By Rosemary Rossi
When Mary Beth Evans first joined the cast of GH, she was scared to death of playing the conniving Katherine Crawford….scared to death of being bad…scared that people would think she was being mean.
Mary Beth was particularly intimidated about doing scenes with the loonie LUCY, worrying that she was going to get eaten alive by her co-star Lynn Herring. Now, more than two years later, those fears now have vanished and Mary Beth is totally confident in her role.
“I had to face all those fears,” says Mary Beth. “It’s helped me. I’ve learned from Katherine. Playing this character has added to my confidence. I’m much better now at standing up to people and saying how I feel. Now, those scenes with Lucy are my favorites.”
Mary Beth’s confidence rarely fails her now, she says. “I don’t think there’s anything I can’t do,” she laughs. “I’m not a big worrier. I think it bogs you down. I always think it will work out. I live in the present, for better or for worse.”
Portraying a woman with few scruples is a challenge, Mary Beth admits, because she is so unlike Katherine.
“Everything Katherine does is calculated. Even today, she’s coming into the Outback, and everything in her outfit was picked out especially for a purpose and a response. That’s how she operates. It’s all about an end result.”
“MAC (John J. York) doesn’t want to put up with her games, so I think she’s going to learn to be a little more spontaneous and a little less calculated.”
Mac’s trusting, accepting, playful nature will help Katherine loosen up, Mary Beth believes. And his halo could use some tarnishing.
One great thing about working with John is that they share an easy sense of humor, which comes across in their scenes on the soap.
“As an actor, you know if the chemistry is there or it’s not,” says Mary Beth. “And I think John and I both know that it’s there. We both want to make it work. We both want to have fun with it.”
Despite Mac’s softening influence on Katherine, she still has an edge to her personality, but that’s what makes her fun to play, says Mary Beth.
“I think what is written so far is great because they didn’t just decide that Katherine is now falling in love with Mac so we’ll put aside all of the character-building.”
“And they’re no having Mac ignore all the things that he knows about her. It’s a very mature relationship. The scenes we had on the steps after the water fight were very grown-up. It was positive, straightforward, adult but very sweet.”
Although game-playing is a constant in Katherine’s pursuit of Mac, it has never been a factor in Mary Beth’s relationship with her husband of 10 years, Dr. Michael Schwartz. Evan before they were married they had been together for five years, so they know each other extremely well and find no need for games.
“We’re lucky because we were madly in love with each other and we still have butterflies about each other,” Mary Beth smiles. “Katherine is playing with Mac because she thinks that manipulation is how to get everything you want. That’s all she does and it works for her. She’s never had a guy put her in her place and say ‘I’m not going to put up with that b.s. You’ve got to be honest with me or forget it.’ Katherine has to learn to stop writing the script for Mac and just let it happen.
“Michael and I hardly ever get into an argument, but if we do he’ll say a couple of days later, ‘I’m sorry that I was angry.’ I’ll say, ‘Were you? I don’t remember.’ If I’m upset, I cleanse it, I say what’s bothering me and then I move on.”
At 34, Mary Beth has recently realized how comfortable she has become with who and what she is. “I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m lucky because my husband likes me being me, and he doesn’t want me to be something that I’m not.”
“I was always loved as a child. I’ve always been a loving person. I have all that and Katherine doesn’t. Katherine has no one. She’s always been sort of unloved. In that regard, Katherine is always searching for love. I’ve always had love.”
Before Mary Beth joined GH, she was on DAYS, playing half of one of daytime’s most popular couples, KAYLA and PATCH (Stephen Nichols). She couldn’t go out in public without attracting a lot of attention, but now Mary Beth says she takes a backseat to her husband Michael. He’s a physician and well-known in their town, a quaint suburb of Los Angeles.
“It used to be when I was on DAYS and at the height of Patch and Kayla’s popularity, I got recognized a lot. And now, where we live, everybody knows Michael. He’s like the mayor of the town. They’ll recognize me, but it’s not nearly as much as they recognize him.”
“They’ll go to seat us at a restaurant and I’ll end up at the table by myself. Twenty minutes will go by and I’ll think, ‘Where did he go?’ He’s stopped at somebody’s table to have a whole conversation with some patient.”
She and Michael have three children, each one very different. Danny, 7 ½, has his mother’s energy and is always active. Five-year-old Katie is very organized, concentrates on whatever it is that is in front of her. Baby Matthew, well into his “terrible twos,” keeps Mary Beth on her toes.
“I try to give all of them an appreciation of life,” Mary Beth says. “It sounds hokey, but in the morning we go outside and I say, ‘Isn’t this a great day? Just take a deep breath.’ Sometimes they’ll say on their own, ‘I’m happy to be alive today, Mom.’ I want them to enjoy their life. That’s what I try to pass down to them.”
Mother, homemaker, wife, actress. Like the circus clown gifted at balancing spinning plates on long poles, Mary Beth has perfected the trick of focusing her mind on several things at once.
“For the moment, I think I’m juggling all of them pretty well,” says Mary Beth with a touch of pride. “I’m good at compartmentalizing my life. When I’m with my kids, I’m with my kids. When I’m at work, I’m totally at work.”
“I take time out for my husband. Give each section of your life a lot. My goal as a mother is to try to produce these open-minded, well-behaved, great people. But, geez, it’s such a daily struggle.”
Struggle, yes, but she loves every inch of her life.
“I’m having a good time now. It took me a long time, almost a year, to commit to this role as Katherine because I was thinking, ‘But I’m not bad.’ Now I just try to play it. It’s really a nice change of pace. I’m very lucky. I have a great life.”