Finola Hughes chats about reviving her popular Anna Devane character for a week (and possibly longer?) on ''General Hospital,'' and reminisces about ''Staying Alive''
Credit: Finola Hughes: Jeff Katz

Emmy winner Finola Hughes is bringing her international-spy alter ego Anna Devane back to General Hospital this Friday after a 14-year absence. But Hughes has hardly been sitting around waiting for the call to return to Port Charles: She’s the host of the Style Network makeover show How Do I Look?, the author of a novel about to go into paperback, and the mother of two little boys (Dylan, 5, and Cash, 20 months). We caught up with the lady who shook things up with John Travolta 23 years ago in Staying Alive to find out why she’s revisiting the soap world for a one-week story arc.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You spent seven years as Anna Devane on General Hospital (1985-1992), then took her to All My Children (1999-2003). Why bring her back to GH now?
FINOLA HUGHES The show writers and I really felt that the timing was right. I had been talking to Kimberly [McCullough], who plays my daughter, Robin. [Robin recently found out that her father, played by Tristan Rogers, didn’t die in a boat explosion 14 years ago but is actually alive.] I think it was important for [Robin] because there are a lot of issues there in regards to her parents. They are these agents who have run around the world and basically abandoned their daughter. So really the mom — my character, Anna — had to come back and be involved in some of those discussions. And hopefully this will set Robin up to move forward in her life and perhaps have a relationship with her dad. We have several scenes together, Kimberly, Tristan, and I, which were really well-written, I must say.

Had you been keeping up with the storyline?
Yes. I watch it from time to time because I really enjoy Tony Geary’s work a lot [as Luke Spencer], and I love to see Kimberly. I have a lot of friends who are still on the show.

Is there any possibility you’ll return for a longer storyline?
I don’t know. Perhaps. That’s about all I can say because, you know, it’s not up to me.

But it’s something that you might be interested in?
Yeah, I think I would, actually. The writers are really on the money. They write the way that I enjoy. They deal with emotion and they deal with the underlying feelings that are within the storylines, but not in a sentimental way. And I like that, because I hate sentiment. And the way they flip it is they bring humor into it in quite a human way — a sort of ironic, sarcastic way that works great for my character. For me, that’s a perfect mix. I think it’s a great way to deliver those kinds of stories.

Speaking of those kinds of stories, I’ve started reading your dishy novel about the behind-the-scenes dealings at a soap opera, Soapsuds
Oh, gosh!

…and I’m surprised that they would let you back in the soap world.
[Gasps] Isn’t that funny? I know, I know. It’s weird. I met a couple of people at the Emmys, and they were a little off with me, and I sort of was surprised. Then of course later I was like, Duh! Of course they probably didn’t care for the book. But you know, it’s all in fun. It’s not accurate — it’s a sort of fun look at how my life kind of evolved during that period. And I like to exaggerate. Luckily I didn’t write ”A memoir” on the front. It is a novel. So I’m not gonna be on Oprah anytime soon.

What would you say that most of the public recognizes you from?
I’d say it was General Hospital and, funnily enough, Staying Alive. Then people will say Charmed, and the odd person would say Blossom. And we’re having this amazing surge of teenagers who are watching my Style Network show, How Do I Look?. Young girls sit with their moms and they like the outfits. Then the moms kind of like what we talk about. It seems to be this perfect fit. Then sometimes you’re walking down the street in New York and someone will yell some really obscure episode of something that you did. And you’re like, ”I don’t even know if that was me but sure, hey, right back at you.”

A lot of people around here remembered you with John Travolta in Staying Alive (1983)… What do you remember from that time?
I really enjoyed working with John. I like to laugh when I’m working — and obviously there are serious moments — but John is a giggler and has a great sense of humor. And he really likes to do stupid things. We rehearsed for six weeks or so before we even began filming and we spent a lot of time in the rehearsal studio. And honestly I can remember basically just lying on the floor giggling because he was so ridiculous and enjoyed making people laugh. It’s great fun when you can have a day at work like that.

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