Friday, June 10, 2011

Interview (GH): Brianna Brown, Happy to Bring the Crazy

When Brianna Brown’s character on “General Hospital,” Lisa Niles, first came to Port Charles back in January of last year, she seemed like a normal girl. An ex-girlfriend of Patrick Drake, she got a job at the hospital with Patrick and Robin, but soon, she let her crazy flag fly. I spoke with Brianna about playing Lisa, and she gave me a peek into what dastardly deeds Lisa has planned for the folks of Port Charles.

Daytime Dial: When you first got the role of Lisa, did you know she was going to turn out to be pretty wacko, or did she kind of evolve that way?

Brianna Brown: I was waiting for the craziness to happen, because when the role was first pitched to me, they told me that it was going to be a “Fatal Attraction”-type story line. So, I was waiting for the craziness to begin.

DD: When it comes to playing Lisa, it would be real easy to bring out the crazy, all the time. How do you bring out the humanity in Lisa as well?

BB: I try really hard to make logical sense of why she does what she does. I try to rationalize her behavior. Even though I find it ridiculous and completely uncalled for, I try to figure out, as an actor, what could make me really upset. If I didn’t have any morals, how I would take it to the next four levels? So, I try to find something to really motivate why she’s doing what she’s doing, so it’s not just the idea that this person is just crazy.

DD: What do you like best about playing her?

BB: I like that every week I have no idea what I’m going to be doing next. I love how she jumps in front of cars and then accuses other people of hitting her. She’s blamed everyone else for everything. And that she can go from completely frightening and in a state of rage to “I’m completely fine and it’s you,” which is fun and challenging as an actress to be able to play.

DD: What have been some of your favorite scenes that you’ve filmed?

BB: Well, jumping in front of the car was really fun, because it was just so absurd. And I would have to say when I had Robin trapped in the cabin and she was drugged — before she fell into the well. It’s so much fun getting to play with Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thompson anyway, and all the scenes are really fun. The scenes happening right now are among my favorites as well.

DD: Speaking of what’s coming up for the viewers, the hospital is on lockdown, and you are holding people hostage. What can you tell me about that?

BB: It’s gonna be good! Those have been some of my favorite scenes that I’ve shot so far. I haven’t seen the final edits yet, but I really think viewers are going to be on the edge of their seats.

DD: When you are filming heavy scenes like that, do you all crack jokes to break the tension between takes?

BB: With these scenes coming up, we were all a little bit more focused, because there’s a lot going on. After the fact, definitely. One of the days after shooting, Kimberley, Kristen and I all went out and got a drink. We’re like: “Oh, that was heavy. We should go have a drink together.”

What I can tell you is that this hospital lockdown/hostage story line is going to be really good. I mean, it’s always been really good, but I’m especially excited about these scenes. It will be fun to see what happens after, too.

DD: Were you nervous about the fans lashing out at you because of your character’s attempts at breaking up one of the show’s favorite supercouples?

BB: I was warned right away that it was a major relationship that my character would be breaking up. And I was forewarned: “People are going to hate you. Don’t read the message boards, and grow really thick skin.” So I make it a point of never reading the message boards. I just don’t do that to myself. And I’ve had to fend off some Twitter people who were very upset and defensive of their couple, which I understand — and, I was forewarned.

I think 99 percent of the fans will differentiate between me and my character, but there are those that do take it to the next level, or they just want to be nasty for nasty’s sake. But I’m glad that they’re affected and not indifferent. That would be worse — that they were indifferent to my character. It means the writing and what I’m doing are believable enough for certain people. So, I’ll take it as a compliment.

DD: After everything that Lisa puts the other characters through, especially Robin and Patrick, do you try to take them out for drinks to make up for her?

BB: (Laughs) No, but I have bought coffee. I have bribed them with, “I’m sane — with coffee!” But they know I’m sane, and all three of us have hung out outside of work. Anytime I’ve had to be especially nasty to Kimberly, we always make sure to give each other a hug afterward. It’s funny, because when people come on set tours, and they see that she and I are talking, their eyes kind of bug out. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, they don’t hate each other.”

DD: Lisa briefly dated Dr. Steve Webber and had a chance to turn her life around and to be good. Were you sad for Lisa that she is so far gone that she couldn’t make the right choice?

BB: Yeah, I think it’s — I would hope — an exaggeration of a lot of people who are stuck in unhealthy relationships and stuck in the past and obsessing over someone who doesn’t want to be with them. We go a level or four beyond that. It is sad to see that, but I try to see the truth that there are people who would go back to the guy who is abusive. Or they’ll sabotage a good relationship. So that was my justification of why she’s continually doing it. I loved working with Scott Reeves, so I was like: “Oh no! We’re not going to be playing together all the time.” And Brandon Barash, that’s been really fun getting to know him, with his character blackmailing me and all the scenes we’ve been able to play together.

DD: Those scenes with Lisa and Johnny are so much fun to watch. How is Brandon to work with?

BB: The two of us are just such musical-theater dorks anyway, because it’s in our background. We goof around a lot and talk in weird voices, and all of a sudden we’re looking at each other, and he’s a mobster and I’m psycho. It’s just really funny, to go from being really dorky theater kids to being “our characters.”

DD: Aside from “General Hospital,” you’ve got quite a few feature-film credits on your resume. Any plans to return to that genre?

BB: I love “General Hospital,” and I love doing TV. I’ve done a lot of prime-time TV and films prior to working on “General Hospital.” I’m sure at some point I will go back to doing more film and prime-time television. I love a good film. Just like I love a good story line. And whenever I get to act and do great work, whatever the genre, it’s just such a rush and a blessing as an actor.