Mamma mia! Fans of The Young and the Restless finally met the matriarch of the Rosales family last week, with All My Children alum Eva LaRue (ex-Maria Santos) stepping into the shoes of Rey (Jordi Vilasuso) and Lola's (Sasha Calle) mom, Celeste. Viewers are certainly enjoying seeing LaRue back in daytime after an eight-year absence, with her first scenes serving as a great reminder that her talent is a force to be reckoned with. And, as it turns out, it looks like Celeste is a force to be reckoned with, as well!
Lola was happy to see her mom make a surprise appearance at her bridal shower on Wednesday, June 26, but the joyous feeling started to fizzle as soon as Celeste began dissing the sexy lingerie gifted to her by her friends. From some of the storyline teases LaRue told Soap Central in our recent interview with the actress, this will only be the beginning of the trouble Celeste might bring to Lola and Kyle's (Michael Mealor) summer wedding. Keep reading to find out what's in store as the mama bear continues to make herself at home in Genoa City and just how long viewers can expect to see LaRue on the Y&R canvas.
Soap Central: I speak for the fans and for everyone here at Soap Central: it is so exciting to have you back in daytime! How did all of this come together?
Eva LaRue: Thank you! It was literally out of the blue. I got a phone call from my agent saying, "Hey, Y&R just reached out to see if you'd be up for doing a seven- or eight-episode arc on the show, playing somebody's mom." And I said, "Yeah, that sounds fun!" I've got a lot of friends there now who have migrated from All My Children and a zillion friends over there that I've just known for a long time, like Michelle Stafford [Phyllis Summers] and Peter Bergman [Jack Abbott] and Joshua Morrow [Nicholas Newman], just a bunch of friends that I've known for ages. And so, I thought, "Yeah, that would be really fun." But it literally came out of the blue, just out of nowhere. But it was a happy surprise!
Soap Central: How did you know so many people from Y&R? Was it from the events you'd attend while you were on All My Children?
LaRue: Yeah, it was from the Emmys and stuff, but I'm from California, so even though I was doing All My Children in New York, I had met Peter Bergman way before. I was on Santa Barbara, and I went to a Christmas party at Peter's house when I was married to John O'Hurley, because he and John O'Hurley had been good friends. So that was the first time that I had met him and his wife. And the funny thing about that Christmas party, and he just brought it up again, too, he said, "I remember the first time I met you was at my Christmas party!" And I said, "You know what's funny about that Christmas party? I met Lisa Rinna [ex-Billy Reed, Days of our Lives] for the first time at that Christmas party, because she was dating Peter Barton." She had not started at Days of our Lives yet, and I had not started on All My Children yet, but we both started the same year, and we met beforehand at that party, just based on who we were with. Isn't that funny? It's such a small world.
Soap Central: As soon as news broke that you were coming to Y&R, people immediately started speculating that you and Peter would be working together. You guys seem like such a great on-screen match. Will you be sharing many scenes?
LaRue: [Laughs] So far, I've only had one scene with Peter, mostly by way of him being Kyle's dad. But Celeste takes that moment [seriously], because she is a huge fangirl of Jack. I mean, a big fangirl. She's read all about him in magazines and just thinks he's the handsomest thing, so when she meets him, she straight up fan-girls him, which has been really fun.
Soap Central: Oh, my gosh, it sounds hilarious. Have you ever been a fangirl like that in real life?
LaRue: Yes! I totally fan-girl for Nicole Kidman. I just think she's amazing!
Soap Central: You starred on CSI:Miami for a long time, so, how has it been to jump back into the world of soaps after getting used to primetime?
LaRue: The biggest difference is the anxiety about the lines. There is just so much dialogue. Thank God The Young and the Restless is one of the holdout shows that still shoots the way we used to on All My Children -- and not even how we ended on All My Children, but how we first started on All My Children, which is one show a day, and that's it. And Y&R only shoots Tuesday through Friday, which is unheard of. They tape a fifth show, kind of sprinkled through the week, but it's super easy. All the other shows are doing two or three shows a day, which is just mind-numbing. It's just a mind-numbing amount of dialogue to memorize. I remember when I left All My Children, that's what we were doing there, and the stress level was just off the charts for me before I left. And now, going back, this is just really awesome. But still, the difference between daytime and nighttime, the amount of pages you have to shoot each day, the amount of memorizing, is just so much more.
Soap Central: You recently did a fun All My Children reboot with Kelly Ripa [ex-Hayley Santos, AMC] and Ryan Seacrest. Did that help get you back in "soap opera mode" at all?
LaRue: [Laughs] No, because we didn't do a real one. That was just like a super fun thing, where we all had one little line. But what was funny about it is that we all sat down and were talking about how All My Children still has such a huge fan base. Even after being on CSI for eight years, most people would still come up to me on the street and say, "Oh, my God, Maria Santos!" I mean, they knew me from CSI as well, but almost always from All My Children first and foremost. So, we were all talking about how it would be great if they rebooted All My Children -- but not like a typical soap opera, because unfortunately, it has gone from 15 soap operas to four, and they're forever threatening to cut another one loose. So, I just think that if they rebooted All My Children, they should do it in some newfangled, nighttime soap way. They could do it like a nighttime soap, so it has a little more legs [for modern viewers], because if they took All My Children back to cable or something, it just wouldn't live there. But if they restructured it completely, if they did a deconstructed soap opera with the same premise and some of the same people that used to be on our show, then that would be amazing. There's a built-in audience!
Soap Central: Yes, the fans are definitely still there and still passionate about the show. And speaking of All My Children, you going to Y&R is sort of like AMC 2.0 because there are so many former Pine Valley people in Genoa City -- Melissa Claire Egan, Elizabeth Hendrickson, and Jordi Vilasuso, who's your son on Y&R. Have you worked with any of them yet?
LaRue: I've worked with Jordi, but he came onto All My Children after I had already left the show, so we had never had the chance to work together before. But he is awesome. I haven't had a chance to work with Missy yet or Lizzy, but I ran into them, and it was like "old home week," which was really great. And Michelle Stafford, even though she wasn't on All My Children, we've known each other for decades, and she's a good friend of mine. And then, of course, Thorsten Kaye [ex-Zach Slater, AMC; Ridge Forrester, B&B] is across the hall at The Bold and the Beautiful, and Don Diamont [Bill Spencer, B&B; ex-Brad Carlton, Y&R] is also across the hall there. Don is married to one of my best friends, Cindy Ambuehl. I haven't seen him yet at work, but I see him all the time in real life. It's just great! And Joshua Morrow I've known for decades; he's awesome and has been a friend of mine. So, it's just been awesome. Really, really fun.
Soap Central: It seems you'll be having lots of scenes with Sasha Calle. She's quite new to Y&R, but the fans seem to really love her. What has it been like for you to work with her?
LaRue: I am SO enjoying working with her. She's a really great actress -- so open and emotionally available and super creative. I love, love, love working with her. And with Jordi, too! I've had some great scenes with both of them. I had my first scene with Michelle Stafford, and I'm super psyched about working with her, too. And it's a very interesting couple of scenes. I thought that the first time I'd come up against her might be a little more butting heads, but no -- it's just the opposite. It's just a big lovefest! [Laughs] Celeste and Phyllis are completely on the same page about something specific, and it's really interesting.
Soap Central: Wow, usually on soap operas, they play powerful women against each other and amp up the catfights. So, it's really interesting that they chose to play Celeste and Phyllis the other way. Do you think that will last?
LaRue: I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, we do butt up against each other, but right now, it's a lovefest. It's a really cool bunch of scenes.
Soap Central: From what we've seen on-screen and the future storyline teases we know of, it seems Celeste is pretty headstrong. Would you say that's a fair assessment of her?
LaRue: Yeah, she is a fierce mama. She really is a fierce, protective lioness. There's no malice in it, though. It's just really that her three kids are her whole life. Like, that's all she has, and even though they're grown up and they have their own lives, she's really having a hard time differentiating between what is her business and what is her kids' business.
Soap Central: I think that happens for a lot of parents and will probably be pretty relatable for a lot of viewers!
LaRue: Oh, totally! I'm sort of living it at home [with my daughter, Kaya] at the same time! [Laughs]
Soap Central: Just for fun for your All My Children fans, can you tease whether you think Celeste is more like Maria's dad, Hector Santos, or her mom, Isabella Santos?
LaRue: Oooohhhhhh, wow! That's a good question. She's a little bit of both, but right now, you're right -- I think she's feeling a little more like Hector! She's not as conservative as Hector Santos, but she is definitely bullheaded, and she's got her ideas of how things should be done.
Soap Central: Rumor has it Celeste wasn't originally planned to be a long-term character, but that may have changed now that you're in the role. Is that true?
LaRue: I don't know! They still pretty much on paper have only asked me to do seven episodes, but I think I'm at ten now. And... when I come back from my three-week vacation, we're shooting the wedding, so I'm working four episodes that week, and then I'm slated to do another two after that. So, I don't know -- I think we're all just playing it by ear right now.
Soap Central: I love that you're open to seeing where it leads, because so many people are happy to have you back.
LaRue: Yeah, I am. It's really fun, and I love, love, love the atmosphere on set. Every set has its own energy and it's made up of its own people, and Y&R just has a really laid-back, fun, cool energy. I'm really enjoying being there.
Soap Central: From what you've seen of Celeste, does it seem there's long-term potential for the character?
LaRue: Oh, definitely. I don't think it's ever hard to sew a character in or sew a character out. They've made the fangirl connection with her and Jack, and I could see more happening there. And there will be a lot of drama coming up, because it is a soap opera! There will be some drama coming up when I come back from vacation. But I actually don't know what -- everybody keeps speculating what the wedding will hold, but nobody quite knows for sure what's happening. And I've heard some other rumors about [Celeste's future], but I don't know what is planned. I truly don't know!
Soap Central: Something the daytime fans love is that you've always been really proud of your time on soap operas, when not all actors are. Why have you remained such a champion of the genre?
LaRue: I've said it a zillion times before, but I would really love to see any other actress in any other genre [try filming a soap opera]. I'd love to see Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, and Cate Blanchett spend one day on a soap opera, doing seven scenes and 30 pages of dialogue, produced in the same way, with three cameras, with the same production value, on a shoestring budget compared to a feature film or an HBO series, and see if they pulled out any different qualities than what every actress on soap operas is doing. People always say, "Oh, it's such a great training ground for actors." Um, yeah, it is! It's an amazing training ground because you have to know your stuff and you have to be able to pull it out and you have to be able to do it quickly in one take and move on. One take! Can you imagine giving these other actresses one take with thirty pages of dialogue?! It would throw them into a spinout -- a complete emotional, psychological spin. That's why I really stand behind the work that actors do day in and day out on soaps. They get a bad rap, that it's overly this or overly that, but the bottom line is that it's great work. People are doing fantastic work, given no time, and on no budget, and they're doing it year after year for decades and decades and decades. It's amazing.
What do you think about our interview with Eva LaRue? What are your first impressions of Y&R's Celeste? Would you like to see Rey and Lola's mom stick around long-term? If so, what future storylines would you like to see for the character? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.