Guiding Light has entertained me with a long list of memorable characters over the years, but if I had to narrow it down, the character of Christina Thorpe, better known as Blake, would definitely be in my top five.
Blake was destined from the start to be the center of attention with parents like Roger and Holly. And I’ve loved Elizabeth Keifer’s fearless portrayal of Blake.
Liz’s portrayal of Blake gave that character a depth and vulnerability she didn’t have before, and was a huge part of why Blake and Ross – which could have been a fleeting fling – became a beloved couple until he was presumed dead a few years ago.
Keifer (and Blake) have been unfortunately on the back burner (or completely off the stove) over the last few years, but I’m grateful that the show keeps Blake in the mix, and in the memories of viewers. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t welcome a return to the front-burner for Blake.
With the tragic death of Coop (played so beautifully this week) and Phillip’s return, Blake’s world is rocked, and we’ll be seeing Blake in some upcoming scenes, including Coop’s funeral (which starts Friday, February 20th and continues early next week), where she comes face to face with Phillip.
Liz was gracious enough to take time out of a busy day of multitasking (she was baking chocolate chip cookies as we spoke) to talk to me about those upcoming scenes and her thoughts on her alter ego.
1000WORLDS: I hear there are some amazing scenes coming up, particularly with Phillip.
LIZ KEIFER: Yeah! The dynamic is really strong when he shows up so unexpectedly, especially in those circumstances. It’s such a heartfelt funeral; Coop stands for so much hope. It’s such a hard funeral, and when Phillip shows up in the middle of it, it’s a lot to face.
It’s pretty strong. Blake has a lot of strong feelings about him, that’s for sure.
1000WORLDS: She certainly has a lot to say to him.
LIZ: Well, Phillip’s responsible for Ross’ death. The first scenes you see where Blake is at. She doesn’t even want him to speak. It’s pretty intense.
1000WORLDS: How has it been to have Grant Aleksander (Phillip) back on the set?
LIZ: It’s fantastic! I love Grant.
1000WORLDS: It really feels (on-screen) like his return has energized everyone. We’re seeing that on the viewer’s side; do you feel that way on the performance side?
LIZ: Oh, absolutely. Grant has a tremendous amount of energy that he brings to the table – that we’re feeling. He’s really strong and dynamic, and really smart. And it just feels really solid. Having him there feels like one of the pillars of our foundation is back! We have so much history together.
1000WORLDS: Does Blake find out that Beth (and not Blake) was the inspiration for Coop’s book? Beth and Blake do have that rivalry. (Note: As longtime GL viewers may remember, Blake was married to Phillip and Alan, and kept Beth and Phillip apart when it was first discovered Beth was still alive.)
LIZ: Poor Blake! She thought it was her. And Blake has a rivalry with everybody! [Laughs] They haven’t had specific scenes about that, but it’s become evident to all those characters…..I look forward to having those scenes the next time I see her, because there will be a lot of strain there.
1000WORLDS: Is there anything else on the horizon for Blake? After the whole book thing (where Coop’s book went from draft to first edition in a matter of weeks!) I figured that Blake MUST have some good contacts in publishing!
LIZ: Blake seems to be the master of all trades!
1000WORLDS: I’m glad Blake is getting these dramatic scenes with Phillip; it seems like a lot of the scenes we’ve seen Blake in over the last year or so have been comedic scenes or lighthearted scenes. Do you enjoy playing the comedy?
LIZ: Oh, I do enjoy it – except I don’t think it’s a good idea if that’s all that’s ever written for me, because there’s not an opportunity to ground it. That’s something that I’ve been hoping gets addressed. That’s what’s nice to have those scenes with Phillip, because we forget that Blake has this whole other side.
1000WORLDS: What was your take when they first told you Blake was going to have a relationship with Coop?
LIZ: I thought it was fantastic, actually. At first I was like, “Wow, really?” And then I thought, “It’s a really great idea!” It’s just something Blake would do. I didn’t see it as this lascivious, robbing-the-cradle thing; I really thought that his energy was so hopeful and pure, and that he embodies those elements that Blake misses having.
He had the opportunity to be a success, and Blake feels she kind of missed the boat on that. She gave herself up to Ross for many years, and didn’t pursue a lot of things that, had Ross not come into her life, she would have gone down different roads. So he [Coop] represented so many possibilities. That was perfect for Blake. And he was harmless! Blake’s not ready to devote herself to someone after Ross.
1000WORLDS: I was happy to see those scenes, and I was happy to see the scenes with Robert Newman (Josh). Blake – and you – seem to have chemistry with everyone!
LIZ: Well, thank you! I think that’s what’s great about her – that she can be with an older man, or a younger man. Blake just enjoys men, period. She’s also not in a position to be judging anyone. She can take any character under her wing and just go with it. She’s got massive amounts of energy, which has mostly been stored up. She used to put that into Ross, but it has nowhere to go now. I think anyone benefits from coming into her orbit.
1000WORLDS: I always enjoyed Blake’s interactions with Edmund. It didn’t happen very often, but she seemed to always have a crush on him. It was a very cute, clever play on it. I always thought that was a good relationship!
LIZ: I’m glad you brought that up; I always though that was something that could go somewhere too! (Note: Especially now that David Andrew McDonald is back!) And who knows, it just might? Just put it out there! [Laughs]
1000WORLDS: I’ll make sure I put it out on the blog – put it out there to the universe!
LIZ: Anything’s possible for Blake. That’s why it’s such a great character.
1000WORLDS: So I have to ask – what’s your take on the new production model and all of the Peapack stuff?
LIZ: I enjoy it. I love the outdoor stuff, and think it looks fantastic. It’s invigorating. You’re no longer confined to a set; you have more sensory stuff to deal with. You have the weather, you have….everything that’s happening. There’s a lot of unexpected things happening, and I love that. It’s sort of like, “Let’s just put you outside, give you some words, and see what happens….go!” It’s always been a little hurried and crazed, no rehearsal, but this is even more like diving off the deep end. It’s always been “Ready, set, go!” And now it’s, “Ready, set, go….and it’s gonna rain!” [Laughs]
1000WORLDS: Speaking of weather…I just read on another blog a post about General Hospital, and fans were complaining because the snow was so obviously fake…it was paper snow. And I guess it was really obvious as you watched that it was paper.
And I thought, “You know, I just saw a scene with Edmund and Josh where it was reality in the truest sense of the word – snow falling on them at the cemetary.”
LIZ: I also just enjoy it because it’s a different way of working. You’re in the moment. There’s no proscenium to play to. It’s just “go.” There’s less of a self-consciousness. There’s no particular camera to focus on.
It’s interesting technically. And the cameramen are unbelievable, how they do this and stay out of each other’s way. We have such an amazing team. They had to work completely differently. Yes, the actors had to work differently. But the crew had to turn themselves inside out to develop a whole new way of shooting. Ellen (Wheeler, executive producer) had to develop a whole new way of directing.
1000WORLDS: The consensus among the actors seemed to be that it was easier to get to the emotional truth (of a scene) because in some ways it frees you from worrying about some of the technical things, and you’re just there.
LIZ: Absolutely, I agree – very well put! Technically it’s easier on the actors. And it’s fun to be outside. You’re not sitting in the studio all day long. It’s liberating.
Thanks, Liz, for taking the time to chat (I hope those cookies came out okay!) And thanks to Alan Locher at Telenext Media for connecting the dots.
See more of A Thousand Other Worlds here!