Morgan Fairchild, who began her television career with a 1973-77 run as SEARCH FOR TOMORROW’s Jennifer and last appeared in daytime as DAYS’s Anjelica in 2017, appears on GH next week as HOME & HEART hostess Haven de Havilland, who welcomes Sasha to her show to talk up Deception products.
Fairchild was delighted when her team let her know GH had her in mind for the role. “They said they had this part and thought I’d be good for it and I was looking forward to the chance to work with everybody,” she says. “And you know, Joan Rivers and I were the first two celebrities that had product lines on QVC back in the late ’80s, so I’m familiar with the genre and with how it all works. I felt like I had a leg up about how she would present, how things would come across and what the format would be. That put me in good stead, those old days of prep work. And it was such a great script. My character is very fun and over-the-top — my usual over-the-top thing! And a little bit mean, which I can play falling off a log at this point in my life [laughs].”
On the day of taping, Fairchild marveled at how differently today’s soaps are produced. “Back when I started out on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, you kind of went the whole run of the show, and if the scenery didn’t fall over on you, that was it!” she muses. “You just went scene after scene after scene. Now, they shoot it more like a [prime-time] series or a movie, where you shoot all the [segments] on one set and if something goes wrong, you have the chance to start it over.”
But the gig still came with a directive to shoot as fast as possible. She reports, “The director and producer had said to me that it was a very ambitious couple of episodes for them because they had to get a lot of scenes done on those particular sets. So we were moving very quickly, and it was such a fast day, I barely had time to sit down between scenes or get a cup of coffee or anything. I was very touched, because several people came up to me and said, ‘You know, most people can’t keep up with this when they first come on! We’re glad you’re keeping up!’ That made me feel good. But we did the same kind of thing on THE CITY [where she played Sydney]. They would set up my set and we would shoot, like, six episodes of everything that was on my set, so I would have 52 pages of dialogue to learn the night before. So, I’m used to shooting that way. This was just a little extra-fast because they were under the gun to get it done.”
She was greatly impressed by the behind-the-scenes professionals at GH. “What a supportive team,” she raves. “The director, Phideaux [Xavier], was just fabulous and the producers were so supportive. Like I said, people kept coming over and were so gracious and welcoming, telling me, ‘We’re so glad to have you here.’ Everyone was just terrific.” Ditto her scene partners, which included Sofia Mattsson (Sasha) and Lynn Herring (Lucy). “The other actors really gave their all. One of the girls [in the cast] had a very emotional scene in there and it was great. Lynn was so gracious and lovely. What I saw with DAYS OF OUR LIVES and with this is the way that everybody is just such a tight team. Everybody is in the same boat and tries to help each other out. At one point, I was smoothing somebody’s hair just before a scene because I saw something sticking out. It was great to get to work with everybody and feel like part of their team. Everybody on the crew made me feel so at home and you really appreciate that when you’re the new kid. Even if you’ve been doing this for decades, that first day when you walk on set, you don’t know anybody, you don’t know where hair and makeup is, so it really is appreciated to be so warmly welcomed. It really does make a difference.”
Fairchild was relieved that her scenes went off without a hitch. “I had a couple of long paragraphs and I was just wondering, ‘Am I going to get through this?’ ” she admits. “You know they’re going to move fast and you really want to get it in one take, if you possibly can, so I was a little nervous, wondering if I would keep up. So I was very gratified.”
While they didn’t work together, she enjoyed a reunion with one of her co-stars from THE CITY. “Lisa LoCicero [Olivia; ex-Jocelyn, THE CITY] is an old friend and it was so great to see her,” Fairchild enthuses. “Her dressing room was right next to mine, and she said, ‘Come and stop over when you have a break!’ I never had a break until I was finished, but when I was done for the day, I got to sit in her dressing room for a while and catch up and chat for about 45 minutes. She’s a lovely girl. I got to see pictures of her kids and it was just great to see how well she’s doing.”
The actress says she always appreciates the chance to dip back into her daytime roots. “It was just great training for me, and I’ve always said, if you can do daytime, you can do anything!” she declares. “The amount of work, the amount of dialogue, the way it comes at you so fast and you have to think on your feet. It’s fun to see the way it’s changed over the decades. The stories are so interesting and more diverse with their casting; now it looks like real America. It’s great to be part of it! And please let everybody know how much I appreciate all the fan support.”