She's back! Emmy-award winning actress Robin Strasser returns to Harmony in the unforgettable role of Hecuba beginning on Friday, September 13 (a rather appropriate day for the witch to make her stunning return)! We caught up with the daytime veteran about her time in Europe, her glorious return to Harmony, and what the future holds for Hecuba!
We haven't seen Hecuba in a while. What have you been up to since the last time that we saw you?
While I was doing "Passions," the industry was totally panicked about the impending writer's strike. So I got it in my head that if there was going to be a strike I would give myself an incredible present--a month in Paris. So I went to France with my little dog Scooter. It took me two weeks to realize a month was not a decadent amount of time, but just the beginning of an arrival in a place that felt so glorious and familiar. I saw an ad for "French Language and Civilization" courses for foreigners at the Sorbonne, and signed up for the eleven week course. It was five days a week, eight hours a day. I was going to school for the first time since I was 18, when I started working as an actress! It felt phenomenal. And then, last August my mother was struck and knocked down by a small pick-up truck. Everyone tried to keep it a secret from me, but one day my mom just blurted it out. While I was home helping her, I auditioned and got a part on "Dharma and Greg." The first day of rehearsal was September 10. On September 11, I was in Los Angeles and I took Scooter for a walk very early and called my mother. She told me what was going on and I thought this couldn't be real; it must be a dream. I went home, turned on the television, and started sobbing. Of course, there wasn't going to be a rehearsal that day. On Friday, we did one performance in front of a packed house. The executive producer made the most beautiful dedication speech. And he said that our best revenge is our laughter. Because of his wise words, I felt proud to be an actor. Entertainment, laughter, and diversion have helped people in so many ways. With September 11, I waited to go back to France until the beginning of October and enrolled in the winter course. That kept me in France until the end of January, when I came back for pilot season. I love what I do; I really do. And if "Passions" calls me to come back when they need me, I will come.
How were you approached about coming back to "Passions"?
It was just a phone call. It wasn't that difficult! I was delighted. It's like an invitation to the best party in town.
Were you given any information about how Hecuba would re-enter the picture?
None! In fact, they made sure that if I did interviews as the scripts arrived that I would say absolutely nothing! I made a little pile of the scripts and I felt like a kid on Christmas. I was scheduled to work on Monday, and planned to open them on Saturday. I looked at those scripts like unopened Christmas gifts.
What was your reaction when you read the scripts?
It's fun! James E. Reilly is so imaginative, so quirky, so out there. Never having met him, I adore him...just through the material.
Obviously things are different at "Passions" this time around, as we've all experienced the loss of Josh Ryan Evans. What has that loss meant to you?
I can't possibly put into words how I miss the opportunity to be working with him. I've had in my day-runner the page from "Soap Opera Digest" where Josh and I are "Best Scene Stealers." I've carried that page since it came out. I've had Josh close to me. The news of his death was devastating. I want to tell a story, because it's important to keep people alive in our minds and our hearts. Josh was a very generous professional. During one scene, Josh, Juliet, and I were sitting on a small love seat having Martimmies. I was supposed to break my Martimmy glass by throwing it. It was fake-it was made out of sugar. I threw the glass with my right hand. At the last minute, the director asked if I could throw with my left hand. I threw it and it somehow hit Josh in the forehead. There was a little mark on his forehead. It was decided to stop the scene and take him to the Emergency Room. I could not move; I was so upset. He came back on set later, raring to go, and gave me a big smile. I couldn't apologize enough. And he just said, "This stuff happens. That's why they call them accidents." That's the kind of guy he was. I asked his mother afterwards what I could do for them. Finally, she said he loves salsa and chips from a certain restaurant. So, I had salsa and chips sent to him with a note. But that's who he was. Thank you Josh, for your incredible, classy grace. His soul was revealed to me that day.
"Passions" currently has three "grand dames" of daytime in its cast-Kathleen Noone, Andrea Evans, and you. What does that mean to you?
When I learned they had cast Andrea, I thought it was a very smart choice. I am a big fan of Andrea's. It's interesting because the experience of Josh's memorial service opened a lot of our hearts to speak and express. It's not always easy for women, let alone actresses, to be open with each other. But I told her that I think she is fabulous, and that what she does is incredible. Kathleen and I have connected often over the years. We share a few very good friends. We both have been very interested in alternative medicine, and healthy choices for women. When I look at the landscape of this incredible cast of people, and these women who have this history in daytime in common with me, I feel very proud. Kathleen and Andrea are incredibly hard workers. They are very dedicated and very proud of being in daytime. They are smart and meticulous about their work.
What would you like to see Hecuba do this time around?
If there were a genie that allowed me to make a wish, Mr. Reilly would decide that Hecuba wants to go undercover in Harmony. She would show up in different human forms and wreak havoc. I would love that! But of course, anything that Mr. Reilly comes up with is bound to be fabulous!