‘Y&R’ Star Lauralee Bell Channels Her Inner Cruella de Vil in Lifetime’s ‘Ruby’ and ‘Pearl in the Mist’
Lauralee Bell is showing a whole new side of herself. The Young and the Restless star —she plays hard-working attorney Christine Blair Williams — takes on the role of stoic matriarch Daphne Dumas in a pair of Lifetime films based on the novels by V.C. Andrews (Flowers in the Attic).
First up: V.C. Andrews’ Ruby, premiering Saturday, March 20. It stars Raechelle Banno in the title role as a young heroine reunited with her twin sister Giselle (Karina Banno), her biological dad Pierre (Gil Bellows, Ally McBeal), and Pierre’s wife, Bell’s Daphne. She is less than thrilled by Ruby’s arrival. Next, Bell reprises Daphne in V.C. Andrews’ Pearl in the Mist on Sunday, March 21.
TV Insider chatted with the actress about bringing Daphne to the screen, her upcoming appearances as attorney Christine Blair Williams on Y&R — the series created by her late parents, William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell — and more.
What’s it like to appear in a film based on novels by V.C. Andrews?
Lauralee Bell: I’d say “V.C. Andrews” when I told them who wrote the books of the movies when I was filming them and not everybody would know the name. However, if I said they’re by the author of Flowers in the Attic, they knew instantly. I realized V.C. wrote about things in her books that my mom would do in her documentaries. [Lee Phillip Bell was a Chicago broadcaster who produced and hosted social issue documentaries.] Both women were awesome for charging through and getting it done!
What attracted you to the role of Daphne?
She’s like Jill Abbott [on Y&R, played by Jess Walton] or Cruella de Vil. There was one line that I recall particularly. Daphne says: “If you don’t have anything bad to say, then don’t say anything.” I love that line. Daphne can be a freak. My motherly instincts are to stop everything and help my kids through anything. Daphne’s instincts are not wanting to be bothered by her [stepchildren]. She sees them as an annoyance.
It’s fun to play something the opposite of who I am. Christine’s a little uptight and she has a strong work ethic, but Daphne is so self-centered. It’s a whole different dynamic.
Daphne appears to like Giselle.
Yes. That’s because Giselle knows the rules. She smiles for the camera and pretends everything’s fine. She’s programmed to play that part. How to dress. How to act. She’ll never admit to anyone that anything is wrong.
At first, I thought this split-screen stuff with Ruby and Giselle has come a long way since Jeanne Cooper played Kay and Marge on Y&R. Then I realized, “D’oh! They’re actually twins.”
(Laughs) One morning, I said hello to Raechelle. Then, a few minutes later, I said hello to Karina – or so I thought. She walked into the trailer and I realized it’s still Raechelle. They may get that all the time. Or maybe they thought I was taking the Daphne medicine? Gil and I would just watch them. Both Raechelle and Karina are extremely talented and bright. It’s fascinating to watch twins. They’d drink tea and knit [at the same time]. They have such great, positive energy.
What was it like working with Gil?
When I heard Gil was [playing my husband], I was extremely excited. I was a big Ally McBeal fan. Back when Christian [Jules LeBlanc, who plays Michael Baldwin on Y&R] and I would do these heavy courtroom scenes, we’d talk about Ally McBeal. I’d wonder why Christine would wear these “suit-y” suits yet Ally’s in these cute suits. I wanted to dress like her.
We had a table read and then a cast dinner. We made a quick connection. Gil was like, “This family feels good.” We took a “family” picture. A few days later, we were all on set together. A lot of times, it was just the four of us working together and it felt good.
The movies air on back-to-back nights. How do you feel about that?
I’d never heard of that being done, but I think it’s really smart. I think right now, people want to be able to escape any way they can. There’s so much sadness. You want to entertain, if you can. I hope people like Ruby and then look forward to seeing Pearl in the Mist [the very next night]. Y&R fans are so supportive of the show’s actors; I hope they enjoy seeing something where I’m not Christine.
You take Daphne to a new level in Pearl in the Mist when she lulls Ruby into thinking she’s part of the family then pulls a cruel move, thrusting Ruby into jeopardy.
I loved it. I hope people think it’s funny. That was the last scene I shot before the initial lockdown. It was fun to end playing something so evil!
Can you tease your Y&R appearance later this month?
Yes. Christine helps the Newmans a bit. She’s also been helping Abby [Melissa Ordway] and Nina [Tricia Cast] with the surrogacy. Christine reminded them that Abby and Chance’s [Donny Boaz] plan to have a baby through a surrogate — Mariah [Camryn Grimes] and Devon [Bryton James] — all sounds good, but when you combine friendship, money, and hormones, things don’t always go as planned!
Which of the Y&R rebroadcasts last year did you most enjoy?
It was fun seeing Victor [Eric Braeden] and Nikki’s [Melody Thomas Scott] wedding. Chris and Paul’s [Doug Davidson] honeymoon in Nevis was so much fun. I was begging them to play all three days of the Masquerade Ball [from 1991]. Why not keep going? I would have shown more consistency. Maybe do a full week in a row of some shows because they’re all so good.
Lastly, kudos to the soaps for getting back to production last summer.
It’s always great to see our gang rally and go through all the testing and do what we need to do in order to shoot the show. We’re on the air and we’re so happy to be creating new material. It may not be exactly what people are used to seeing [in terms of physical intimacy among the characters], but we’ll get there.
Ruby, Saturday, March 20, 8/7c, Lifetime
Pearl in the Mist, Sunday, March 21, 8/7c, Lifetime
The Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS (Check your local listings)