GH’s Wally Kurth weighs in on Ned’s identity crisis
Summary of soap operas: I think it’s fair to say that Ned tripped at Metro Court Pool, suffered a head injury and woke up thinking he was Eddie Maine – he wasn’t on many fans’ bingo cards!
Kurth: No, I don’t think anyone saw that coming! And this is good.
To digest: What was your reaction when you first learned that Ned would wake up as Eddie Maine?
Kurth: My first thought was: “Oh, fantastic! That sounds great!” Just because, “Amnesia? Eddie Maine? That sounds like a challenge! That sounds like completely crazy! Let’s see if I can pull this off!” That’s always what every actor wants to do, you know, “How do I make this work? How do I sell this?” So I was excited. And you know, Eddie Maine, that time on the show (when he was first introduced in 1993) was a lot of fun. Not just the music, but the character and the way he looked at the Quartermaines. He’s got He has to take off his suit and tie, literally and figuratively, and he’s doing it again! And that’s always nice, when you can get away from the role you’ve put on yourself in your life, even in real life. I always try to bring my life to these stories, because it gives me more depth or resonance when I sit on the lines, if I can talk about something that is true for me. And the truth for Eddie is that he doesn’t want to live in this big mansion! He doesn’t want to live with these people. It’s not that he doesn’t like these people, but he really feels like he needs to be on stage. He just wants to make music. The last thing he wants is to be in a business suit and be, you know, the son, the husband , even the father. Being a father, that’s the only thing he seems to lean a little more towards. He’s had scenes with Leo and he’s had scenes with Brook Lynn and I feel like if there’s a change that’s happening with Eddie, it’s happening as a father. She seems to like that aspect of Ned’s life, his relationship with his daughter and with Leo. It will be interesting to see who else (in Ned’s life) ends up feeling more connected to first. Maybe his wife, maybe his mother.
To digest: So how was the stunt ride filmed? What were you really and what was a body double?
Kurth: Well, I’ll tell you, I was very honored because the guy who was my double (Anthony Molinari), I happened to be talking to him in the makeup room and he was relaxed and talkative and I asked him: do you do a lot of stunts? And he goes, “Yeah, I worked with Mark Ruffalo for eight years.” He Made All the Hulk Movies! And then he goes, “I’ve also covered George Clooney and Matt Damon.” And I said, “Oh, now I’m honored! I feel good. This is sweet!” He did it all in one take. He was really good. I did the towel trip and fell forward onto a mat. And then when Anthony came out, he actually said the line, the same line that he just said and then he fell onto the platform and rolled into the pool and then he stayed there for a while and then when you saw he picked up it was me obviously lying in the water when they flipped me over it was so much fun getting in the water in a suit! It was nice warm water. And I can’t do a lot of stunts, so I loved it! I loved having to land on a mat and all that.
To digest: I was thinking that when I saw it: “This must be so much fun for Wally to change pace!”
Kurth: It really was, because it’s been years since Ned has had a fight or gotten into any kind of physical altercation. So getting beaten up by Drew a couple of weeks before this, and then doing that in the pool, I really loved it. It is fun.
To digest: You were nervous about getting the towel ride right? Is this something you practiced at home?
kurth (laughs): You know, when it came to the drop, they’d say, “Ready?” And I was like, “Just wait, give me a moment.” It only took me a moment to figure it out, you know? You have to figure out how to do it because when I left Nina in the yard, I almost ran out the door. I didn’t plan for that, but it worked really well because they said, “Hey, if you could get in there, that would be nice.” I said, “Perfect, because I was running away from Nina. So let’s keep that energy high!” And then I just hit that towel and I felt like it came out pretty good and then I landed pretty good on the mat and everyone was like, “That looked great! Fantastic!” When it was Anthony’s turn and he came out, I was actually looking at the monitors and not only did he look great, but his line reading was very close to mine, I said to the director, “Just use your voice too!” They didn’t, but boy, I thought it made the trick look fantastic. It was all in one hit: it hit the deck and rolled right into the pool. It was very interesting.
To digest: Obviously you, Wally, know all about relationships that you have to play Eddie as having no recollection. How have you approached acting alongside Jane Elliot (Tracy) and Lisa LoCicero (Olivia), for example, as if they were essentially strangers to your character?
Kurth: When Eddie wakes up, he remembers certain things but he doesn’t remember the most important things, which are those relationships, and that’s really a fun challenge, to program my mind to know certain things and not know others. I mean, that’s what an actor has to do! You’re basically charging your computer and programming your computer, your brain obviously remembers your lines, but you’re also putting yourself in a situation; you’re setting yourself up for a scene that you’re walking into, so you know all the lines and you know all the locks, and then when you power up you have to start all over again, like you’re doing it for the first time. And that’s a trick. It doesn’t always work, you don’t always get it, but that’s what I always strive for. This whole Eddie challenge has been a wonderful acting experiment for me. And people seem to think it’s working, so that’s a good thing! People are happy with what I’m doing. But then again, it’s almost like I’m playing a different character, and that’s great, because I’ve been doing this character (Ned) for a long time. And it’s always nice to play someone different.
To digest: This is not a textbook amnesia story, as Eddie Maine was Ned’s rock alter ego and stage persona rather than a discrete entity separate from Ned. So how do you understand what is really happening to Ned?
Kurth: Well, I did some research and there is a technical term. I can’t remember what it is, but basically, it’s where you remember certain things from your past, but you don’t have any real recollection of your current events. It’s almost like a PTSD situation where your mind goes to a time that makes the most sense to you and you’re most comfortable, where maybe you’re happiest, and you go there to protect yourself, as a coping mechanism. That’s how I see it. And I think for Eddie Maine, that’s being on stage.
To digest: We have yet to see the return of Eddie Maine’s infamous leather pants. When you heard this story, did you have any “I’m going to have to wear leather pants” anxiety?
Kurth: Ha! I don’t know if it was anxiety. It was excitement! Joy! You know, (in the original story) we sing a lot, a lot of funny songs, we get up there and get all swaggering and strutting… There’s really something about getting up there and being on stage that’s a character. Wally on stage is different from Wally at home, just like Eddie and Ned. It’s almost a different point of view that you have to take. But I have to say that I kept a pair of leather pants and I said to the guys, “You know, I’ll try them on and see if we can bring them,” and they didn’t say, “Bring your black leather pants!” I think Frank (Valentini, executive producer) even mentioned, “We’re not going to do the whole black leather pants thing,” so I don’t know. But I tried them on! My wife is not going to be happy that I did. admit, but I tried them on and they didn’t fit quite right. But according to (wife) Debra, leather shrinks. So I’m going to blame the shearling for the reason I can’t fit my old leather pants black It can’t be me! It can’t be the 30 years in between (laughs)!
To digest: Because Ned has no recollection of hearing Nina confess to calling the SEC, the fate of his story is now inexorably linked to hers. This is really the first time you’ve shared a story with Cynthia Watros (Nina).
Kurth: I know! It was great! I really like working with her. I didn’t really know Cynthia, but I think she’s a wonderful actress. We don’t have a lot of time, a lot of rehearsal; we just go through these things. So the next thing you think we were in each other’s faces and going to town, just acting! It was fun and I would love to work with Cynthia more. We’ll see what happens! At this point, I’m having so much fun and I don’t see why they would make me get her memory back anytime soon when they have so many stories they could tell.