Genie Francis Talks Her Emmy Nod After Returning as Laura on ‘General Hospital’
Genie Francis has much to celebrate these days. Her General Hospital alter-ego, Laura Webber Collins, is getting to play out dramatic scenes with, among others, half-brother Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober), who is off to jail for committing various crimes in Port Charles.
What’s more, Francis’ peers have nominated her for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on GH in 2020. Francis, who first appeared on the ABC soap opera in 1977, already has gold on her mantel, having won the Daytime Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in Drama Series.
TV Insider recently chatted with the fan favorite about her nomination and the insights Cyrus has forced Laura to examine.
Congratulations on your nomination! Where were you when you found out the good news?
Thank you. I was at home. My fan club president, Jen, who’s also a very good friend, had just heard the category announced on Entertainment Tonight the night before the rest of the nominations were announced. They’d done a preview with two categories and one of them was the leading ladies.
It was great to see all the GH nominations because the show had such a fantastic year, which is continuing into this year.
My husband [Jonathan Frakes, Star Trek: The Next Generation] is a director. He works with actors and writers. He says the show’s writing has gotten so good. He totally notices it, too, and I value his opinion.
What’s on your reel that was submitted for judging?
It’s the Cyrus, Laura, and Martin (Michael E. Knight) story. There’s also the loss of Lulu (Emme Rylan), who is in a coma. I don’t know the specifics. I stay out of it and let the producers do their thing when it comes to choosing the exact scenes.
Veteran GH fans were amazed at how far back into the well the writers went– there were references to Laura’s accidental killing of David Hamilton and we learned Laura’s late father Gordon Grey had two sons, Cyrus and Martin.
I was absolutely thrilled with the story. This all goes back to what makes Laura “Laura.” They’ve done such a wonderful job of tying her history into the present in such a brilliant way. I’m thrilled that today’s audience knows even more about Laura and who she is.
As a nominee, you are invited to the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series luncheon, a tradition started by Susan Flannery (ex-Stephanie, The Bold and the Beautiful).
I think it’s just lovely that we get together and support each other. We can all root for each other and that’s a nice feeling.
Do you recall your win back in 2007? Practically the entire audience was on its feet!
What’s funny is that the lights are so bright [on stage], you can’t always see the audience but I’d heard about [the standing ovation]. I was bowled over by that whole experience. I won in [Outstanding] Supporting Actress because it was for a [limited] run I’d had the year before. Jill Farren Phelps, who was producing the show at the time, said to me, ‘Nope. We’re putting you in supporting.’ She made the right move (laughs) because I won! I was nominated once in Outstanding Leading Actress. I was about eight months pregnant with my daughter so, I couldn’t fly to New York for the ceremony. They set up a satellite hookup in the studio.
The recent material that played out with Cyrus holding Laura hostage was incredibly powerful. Laura insisted on taking Portia (Brook Kerr) and Trina’s (Sydney Mikayla) place, putting her own life in danger. Was it because she’s the mayor?
Yes, and also because she can’t help but have some feelings for Cyrus. She definitely wanted to save Portia and Trina but she was hoping in some way that Cyrus could be redeemed. And now, she’s going to try one last time. She has feelings for Cyrus. They may be hidden. She has insisted that they’re not going to become a family but…sometimes, we protest too much.
It was organic that Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) was there as hostage negotiator. He asked Laura to promise she’d never put herself in harm’s way again, but even before she answered I think viewers already knew what her response would be.
Kevin said something to Laura that made her laugh during a very [tense] moment. They have that kind of relationship. They’re definitely good for one another. I wish Laura would also have a good best girlfriend. I really liked when Jen Ray (The Middle) came on [in 2019] as Chelsea, a psychic. She gave Laura a reading about Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) being alive. She was great!
Today, Laura’s set to have another visit with Cyrus, who is going to pay for his numerous crimes. He’s told Laura in the past that there’s a part of her that relishes laying into him. Thoughts?
It doesn’t bother me at all that Laura has that edge. I think, to some extent, everybody does. We’ve seen her express it in the scenes that she’s had in the past with Valentin (James Patrick Stuart). There were some super dark moments between them [when she thought he was responsible for Nikolas’ death]. She gets freaked out by [what Cyrus tells her]. Laura gets fully freaked out.
I’m really hoping that Laura and Cyrus have more moments together. I don’t want him to go away! Jeff made it all so much fun. I have such a great time working with him. The most important thing to keep in mind with this character is that even though Cyrus is this horrible person, Jeff makes you feel sorry for Cyrus. I was so happy for Jeff’s nomination [in Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series]. It’s so well deserved.
You got to work with TV mom Denise Alexander (Lesley) a few times this year, too. You’ve said in the past how much you’ve learned from her.
Completely. Not only did I learn from her but Denise has left an imprint on me. I’ll watch a performance I did and I’ll see a lot of Denise’s style – the way she’ll stop to look for a word or even the way my voice sounds at times. I’ll watch GH and say, ‘Oh, that’s what Denise does.’ We started working together when I was so young. It’s not unlike in real life when you see how parents imprint certain things on their children.
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