“Life After Death,” ABC Soaps In Depth, May 1, 2001
Mary Beth Evans has nothing but nice things to say about her stint as GENERAL HOSPITAL’s ill-fated Katherine Bell–which may explain why she never felt that she fit particularly snugly into the role of the backstabbing gold digger. “I think in my heart I always wanted to make her good, “she admits with a giggle, “so I was always trying to make her cuter. I always tried to add humor to her because they made her bad for no reason. She’d be intermittently bad and good. I found her very confusing that way.”
Nonetheless, the actress was perfectly content to seek out the silver lining in the dark cloud that was Katherine. And she was downright delighted when GH paired off her conniving character with brooding Stefan Cassadine, thus allowing her to act once more opposite Stephen Nichols, the leading man with whom she rose to fame as Patch and Kayla Johnson on DAYS OF OUR LIVES–even if not a whole lot of storyline ever came their way. “They could have done so much more with Katherine and Stefan’” she notes, “but they didn’t.”
In any case, that’s all water under the bridge now. Since GH killed off Katherine not once, but twice, her portrayer has moved on. “People who recognize me from GH ask me if I’m going to come back as a twin sister,” she relates. “I can safely say, ‘Probably not.’”
In A Lather Again
In fact, Evans already has turned up on a different soap: AS THE WORLD TURNS. She never had seen the show before being asked to guest star as manipulative Craig Montgomery’s ex-wife, Sierra, but turned that to her advantage. “There was no pressure, ” she explains. “I took it because they had this great character planned. Sierra had so many things that I understood—mothering and, to some degree, difficulties in relationships. For me, it was fun to do all those aspects of a character. It was nice because fans of the show seemed to have so embraced it.”
Yet, though Evans returned to ATWT again last week, fans shouldn’t necessarily anticipate a longer-term visit. ATWT tapes in Brooklyn, and Evans, M.D. husband Michael Schwartz and their children–Danny, 13, Katie, 11, and Matthew, 8–reside on the West Coast. “[The first time I went to New York, the kids] kind of freaked,” she laughs. “But they rose to the occasion. It’s a good example to see a working mother, and it’s good that I talk about everything with them. I listen to everything.”
“It’s so fleeting,” she continues. “In what will seem like a minute, they’re probably not even going to call us once a month. Won’t that be weird!”
Plying Her Craft
Evans already has experienced some weirdness. Upon leaving GH a year and a half ago, she was out of the soap biz for the first time in an eternity. But she embraced the opportunity to stretch her wings a bit. “I loved daytime, and it was an incredible job,” she reflects. “But it had also been about twenty years since I had worked on my acting. On a soap, you’re so bogged down with lines–it’s all about learning the words. I wanted to study more and get back to figuring out what characters are about.”
So it was a real treat for Evans, this past January, when she and pal Stephen Nichols did a scene from Night of the Iguana in front of an audience. “It was incredible to take that 15-minute scene, work on it a thousand times and actually think about how to execute it,” she says. “You don’t get a chance to do that in the daytime medium. It was incredibly rewarding.”
The DAYS Ahead
However, that’s not to say that Evans never would clean up in suds again. After all, daytime is the medium that made her famous. “I still get recognized more for DAYS [than anything],” she shares. “A few times a week, at least.
In fact, the other night, my son tripped off our panic button alarm,” she continues. “Three minutes later, I got a call from the police saying they were at my front door, and when I walked out, the policeman looked up and said, ‘Weren’t you on DAYS?’ I guess that character will live on forever. People loved her so much and loved that story.”
Since two other DAYS grads, Melissa Reeves (Jennifer) and Matthew Ashford (Jack), recently re-signed, rumors have run wild that Evans will rejoin Salem’s lot. “I get asked that all the time,” she says. [Executive producer] Ken Corday and I have this joking conversation every year, and nothing ever comes of it.
The truth of the matter is, he doesn’t call me,” she concludes. “If the opportunity ever arose, then I’d have to consider it.”
Birthday: March 7.
Seeing Green: When told that Katherine’s former GH boy toy has a new squeeze, the actress cracked, “Nikolas has a new Gia pet?”
The ex-men: Stephen Nichols wasn’t the only leading man from Evans’ past with whom GH re-paired her–the show initially coupled her with Kin Shriner (Scotty), who once was her love interest on the syndicated soap RITUALS.
What’s Cookin’: With the idea of opening a new restaurant always in the back of her mind, Evans looked into chef school. “But the time commitment stopped me. It’s a 15-month, full time thing. If I got an audition or booking, I couldn’t miss a class.”
Photos: p. 99 by Jim Warren, p. 100 by Jim Warren, p. 101 ATWT by Robert Milazzo/PGP, p. 101 GH by Craig Sjodin.