The Young and the Restless star Elizabeth Hendrickson discusses the controversial storyline to kill off Chloe’s daughter Delia and a other topics — from whether we’ll see the return of the “old” Chloe to what it’s like working with executive producer Jill Farren Phelps.
Y&R’s heart breaking decision to kill off Chloe and Billy’s (Billy Miller) daughter Cordelia “Delia” Abbott has been met with a divided, but passionate response from fans. It’s tough when soaps kill beloved characters, especially when it’s a child. That notion isn’t lost on Hendrickson or Y&R’s showrunner, Jill Farren Phelps, who warned the actress the fans would “give her hell” for the storyline.
Outside the purview of controversy, was the opportunity for the veteran actress, who has been with the soap since 2008, to tackle her most challenging material to date. Material that would push her to the limits emotionally and professionally. Hendrickson’s commanding, emotionally devastating performances has many wondering if a Daytime Emmy might be in the actress’ future.
TVSource Magazine spoke with Hendrickson, one of daytime’s most popular and talented stars, exclusively about her reaction to the storylines, process for getting into character and where she sees the character going after the death of her child. Will viewers see the resurgence of Chloe’s self-destructive behavior? Plus, the actress sheds light on what it’s like to work with executive producer Jill Farren Phelps.
TVSource Magazine: What was your reaction when you learned Chloe’s adorable daughter would be killed in a tragic car accident?
Elizabeth Hendrickson: It’s kind of a hard thing because you don’t want to kill a child, but there’s nothing more than wanting an emotional storyline that you can sink your teeth into. I had been wanting [one] for a long time, which I really haven’t had since [Delia] got cancer. So I was just happy to be a part of an emotional storyline that I was really excited to attempt and be challenged by as an actress.
TVSource Magazine: This is the kind of material most actors would give anything to have. Did you have any trepidation going into the filming of the episodes? Were you worried that you might be overwhelmed or were you confident you could handle it?
Hendrickson: Oh I was petrified [Laughs]. I think I was mainly scared because I thought that the cancer storyline was challenging enough when I first had that, but uh… I was just really intimidated because I don’t have a child. I’ve never experienced that unconditional love with someone – for someone. I mean I had a dog for ten years, but that’s not the same. I’m not even a sister. I don’t have a younger sister or brother. I really didn’t have that much to connect to in my own personal life. I think that’s what scared me the most – how I was going to find it within myself to tell a truthful story.
So I was very scared and it just happened to be landing on the week after I was going to be away for five days for my best friend’s wedding. And I didn’t get the script until 3 days before we were shooting it because they were making changes. I never received a script [so late] before. So to receive a script so late and to be at a wedding, I couldn’t work on it. I remember reading it Saturday morning, we shot it on Tuesday morning. I read it Saturday morning in my hotel room and the only thing that kind of gave me the confidence that I’d be okay is, as soon as I started reading it, I started crying. So I knew I was connected to it emotionally somehow, but it was a very, very stressful weekend for me because I just couldn’t give my time to it like I would have liked to. So I didn’t get to work on it until Monday, the day before I shot it [laughs].
TVSource Magazine: You definitely couldn’t tell that from viewing your performance.
Hendrickson: Oh thank you.
TVSource Magazine: What was your process for preparing yourself for the scenes when Chloe found out Delia died and the aftermath? Was there a particular moment in your in life that you tapped into to access those emotions?
Hendrickson: You know – for me what really worked best, thankfully I have a relationship with Sophie [Pollono], so just imagining, you know, her as a child being gone was obviously a given, something that I had.
What I really had to do, I mean I talked about it a lot. And even the night before, sweet Ignacio [Serricchio] came over to my house and we talked about it a lot. Billy Miller came over the day before and we talked about it. And when it really came down to the day of and preparing myself, I locked myself in my dressing room for six hours because they were running kind of late, so I had a lot of time to just sit there and be somber. And that went along with depressing music.
But the night before, I remembered that I had some photos of people in my life, mainly parents. But my first experience of loss was when I was five years old to a father figure of mine. And it is the one – it’s the first time that I ever experienced losing someone. I hadn’t really realized how much that had affected me until this summer because of, well to be completely honest, because of the therapy that I’m in [Laughs].
I realized that I did have something to go to on. My mother had just by chance given me this poem that he had written to me before he died. And it was about him being in heaven and always watching down on me. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read and kind of eerie in a way that he had written this before he passed. Anytime I ever think about him, see a picture of him, read something that he wrote, I automatically get emotional. And even though I was five, I remember that love so clearly. So he was with me all day, and by that I mean I had pictures of him everywhere, I had the poem in my back pocket – I just knew that not only was he watching me, but I knew that if I ever struggled at a point where I was having a hard time connecting, that I could just walk off stage, take that poem out of my back pocket and read it and get there. But I think that all the preparation that I had done before, all those hours before, I didn’t need it. I was just so filled up to like my eyeballs with all of this stuff that I was just sitting with for all of those hours that by the time we got to it, I mean they had to pull me back because it was too much.
I remember Jill, [in] the scene with Kevin and Chloe where she’s talking about not being able to hear her voice or see her, we had to do that a couple of times because Jill just came out and said, “I can’t have this. The viewers won’t be able to watch anymore.” [Laughs] To me I just thought “well she just lost her child! I’m going to the very depths of my soul and reaching everywhere I possibly could.” [Laughs] But watching the show in its entirety, I do understand what she was saying. For me, at that moment, it really wasn’t an option because I still felt like I wasn’t even completely fully out of my mind. I felt like I still could have gone further. But we don’t really have time to try things over and over again. So that was the only scene in that entire show that I did more than once. But yeah, so that’s a long explanation for how and why I got there, but that was kind of my process.
TVSource Magazine: Wow. That’s intense and draining. I really hope fans, after reading this interview, develop an appreciation for everything that went into getting that performance out. Your fans have especially been complimentary about your performance, and your co-stars too.
Hendrickson: Yeah, it’s so great [to see]. They’ve been really [kind].