Eva LaRue Brings 'Mama Celeste' to 'Y&R' — Will Kyle & Lola's Wedding Hit a Snag?
It’s not just former cast members coming to Genoa City these days. The Young and the Restless has hired soap vet Eva LaRue (ex-Maria, All My Children; CSI: Miami) to play Rosales family matriarch Celeste, who’s coming to town to oversee her daughter Lola’s (Sasha Calle) wedding to Kyle (Michael Mealor).
Might romance be in the air for Celeste herself? Don’t miss her debut on Wednesday, June 26. In the meantime, read on to get the scoop from LaRue about her recurring gig and whether or not it’ll turn into something more permanent.
Welcome back to daytime! You’re going to pick up a whole new fan base now!
Eva LaRue: Yes! CSI: Miami was the most-watched show in the world. Baywatch was first. CSI came along and usurped its title, airing in 219 countries. But, still, I was more recognized for All My Children — not in other countries, but in the United States, I’d be more recognized as Maria more than any other role.
Why do you think that is?
It’s because you’re in people’s living rooms every day. People follow your character and your story for not only every single day, but for years. It’s one of those things you trusted not to go away — or used to be able to trust. [Characters on daytime] became a part of your family.
How did the role of Celeste come about?
This came out of the blue. They were looking for a Latina actress [to play Celeste]. The call came in to my agent, who said to me, “Hey, they want to know if you’d be interested in doing seven or eight episodes.” I said, "That sounds like it could be fun." My show for The CW [Chicken Soup for the Soul Animal Tales] doesn’t go back until July. You can get a lot of shows done in one day so it’s easy to work around a schedule in daytime now. I thought, “Yeah, I have friends over there.”
They called and put out feelers on Wednesday and on Thursday morning I got the call from my brother that [our] dad had died. It was the worst week. Then I got the call saying the deal had been worked out. I felt [the timing] was my dad saying, “This is a good idea, do it!”
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I’m so sorry for your loss.
What brings Celeste to town?
Her daughter, Lola, is getting engaged to Kyle.
What’s your take on Celeste?
She’s very close to her kids, especially her youngest, Lola. She’s a loving mom and a hard-working single, middle-class mom. She is thoroughly enamored with the fact that Lola’s marrying into the Abbott family. Celeste is a fan of the Abbott clan, having read about them in magazines. When she finds out her daughter is engaged to Kyle, she’s genuinely excited.
Celeste comes to town to help with the wedding. She’s a kind, loving person, but she also has the attitude of "it’s my way or the highway or I’ll manipulate you." She’s got the “culture manipulation” thing going on. She’s a domineering mother and she’s very good at getting what she wants. It’s not malicious or mean but she’s definitely a little wrench in the works. She likes everybody to do the things the way she’d like them to do them.
The dad walked out when Lola was a baby, correct?
Yes. I know the husband left when Lola was a baby and the backstory of the kids.
What do you think of Celeste’s wardrobe? Are you like her?
I love Celeste’s wardrobe – it’s got all kinds of colors and is super-sleek. It’s really me. I love it. [Laughs] I don’t think I’m that domineering a mother. I hope I’m not as manipulative as Celeste is!
You and Peter Bergman (Jack; ex-Cliff, AMC) posed for a social media pic. Folks are speculating you two will be paired together.
Peter left AMC before I got there, but we’ve been friends for 30 years through [my ex-husband] John O’Hurley [ex-Jonathan/Keith, Loving; ex-Jim, Y&R]. We’d never worked together but on my first day at Y&R, we had a scene. My character was straight-up flirting with him.
I don’t know what they have planned, but it’d be amazing to work with him more. Peter’s the best actor in daytime. He’s the icon. I think I’d get to work with Michelle Stafford [Phyllis] if Celeste and Jack are paired together. She’s a longtime friend. That’d be a blast! That could be really fun!
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You screen-tested for the role of Sheila Carter, I heard, back in 1990 at Y&R?
Thirty years ago? I forgot about that! Yes! What! I forgot about that? What happened to Kimberlin Brown?
Sheila was killed off on Y&R when Michelle Stafford played the part, but then Kimberlin popped up again on B&B as Sheila. When did you meet Peter?
John [O’Hurley] and I had been invited to Peter and [his wife] Mariellen’s Christmas party. A few years later, I had auditioned and screen-tested for Kendall [on AMC] too. The night before my screen-test, Bryan Cranston [Douglas, Loving] and his wife Robin [were having their baby]. She was in labor for 24 hours. (Bryan and John were best friends. Bryan was the best man at our wedding.)
We were all up all night and I had my audition for Kendall the next morning. I felt it had gone horribly because I hadn’t slept. I didn’t get it, but then AMC offered me the role of Maria Santos. They made it a contract role because I was moving from L.A. to New York. Sarah [Michelle Gellar] who got the part of Kendall and I shared a dressing room for a year and a half.
Is this your first-time playing mom to grown kids?
In daytime, yes. In TV movies and other things, I’ve played mother to adult children.
You’re playing a mom to Jordi Vilasuso (Rey), who is 38. What’s that like?
My dad had grown up on Puerto Rico and his mom had him at 14. That was not out of the ordinary. I was at one family reunion and there were five generations of women there. They all had had kids around that age. It’s not unheard of!
[Jordi] is such a sweetheart! [My friend] director Sonja Blangiardo is really good friends with him. Sasha [Calle, Lola] is such a sweetheart. She’s done nothing but make me feel welcome. She brought Jordi to me so we could say hi. He’s a sweetheart. Being at Y&R is old home week. Even though we don’t know each other, we know a zillion people in common.
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