Chandra Wilson Checks In To General Hospital
by Michael Logan
Roger Howarth and Chandra Wilson
TV Guide Magazine: From one hospital to another with you! How’d this happen?
Wilson: The two shows are on the same lot in L.A. shooting right next to each other. We’ve been neighbors for years and we’ve talked forever about trying to do this and at last it worked it out. Of course, I finally had to say to GH, “Look, just tell me when you want me and I will be there. I’ll tell Grey’s Anatomy I’m not available!” I’m a serious GH fan.
TV Guide Magazine: How serious?
Wilson: Crazy serious! I’ve been watching — and loving — the show for 35 years. I’m such an impossible groupie that I stay away from the studio commissary from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. because I might run into the GH stars having their lunch, and then I’d be saying stupid stuff and tripping all over myself. [Laughs] It’s been that way for 10 years!
TV Guide Magazine: Rumor has it there are similarities between your GH character, Tina Estrada, and Dr. Miranda Bailey. True?
Wilson: Oh, we definitely have some fun and pay a little tribute to Bailey. But Tina has her own set of troubles. She goes to see her shrink, Dr. Kevin Collins [Jon Lindstrom], for their usual appointment at the hospital, but he’s not there. Instead, she finds Franco [Roger Howarth] in Dr. Collins’ office and he’s clearly up to no good. [Laughs] And he desperately wants Tina to go away!
TV Guide Magazine: Weren’t you a One Life to Live nut, too?
Wilson: Yes! So it was really a hoot for me to work with Roger, though I still think of him as Todd and I always will! He’s making his longtime Llanview followers work real hard to accept him as Franco but, hey, it’s a soap! [Laughs] We daytime fans buy even stranger things — like evil twins and people coming back from the dead! I love how so many of the original actors — real favorites — have been coming back to GH over the past year or so for the 50th anniversary. Hey, I’m the public and I appreciate it!
TV Guide Magazine: Weren’t you also on OLTL for a bit back in the day?
Wilson: I was recurring on that show for five episodes. I also did background work on Another World and All My Children. It’s incredibly weird and sad that there are no more New York soaps. For a struggling theater actor, that was your bread and butter. We’d do a little something on each of the soaps, and we’d do all the Law & Order shows and also Cosby, then we’d have to wait for three years until we could get back on those shows again. But it sure helped pay the rent. That was back in the day when pounding the pavement was fun. If I lost my job on Grey’s Anatomy I wouldn’t know how to pound that pavement now. It’s a whole new show business. Everybody’s auditioning online. It’s crazy.
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking of crazy, isn’t soap work a lot tougher than it was back in your salad days?
Wilson: Oh, dear God, yes! Nowadays you have to kick out every scene in one take! There is no time for screwups. [Laughs] It’s like being on a runaway train and you’re hanging onto anything, anybody for dear life! What you shoot in one day on a soap is the equivalent of two weeks in primetime or two months on a movie, and all you can do is pray and hope you have a buddy like Roger to help you through it. He really saved me. But as scary as it is, it’s also fantastic. I feel like I won a contest!
TV Guide Magazine: Any chance you’ll be back?
Wilson: [Executive producer] Frank Valentini did hint around that he might invite me to return. I said, “Oooh, don’t you play with me, now!” Because I would do it again in a heartbeat.