This week on the podcast we read part of an email from our historian Zach about the casting stories of some of our favorite residents of Harmony. Here you can read the email in its entirety. Enjoy!
In another one of my Google perusing sessions I have uncovered some gems. Soap Opera Digest some of the original cast members of Passions and asked them for their casting stories, so here they are. I also a quote from McKenzie Westmore about the much maligned and ill-conceived Princess Diana storyline because the obliviousness was too good to pass up.
Kim Johnston Ulrich (Ivy Crane)
What is your casting story? “After I went in, they called me back and said they wanted to see me again because they didn’t think I was quite upscale enough. I laughed and I remember going, ‘Oh, my God. All I ever play is upscale and bitchy.’ When I first went in, I dressed nicely in a shirt and my hair was down. The second time I put on a really sweet suit and my hair up. I read with Ben [Masters] and it went very well. Later, they called and said I got it.”
What do you remember about your first week? “Most memorable to me was when Ben and I were coming through the door of the mansion and I had on this amazing red dress that the costumer at that time had built for me. So, I most remember coming in wearing this fabulous dress and I looked really good.”
Lindsay Hartley (Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald)
Tell me your casting story. “That might have been one of my first TV auditions ever in my whole life. I had just been doing singing and musicals and performing onstage. I felt super-insecure. So I auditioned and I just didn’t feel like I had a great experience. Then I get a callback for the screen test, but there was a big wait. I was chemistry reading with Travis [Schuldt, Ethan] and Josh Duhamel [ex-Leo, ALL MY CHILDREN], and Brook [Kerr, Whitney]. I completely fell in love with Brook right away, and how can you not fall in love with both men? It was a pretty intense screen test. And then I got in my car and I cried because I was so nervous. I was like, ‘I’m not getting that. There’s no freakin’ way.’ And then I got it. The week that I found out or when we did the carnival is when I turned 21.”
James Hyde (Sam Bennett)
How did you get cast? “I was filming AS THE WORLD TURNS [as Liam] at the time and there were these rumblings of a new show on NBC. Nobody knew what it was. And then finally my agent told me, ‘Hey, you’re going to read for a character.’ And so I actually read for PASSIONS in New York and I read with Jackie Briskey [casting director], who is amazing. I read for Hank. I was living in Miami and was going up to do my shows in New York and then coming back. I got back to Miami and I had [a message saying,] ‘I think you’d be better for Sam. You have a family that will be more entrenched in the storyline. We just like you for Sam.’ I said, ‘Great.’ So I went back to do a screen test for Sam. I flew back to New York and that’s when I heard. I went in and did my last shows on AS THE WORLD TURNS and said, ‘I am out. I am a new member of the show called PASSIONS.’ ”
McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan Crane)
Tell us your casting story. “I originally was called in to audition for the role of Gwen. After the first audition, the executive producers could tell I wasn’t a fit but luckily had creative minds to see me as Sheridan Crane. The audition process started in late 1998. About seven auditions later and a test with Galen Gering [Luis], I was cast as Sheridan. It was especially meaningful as I learned the news on my birthday, April 26, 1999!”
How was the character of Sheridan explained to you? “I was told she was the American princess. The sweetheart that unfortunately always loses out in the end but never gives up.”
What did you think of the story point that she was besties with Princess Di and still mourning her death? “Filming it, it didn’t strike me that it could be an issue. I was just so excited to be on a big, new show! I do remember watching those episodes with my family and thinking, ‘This is the beginning and the end of my career. People are going to hate me!’ Little did I know at that time, the show would end up becoming such a cult classic for so many.”
Galen Gering (Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald)
What do you remember about that first week? “I remember it just being very hectic. Out of boredom, I handcuffed Jesse Metcalfe [Miguel] to a bench because I wanted to practice my cop skills. When they were ready to shoot, he was still handcuffed to the bench and there was no key to be found. They were like, ‘We’re ready for you!’ And I was like, ‘Uh-oh.’ Jesse’s like, ‘He handcuffed me!’ And then when we finally found the key, it was like 10 minutes, but seemed like a freakin’ eternity.”
Juliet Mills (Tabitha Lenox)
Did you have any hesitation about signing on to the show? “Well, the first time you sign on it’s for three years. I didn’t have any hesitation to sign on for three years because to have a regular job as an actress is quite amazing these days. I was very excited about it and it was a very wonderful part. It wasn’t just sort of somebody’s aunt or secretary or grandmother or something; it was a 300-year-old witch! It was different and challenging, and a regular paycheck just sounded like good news to me.”
What stands out to you about your first week on the show? “Our first week, actually, we were on location in the harbor, which, of course, we never were again. It was all fun, really, except during that time I was a real witch in a tent in a fairground and so I had extensive makeup, prosthetic makeup, which they’d taken a cast of and all of that before we started. That was quite the shock to the system. That took about two hours to put on and two hours to take off. But it sort of got me ready for what was to come because I did a lot of those sort of makeups, you know.
Rodney Van Johnson (T.C. Russell)
What did you know about your character when you went into read? “I knew nothing about T.C. I just knew that he was an ex-tennis star with two kids. And I knew the parallels with Serena and Venus [Williams] were there and I could tell that’s where they were going because that’s what [Head Writer/Creator] James E. Reilly did. He was very good at taking current events and making them now, and that’s what he adapted that from. I had an idea of where he was going with that. I could also see that they wanted me to be the angry black man. I played the role well.”
What was your first day/week like? “Oh, my goodness. I was going through a whole lot because we were close to my son’s birth at the time. We actually started shooting in May, so I was going through all the pregnancy and everything. We had to shoot this crazy scene and my son was being born that day, June 16th. I had to leave and they freaked out. I’m like, ‘My son is being born!’ ‘Well you need to have that baby and come back.’ And as soon as he was born I came back. The first day, we shot up in Oxnard [CA] to give it a beach feel. It was great. We were there for two weeks. A ton of dialogue, a ton of young actors and actresses; it was crazy, crazy mayhem. We were getting on set at 7 a.m., we were leaving at 2 a.m. sometimes, coming back and sleeping in our dressing rooms because we had to get a month’s worth of shows done before we aired on July 5th. It was very, very stressful and crazy, fun because of all the special effects and the stunts that we were doing. It was a really, really great time.”
The Official Passions Podcast Historian