Ellen Greene Soaps Up for a Gig on The Young and the Restless
Billy Miller, Ellen Greene
And baby makes three? That terrific character actress Ellen Greene of Little Shop of Horrors and Pushing Daisies fame joins The Young and the Restless for a five-episode stint starting January 7. Longtime fans of the soap will get a kick out of this: Greene will play Primrose DeVille, who is the niece of black market baby racketeer Rose DeVille, a notorious character played back in the '80s by the late, great Darlene Conley. Primrose will connect with Billy Abbott (Billy Miller) soon after he and wife Victoria (Amelia Heinle) get word from the doc that it'll be near impossible for them to conceive children. Y&R has Greene under gag order about plot details but, as you can see in the photo, Primrose does hand Billy a newborn. And Daisy (Yvonne Zima) gives birth to her baby this week and abandons it in a church. Are the bambinos one and the same? We'll leave it up to you to connect the dots. In the meantime, here's what Greene had to say to TV Guide Magazine about her trip to Genoa City!
TV Guide Magazine: What a cool way to kick off 2011! How did Ellen Greene — famous for her quirky choices — land on Y&R?
Greene: Here's what happened: A long time ago when I was very young I played a nurse on one of the New York soaps — I can't even remember which one — and it just terrified me! The whole experience! I just hated it! [Laughs] So I swore off soaps but then, a few years later — I think it was after Little Shop — I was offered a part that actually appealed to me. It was this sexy, rock 'n' roller chick on All My Children, just two days work but I had a great director I just loved and still remember to this day — so I show up at Y&R all these years later and it's the exact same director, Conal O'Brien! I mean, what are the chances with all the directors in the world? At first I didn't want to do the role, but in Judaism there's a word "bashert" — destiny. I took it as a sign that I was in the place I was supposed to be at the right time and definitely in tune with the universe.
TV Guide Magazine: Why didn't you want the part to begin with?
Greene: Because I still had that horrible nurse experience in my head! My agents got the call from Y&R and really liked the role and the whole idea. They said, "Ellen, you should do this." But I was too afraid. Soaps move so fast and I'm a snob. I like to really prepare my scenes and have time with the director, so I tried to turn it down. I even said, "Will you hate me if I say no?" I've always had trouble saying no. When I was little I had to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up and I wrote, "I want to be an actress-singer-dancer because you can be a rich fairy princess and tell someone off." Well, I still can't tell anyone off!
TV Guide Magazine: So what changed your mind about playing Primrose?
Greene: I read the script. It was so good I was shocked. I just had to do it. I can only tell you this much: Primrose will bring happiness into Billy's life. Anything more and they will have to annihilate me. That Billy Miller is a very good actor, by the way. So much fun to work with, and such a dear. In fact, every single person at Y&R was kind to me.
TV Guide Magazine: Who wouldn't be kind to Ellen Greene? You're Audrey for crying out loud!
Greene: Oh, a lot of times you go into a show where the cast has worked together for a long time and they can be very cliquish. I like kindness. Who doesn't? Life is definitely too short for self-centered, abusive people. I would play those characters but I don't want to work with them.
TV Guide Magazine: You started out in cabaret and Broadway musicals. Now you're all about TV. Will you get back to singing?
Greene: I do miss the saloons. I grew up watching old black and white movies where Marlene Dietrich or Jean Harlow would go walking down some cobblestone street in ripped stockings and head into some smoky boite and sing for a pathetic living. That's so what I wanted to be. Maybe one of these days I'll start singing again. I recently lost my mom and, when my heart gets heavy, singing is the one thing I can't do. But this is interesting — years and years and years ago I made an album with Joel Dorn who produced "Killing Me Softly" for Roberta Flack and Bette Midler's first album, The Divine Miss M, and it was never released. Now, like, 30 years later, it's finally being released this year. It's called All the Lives of Me, which is a Peter Allen song I always used to close my act with. It's kind of wild and very esoteric — one of those one-of-a-kind albums you put on your shelf and only you own. [Laughs] It's definitely not commercial.
TV Guide Magazine: That's good, because if Ellen Greene goes commercial on us, it's the end of civilization as we know it. You're all about the oddball jobs.
Greene: I know! I almost turned down Pushing Daisies because I was also offered a role on Heroes playing Sylar's mother. As it turned out, I was able to shoot both at the same time, but I was all set to choose the drama because I love that sort of thing. A serial killer's mom!
TV Guide Magazine: People still miss Pushing Daisies. Big time.
Greene: So do I! I always cook for [Daisies creator] Bryan Fuller on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just loved that show. The art direction! The costumes! You should have seen the fitting room. It was wild. I felt like a drag queen trying on everything and anything — hats, bags, gloves, suits — in wild combinations. It was so much fun. I wish they'd let it come back on TV every year like Miracle on 34th Street. Pushing Daisies, a Christmas tradition. [Laughs] I can see it, can't you?
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!