the bedroom, as Alexis has defended many GH characters and romanticized several too. The pairing with Alexis and the late Julian (Will deVry) was a particular hit with viewers.

Grahn recently spoke with TV Insider to talk about an episode focusing on Alexis (airing Thursday, April 8), why she checked in GH for starters, “Julexis”, and more!

What brought you back to the day 25 years ago?

Nancy Lee Grahn: After Santa barbara finished, I was working. I came back on Murder a and did other shows. But when you are not a regular, you have to keep looking for that next job. I wanted a baby. My daughter Kate was the reason I wanted to do GH. I called and asked them if they wanted me. [Laughs] They said, “Not really, but we’ll take you anyway.”

Did you know the importance of being chosen as Cassadine in relation to the history of the series?

Yes. I grew up watching GH. I knew all about the Cassadines and the Freezing World. I would joke, “My dad almost froze the world. What did yours do? ” I knew GH was my place even though, at the time, there were a lot of other soaps on the air. The goal was to have Kate and raise her. GH put her in college. I couldn’t have imagined it would work any better.

General Hospital

ABC / Michael Yada

Some think that being a leader on a prime-time show is “better”, but not if you’re a mom. During the day, people look out for each other. If I needed to be somewhere for Kate, the show would fix that. If I needed to be at his school, I was there.

How do you feel about being chosen as another lawyer?

I have a thing [in real-life] for equity, liberty, justice and liberty. I love to play a lawyer because I don’t think I ever could to be a lawyer. The passion is there, but you need a “left brain” to be a lawyer.

Helena [Constance Towers] killing Alexis’ mother with a dagger was such a dark story. How does it feel to work with Constance?

This woman is the epitome of grace. She defines the word. Were very close. [Laughs] My dad was in love with her, but my mom was okay with that.

How did you feel when the show revealed that Sam [Kelly Monaco] was Alexis’ lost daughter?

It was great. It’s a great addition. It gave us a great story. Yes, on the soaps there is always a child coming out of nowhere, but they layered everything so well when it was done. I love the scenes where Alexis is with her three daughters – Sam, Kristina [Lexi Ainsworth]and Molly [Haley Pullos]. Each character is so well defined. The scenes are textured and layered. Each of us is specific and unique. Anyone in real life – who isn’t a Stepford family – can relate to. It is the complexity that makes it credible.

Ron Tom / © ABC / courtesy: Everett Collection

In recent months, Alexis has started drinking again and she doesn’t hesitate to tell anyone exactly what she thinks.

This is my favorite part of my character. She just doesn’t [an expletive] give more. She can say what she wants and do what she wants. There is immense freedom in this. There are repercussions [Laughs], but while you’re doing it, you really feel great!

Alexis had his fair share of top men, but audiences seemed to respond to Julian the most.

I found their match to be absolutely brilliant. Here comes a man who thinks she is so hot. There was so much chemistry between them. Sex was so important, big and desperate and dangerous and crazy. They were at an age where TV shows and soap operas usually don’t play that. It was a great message to send. Will, bless his heart… when he looked at me he was totally in it. He was hot and sexy, and he acted like he was hot and sexy to me. Some of the audience is my age and they’ve dug it out.

They never quite came back after he handed her a dagger – and not just any dagger, the one that killed his mother.

I play a woman who has a moral compass, which doesn’t mean that she isn’t extremely flawed. But to be mistreated and almost killed and then find a way to get this guy back? I felt a lot of women would take this personally in a very bad way. I was all for [the show] not really being Julian. [Laughs] They’re passing out brain tumors here – give it one!

Nancy Lee Grahn GH

ABC / Todd Wawrychuk

Can you preview this special episode as Alexis prepares to be incarcerated in Pentonville?

It goes further than [a standard anniversary episode]. They did a really good job doing more than my 25th birthday.e anniversary. There is something very poignant happening at the end that will be very relatable. It serves the emotional well-being of the public. Everyone will be able to understand what is going on. [Viewers] will see that you cannot skip parts of your life and not deal with it. You can, but then you end up faking a lot of your life.

The care given to this particular Frank show [Valentini, executive producer], the writers and Phideaux [Xavier, director] was huge. They let me participate in the process. Again, this episode is not an Alexis story. It is Everybody. I like this.

IIn this episode, Alexis will touch people in her life, including Finn [Michael Easton]. Their romance never really got off the ground.

Michael is stellar. He’s a deep thinker. I truly appreciate it. I like James [Patrick Stuart, who plays Valentin], as well. They are similar. They are good curious actors. I love working with them. I think audiences pick up on the relationships you have with people like you. Michael definitely falls into this category for me. Alexis and Finn’s friendship runs deep like ours in real life. We value each other and we respect each other.

ABC / Craig Sjodin

How have you kept Alexis consistent over the years, as there have been many regimes during your tenure?

There are good days and bad days. It is really about my personal growth and not about other people. I have always felt supported. I totally love the writers we have now Chris [Van Etten] and Dan [O’Connor]. They are good human beings and that is really important. They respect character. I have been very lucky.

General hospital, Weekdays, Check local listings for daytime / syndicated shows, ABC

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