They’ve been working together for almost 25 years, and now, in their last interview together before the final broadcast of All My Children on ABC, stars Susan Lucci and Walt Willey reminisce and reflect on the romance of Erica and Jack and the off-screen friendship they’ve developed over two decades.
Susan, how does it feel after all these years to have accomplished so much – from the beginning of All My Children and Erica Kane to winning the Emmy to now?
Susan Lucci: I’ve pinched myself all along the way. I’ve been so lucky. I knew it from the beginning. All along the way I have thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is quite amazing.’
Walt Willey: Sometimes she gets tired of pinching her and she pinches me. (Susan erupts into laughter). That’s okay because I need to be pinched every once in a while too.
Susan: We have a good time, can you tell?
Walt: We do have a good time.
How do you want to see the show, and the Erica-Jack storyline, end?
Susan: With a bang, not a whimper, that’s for sure. And everybody was on the same page with that.
Walt: Particular to this story, when the announcement came that we were being canceled – and I keep in pretty good touch with people electronically – the [fans] said, ‘They are going to marry Erica and Jack before… we are going to get to see that at least.’ That was the resounding human cry out there. I think that speaks to how much people embraced us individually and as a couple. I read that more than anything else. They wanted to see us get our happy ending…again.
Susan: My guess is, like all great novels, it’s going to end with some cliffhangers. If you’re reading a great novel, you’d say, ‘Then what happened? Did they get together? Did they stay mad? What happened?’ So there will be things that won’t be tied up in a neat little bow.
Walt: I talked to Agnes Nixon just a couple of days after the cancelation and I asked her ‘So what are you going to do Agnes?’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m not going to tie everything up in a bow.’ I don’t think she ever had the intention of doing that. God bless her, I don’t think she ever thought it was ever really going to be over over… and here, it’s not. Agnes knows things none of the rest of us knows. Believe me, Agnes knows things.
Susan: That’s why her storylines are so visionary. They always have been. We always have called Agnes a witch because we’re working on [storylines] six months before they’re ever in the headlines of the newspapers.
Walt: They’re not ripped from the headlines; the headlines are ripped from her scripts!
What was it like working with Agnes when she came on and played the role of Agnes Eckhart a few weeks ago?
Susan: It was one take (snaps her fingers), she’s there. She said to me, ‘I have a couple of line changes for myself.’ I said, ‘Agnes, you can change any of my lines too. You can do whatever you want!’
Walt: Yeah, you don’t question if she’s qualified.
How do you think the end of All My Children and Erica Kane on ABC will change Daytime Television?
Walt: If indeed you never see All My Children in any broadcast medium again, if the day we’re done is the day we’re done… that will change the face of Daytime and Daytime Drama forever. No Erica Kane on the landscape of shows on between 9 and 4 during the day? That will change the landscape forever, of course. Does it mean that Daytime will fold up and go away? I think that’s a big blow. I’m sorry, that’s a torpedo in the side of Daytime Drama.
Susan: It may go away from network, and maybe not. If Prospect Park accomplishes what they want, they could propel it forward. It could wind up being more exciting.
I am just so honored. I loved the part of Erica Kane when I read the audition script but I didn’t know anybody else would. To be embraced like that by the public and to have it continue in present time – to have writing, now that Agnes is back, and Lorraine Broderick as the headwriter – to have writing that is so relevant. [We were] doing the most contemporary storyline where there was identity theft in modern times [the recent Erica/Jane storyline], not just about taking someone’s credit cards, but everything is available now so go ahead and have the plastic surgery, do the whole thing. That is a storyline that is so contemporary that it could only be done now. How wonderful that Agnes and Lorraine remain visionary storytellers and we remain that relevant as characters. I’m thrilled by the audience response – even rumors that I’m going on another show. I don’t know where those came from, but the fact that the fans want to see more, I’m thrilled, touched beyond belief, and thrilled that I’m the lucky actress who got to play Erica Kane.
Susan, have you thought about what it’s going to feel like on the day you wake up and you’re not playing Erica Kane?
Susan: That’s going to be very hard.
Walt: (playfully sarcastic) I intend to continue playing the role. If you want to come by my garage on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’m going to have cardboard cutouts of [Susan]. I’ll be pushing a shopping cart before long but I’ll still be playing Jack.
Susan: (laughing) With Erica Kane, I think the only reason she got away with it was because there was a script that said she got away with it. So if I continue to play Erica in my garage, I’m in big trouble. I’ll get arrested.
What have been your favorite storylines over the years?
Susan: I don’t know where to start. I’ve been so lucky playing Erica because the range in that character is so huge. From the glamorous modeling around New York City and the MET – running down that grand staircase and all that went with it – to the comedy. The food fight with David Canary (Adam) comes to mind. The great romances.
Walt: (chiming in) Romance. Singular.
Susan: (pointing to Walt) This is the one in all caps.