Hillary B. Smith reveals why she almost walked away from the role of One Life to Live's Nora Buchanan before she even started

Posted Thursday, June 18, 2020 3:40:27 PM

One Life to Live alum Hillary B. Smith shares why she nearly canceled her promise to play Nora Buchanan just one day before she started work as the beloved Llanview character.

ABC soap fans absolutely loved Hillary B. Smith in the role of One Life to Live legal eagle Nora Buchanan, but the actress reveals that she briefly thought about walking back on her decision to play the role she accepted in 1992.

The actress explains to Soap Opera Digest that a pretty tempting offer from As the World Turns, where she played Margo Hughes in the 1980s, almost made her walk out on OLTL -- just a day before she started filming as Nora!

"I put the word out [that I wanted to be back on a soap opera] and One Life to Live called. I kind of felt badly because One Life to Live and As the World Turns were in the same time slot," she shares. "I called [ATWT head writer] Doug Marland out of courtesy and I said, 'I just want you to know, I'm thinking about coming back to daytime and One Life to Live has already called and I'm going to go meet with them.' He goes, 'You're so sweet to call. We're so happy with Ellen Dolan [who succeeded Smith as Margo when she exited ATWT in 1989]. It's great.' So I went to the screen test and I was screen-testing with Bobby Woods [Bo Buchanan].... And then I remember [OLTL executive producer] Linda Gottlieb calling me upstairs going, 'You know, we're really looking for a redhead.' I said, 'Well, a redhead screen-tested. You should hire her.' She said, 'Well, would you be interested in being a redhead?' I was like, 'Sure, I'll be a redhead, but you've got a redhead downstairs and she was great.' So it took about a week but then they called and said I had the part."

She continues, "Two weeks later, I had already dyed my hair red and I was getting ready to go in for my first day of work and Doug Marland calls and says, 'Ellen Dolan is leaving the show. Will you please come back?' I said, 'Oh, Doug, I can't.' He said, 'Why? Why can't you?' I said, 'My hair is red. My first day of work is tomorrow. I can't. I'm already locked in.' He goes, 'If I can get you out of it, would you consider it?' And I had to seriously sit there and think, and I went, 'I don't think I can, Doug. I've given them my word.' And he was like, 'Of course you did.' And that was that."

Ultimately, Smith went on to play OLTL's Nora for over 20 years and has even played the beloved character more recently on its ABC sister soap, General Hospital. Obviously, those years are filled with "so many wonderful" memories for the actress, but the first one that comes to her mind is a particularly fun hanky-panky moment between Bo and Nora.

"One of the funny things was when she ends up staying the night for the first time and there's just underwear and bras hanging from chandeliers, literally, underwear hanging from chandeliers, and we're under a throw on his couch in his suite at the hotel, because I think he was still staying there, and Asa [Philip Carey] comes in and knocks on the door and he just keeps calling me filly. 'Hey, little filly.' And I keep saying, 'Nora!'" she recalls. "That dynamic was really great. It was always fun to have that dynamic happening.... We were allowed to dance, we were allowed to do a lot of things that we wanted to do. We had one scene where [director] Jill Mitwell just kept the cameras rolling and we just danced around the empty house. We just moved into a new house, so we danced. It was fun."

For more from Hillary B. Smith on some of her favorite soap opera memories and moments, check out SOD's full interview with the actress here.

What do you think about ATWT trying to steal Hillary B. Smith from OLTL before she had even started? What are some of your favorite Nora Buchanan moments? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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