Kathleen Gati Previews ‘General Hospital’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ Episode
If anyone deserves coal in her stocking, it’s General Hospital’s Dr. Liesl Obrecht, played with delightful wickedness by Kathleen Gati. The actress turned a short-term gig on GH in 2012, as an evil doctor keeping Robin (Kimberly McCullough) captive, into a long-term run as one of Port Charles’ most entertaining residents.
In between scheming and suturing on GH, Gati shot the holiday-themed flick A Mermaid for Christmas, which stars Kyle Lowder (ex-Rex, Days of Our Lives) and Jessica Morris (ex-Jen, One Life to Live), available now on Amazon Prime Video. In it, Gati exhibits a softer side as a loving mother, who wants her widower son (Lowder) to move forward with his life.
TV Insider chatted with Gati about Mermaid, GH’s A Christmas Carol-themed episode on December 23, and her recurring role as Raisa on The CW series Arrow. Read on for the scoop!
— General Hospital (@GeneralHospital) December 17, 2019
What was it like shooting this A Christmas Carol-themed episode?
Kathleen Gati: First of all, I had a fabulous costume made for me by the amazing costume designer Shawn Reeves and his team. My personal feeling has always been that a costume, makeup, and hair give me at least 50 percent of the character. How true it was in this case! And the sets and props were also fabulous.
Having spent a good portion of time on stage, I was extremely happy to be doing a theatrical piece again. I adore working with Michael Easton and have always respected his work as an actor. But watching him portray Scrooge has blown me away. The audience will be mesmerized!
Your character Connie in A Mermaid for Christmas is the polar opposite of Dr. O. She’s so… nice! What attracted you to this role?
I’m crazy about Christmas movies, especially ones about love! I’m also very passionate about portraying characters that have depth and are complicated and multi-layered, as is Connie. I was drawn to her and the script immediately. The story is sweet and light, but also touches on very profound subjects that we all struggle with, such as forgiveness, moving on, recovering from grief, and much more. Plus, it’s light, fun and joyful! I adore and profoundly respect [writer/director] Michael Caruso, his talent, and his vision. He is wonderful!
The Mermaid cast is a mini-Who’s Who of daytime dramas with Kyle Lowder, Jessica Morris, Ari Zucker (Nicole, Days of Our Lives), and Nadia Bjorlin (ex-Chloe, DAYS]. Had you ever worked with any of them?
I portrayed Jessica Morris’ mother in Ladies Of The Lake (Season 2) and also worked briefly with Ari and Kyle in that, as well. They are all truly wonderful actors and terrific colleagues. What a treat to get to work with them again! I had so much fun working with the whole cast and crew. It was hard to say goodbye when the shoot was over. We all put our hearts into this film, worked hard, and had a fantastic time!
You don’t have Dr. Obrecht’s accent in Mermaid. How do fans respond when they meet you and realize you don’t talk like your on-screen persona?
I have occasionally slipped into Dr. Obrecht’s voice, but just for fun! Sometimes though, when I’m preparing for another role, I “channel” her voice. She has so many colors and characteristics that I can draw on sometimes when needed. That has been probably one of the biggest surprises for my fans who know me from GH. They look at me and say, “What? Where is your accent? You mean you’re not really German?” Best compliment!
Technically, there was another reunion of sorts on Mermaid with Ian Buchanan (ex-Duke¸GH) doing the narration. Did you run into him during filming?
I adore Ian and had the pleasure of being tied up next to him on General Hospital at Wyndemere many moons ago, as well as accidentally poisoning him while singing “Is That All There Is?” Sorry about that, Ian! When I heard he would be narrating Mermaid, I was thrilled. His voice is pure velvet as is his talent. Unfortunately, I did not see him on this shoot, but we definitely exchanged some messages. I had to congratulate him because he lent so much beautiful storytelling to the film.
Your turn as Christmas Krampus a few years back on GH was a perfect fit. The mythical character has been around since the 17th century, but Krampus is not really a household name. Did Dr. O know how much she was scaring the children when she told the story?
That was a very special episode for me for multiple reasons, and has left me with great memories! First of all, introducing this well-known European character to our audience here was an honor. The story of Krampus was so interesting that a film was made shortly after. I believe many people now know who and what Krampus represents.
I remember worrying about the many young child actors in the scenes with me, and requested that I may talk to them all before the shoot to show them that I wasn’t really nasty or evil, and it was just a big hairy and creepy “costume” and that they shouldn’t be scared. Well, I’ve never met a cooler group of young kids! They were so “groovy”, they were like, “Yeah, it’s all good!” I was shocked! But once the camera started rolling, it was the opposite. Obrecht was so excited to share this “innocent character and story” and was surprised that the children were scared. Of course, there was Josslyn (then, Hannah Nordberg), Carly’s (Laura Wright) daughter, who thought it was cool!
You have a beautiful singing voice. What’s been your favorite musical performance on GH?
Thank you. I have so many favorite moments including the Nurses Ball 2014 doing “Willkommen” from Cabaret was the highlight to date — with eight amazing Broadway dancers, incredible wardrobe, hair and makeup, fabulous choreography! But, honestly, the prison scene, singing “O Tanenbaum” a cappella, was so raw, so vulnerable, far from perfect, but so emotionally honest. That’s what I expect and demand from myself as a performer. It may not be a perfect performance, but I like to think I sing and act from my heart and from my soul.
Dr. Obrecht seems more integrated into Port Charles society, but she hasn’t lost her edge. Do you think she’s still capable of doing anything she feels is necessary?
So far, so good! She is smart and stealthy. She’s a cat with plenty of lives, who always manages to land on her feet and definitely keeps me in awe! It’s always fun to get each new script, and see which direction the writers will have me go on any particular day. I hunger for the variety of Dr. Obrecht’s ploys and games and whims. And to dance and sing and make people laugh or cry? I adore the role and the range I am allowed to play. It’s a dream role for an actor.
You play unexpected moments of comedy, e.g., Dr. O awkwardly comforting Brad (Parry Shen) briefly, then telling him to suck it up.
I cannot begin to express how grateful I am that I get to do comedy on GH! It is a soap opera genre, which is not particularly famous for comedy! So anytime I can bring some levity to a dark situation, and make the audience laugh is worth so much to me! When I get a script and read some funny lines or situations, I revel in the moments and how I’m going to play them. I spend a good deal of time trying out different comedic movements, like the “pat-pat-pat” comforting line, or biting into an apple or sandwich to torment Peter (Wes Ramsey).
Sometimes, when we actually shoot the scene, there isn’t time or the blocking is switched so the humor won’t work. There was a funny bagel scene the morning after Nina (Cynthia Watros) and Valentin’s (James Patrick Stuart) “attempted” wedding, and Nina is leaving, furious. I had this simple word to her, “Bagel?” and it would have been hysterical to offer her one off the lovely untouched and sad wedding spread in the middle of all the turmoil. But I was too far away from the table so the line was lost. Fortunately, later, James and I had a scene where I am trying to eat the bagel, and he keeps pushing it farther away from me. That was his idea, and it was so funny! I live for those moments as an actor — I don’t care whose idea it is!
How are your comedy idols?
I grew up idolizing Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, among others, and I remember how much joy they brought to me and my family. They definitely inspired me. I get so excited knowing that a piece of funny business worked and people laughed. Music to my ears! Does Obrecht care about Brad? Hardly! Who is important to Dr. O? Not too many people, that’s for sure! Nina is important to her and her grandson James. That’s about it!
Arrow’s coming to an end this season. What was your experience like playing Raisa on that show? Do you find that super-hero fans and soap fans are similar?
I loved every second working on Arrow. From the pilot, till my last episode a year ago. I am always so much in awe of the power and passion of fans! The truth is that soap fans are practically family, as they have us in their living rooms five days a week, meet us at special events and conventions, and are very interactive on social media. This type of fan love and appreciation and support I have never experienced before in my entire career. But not to take away from the Arrow fans, as they are also quite extraordinary and certainly gave me a lot of love, which I always appreciate tremendously!
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