Emily Harper

 

As Passions winds down for a second time, the actress shares her thoughts about portraying Harmony's put-upon princess, Fancy Crane.

By: Dawn


At the beginning of my long and enjoyable chat with Emily Harper, I had to confess to her that since the show's move to DirecTV, I have been unable to watch. She generously filled in the blanks and gave a detailed recap of all I had missed regarding Fancy's current story. Generous is definitely a word I would not hesitate to use to describe Harper, along with giving, talented and very well spoken. Read on for Harper's wonderful and informative look at her character, her stories and saying goodbye to Passions - again.

The first order of business is of course, the show's second cancellation. As of this writing, no new home has been found for Passions, and Harper notes, "Since we made the switch to DirecTV, sometimes they don't even include us for ratings or how many people are tuning in since that switch.... I think it (moving the soap to a satellite provider as opposed to another major network) was kind of a new thing for them as well. It's unfortunate because a lot of our fan base was with us at NBC and then kind of panicked when it switched over to DirecTV. We feel very blessed to be that lucky that they were willing to support us like that. But our last shooting date is March 28. I do know that they are still trying to pitch it, they are still trying to go for possibly another network - we're keeping our fingers crossed but we're not sure. As of now, it's supposed to be cancelled."

But not all is gloom and doom and Harper muses about what she would like to see happen to Fancy before the close of the show. "In Fancy's mind and Fancy's heart and world, I truly believe she really loves Luis. She was burned really bad by Noah with the whole Maya thing. And lately with the Pretty aspect and the Sheridan aspect, it was no longer a love triangle, it was a love....square! So in my opinion, I would love to see it all end on a happy note, you know, Fancy and Luis get married and love happily ever after, and at the same time, repair her relationship with her aunt, Sheridan. Prior to the whole Luis storyline, they were very close growing up so I would hope that she would get Sheridan's blessing. But this is all wishful thinking. Fancy's only been part of the show for three years now and the show's about nine years old. Luis and Sheridan were such an amazing power couple. I hear mixed opinions from the fans. Some of them like Lancy and a lot of them like Shuis." As well as the Fancy/Noah fans. "Exactly. I'm very excited," she continues, "There is a lot of anticipation to see what is going to happen. Noah seems to be happy with Paloma as well. They (the writers) would have to do a lot of unraveling storylines and mix-matching in the course of two months. They would have to squeeze in a lot. I would love that and I would love to even repair the relationship with Pretty. After all, they are sisters and prior to the acid-throwing-in-the-face years ago, they were close as well. That would be an ideal situation for me."

Portraying a damsel in distress has its low points as well, as Harper soon learned, especially during the rape storyline. Actually, in Fancy's case, make that multiple rapes and Harper and I discuss this topic at length, most notably, the show's puzzling decision to have Fancy repeatedly attacked. "I do realize, shooting a soap opera, that there is a sort of repetition formula that's true, I believe, for all soaps, because the viewers might not be able to tune in every day. They will take storylines and they're not exactly duplicated with the same scenes but you have to stretch the storylines a little to make it so anyone tuning into the show for the first time can get a recap of what's going on," Harper shares, "I understand they had to do the rape more than once to make sure it was profound and scary and emulate what Fancy was going through. But that was definitely, as an actor, one of the most challenging scenes I've ever done. There was a couple of months where it was numerous times, numerous occasions where Fancy was raped and it's a serious issue, obviously, and for women out there that have gone through, God forbid, something along those lines, we wanted to present it in a realistic fashion and show that emotional aspect of going through something like that. I think we conveyed that very well." I point out to the actress that the show having Fancy repeatedly raped basically came across to the audience as overkill, and Harper says, "I didn't think it was very smart for Fancy to be left alone in her bedroom where she kept getting raped over and over... prey to be preyed upon. That was a little crazy, in my opinion. One rape was enough and I'm sure women out there can agree, and men too. A lot of people wrote in and said that it was getting to be a little too much, too out of control."

Eventually Fancy's emotional trauma began to take it's toll on Harper. "That was one of the most challenging things that I've ever had to do so it's made me grow in that aspect," Harper states, "For my character, for sympathy for Fancy, there were more steps that I would've liked to convey to the viewer when they're brought upon with something like this situation....get into therapy, call one of the many hotlines, call the police. Get her family more involved, talk about it to her friends.... In a real scenario with such a sensitive topic as rape, I would've much more appreciated that being conveyed. I started having quite an emotional reaction to this (story) and I started to go a little crazy by the seventh or eighth time. It's wearing physically on you and it's very demanding. That was definitely a few months that were not enjoyable to play as an actor. But I think it made me stronger as an actor."

But what Passions is also widely known for is it's humor and it's non-traditional approach to being a soap opera. "The humor is actually our favorite thing about the writers," Harper enthuses, "There have actually been scenes where we as actors can't get through and have to have a few takes because the contagious laughter begins! There's just some one-liners that are amazing that tickle me so much... It's very campy and zany and over the top. They definitely know how to push the envelope on a lot of issues that normally don't show up on soap operas, like he/she's, and witches, and elves, and casting spells, and brain chips... It's been quite a ride! They definitely know how to mix it up and keep you guessing, and to expect the unexpected." And then there are telenovela send-ups, not to mention some incredibly dense characters. "Oh my God, they (Lindsay Hartley as Theresa, and Eric Martsolf as Eric) were cracking me up, the two of them!" Harper laughs, referring to the scenes in which the soap poked fun at the telenovela format, "We were in the hair and makeup room just dying, watching it on the monitor!" As for Harmony's large population of clueless residents, Harper and I are in stitches by this time, especially after I make mention of the character of Ethan and how he remains in the dark about the paternity of his son, despite being told several times already. "There is a certain aspect of every one of us on the show that has to have a little naiveté, a little vulnerable sense to us - there are some times that we just don't get it!"

Hartley is a fellow cast member that has always caught Harper's attention and she states in admiration, "When I first joined the show, I was just amazed by Lindsay's performance. Everyone knows that she's just got those crocodile tears that just come out of nowhere! She's very grounded in her work and very committed to every scene that I've seen her in. She has been someone, since I first joined the show, that I would watch it to tune into her, specifically to watch her performance." Harper also has praise for beloved cast member Juliet Mills (Tabitha), whom she had the joy of sharing scenes with recently. "She is so real and so Tabitha, I couldn't picture anyone else playing that role," Harper marvels, "I was absolutely thrilled. It was only one day of shooting and I didn't even have that much dialogue with her, but I adored working with her. She is one that I've always admired on the show." Showing that her love knows no bounds, Harper is also a fan of John Reilly, who expertly plays the evil Alistair. "He is the most kind and caring man which makes me adore his acting skills even more," she sighs, "He can play such a vicious villain, the most hated and despised man in Harmony, who has no sympathy for human life. He plays it well. We love it. He is amazing, I love working with him... to see that gentle side of him and see that he can switch it in a heartbeat."

To make bidding adieu to the show easier on the fans, Martsolf is hosting a Bon Voyage cruise that sets sail April 1 through April 6, and Harper was quick to "jump on board" to participate. For Passions and it's loyal viewers, no one wants to really say farewell, but Harper did want to tell the fans how much they are appreciated. "Thank you, first and foremost, for their undying and unconditional support, especially going through the change from NBC to DirecTV. Most of our fans are pretty diehard and a lot of them have been there since day one when the show first started. A lot of the fan mail that I get, they seem to open up and tell me their personal stories and it's very touching and very humbling at the same time." "

I love them! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to do this."

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of NBC and various internet sources.

Visit Emily Harper on the web:

www.emilyharper.net

( Official site, currently under construction)

www.emilyharperfan.com

(Fan site by Ashley that Emily Harper supports)

 

 

Photos courtesy of JPI Studios NBC and various internet sources.


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