"It's Greenlee, bitch," was probably the Britney Spears lyric that came to mind when soap fans heard Rebecca Budig (ex-Greenlee Smythe, All My Children) was joining General Hospital. Little did everyone know, Hayden Barnes (her Port Charles alter ego) probably needs an even stronger introduction. So far, she's conned her way into Jake Doe's (Billy Miller) life, swiftly seduced Nikolas (Tyler Christopher), and pretty much sealed herself as Carly's (Laura Wright) lifelong nemesis -- and all within a few days of arriving in town. How does Budig feel about this feisty new character? Is she happy to be doing the on-screen mattress mambo with Christopher's Nikolas? And how has returning to work been for the new mom? Soap Central caught up with the actress to find out.
Hayden has only been in town a short time, and she's already making some serious waves. Viewers are hungry to find out more about the scheming seductress, and it seems Budig is in the same boat. "When you play a character for so long [like I did on AMC], you kind of know where she's going and where she's been, her history, but I don't know anything about this character. I don't know her history, I don't know why she's doing what she's doing, so I've sort of had to make that stuff up for myself in my head," the actress explains. "I'm praying the writers will show why she is the way she is at some point. I just feel like, how do you relate to her unless you know why she's doing what she's doing?"
No doubt the powers that be will hold most of Hayden's juicy secrets close to the vest for the time being, meaning that fans, as well as Budig, will have to wait. One thing is clear though: Hayden is quite the sex bunny. "She's much more sexual than Greenlee ever was -- sexual and overt," the actress says with a laugh about the character's attempts to pull both Ric (Rick Hearst) and Nikolas into bed. "She begs every guy to sleep with her."
Lucky for Hayden, she managed to convince Nikolas to drop his drawers -- a steamy turn of events Budig did not see coming. "It was such a twist," she exclaims. "I love Tyler Christopher. Love him. So I am so excited. Although, they wrote it like Nikolas doesn't want Hayden, but he can't help wanting sex with her, so I don't know how it's going to end."
Jumping in bed with the Cassadine Casanova is a story turn that Budig welcomed with open arms, but the actual jumping into bed part (sans clothing) was tough for the new mom, who just gave birth to daughter Charlotte seven months ago. "It was hooooorrrrrible," she says with a laugh. "Just horrible. Look, love scenes weren't ever easy, but I was always pretty confident and felt fine in my body. But after a baby, I'm just not there yet. I'm having hope that I will, but I'm not like Stacy Kiebler, who looks like she never had a baby in her life. I'm just not there."
And that doesn't just go for her physical appearance. The Kentucky native says her mind is also different after having had a baby, which she couldn't help but notice when she started memorizing lines. "I remember on my first day, I think I had two shows, and I was like, 'Whoa!' because it goes so fast, and I hadn't memorized lines like that in so long," she recalls. "So it was a little like, 'Whoa, I don't know if I can remember everything.' I had just stopped breastfeeding, and I still didn't have my brain back. Well, I still don't have my brain back! I think it came out with the baby. Half your brain is with your baby all the time."
And the other half, she jokes, is focused on producing tears. "Having a baby opens you up and makes you a little more vulnerable. I cry a lot more now," she admits. "Like, I cry now when I see a baby. I'm like, 'Oh my God, that baby is so cute!' They're so helpless, and there's just something about it. I was never a baby person. I was never that kind of person, and then I had a baby, and it changed."
So basically, if she's faced with some extremely emotional scenes, all the directors have to do is put a baby in front of her? "Oh, who knows," she says with a laugh. "I haven't had that yet. I don't even know if my character has emotions."
Luckily, if Hayden continues in bitch-mode, Budig can call on her infamous real-life rivalry with her neighbor, The Young and the Restless' Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher), for inspiration. The pair is known for playing practical jokes on each other, which keeps the actress fresh in the art of brat. "Greg and I have a love/hate relationship --very little love, lots of hate," she quips. "I really like when Greg and I go at each other, because it keeps me on my toes. But I don't know [if it really helps me be bitchier]. I like playing someone that I wouldn't normally be. But this Hayden, man, I'm really trying to wrap my head around this one."
As she's busy trying to figure out her Port Charles alter ego, Budig is also busy being mom to baby Charlotte, who was born in September. And so far, motherhood is very different from what she expected. "I said a lot of things before I had a baby, like, 'I'm never going to use a pacifier,' but the minute that baby cried, I was like, 'Give me that pacifier! I do not care if she's attached to it,'" she says with a laugh.
But one thing she's stayed firm on is the no TV rule. "She's [seven] months, and no TV yet," she proudly declares. "Now, I do FaceTime my mother. I want her to know my mom and my dad, so I'll FaceTime. But I'll put the phone over [to the side] while we're playing, and now she kind of smiles when she sees that it's on."
Hhmm, a big, beaming grin as soon as a camera comes out. Doesn't that sound a lot like mom? "Not at all," Budig says. "My daughter does not give out smiles and laughs very easily. She is a very tough audience. And I'm like, 'I hope she's not mean...' She won't smile at anybody."
So what if Charlotte does end up being mean? Or worse, like Greenlee or Hayden?! "I'd send her to military camp or something," the actress says with a laugh. "I would! I would send out her to NOLS, National Outdoor Leadership School. 'You're going into the woods, honey. You won't have your phone, and you won't have any money, and you're going to be slumming!'"
Fortunately, Charlotte has a much better chance of turning out to be a great girl, because she doesn't have Mary (Anna Stuart) as a mother. "Greenlee had a terrible mom," Budig concedes. "But I don't know. It's hard. I can't really judge myself as a mom yet because I don't have to discipline her yet. When she starts crawling, and you have to say, 'no,' how hard is that? See, this frightens me, if you only have one baby, and you don't have a second to go, 'Oh, you're fine.' You worry more... when you only have one."
So does that mean she plans on having only one baby? "I'd like to have one more, but I just don't know if I can do it again," she says. "I was never, ‘I just want one.' But I'm one of eight [children], so there's no way in hell I'm going to have a ton of kids! Having a very, very big family, I don't love it. It's really hard. It's hard because you get lost in the shuffle. There are so many people all the time, you never get time with your parents alone, people are always barging in."
Time will tell if she changes her mind and decides to have another baby with her husband, Michael Benson. In the meantime, the actress is trying to stay focused on GH, which she admits is a job she's always dreamed of. "I love GH, and I love The Young and the Restless, and I always wanted to be a part of one of those shows, so I'm very excited" she enthuses. "I really can't complain."
Are you a fan of Hayden? What secrets do you think the scheming seductress is hiding? And what do you think about seeing Budig back in daytime? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.