INTERVIEW: Lauralee Bell gets devious in Lifetime's V.C. Andrews films, shares wishes for The Young and the Restless' Christine
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2021 6:56:53 AM
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The Young and the Restless' Lauralee Bell (Christine Blair) opens up about playing a villain for the first time in Lifetime's Landry Family film series and what fate has in store for Christine's future in Genoa City -- including her prediction about what's on the cards for Paul (Doug Davidson)!

Fans who tune in to Lifetime this weekend to catch The Young and the Restless' Lauralee Bell (Christine Blair) in the network's V.C. Andrews Landry Family film series are in for a total shock. The actress is playing the villain for the first time ever, and she looks so different, even her longtime Genoa City partner in crime, Doug Davidson (Paul Williams), didn't recognize her. As for Y&R fans, she jokes that they'll have to look twice at the screen when she makes her on-screen debut because, "They'll be looking and looking and thinking, 'This must be the wrong thing. She's not in this!'"

The V.C. Andrews' Landry Family film series -- based on the Flowers in the Attic author's Ruby Landry books, published from 1994 to 1996 -- tells the story of Ruby Landry (Raechelle Banno), who begins searching for her estranged father after her beloved Grandmere Catherine (Naomi Judd) passes away and strange family secrets forbid her from seeing her boyfriend, Paul Tate (Sam Duke).

Bell plays the role of Daphne Dumas, the wife of Ruby's estranged father, who isn't thrilled when Ruby shows up and disrupts her perfect life. She appears in both Ruby, which airs on Saturday, March 20, and in Pearl in the Mist, which airs on Sunday, March 21.

The chance to play a devious character for the first time in her career was one of the attractions that drew Bell to the Landry Family series, but it's not just her film acting that she's keen to expand. The actress tells Soap Central that she'd like to bring new sides to Y&R's Christine, as well. But is that even possible? Read on to learn how Bell feels about her current place in Genoa City, how Davidson's Paul -- or lack thereof -- fits into Christine's future, and whether or not fans will see a little bit of evil Daphne shine through the next time Bell appears on the CBS soap.

Soap Central: The last time we spoke, we were celebrating your first full-length film executive producing credit with Lifetime's Nightmare Tenant, and now we are celebrating another first: you playing a devious character, which must have been so fun for you!

Lauralee Bell: It was so fun. I got an email that said, "Here's this delicious character; would you be interested?" And I'm so funny because as soon as I'm offered a project, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, I have to leave my family," and at that point, I had to leave my mom [Y&R co-creator, Lee Phillip Bell]. It's just all of these things that I think of that seem like they'll rock the universe, but in my core, I'm so excited, because I love to work, and I love new projects. But as soon as I saw a couple of her lines, I was like, "I will do whatever I have to to make this work," because I have never been able to say lines like, "If you don't have anything bad to say, don't say anything at all." [Laughs] It's something that you dream about. I've worked opposite people who've been able to say stuff like that, and I've thought, "Oh, that sounds so fun!" So, yes, it was great. And then with the crazy hair and look -- I was explaining to my brother [Bill Bell, Jr.] and sister-in-law [former Y&R head writer and executive producer Maria Arena Bell] last night, I was like, "No, I look really different. I mean, I look much older and really different," and I love that. It's so fun to kind of morph a bit for a role, because I've pretty much stayed always looking like me.

Soap Central: Many actors say that as soon as you put on the clothing of a character and get the hairstyle, it really helps you get into character. Was that your experience, as well?

Bell: Absolutely. You'll very rarely find me wearing red lipstick in real life. I've had requests in photo sessions, and Patti Denney, who's done my makeup forever at The Young and the Restless, has suggested, "What if we try a red today?" And I'm like, "No!" [Laughs] But with Daphne, there's no choice. And the minute I put on that red lipstick, it's very strange how that simple adjustment can really change how I look. I had a driver in Canada who is an avid Y&R watcher, and he would drive me home, and I would see him kind of looking over and not say anything, because I had very teased hair and this red lipstick. And finally, one day, he was like, "I know it's you, but I just don't see you in this!" It was usually late, and there was this little coffee shop that was the only thing open -- they weren't doing room service at the hotel -- so, I'd have to go in there with this on! [Laughs] The alternative was I'd start wiping it off in the car, and then you know when you have stained lips, it almost looks more bizarre?! So, I'd have to walk into this place and order a glass of wine and soup or a sandwich to bring up to my room, and I just thought, here I am in Canada, on this beautiful Victoria island, and I couldn't care less in terms of what people were judging me as, but there must have been funny stories about, "Who is this person?!" [Laughs] So, yes, to answer your question in a very long way, yes, the red lipstick did it, and the very minimal eye makeup also changed, because I'm so fair that my eyebrows and eyelashes are basically blonde, so I have no definition, so that changed it, and then the big hair, and then just the outfits were fantastic. And then this amazing house that we worked in. The same with the girls, how we would come in and how we would go on set would be so drastically different, and that is definitely part of the fun of it, and that 100 percent helps you get into character.

Soap Central: What kind of process did you go through to bring Daphne to life, and was it different than the process you've taken with previous characters you've played?

Bell: I realize that acting is acting, but my first instinct is to be as natural as possible on camera, so for me to have to be over the top is something new to me. I said to the director, "If this comes off in any way too much, then tell me, please!" [Laughs] I don't get upset with criticism. I'm used to that, because we're used to having directors say, "No, try it this way." And I love the challenge of trying to make the adjustment. But [the director said], "No, Daphne is just so out there, that there's really no boundaries." So, that was helpful.

Soap Central: Were you nervous at all to tap into a new side of yourself and play the bad character?

Bell: I was a little nervous the first day because I landed, and within two hours, we were doing a cast read-through. Gil [Bellows, Pierre] had the line before me, and he spoke in a Southern accent, because [the film is set] in the South. And I had this moment of panic, of like, "I have not prepared her with a Southern accent!" I had prepared her with an affected demeanor, so it comes off with some affectation in the voice, but not Southern. So, right when he spoke, they said, "Oh, we decided to not do accents just because we want to keep consistency, and sometimes people are off a little." And I had the biggest sigh of relief, because I wouldn't have known how to do Southern affected without some coaching! [Laughs] Also, I'm so motherly and probably overbearing, whereas Daphne not only isn't, but the kids are a burden to her. She's just really dismissive, and as long as I was able to be heartless and self-indulgent and dismissive, I felt like I had her.

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Pearl In The Mist

Soap Central: Former Days of our Lives star Kristian Alfonso (ex-Hope Brady) is also in the films. Did you two get the chance to work together?

Bell: No! In fact, I didn't know she was in it [at first]. I did the first two, and then the pandemic happened, so I had heard about who they were maybe going to be casting for the last two, but there wasn't a definitive answer before I left. We've been on Instagram, going back and forth each day, saying things like, "Oh, I wish we got to work together!" Or, "Oh, we should do a spinoff with Daphne and her character!" [Laughs] We've just been having so much fun. We're both newfound, tighter friends, because we have this bond. And everyone is just excited for it. I love the way that Lifetime is choosing to premiere it with back-to-back nights two weekends in a row. I found the girls, Raechelle and Karina [Banno, Giselle], the twins, so unbelievably fascinating and natural and likable. So, I'm excited for them, too, because it really is their gig. We're texting every day, too. They're putting me in their stories with fire [emojis] under my character, saying things like, "The most fun evil person to work with!" [Laughs] Which is a comment I've never, ever had! So, it's fun.

Soap Central: I remember all of the gossip around Flowers in the Attic, which is arguably V.C. Andrews' most famous novel. What were your first memories or recollections about her books?

Bell: I wasn't a huge reader, and I'm trying to be better at that; reading more would be something on my New Year's resolution list. I got through a few Judy Blume books, and I had Flowers in the Attic -- I remember it very clearly on my shelf -- but I haven't read it. I would listen to friends talk about it, so maybe I feel like they described so much about it that I felt like I had read it! But when I got this role, it is unbelievable how much weight that title has, because people would be like, "What's the project you're doing?" And I'd say, "V.C. Andrews," and they're like, "Hmm, that name sounds so familiar..." And then the minute you say Flowers in the Attic, they say, "Oh, of course!" [Laughs] And I love the fact that she really broke the mold for pushing it. Little did she know, that really is how it is today. I think people advised her to tone down her books, and she didn't. And that's very impressive, saying, "No, these things have to be talked about and I'm putting it in the book, and that's your choice [to read it] or a parent's right to say their child isn't old enough yet." I would love to go back and watch Flowers in the Attic that Lifetime did a couple of years back.

Soap Central: What can you tease about why fans should tune in to Ruby and Pearl in the Mist?

Bell: I think they're just fun! It's fun entertainment, and I also think it spans a huge generation. I love that people in my generation read the books, and now it's coming to life. I said to my daughter, who is 18, I said, "You're going to love these girls." It's what I love to see, because there's suspense and romance and a little bit of fear. It's a little bit of everything, so, I feel like it's such a great family thing to sit down and watch. In terms of teasing, if it's a Y&R fan, you'll certainly see me how you've never seen me before! [Laughs] I don't come on until an hour in -- the family starts halfway through -- and you'll have to look close at the beginning to see that it's me. Some people still don't really realize it's me. Doug Davidson, I'm best friends with him in real life, and we've worked together for 20 years, and I posted a picture, and he was like, "Oh, my God! It took me awhile [to realize it was you]. I thought you were posting a picture of somebody, but I couldn't tell it was you!" So, it's just a very different thing. I don't know if that's a great tease, but...

Soap Central: It is! We love to see you guys go through the acting Olympics and show us what you can do!

Bell: [Laughs] I feel like that is the case, and I hope that is the case. But I also feel like some people are very territorial of us on the show, and they get freaked out when we do other things, because it's not what they're accustomed to. It's like a family member suddenly shaving their head or something. [Laughs] Where it's like, "I know it's you... but you don't seem like you!" But I think if you love that kind of movie... it's a fun little weekend activity. It's like streaming something, but in a different way.

Soap Central: Does taking on other characters and projects ever give you a fresh perspective on playing Christine?

Bell: Well, I am very eager for Christine to be back to how she used to be when she was called Cricket. I'm such a goofball in real life, so it's very hard for me to always play her so business-minded and serious. And while I thoroughly enjoy that as a woman who has a job and who takes her job seriously and is the best person she can be in it, I miss making dinner with Paul at our apartment to balance out who that person is. I think these days, the same Victoria [Amelia Heinle], now she is just a businesswoman, but women in all kinds of professions have another side to them; it's just when they are in their business mode, that's who they are. So, if anything, I miss the fun side of Christine. It is there, but for anyone who has watched the show for the past five years, they have not seen that; she comes in and arrests somebody or whatever. So, at least I'm not the D.A. anymore, so I'm hoping there is the possibility for more fun! And now that Nina [Tricia Cast] is back, I love a good female friendship, because I feel like so many women for entertainment purposes have to be, you know, kind of scratching at each other and in catfights and stuff, but I miss the true girlfriend relationship. I don't know if they'll go back to that at all. But, you know, I would only use some of this Daphne stuff if I were up against Phyllis [Michelle Stafford]. [Laughs] Otherwise, my wish is that she would chill out a little bit. But we'll see! I don't know what's going to happen. The only time I would bring out darting looks like Daphne would be with Phyllis.

Soap Central: Do you know if you'll be back on-screen anytime soon?

Bell: Yeah, I worked last week, and I worked yesterday. Now, I'm taking a little bit of time again, but I just don't know. I think Tricia and I are both going to kind of see what's up, because she lives in Nashville, so it's a big commitment for her to be back and forth. I think we're going to try and narrow that down and see if there is something in store for us. Otherwise, I'm fine popping in to Y&R and then doing a couple of Lifetime movies a year. Right now, it's a great schedule for me, and then Martha Byrne [ex-Lily Snyder, As the World Turns; ex-Andrea Floyd, General Hospital] and I are always pitching other ideas out in the world. I stay pretty busy when I'm not on Y&R, but I'm always happy to get a call to see if I'm available.

Soap Central: Your very beloved costar Doug Davidson announced on social media that he is done with Y&R. How do you feel about his decision to walk away after all these years? Because that might mean that we won't get to see Paul and Christine having dinner, as you wish!

Bell: I completely understand where he's at. I haven't told anyone this, but I will tell you: On the day that he wrote that, I looked at my horoscope, and it said, "You can't abide by a recent decision or announcement. You need to fight it with everything you've got."

Soap Central: Wow, really?

Bell: Yes! So, I sent that to him, because it was technically an announcement, and I said, "This was my horoscope today, and I ask that you don't [make a firm decision]. Like, never say never." It's a hard time right now. It's very difficult at work. He lives in Santa Barbara, you have to come in and do COVID testing a couple of times a week, and it's very technical at work, where you have to stay the distance and all of that stuff. So, my hope is that while I understand his feelings, my hope is that in time, he may think differently. But I don't know. In my head, I can't fathom not working with him. So, I guess I just don't accept it! [Laughs]

Soap Central: I don't think anyone else is accepting it, either! He has so much support and so much fan love. But I find it so incredibly amazing what your horoscope said on that day. Has that happened to you before, where a horoscope or a fortune cookie predicted the moment in that way?

Bell: No, and I'm not a big horoscope person. I don't check it every day. In fact, I think I saw it first and then someone said, "Did you see what Doug tweeted last night?" I hadn't, so I looked, and it was very subtle, what he said, but I thought, "Let me catch him quick!" We are very close. I think people know that, but they don't understand the extent -- we talk almost daily. So, I feel like he's in my life and that we're together, because we are always talking about whatever is going on in the news, or something that happened at work, or the best new pizza. We cover the gamut, but I just thought [I'd send him that] to make him laugh and because it was bizarre that I happened to look at that, because it was technically an announcement. And it would be exactly my feeling! My feeling would be, well, he can say that, but that can't be! [Laughs] So, I thought, "I'll send this to him."

Soap Central: I love that story. And I guess, for now, if we want to see "Paul and Christine" together, then we just need to start following you two around with cameras in real life, if you're talking all the time!

Bell: Right?! We are very much connected, apart. I haven't seen him in over a year [because of the pandemic], and now that he's not even recognizing me in pictures, I might have to accept that we're not as close as we used to be! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Is there anything else that you'd like to add before I have to let you go?

Bell: I think we covered everything, but I just hope that people give the films a watch. And if they're only going to give them a try, they have to come in after the first hour, because they'll be looking and looking and thinking, "This must be the wrong thing. She's not in this!" [Laughs] But really, it was so much fun, and the girls are so good, and it was such a great crew, and Lifetime is such an amazing group of people. Flowers in the Attic and that whole series did really well, so, we're just hoping that the fans will be supportive of this, as well.

What do you think about our interview with Lauralee Bell? How do you feel about her playing a villain in Lifetime's Ruby and Pearl in the Mist? What would you like to see for Christine's future on Y&R? And do you think Doug Davidson's Paul should be a part of it? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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