Will General Hospital's mysterious new arrival work alongside Jason Cook's Matt?

On Thursday, Jan. 15, General Hospital viewers — and eventually Nikolas — will do a double take when the late Emily Quartermaine appears to rise from the dead. The truth is, however, that Natalia Livingston (who left the role of Nik's great love) is back on the ABC soap in a new role, as a mysterious young woman named Rebecca. Livingston talked to us about how much sweeter GH is the second time around.

TVGuide.com: Is playing another character something that was suggested, or even joked about, when they wrote you and Emily off the show? "It's a soap opera, Nat — we can always bring you back as a look-alike."
Natalia Livingston: It was a talk that I had with [headwriter] Bob Guza, who had come up with an awesome idea for a storyline. It wasn't the right time at that moment, but now it is! 

TVGuide.com: So this "comeback plan" was in mind when you left?
Livingston: I knew that there was a possibility for a comeback, yeah. We ended up waiting a few months, then I got a call from Bob Guza and [acting director] Mark Teschner in November: "We've got this storyline ready — what are you thinking?" I thought, "Wow, it's just such an incredible opportunity." 

TVGuide.com: What did you think about when making the decision to return?
Livingston: What was really important to me was remembering my five years on the show and how happy I was. I know that this is a group of people I love to work with, that it's a job I know I love. Second to that, I thought this would be challenging because it's a new character. It's not a recast, like when I stepped into Amber Tamblyn's shoes [as Emily]. This is a chance to have something new and my own.

TVGuide.com: If only as a courtesy, did you ask Tyler [Christopher, Nikolas] if he was cool with you coming back, given your off-screen past? [Livingston and Christopher dated off-and-on from late 2004 to spring 2006; Christopher has since married sports reporter Brienne Pedigo.]
Livingston: You know, I was just assuming that he was. The writers and producers mentioned that he was really excited for the storyline as well, and for me to come back. Our initial meeting [to discuss the story] was really great. 

TVGuide.com: I imagine this is more than a black-and-white case of "Emily good, Rebecca bad."
Livingston: Definitely. I think the writers and producers have a complex character in mind. I'm slowly figuring out who she is, because up to this point [in taping] I've just been lurking around in the background. I haven't had enough dialogue yet to figure her out.

TVGuide.com: That's the age-old problem with playing mysterious look-alikes — they're so damn mysterious.
Livingston: Yeah, until you really get into the story. It's not like a movie where you have the whole script. On a soap, you're given scenes little by little. It's just a matter of coming up with your own ideas about what you want her to be like, and then collaborating with the writers and producers. 

TVGuide.com: Does Rebecca tie into an existing storyline, or is she here to kick off a brand-new one?
Livingston: She's here to kick off a brand-new one. 

TVGuide.com: Set the scene for the first time we see her.
Livingston: We see her in the hospital. Right off the bat, her look is very different from Emily. Emily was very soft with more of a conservative look. Rebecca is sharper, a little edgier.

TVGuide.com: Is there a reason she's at the hospital?
Livingston: She's applying for a job. 

TVGuide.com: Is Nikolas and only Nikolas the first person to see her?
Livingston: Actually, no. Somebody else in the hospital sees her — and there's a bit of flirtation going on! 

TVGuide.com: So ... Nikolas is not her only potential love interest.
Livingston: No. That's something that's also exciting, especially for the fans. This is a new character, so even if Emily had a relationship with whomever, she's pretty much open to interact with anyone. 

TVGuide.com: How long will the Nikolas/Emily fans have to wait before he encounters Rebecca?
Livingston: I don't think it's going to be that long. Pretty soon they meet, and then this whole exciting storyline is going to unfold — obviously with Nikolas and Rebecca, but also the entire canvas. It's really big. 

TVGuide.com: What are we to make of her resemblance to Emily? Is it explained at all?
Livingston: I don't really know.... I don't know when that will be explained. The writers have been trying not to tell me a whole lot, because then I'll get excited about it and tell people! [Laughs

TVGuide.com: Are you liking your new hair style?
Livingston: I love it! I wish I would have [cut it short] 10 years ago. It's so much easier. 

TVGuide.com: I have to wonder, have you been watching Izzie and Denny on Grey's Anatomy and going, "Hey, that's the Nikolas-Emmy storyline!"
Livingston: No, I haven't watched Grey's lately. [Livingston is then brought up to speed on how Izzie has been spending quality time with her dead lover.]  Wow. That does sound like the last six months of Nikolas and Emily. I see [the Grey's cast] all the time on the lot, so I should probably tune in!