If Looks Could Kill
By Robin Echt
Soap Opera Digest, March 25, 1997
Their eyes locked for a split second before Stefan’s bullet accidently struck Katherine. In that suspended moment, their lives were inextricably linked. Nightly hospital visits strengthened the bond: Paralyzed Katherine found the will to heal herself with comfort from this dark stranger, and Stefan found the courage to confess his guilt at putting her there. Now, his freedom depends on her silence and her recovery hinges on his support. They are each other’s greatest hope and most powerful threat. Have the King of Atonement and the Queen of Deception finally met their match?
“Katherine is Stefan’s equal,” observes GENERAL HOSPITAL Head Writer Richard Culliton. “Katherine has nailed Stefan intellectually all the way along. And that’s what keeps pulling him in. There’s something, either fate or coincidence, that exists between the two of them. Katherine only feels movement while she’s connected to Stefan. So in her mind, the road back is somehow linked to this man.”
And now Stefan, the master manipulator, has found himself maddeningly defenseless against his victim — a circumstance that threatens to blow apart his carefully controlled and secretive world. “Katherine could destroy my life and I know it,” affirms Stephen Nichols (Stefan) in character. “By turning me in, she could put me behind bars, or at least out of the country because I’m not a United States citizen. I gave up my power….my control…to Katherine, permitting her to tell the truth whenever she needed to. In one way, I’m hoping she’ll think twice before doing it. In another, I’m asking for forgiveness.”
That may be hard to come by. “Because of her background, Katherine normally doesn’t trust people,” notes her portrayer, Mary Beth Evans. “But she really began to trust Stefan, who was a stranger, and let her guard down. Now that she knows the truth, there’s still a part of her that wants to believe that the things they discussed and the feelings they had for each other were real.”
However, Stefan has been forced to refocus his energies, thanks to Laura’s return from the dead and Lesley’s improving mental state. “My main priority is protecting Nikolas from harm,” Nichols explains. To that end, Stefan forces Laura to leave Port Charles by threatening to reveal their secret night together years ago (a night that could mean Stefan is Nikolas’s father).
Making the obsessed Stefan’s situation even more frustrating has been the difficulty he’s had simply coming into contact with Katherine. But that’s about to change. “Ever since Katherine left the hospital, Stefan hasn’t had easy access to her,” Culliton reminds us. “She lives across the hall from Sonny, who is Luke’s best friend. Stefan knows how reckless he’s being just dealing with Katherine. [Then], Edward [proposes that GH hire her as public relations director. This offers Stefan a way to have an above board, on-going relationship with her.”
Luckily, hospital policy doesn’t prohibit extracurricular socializing. “Stefan just happens to be on the phone with Katherine when she’s in real jeopardy. [On March 17], he throws caution to the wind and rescues her,” previews Culliton. “He gets caught by Miranda and Sonny. So it’s sort of out there – the fact that he’s in Katherine’s apartment late at night, pulling her off the floor.”
Although Katherine has come to view Stefan as her savior, her dependence is more emotional than physical. “We’ve been very careful to always say that Katherine’s injuries [compressed nerves] are the type that can be healed,” Culliton points out. “This is not a miracle happening here – it’s all medically justifiable. It’s Katherine who believes that Stefan is responsible for her recovery.”
His connection to her is just as powerful. “Accidentally shooting Katherine impacted my life so significantly because I am a person who does not make mistakes,” asserts Nichols. “The conflict in my life is that I can’t afford to make any more mistakes, yet I cannot stay away from Katherine.” And Stefan proves it in a passionate way on March 27. “I am drawn to her,” Nichols sighs.
From the moment Steve “Patch” Johnson’s coffin was switched on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, fans have clamored for a Stephen Nichols/Mary Beth Evans (ex-Kayla) on-air reunion. Six years later, GH finally granted their wish.
“It’s like we were never spent any time apart as actors,” smiles Nichols, who was offered the role of Evan’s onscreen lover, Damian Smith, in 1993, but declined due to feature film and prime-time opportunities. “Mary Beth and I were so used to each other and so tuned into each other as actors and as people. Once you establish that kind of working relationship, it doesn’t diminish. When you see them again, it’s right there.” Evan’s agrees, “If our GH scenes are successful, I think it’s because we’ve always has that kind of connection that makes working together so exciting for us. People call it ‘chemistry,’ and it truly is. After he left DAYS, I thought I’d never have it with somebody again.”
Not that Nichols and Evans are content to rest on their laurels. The challenge? “To find something new, unique and exciting in this working relationship and in these two characters,” Nichols explains. Adds Evans, “We want to give it our all, not because we’re trying to live up to something that once was, but because we enjoy working together.”
“Stephen and I spend a lot of time trying to find the rhythm of the scenes,” she continues. “We had these emotional scenes in the hospital where we’re snowed in and he carries me to the window. We ran them so many times that when we got on set we said, ‘We’re ready to roll. Can we just tape these?’ There were eight complicated scenes in a row, and I’m sure everybody thought we’d be there forever – but we buzzed right through them.”
Photo by Randee St. Nicholas