Alley Mills Compares ‘GH’ & ‘B&B’ Characters, Talks Reuniting With Dan Lauria on ‘Fantasy Island’

Alley Mills for 'The Bold and the Beautiful'
Q&A
Cliff Lipson/CBS

Alley Mills isn’t exactly playing a dual role on daytime but she is bringing to life two different characters on soaps Wednesday. She’s continuing her tour de force as the wildly unpredictable and calculating Heather Webber on General Hospital, and she’ll also pop up on The Bold and the Beautiful as sweet Pam Douglas as the Forrester clan celebrates the holidays.

Heather, of course, is having a less glamorous Christmas as she’s currently residing in Spring Ridge Minimum Security Correctional Center where her fellow inmate is Ryan Chamberlin (Jon Lindstrom), the father of their daughter Esme Prince (Avery Kristen Pohl). Watch for Heather try to give Ryan a present when three visitors pay them a surprise visit.

TV Insider chatted with Mills about joining GH and how she’s been coping since the loss of her late husband Orson Bean (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Password), who died in 2020, the differences between Heather and Pam, her Wonder Years reunion with Dan Lauria on Fantasy Island, and more.

How’d it come about with you joining GH?

Alley Mills: I’m not completely sure. I have a friend who lives in the same cul-de-sac as one of the head writers of GH. The writer knew my husband Orson and me. He asked if I’d ever do GH. I said, “I don’t know…Sure!” The show is bringing characters from the past back for the anniversary. I got the call from Frank [Valentini, executive producer]. It was a pretty intense way to jump into the show, taking on a role that came on in the 1970s.

Georganne LaPiere (Cher’s sister) was the first Heather. Then, Mary O’Brien took over the role. Then, of course, Robin Mattson.

That’s right. I started looking up early episodes. I have now watched so much Heather. I’ve watched shows from the 1970s. I don’t know the history of who ran GH but I do know the Bell family [that runs B&B].

What was your approach to tackling Heather?

I wanted to honor [Robin’s portrayal] because I know the fans love her. I wanted to keep the wacky beautiful presence she has… plus, Heather is so smart. I love that about her. She’s also done some stuff. You have to have the reality in you [where you know] not everything you did was lovely but you have to justify it. Heather, from the beginning, I feel, was treated like a bad girl, an outsider. She has this feeling in her that the rich people don’t accept her. Her mother Alice [Grant, played by Lieux Dressler] was the [Webber family] housekeeper. There’s a revenge aspect to her. She had to give up her kids, but she really loves them. She was addicted to both Steven Lars [Scott Reeves] and Franco [Roger Howarth].

I absorbed as much as I could. I started watching General Hospital. [My Heather] is not the same as Robin’s. It can’t be. We’re different as people. But I am having so much fun. I’m friends with Kimberlin Brown [Sheila Carter, B&B]. I saw her recently and she said, “isn’t it fun to be bad?” Heather said the great thing about being crazy is you can say whatever you want! [Heather] is on the side of everybody who’s ever felt wronged.

Alley Mills in 'General Hospital'

ABC/Troy Harvey

How would you compare Heather to Pam when she was off her meds?

There are parallels, but there are many differences, too. Pammy was wounded because she witnessed her father abusing her sister Stephanie [Susan Flannery]. She was helpless. That’s the key to Pam. Pam loved her sister and I loved working with Susan! Our mother [Ann Douglas], played by Betty White, pretended it never happened.

Pam loved her sister. She’d stick Donna [Logan, Jennifer Gareis] in a tanning booth because she loved her sister but the wound with Pam felt sweeter. I’ve created something else for Heather. Pam was never vicious. She was a denier. Heather is really darker. It’s a weird line, though. I’m trying to keep her fun. She’s so smart she has fun doing it. I’ve had so much fun working with Michael Easton [Dr. Hamilton Finn]. It’s fun for Heather trying to make Finn squirm. She knows a lot about a lot of people. Nobody’s safe with her! I love that about her.

Tristan [Rogers, Robert Scorpio] was telling me about the golden age of the show, working with Elizabeth Taylor [ex-Helena Cassadine] and how they changed the wedding to accommodate [Elizabeth’s] schedule. Everybody watched Luke and Laura’s [Anthony Geary and Genie Francis] wedding.

Your late husband Orson was an amazing man and such an amazing performer. I saw the Christmas Carol stage production in Venice years ago in which he starred. His energy was infectious.

He was astonishing and generous. We did the show for 16 years. I got costumes from CBS — all the Dr. Quinn [Medicine Woman] costumes. I knew they were there just sitting there. They weren’t being rented. I spoke to someone at CBS and asked if we could use the costumes. We got to use them — all those beautiful Jane Seymour satin costumes. It was for charity. I produced the show and even ran the spotlight.

I didn’t feel like working for a long time [after Orson died]. I have an incredible [back]yard. I have Orson’s family, which is my family, all around me. His ex-wife is a really good friend of mine. People were in and out. The house was filled with people, flowers, food… I didn’t get to say goodbye and I witnessed something traumatic. Someone was worried I’d have post-traumatic stress. The first few days after, I kept seeing [him]… A year later, we had a memorial on the anniversary of his death. It was great because 800 people came on Zoom.

You just missed Patrick Duffy (Stephen Logan), your B&B love interest. He went back to the show for Thanksgiving.

Yes, and [his girlfriend] Linda [Purl] was with him [as Lucy]. She was on General Hospital [as Peyton Honeycutt]. I got together with them and I said to Linda, “I just saw you on General Hospital!” He told me he was going back to B&B. I’m back for the Christmas episode. Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] was sweet to have me back.

Heather’s trying to leverage whatever she can to get free. Is she an opportunist?

Oh, my gosh, yes. Within seconds, she’ll see an opportunity. She thinks of wonderful things as she’s talking to people. She’ll see their weaknesses and is always looking for those weaknesses.

Have producers of The Wonder Years reached out and asked you about doing a guest spot on the revival? [Mills played Norma Arnold on the original series that ran from 1988-93.]

No. But I did work with Dan Lauria [who played Jack Arnold, Norma’s husband] for a Fantasy Island [airing in 2023]. That was so much fun. They shoot in Puerto Rico. Dan was such a doll. I loved doing it. I got to see the island and meet local people. The entire crew was genius. It’s led by this 71-year-old woman, who studied at NYU. She’s a phenomenon. I worked with Danny. I talked to people from the [original] Wonder Years. I haven’t seen the new show. Maybe my heart can’t take it?? I think it’s wonderful that it’s been revived. I’d love to go on The Wonder Years and play a fun role. It was seven years of my life and such a great experience.

Dan Lauria and Alley Mills in 'The Wonder Years'

©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

Did you work with Kiara Barnes (Ruby Akuda; ex-Zoe Buckingham) on your Fantasy Island guest spot?

Yes. I worked with Kiara on B&B, too. She was on the show when I was there. She’s a doll. Roselyn [Sanchez, who plays Elena Roarke] is an amazing person. There are lot of dogs that have been abandoned in Puerto Rico. She’s trying to save them. She’s a wonderful person.

Sounds like you’re having fun on GH and recent developments indicate you’ll be sticking around to play out a big piece of Heather’s history now that we know about her past with Ryan.

The greatest thing for me about working on General Hospital is I feel like I’m a kid on stage. I don’t know what it is. I feel very “seen” by Frank Valentini. He makes me feel like I’m a kid and I’m in the theater. It’s a wonderful thing.

General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC

The Bold and the Beautiful, Weekdays, CBS

Fantasy Island, Season 2 Premiere, Monday, January 2, 8/7c, Fox