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The Days and Nights of Finola Hughes : British Actress Checks Out of 'General Hospital' to Play a Villian in New ABC Movie

October 21, 1990|SUSAN KING | Times Staff Writer

Finola Hughes has made a momentous decision.

"I am going to cut my hair," she said, running her fingers through her long brown tresses.

"I am so sick of it. It's so boring and it doesn't do anything. It just hangs there. I have been talking about cutting it for two years, but I finally made the appointment."

The British ballerina-turned-actress sat on the floor of her cluttered dressing room at ABC during her lunch break from the popular daytime soap "General Hospital." The walls were filled with photos of James Dean ("I like his face"), Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson, Clark Gable and clips of "Twin Peaks."

Hughes had agreed to give a rare interview, not to discuss her hair but her role as the strong-willed Anna Devane Lavery on "General Hospital" and her newest venture into prime time, playing a villain opposite "All My Children's" Susan Lucci in the ABC thriller, "The Bride in Black," airing Sunday at 9 p.m.

"I really like playing a bad person," Hughes said. "It's great fun. You get the best lines and you get to play around with people. I played a bad person to Susan Lucci before (in the TV movie 'Secret Passions')."

"The Bride in Black" is loosely based on Francois Truffaut's "The Bride Wore Black."

"I never saw the first one," she said. "Is there one?"

Hughes may not see "The Bride in Black" either. "I gave my television away. I don't watch any of it.

"I used to watch MTV. The dancing they do on the videos, that's really cool."

But what about "Twin Peaks"?

"Are you kidding?" she said. "Look at my wall. I get that recorded for me."

Since checking into "General Hospital" nearly six years ago, Hughes has made several forays into prime time, including a stint on "L.A. Law."

It's her friendships with the cast and crew of "General Hospital" that keep Hughes interested in the series.

"That is the whole thing," she said. "You come in and get to do some work and have a blast."

Hughes laughed. "If half the things that happened to Anna happened to me, I know I would be committed," she said. "This guy from my past came back from 13 years ago and messed up my life for a while. We have got rid of him and now I am a hostage. We are in a hostage situation on the top of the hospital, which happens all the time."

After an appearance in the 1983 movie "Stayin' Alive," in which she played a catty dancer who bewitched John Travolta, Hughes decided to move from England to California.

"I really like it here," she said. "It's a really welcoming place. I just like the fact that if you want to do something, you can pretty much get it together and do it."

Hughes didn't work for a long time. "I was just horrible," she said, laughing. "I was horrible at auditions, it was a nightmare. I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I still don't have a clue, but I can fake it perhaps now."

Getting a part in "General Hospital" was a fluke. She learned from someone at ABC that the show's then-producer Gloria Monty was looking for an actress to play Anna.

"I met with Gloria and that was it," Hughes said.

Hughes doesn't like to talk about her past. Ask her why she was drawn to ballet at a young age and she quickly changes the subject.

The actress did say she still goes to dance and acting classes.

"I kind of like keeping in touch with students," she said. "I like being in that atmosphere. I really enjoy classes. It's not that I am a perpetual student. I have never been that, even when I was growing up. I enjoy the questioning. Instead of being accepting or complacent, I challenge and question."

Hughes stretched out her long dancers' legs and leaned up against her closet door. "I got Gene Kelly's autograph once," she said with pride. "I did a Royal Command performance (for Queen Elizabeth) and Gene Kelly was the host. I went to his room and gave him the program and said, 'I never do this but you have to sign this, you have to.' And he said, 'I understand.' "

The Royal Command performance, said Hughes, was "one of the coolest things I ever did. I remember I was standing backstage with my partner and thinking, 'I really want to throw up now.' All I could say was, 'Oh my God. Oh my God.' But it was cool."

And it's still cool for Hughes on "General Hospital."

"The Bride in Black" will air Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC. "General Hospital" airs Monday-Friday at 2 p.m. on ABC.

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