Constance Towers offers insight into her portrayal of Helena Cassadine, and the return of fan favorite Jonathan Jackson as Lucky Spencer in this exclusive TVSource Magazine interview.
Constance Towers has portrayed Helena Cassadine on ABC’s General Hospital for 11 years and has made Helena one of the most popular villains in Daytime soaps. Her career has spanned over 5 decades, beginning in 1952 with her first appearance on television in the series Tales of Tomorrow. In 1957, Constance graced the big screen with the legendary John Wayne in the John Ford western The Horse Soldiers as Miss Hannah Hunter of Greenbriar. In 1960, she appeared in a second John Ford film, Sergeant Rutledge with Jeffrey Hunter.
The actress has appeared in TV credits include Perry Mason (1961-1965), Love Is A Splendor Thing (1971-1972), Fantasy Island (1979-1981), L.A. Law (1987-1988), MacGyver (1989), Designing Women (1990), Star Trek:Deep Space Nine (1993), Frasier (1994), Caroline in the City (1995), Providence (2000), Criminal Minds (2006), The 4400 (2007), and most recently Cold Case in 2009.
Towers has also appeared on numerous daytime dramas over the years including, the popular CBS soap Capitol from 1984 to 1987 as Clarissa McCandless. She made a brief appearance on CBS’ The Young and the Restless in 1996 as Audrey North, and then on NBC’s Sunset Beach as Julianna Deschanel in 1997.
TVSource Magazine was given the opportunity to conduct an interview with this legendary actress, one who is admittedly one of our favorites. Constance gave some insight on her character, and storyline on General Hospital, and her feelings on the return of fan favorite Jonathan Jackson as Lucky Spencer.
What is it you like most about Helena Cassadine?
What I like most about the character of Helena is that she is a dangerous villainess with a sense of humor and vulnerability. She can be wry, insulting, cryptic, threatening, sexy,manipulative, clever,vain, but always with a smile. I enjoy playing her vulnerability to those she loves. Nikolas is her life. If ever (which is rare) she makes a poor judgment it’s because of Nikolas.
Why hasn’t Helena ever remarried?
How could Helena find a man to match her? She’s like a cat playing with a mouse. Most men fall under her spell, she toys with them and then destroys them. Luke is the only man who has managed to keep her attention and interest because they are equals in crime, games and love. There is a psycho-sexual tension between them that intrigues them both. A relationship, let alone a marriage would destroy them. She married Mikkos for money and power. He wasn’t faithful to her and she endured the “bastard” children and affairs to keep that power. Now that he’s dead, she has the power and money so why bother with a husband.
Fans love watching your character wreak havoc in Port Charles, and each time she returns, she gets a little more wicked. Why do you think Helena has such longevity on GH? Most villains seem to come on go, but she’s still here and has fans clamoring for her return time and time again. What drives her to do the evil things she does?
Helena holds the secrets so personal to the hearts of most people in Port Charles that with a mere suggestion or hint of something she can strike terror in their hearts; destroy relationships and threaten the lives of even hardened criminals. Helena believes that the “end justifies the means.” She is a megalomaniac, driven by her perception of how the world should be.and that is a Cassadine World. She truly believes that everything she does is to accomplish her goal of putting Nikolas in the seat of power. The Cassadines are the only family capable of ruling the earth.
Having been on the show for 11 years, how do you keep the character interesting and exciting to watch?
I keep Helena alive and breathing. She has never been dormant in my mind. You and I are constantly changing and so is she. We can’t recover the minutes that just passed and neither can Helena. I am always looking to the horizon thinking of new interests for her, and excited by the new twists and turns provided by a fabulous writing team headed by Robert Guza, Jr.
The chemistry between you and Tony Geary is off the charts. Why do you think the two of you work so well together? It’s quite an interesting dynamic.
Tony and I have a lot of fun working together. He is a consummate actor with a delicious sense of humor and a joy to work with. We found this wonderful relationship full of sexual tension, an unconsummated attraction full of danger and surprise. Again the writers are so brilliant and know how to keep our adversarial characters interesting and unpredictable.
The writers are laying the foundation for a big Spencer/Cassadine storyline. What are your thoughts on the story and the return of the feud between the two families?
I am very excited about the prospect of the feud being revived. I trust our writers and I know they have a great storyline planned and I’m hoping to be a part of it.
Sam was revealed to be Alexis’ daughter a couple of years ago, yet Helena hasn’t made a move to kill her. Does Helena even know Alexis has another daughter? And if she does, why do you think Helena hasn’t set her aim towards Sam?
Helena knows everything. Of course she knows about Sam. I suppose she’s biding her time and deciding when it’s logical or beneficial to strike.
Does Helena see Alexis’ now older daughters, Kristina & Molly, as a threat?
I dont think Helena sees anyone as a threat. She has her reasons for deciding to attack or to strike people and I believe in time, we’ll see a different side of her.
In the coming weeks Helena will target Elizabeth because of her relationship with Nikolas. Why is Helena so protective of her grandson?
Helena has targeted Elizabeth because of her tremendous fixation on Nikolas. No woman will ever be good enough for him. First she was after poor Emily, then Rebecca, and now poor Elizabeth. A few years ago Helena tried to poison Elizabeth because she was with Nikolas. This happened on her yacht. Don’t forget that Elizabeth is a Spencer because of her marriage to Lucky so there is the old Spencer-Cassadine feud to consider also.
You mentioned Helena going after the women in Nikolas’ life. What kind of woman would Helena choose for Nikolas if she had the power to do so?
If Helena could choose the one woman for Nikolas it would be one she could totally dominate and control. Any children would be in Helena’s control. The woman would have to be willing to give in to the power of Helena. Kind of like the poor princess who has to hand over her first born to the witch who found her strawberries in the January snow.
Vlad has seemed to put the fear of god in Helena. What frightens her so about this Cassadine family member?
Vlad is the first Cassadine that Helena has not been able to control and dominate. He is truly insane and capable of destroying anyone and anything that crosses his path. She has seen him in action and as the saying goes:”It takes one to know one” and she recognizes her most horrific qualities in him. She knows how he thinks and what he is capable of.
What are your thoughts on Jonathan Jackson returning to GH as Lucky Spencer?
Jonathan Jackson will bring back wonderful history to the show. He is so beloved and recognized as Lucky, I know it will please the fans. He has a very special sensitivity and vulnerability and so much talent. However that doesn’t mean that Greg Vaughan wasn’t wonderful as Lucky and loved by the fans and me. I loved working with him. He is such a good actor and so attractive he will go on to a very successful career.
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