'General Hospital's Laura Wright on What's Next for Carly: 'She's Always in Somebody Else's Business'
Laura Wright has played fiery Carly Corinthos on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital since 2005 — you'd think she's run the gamut of emotions, right? Playing the wife of mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Bernard) has come with its challenges over the years, but since the show returned on August 3 with new episodes after shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there's still plenty of drama to come. The Emmy-winning actress has ideas where she'd love to see Carly go next, including harkening back to one iconic GH storyline.
But some of those story ideas may have to wait since Carly has a full plate these days. Besides checking in on her BFF Jason Morgan (Steve Burton), who is recovering from a motorcycle accident, she's had a front row seat at the custody trial between her son Michael (Chad Duell) and villainous Nelle (Chloe Lanier), as well as helping Sonny decide how to care for his Alzheimer's-stricken father, Mike (Max Gail), as his health declines.
Wright talked to Jim Halterman recently for the TV Guide Magazine cover story (on newsstands now!). Here is the full conversation.
Laura, I was looking at our old TV Guide Magazine archives, and it looks like the last time you were on the cover was 1998. Do you remember that?
Laura Wright: I was actually pregnant with my daughter, I remember it all. I had to fly out to L.A. because I was working on Guiding Light in New York, and I was 3 months pregnant with my daughter who is now 21.
Carly’s in the midst of a lot between Sonny, the custody trial, Jason…
She’s always in somebody else’s business. [Laughs] But, yeah, Mike is really fading and going downhill quick. I think the biggest dilemma Sonny has right now, which is such a great struggle for the story but an honest one, given anyone that’s going through this in real life, do we take every means necessary to keep someone alive, or do we sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” [directive]? Where Sonny is, it’s very heartbreaking, honestly, and it’s heartbreaking for the actors! We all love each other so much, so telling such a real story definitely leaves us with some raw emotions. We’re dealing right now with Sonny really confused and trying to make the right decision and wondering, “Am I honoring my dad or am I killing him?”
Is that impacting the Sonny/Carly relationship or is she just being there for him?
Well, she’s trying, but she’s also been the one that’s done all the research in knowing how feeding tubes are very traumatizing for Alzheimer's patients. For a while, Sonny and Carly were very much at odds on how to handle this because Sonny wants to do anything to keep his dad forever, and Carly was more in the world of, ‘You need to accept what’s happening, so you can enjoy every minute you have with Mike now. Stop pushing him towards all these tests that are uncomfortable and scary, and just enjoy him when you actually have him.” So that was actually really great stuff, but it’s kind of now in the world of how do we say goodbye to Mike at this point?
And the custody case with Michael versus Nelle…
Yes, the court gives full custody to Willow and Michael. So I’m sure Nelle is not going to be happy about it. She’s probably going to lose her mind. Chloe [Lanier] is so incredible so it’s going to be perfect.
And the fans always love the Carly and Jason friendship...and now she has power of attorney for her bestie!
I can only think of it as your worst nightmare to have Carly as your power of attorney. [Laughs] But God bless Jason. He knows that Carly would annoyingly fight and scream to make sure his wishers are honored. How interesting that, right after he asks me this and the paperwork is filed, he gets in a motorcycle accident! He wasn’t wearing a helmet, so that’s where Carly gives him a gift of a helmet and says, “You have to swear to me that you’ll wear this.” That’s actually a great moment that we get to share and talk about, you get to have great Carly and Jason scenes, which are always emotional and funny.
How does Dante’s (Dominic Zamprogna) impending return impact Carly and Sonny?
I think it’s going to be a gift to Sonny depending on how he comes back. If he comes back not knowing who the hell he is, that might be a problem since he’s just gone through that with Mike. But unless it’s something crazy and dark, it would be a gift to Sonny, a beautiful emotional distraction. [Dante's ex-wife] Lulu is Carly’s cousin, and when Dante left for good, there were a lot of emotional scenes between Carly and Lulu and Sonny. So I’m sure that the family will all be pulled in at some level.
If you could get in the writer’s room and craft a story for Carly, what would you like to see her go through that maybe she hasn’t already?
I really like to have a lot of fun, and I always think of the classic Luke and Laura story when they’re on the run. It was so sexy and fun and romantic but dangerous. I would love for Carly and Jason to be on the run, trying to solve a problem because Jason would never let Carly get involved alone in something dangerous, but that wouldn’t stop Carly. My dream would be for Carly to get involved in the mob somehow. I see Carly more teaming up as a mobster’s wife to protect her family, than trying to push Sonny to quit the mob, because the kids aren’t protected in that way. If Carly was packing [heat] and it was like, “Nothing happens to my kids on my watch!” I could see that being a really interesting story.
You had a good chunk of time off due to the pandemic. What was that first day like going back?
The hard part was that you wanted to just jump on people to hug them but you couldn’t touch them. These are people that I’ve been working with for over 15 years. They’re family, so not being able to hug people and really get close and say, “How are you?,” that was challenging. Everything through masks, everything. Any chat going on in the hair chairs when you’re sitting next to people getting your hair done, there’s none of that happening because you have masks and a big piece of plexi-glass in between you. So it’s definitely not as social as it used to be. Every dress rehearsal all the way up until the tape is rolling, then masks can come off and hair and makeup can come in, and they have masks and shield protection.
It’s really funny, my first day back I had really heavy emotional stuff between Carly and Jason and I’m like, “This is going to be so weird!” You have the mask on and you’re trying to go through a dress rehearsal with tons of emotional dialogue. We did it though, we got it in one take and it was right there. We stepped right back into the relationship and the scene. It’s definitely incredible to be back. Everyone has such an energy of being so excited because we felt like everything was kind of taken from us. We thought we were leaving for four weeks and it turned into four months. Everyone’s really excited to be back and they’re chomping at the bit to go.
Are some of your actor instincts challenged? Like wanting to reach out and touch somebody or be close to somebody, has that been a challenge?
It’s interesting, because I take on any challenge since I really find it interesting to take something that seems odd or uncomfortable and to be in it and tell a story from that place. So, yes, when I first heard we were coming back and there was no real touching or stuff, then I thought, ‘We have to really get creative with our writing and really be solid in the storytelling and our ability to sell that story.’ I think it really has to expose us more in our emotions in knowing our dialogue to be able to sell these stories without touching. It could actually be challenging and beautiful and open us up to even better acting because we’re having to not lean on something we do so much. Maybe it shifts our storytelling a little bit, and maybe relationships change, maybe it gives a fresh new vibe to it all.
General Hospital, Weekdays (check local listings), ABC.