General Hospital's Nancy Lee Grahn Lets it All Hang Out
Nancy Lee Grahn
Why is General Hospital's Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) suddenly looking so chestacular? Normally, we'd be interviewing a soap star about something important, like big career news or a startling plot twist. But sometimes you just gotta set up a chat because the subject in question is fantastically hilarious and shamelessly honest and because, well, out of nowhere she's sporting some amazingly major boobage! The suds blogosphere is abuzz about it! TV Guide Magazine spoke with the two-time Emmy winning Grahn about this out-of-nowhere development and so much more — from her arch foes (Bob Guza, Sarah Palin) to her phantom GH romance with Sean Blakemore (Shawn). And why is she Kelly Monaco's self-appointed Dance Mom at every taping of Dancing With the Stars?
TV Guide Magazine: First things first. What's going on with this newfound cleavage?
Grahn: [Laughs] My breasts have just turned into monsters! I don't know what's going on. It must be an age thing. Or menopause. Also, I've gained 12 pounds, so I guess it all went to my boobs.
TV Guide Magazine: So it's for sure not a boob job?
Grahn: Are you kidding? You know me better than that! [Laughs] Oh, my God, if I'd paid for these I'd be furious! Anyway, what would be the point of a boob job at this late point in my career? I know people pay big money for it and now I've got it for free, but I don't enjoy it at all.
TV Guide Magazine: Then how come the GH wardrobe people are going out of their way to accentuate it?
Grahn: They're not! Here's the other problem: I can't stand wearing anything that covers my upper chest because it makes me feel like I'm suffocating. I must have been Anne Boleyn in a past life. I've always been this way but it's only obvious now because my boobs have suddenly grown to the size of twin blimps and now they pop out. It's also more noticeable because I like to move around a lot when I act. I'm always leaning over someone in a scene and they're like, "God, stand up straight, will ya! Nobody can concentrate!"
TV Guide Magazine: So what about this romance between Alexis and Shawn?
Grahn: I don't know. Is there a romance?
TV Guide Magazine: You tell me! Right in the worst part of the biotoxin story — when everyone in Port Charles was supposedly dying — those two were busy making out!
Grahn: I guess Alexis saw him without his top on and couldn't resist. Doesn't some couple always end up making out and falling in love during those big disaster movies, like when an Armageddon-type meteor is about to hit the earth? People on soaps always seem to have sex when they're trapped in rubble, and I've never understood that. When we had the big Northridge earthquake [in 1994] I wasn't thinking about sex. I was thinking, "How the f--k do I get out of this house before I die?"
TV Guide Magazine: The Shawn-Alexis thing just seems so arbitrary, like he has nobody and she has nobody so the writers just threw them together. Not that there isn't potential there. Are they pursuing this thing?
Grahn: I don't know. Not right now. But I love working with Sean Blakemore. I think he's very cool. His character needs to be more dimensionalized, but I'm all for putting Shawn and Alexis together. Frank and [head writer] Ron Carlivati know that I need to have a relationship on the show. Maybe they're just experimenting, seeing what works, what doesn't. It'd be good to start over with Alexis and Shawn and approach this thing again. Why are the two of them together? What's behind the attraction? I don't think they even know each other. They were making out in that scene because the show wanted a big moment after the boat exploded. We were shooting at the end of a long day on location on the docks in Long Beach and [exec producer] Frank Valentini came running at me and said, "If we don't get this scene shot in 60 seconds, we're going into overtime and it's going to cost us $20,000! So shut up and shoot it! Just do it!" [Laughs] I didn't have time to stand there and discuss my motivation.
TV Guide Magazine: Clearly, they dropped your menopause story — or was it the world's quickest recovery?
Grahn: That was started by the previous [writing regime] and Frank and Ron thought it was hilarious — they have a great sense of humor — but Frank said, "I don't want you old and withering. I want you vibrant!" It was, like, "That's enough. Let's move on!" But you're right. Alexis got over those menopause symptoms in record time. Maybe she just had the flu. [Laughs] Some odd kind of flu that makes your boobs big!
TV Guide Magazine: You seem strangely okay not having much of a storyline right now. What's up with that? You love complaining! That's why you're known as Nancy Groan!
Grahn: Listen, I see it two ways. Yes, I want a killer story for Alexis but I am so happy to be working in a place where the head writer doesn't hate me and everybody's nice to me, that I'm just happy doing whatever they have for me. It's different when you're being treated with respect and you respect the people you're working with. I'm much more adaptable to being a team player now. Unlike when Bob Guza was writing GH, I'm no longer considered a problem but an asset. And as a result I am seeing things in a less defensive and more mature way. Besides, I had my time in the spotlight when I did Santa Barbara. I was a leading lady who had the kind of storylines any actress would want. I could have had another 10 great years on GH but that wasn't the case.
TV Guide Magazine: And you blame that on Guza?
Grahn: Let's just say that he did not like to write for intelligent women. So I kind of languished for a decade. And now here I am at the age where I'm a TV grandmother. [Laughs] And by that I mean a very young grandmother! I have to sit back and let the younger ones take the stage. I had my day. Let somebody else have their day. That doesn't mean I still don't want my day again, but it doesn't have to be every day. I'm okay with that. [Laughs] Right now, anyway. Ask me again in a month! You're getting the nice Nancy today.
TV Guide Magazine: Yet somehow you still managed to win a supporting Emmy this year. Did I read somewhere that you gave it to your 14-year-old daughter, Kate, so she can take it with her to college? Are you trying to warp your kid for life by making her carry around mommy's trophies?
Grahn: No! I wanted it to be inspirational but I don't think that's working out. I put the Emmy in her room and, within a week, you couldn't see it because it was covered with clothes. She was hanging her bras on it! So now it's back on the mantle with the other one.
TV Guide Magazine: I was shocked to hear you booked a guest-star gig on Castle. You haven't been in primetime since the Reagan administration!
Grahn: I know! [Laughs] Well, it's not quite that bad but I think the last job I had in primetime was when I did that recurring role on Murder One, and that was the '90s! Of course, it doesn't help that I don't have an agent. It's a fun role. I'm playing a wife in this "War of the Roses"-type relationship who's accused of murdering her lawyer. I'm throwing vases and breaking paintings. Brendon Ford from Weeds and Big Love plays the husband. The casting director at Castle, bless her heart, loves GH and called me in for the part. I had a fantastic time giggling with Nathan Fillion all day. What a nice group of people! It made me feel good. On the other hand, working out the deal to get time off from GH was stressful. They had to give some of my scenes to Carolyn Hennesy [Diane]. I think Frank Valentini felt sorry for me because my career's so pathetic. He finally said, "OK. you can go do Castle but it comes with a caveat. You have to be perfect for the next six months."
TV Guide Magazine: Perfect in what way?
Grahn: I don't know. Apparently in every way. Like Mary Poppins.
TV Guide Magazine: Why are you stalking Kelly Monaco at every episode of Dancing With the Stars?
Grahn: Oh, my God! I need an intervention! I can't stop going to the tapings. Remember Miss Miller, the old gal who used to always sit in the audience of The Merv Griffin Show? I'm her.
TV Guide Magazine: Well that cultural reference is certainly going to date you!
Grahn: I know! What the hell am I thinking? I'm so carried away playing Kelly's mom on GH that I think I'm her mom in real life. I'm the Jewish mother she never had! She's got a lot of balls for a pint-sized little thing. Sometimes I'll go get her lunch on the GH set. The other day, as a joke, I threw a head of lettuce into her dressing room and said, "This is for today and tomorrow!" I'm really, really impressed with how hard she's working because this show is serious s--t! Just brutal! Between the angina I get being there to root for Kelly and the angina I have over this presidential election, I am so headed for the emergency room!
TV Guide Magazine: As a hardcore, frothing-at-the-mouth liberal, how tough was it to sit near Sarah Palin all those night at DWTS?
Grahn: It was a true test, because once you're in that studio they do not let you out. And then they started seating her closer and closer to me! The truth is, I don't like what she stands for and that's very clear from my Tweets. I think she's a very divisive and dangerous person. The fact that she actually thought she was qualified to run for vice president — that she had the self-serving gumption to put our nation at risk that way — is something I still find unforgivable. So being so close to her made it very difficult not to get riled. I will say that she was always smiling, always very nice to everyone, and she clearly loves her children. But somehow seeing that she's human and not some media cartoon didn't make it any better for me. It only made the things she does and says and stands for seem even worse. But I do have this to say about her: Fabulous shoes! I was quite envious.
TV Guide Magazine: And Bristol?
Grahn: What really sent me over the edge with her was when DWTS did that little film package where she went to the firing range and thought it was great fun to shoot the moose between the eyes. I lost my s--t and tweeted, "She just shot the f---ing moose in the head!" What can I say? I am not fond of what the Palins represent. They are the political Kardashians. Give me Kelly Monaco's class and gumption anytime! I've been working harder supporting Kelly than I have for Obama. I'm really proud of her and, more important, really impressed. DWTS shows what people are truly made of. It is not for sissies.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you looking to do the show yourself?
Grahn: Oh, my God, no way! Are you nuts? I am way too big of a wimp. [Laughs] Plus, I'd be sure to have a wardrobe malfunction with the way my boobs are growing!
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