Jaws dropped when it was announced that Kathleen Gati's Liesl Obrecht would be taking over as chief of staff on General Hospital earlier this year, and those same jaws will hit the snow-covered floor once her latest responsibility airs. The colorful doctor will be reading the annual Port Charles Christmas story during the Wednesday, December 24, episode, and her unique method is a GH gift that fans just might be talking about for years to come. But that's not all that Soap Central was able to get Gati to open up about. Read on to hear her thoughts on Obrecht's childhood Christmases, being naughty versus nice, and more.
General Hospital fans have been privy to many a Christmas reading. The tradition began when Steve Hardy (John Beradino) was chief of staff then continued with Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) performing the annual reading after Hardy (and Beradino) passed away in 1996. The holiday story time suffered a brief pause after Alan also met his maker, but Dr. Obrecht is bringing it back -- albeit in a very unexpected way.
"The character and Kathleen, we are both beyond excited," Gati reveals of Dr. Obrecht's version of the Christmas story reading, which will be filled with surprises and twists that only the eccentric doctor can bring. "She loves Christmas, and she has her traditions that she wants to share, and she's just over the top that she gets to do this, and over the top is always [her thing]. To share her traditions and her culture with the hospital is beyond joy for her. How it's received is another question [laughs], but she's thrilled."
Carrying on the annual tradition is quite a responsibility, and Gati reveals that she worked very hard on the special episode -- so much so, she may consider it come Emmy time. "I'll have to see it air first," she explains, adding that either way, it was a lot of fun to delve into her character's psyche for the holiday performance. "I don't want to mess with the writers' storyline about the past, but from what they've already given us, [Dr. Obrecht's childhood] was very colorful with the siblings, everything. She loved the traditions. I remember there were all these scenes I had with Magda (Donna Mills) in jail, and I was always saying 'Ah, the tradition, the tradition.' So Dr. Obrecht is very passionate about her culture and her past and her childhood and her traditions, so I think this reading is a carry-through, absolutely, into the present."
While GH fans may be receiving quite a gift from Obrecht, it's unclear whether or not the doctor herself will be getting any presents. After all, it's probably pretty tough for Santa to decipher whether or not she deserves something nice or if a big lump of coal would be more appropriate. If you ask the character, however, she'd tell you that she definitely deserves to be on the Nice List -- at least part of the time.
"She vacillates back and forth unintentionally," Gati says with a laugh. "Obrecht thinks that everything she does is for the good. She is committed, she is passionate about everything, and she thinks everything is great. The problem is she thinks she's doing good, but in reality, most of what she does is really horrible. But in her heart, her intentions are good. Unless she's bored, in which case, look out! When she needs to stir up the pot, that's a different story... She gets bored and she likes to play with people's lives for entertainment and excitement. So I think she likes to be on both lists, not on one or the other. She definitely swings both ways!"
Though receiving the privilege of reading the soap's Christmas story is a fantastic honor, there's much more making the actress smile these days. She loves -- and we mean loves -- the holiday season. "It doesn't matter if we're here or if we're away, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I like to start putting up Christmas lights," she enthuses. "I like things to be really festive, so lights and also poinsettia all over the house. Those are probably my favorite things, the lights and the poinsettia. They put me in the spirit."
And the spirit of the holidays, she says, is something she looks forward to each year. "It's something special and magical. It's like your birthday," she says. "'It's a time to be extra loving end extra kind. And then the new year comes, and I'm so crazy excited. December 31 in the evening every year, it's like, 'Tomorrow, something amazing is happening. Something exciting is coming up.' And I love that. That's how I live my life, with hope and excitement and anticipation of something great. Like when I get a new script, I think, 'Okay, what's in this one?!' It's like Christmas when I get a new script, and that's what I feel on New Year's Eve, like something amazing is about to happen. It's new, it's exciting. It'll probably be the same as last year, but in my mind, it's going to be a whole new cup of tea."
"We're so busy all year... and a socially forced holiday to really pay attention to those you love is wonderful," she continues. "I wish we had more of those holidays, where you really have to look at the other person and say, 'I'm so grateful for you. I'm grateful for your love and your friendship and your kindness.' Those things are so powerful. So any holiday that brings that on, I'm all over it."
To catch Dr. Obrecht's special reading of GH's Christmas story, be sure to tune in to the show on Wednesday, December 24.
"I hope that people will love the Christmas show and that it'll give them a good feeling for the holidays," Gati says. "It'll definitely be [Dr. Obrecht's] own thing, and I think it will be quite entertaining.
What do you think about Dr. Obrecht carrying on GH's holiday story tradition? Do you think Liesl deserves to be on Santa's Nice List, or has she been too naughty this year? Share your thoughts below in the Comments section, on our Facebook page or via Feedback by clicking here.