This interview, “Dr. Marlena of our Lives” ” was written by Debashine Thangevelo for IOL and posted on Monday, June 6, 2016. To read the original article, click here.
This month, Deidre Hall – one of the soap’s longstanding actresses – celebrates her 40th milestone with the show and it comes on the back of the 68-year-old recently getting a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
The actress, who is ageing beautifully, is as softly-spoken as her character, Dr Marlena Evans. Also, that unmistakably warm and cheerful voice, omnipresent in her character (when she wasn’t possessed), explains the popularity of the maternal doctor over the years.
Interestingly, she was in The Young and the Restless when DOOL offered her a guest character role in June, 1976.
Hall recalls: “When I began, I was brought in to bridge two characters. I was only meant to stay for a few months so as to not have two blonde psychiatrists on the show. And then they gave me a love interest and, pretty soon, they just had to keep me on.”
And, boy oh boy, did she go through the roller-coaster of storylines: she’s been possessed, mind-controlled, kidnapped (too many times to take stock of), was a surrogate for genetically engineered babies, suffered amnesia… and the list goes on.
Let’s just say the writers left no stone unturned when it came to penning her story arcs.
Of course, love was as important as her family – not that it was ever easy dealing with either aspect.
Among her iconic story arcs, the possession twist remains unforgettable.
She offers: “It was a first for daytime. They had not tried that before. Our then head writer, James E Reilly, who is a devout Catholic, came into the studio and sat down with the executives and myself and explained what he was thinking, which was extraordinary in itself. We had been prepared for something because all the Christmas trees had gone up in flames and all kinds of supernatural things were happening. We knew there was something afoot. Then James said: ‘It’s you doing all these things’. I asked: ‘Why,’ and he said: ‘Because, you are possessed’.
“It was quite a ride. I thought it was so well-revealed and relayed so beautifully to the audience. It allowed my character to do things that were so out of character, which was a great departure for me.”
Another standout twist for Hall was having a twin sister, Samantha Evans (played by her real-life twin, Andrea Hall).
She recalls: “The twin story was also unique to daytime TV. You can’t do a split screen (this was a long time back). Then, in some ridiculous thought process, one of the writers killed the twin.”
Of course, viewers will also remember that the writers later brought Hatti Adams (Marlena’s lookalike) into the storyline.
Married several times in the soap, Hall says Drake Hogestyn, who played John Black, has been a fan favourite. Better known as Stefano DiMera’s pawn, he was also, at one point, presumed to be Roman Brady.
“The fans went insane for him. He wasn’t as sophisticated and arrogant and the audience loved that.
“I had amazing co-stars. Wayne Northrup (he played the first Roman Brady) is a special friend. He also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We have been very close over the years and I have visited him at his ranch,” she reveals.
Today, her purpose in the storyline has shifted from what it used to be, more so with the influx of fresh-faced actors taking centre stage.
She offers: “Marlena has evolved. She is a mother, grandmother, she has her own career and she is working with the police on different cases.”
She also has a movie that she’s doing during their July break.
And when she isn’t on set, Hall leads a pretty active life.
She offers: “Gosh, I have my family. My son still lives at home. I spend time with him and my friends. I garden, go to the movies, theatre and I exercise.”
When she is unwinding in front of the telly, she says: “I love the Kevin Spacey series (House of Cards) and I’ve been watching Outlander. Those are the two I’m riveted to.”