Interviews Soaps

INTERVIEW: Debbi Morgan & Darnell Williams on the New ‘All My Children’

Photo: Chapman Baehler/TOLN

All My Children stars Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams tell TVSource Magazine what fans can expect on the upcoming reboots on The Online Network, what it’s like working together for almost thirty years and their recent attendance at the red carpet premiere in New York City.

It’s been over 579 days since we last saw the Hubbard family, specifically super couple Angie and Jesse, played by the phenomenally talented Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan, on our screens.

Thanks to Prospect Park‘s hard work and fans loyal dedication, All My Children will be returning on April 29, and Jesse and Angie are going to be front and center with a storyline that will keep the viewers on the edge of their seats as they question what will happen next.

On Wednesday, TVSource Magazine had the pleasure to participate in a conference call with Williams and Morgan to discuss the past, present, and future of All My Children.

Both actors were really amazed by the red carpet premiere that took place Tuesday night at the NYU Skirball Center in New York City. Stars from both shows, along with various media outlets (including TVSource Magazine) and a select group of fans were treated to a screening of the premiere episodes of All My Children and One Life to Live.

“Well being in that surrounding was so different,” Morgan stated. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a premiere for All My Children before or walked the red carpet.”

“It kind of felt like [we were] real actors there for a minute,” Williams chimed in.

“Real actors, yes that was all exciting,” Morgan agreed. “I was impressed with the first show. I think the fans are really going to love it. I love that whole intro with being able to show the exteriors and what would be PineValley. That whole introduction I just thought was really, really great – it was exciting.”

Williams backed up the sentiment. “I was completely impressed, you know, bowed over, more so. And to see your face on a big screen [is] pretty exciting,” he said.

Both actors consider it a great honor to be working on All My Children as it transitions itself to the internet. Williams pointed out that the two had just been discussing the fact that soaps had gone from radio to TV and now the internet.

“Yes I think it’s huge because I really think in about four or five years or so  television is just going to be a monitor and everything’s going to be done through the Internet,” Morgan said. “So to be [part of] something that’s so groundbreaking and to have it be a success, which that time already has seen it as a success. I mean like Darnell said, to be a part of that is just – I mean it’s just fantastic on so many different levels, you know, it really is.”

The two don’t look at their sibling soap One Life to Live as any form of competition or see any sort of rivalry existing between the two soaps.  Instead, they felt that the shows were always in the same boat, and that they were all working together, in part because they were both Agnes Nixon‘s creations.  Williams was “over the moon thrilled” with both premieres, while Morgan had plenty of praise for One Life to Live.

“I really loved their intro with them dancing, I thought that was really cool – I liked that a lot,” Morgan said. “And they have such great characters on that show and I thought both shows were equally good and it was really exciting to get to see their show and what they’re doing just as much as it was to see our own.”

One of the big things that fans have been questioning is the actual dialogue since it’s been public knowledge for a while now that things would be a bit ‘freer’ and there would be ‘less restrictions’ placed upon the actors in terms of swearing since they won’t be subjected to network TV rules and regulations.

Morgan quickly dispelled fans’ fears, stating that while they have the freedom to do so, it won’t be every other scene is “f-this” and “f-that.” She went on to say that the words will really only be used when it feels “realistic” for the scene.  Williams is happy with these changes as he remembers having to come up with “Jesse-isms” as a way to ‘say’ the words in slang that would make it to air because they couldn’t  say certain things on television.

Williams also addressed the fact that the shows will have a large focus on Pine Valley’s younger generation.  He found the high school setting to be very realistic for the new generation of Pine Valley high students and a bit nostalgic as well.

“It took me right back,” Williams said of seeing the lockers at Pine Valley High during the premiere. “I just expected to see Greg, Jenny, Angie and Jesse coming around the corner at any moment.”

Morgan and Williams discussed their onscreen chemistry – a chemistry that has not only spanned decades, but three different soaps and two different characters for Darnell Williams. Though Williams left All My Children in 1988 when Jesse was tragically killed off due to a fatal gunshot wound, Morgan remained on the soap and until her character crossed over to Loving in 1993 and the series’ spinoff, The City, in 1995.

Williams joined the cast of Loving as the illustrious Jesse-look-a-like Jacob Foster and was reunited with Morgan’s Angie.  The two describe their chemistry as something that just worked; it wasn’t something that was taught or forced upon them.

“Debbi and I clicked from day one. We love what we do and it just comes naturally,” Williams relayed. Morgan joined in, adding, “I’ve been married to Darnell/Jesse longer than any of my husbands.”

When asked if Williams would like to reprise the role of Jacob  or do a dual role, the actor said he is all for it, but the complexity of playing a dual role at this point in the game would be a bit much.

“Oh I’d love to, I don’t know if I could handle it, my ass is getting too old now though,” Williams said. “Yes it would be a great challenge. I did a movie once where I had to do a dual role back in the early ’80s and it was quite a different setup, but it’s pretty complicated itself. But yes, I would welcome the challenge.”

Morgan, meanwhile, is all for it, though she believes her alter-ego Angie would be up to no good. “Oh boy I could see her – she would be going around in circles. She wouldn’t know which way to turn because they were both just so gorgeous and charismatic. And I think she’d end up having an affair on each of them,” she said.

Though the actors spoke highly of the work environment at Prospect Park, they admit that not everything with production is easier. There are some highlights, such as the improvement in catering, which they referred to as “good food.” The pace of production is just as fast, if not faster, then it was on network TV.

The actors had already lost most of their rehearsal time near the end of the soaps run on ABC and now things are moving even faster.  Morgan shared that near the end of their time on network television, they’d often shoot upwards of two to three episodes, but in sequential order. Now, they are given a shot sheet, and are often shooting episodes out of order, sometimes filming scenes from upwards of seven different episodes in a day. “It’s gotten even quicker than before,” Williams shared.

Darnell Williams was sure to thank Prospect Park co-founders Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank, along with Executive Producer Ginger Smith for all of their hard work, and for giving them “an amazing opportunity” to bring the shows back, and into the future.  Both actors then went on to thank the fans, without whom none of this would have been a possibility.

“I also want to send out a great thank you to the fans,” Debbi Morgan said. “I mean if the fans had not been as vocal and as loyal as they’ve always been with All My Children, none of this would have come to fruition.”

All My Children, and its sibling soap One Life to Live, return Monday, April 29 on Hulu, Hulu Plus, iTunes and FX Canada.

Additional editing by Mandy Treccia and Omar Nobles

About the author

Johnathon K.

Johnathon K. is a staff writer for TV Source Magazine. With a love of soaps, the Super Sentai Series and gaming, John's passion comes through in his writing and as a featured host of the TV Source Podcast, where he also serves as producer.