Soap Opera Digest, 1994
A NEW AGE OF INNOCENCE
As a 23-year veteran of ONE LIFE TO LIVE who has taken home three Emmys for
her portrayal of Victoria Lord Buchanan, Erika Slezak has clout. “I know a lot
of people obviously think that I have some sort of influence upstairs,” she
admits, “because whenever they want anything they come to me. Well, because I've
been here as long as I have, I can go upstairs and at least get in somebody's
But despite her lofty reputation, Slezak is a team player who hasn't quite
gotten used to her stature on the show. "I'm always surprised when people don't
see me the way I see myself," she says. "To me, I'm still kinda like the
23-year-old kid who started on the show. I'm still unsure about a lot of things,
and I'm always surprised when (my castmates) come up to me and go, 'What should
we do? What do you think? You know what to do' And I say to myself, 'I
do? Oh yeah, I do.' "
Not that everyone on OLTL who looks up to Slezak necessarily likes her, too.
No matter. "I would hope that the cast respects me as I respect most of them,"
she reflects. "I hope they see me as a nice person because I think I am,
basically, a nice person. I do know that there are people out there who probably
can't stand me. That's their problem. I have personal relationships with
some of the people because we are friends, and some are just acquaintances
because we work together and that's about it.
"When I first joined the show, I was part of the younger
group, and in those days the older people didn't talk to the younger people,"
Slezak continues. "Now I am part of the older group, and I try and talk with the
others, but I have no social life with them, so I don't really know them very
well. And I really don't know what they think of me."
Included in OLTL's older group are the two men involved in Viki's
controversial romantic triangle: Clint Ritchie (Clint) and Roy Thinnes (Sloan).
Fans were incensed when the writers drove a wedge between Viki and Clint,
pushing her in Sloan's direction. And they weren't alone.
"Somehow, somebody got ahold of something I supposedly said: that I
was extremely unhappy with the story," Slezak recalls. "Normally I don't pay
attention to things like that, but yes, I have very strong feelings one way or
the other, and it had more to do with the way the story was handled. They have a
tendency upstairs to wonderfully start something and then get bored with it;
they skip the middle part and get right to the chase. Suddenly, Viki and Clint
are at odds with each other and divorcing."
"Clint says, 'Billy is a homosexual, I don't want him in the house.' Is that
a reason for a divorce?" Slezak asks in bewilderment. " 'Lee Ann should never
see her child.' You don't divorce a husband of 12 years over that. Then suddenly
Viki and Sloan are together, and even the wardrobe woman said to me, 'When did
you and Sloan fall in love? When did this happen?' She said, 'I watch every day
and I didn't see it.' Everything evidently happened off-camera, and the audience
got very angry about that."
As tragic as it was, Slezak contends that the aftermath of Ritchie's tractor
accident last May, which left him critically injured, might have inadvertently
saved the story. "By Clint being away for the entire summer," she explains, "it
allowed Viki and Sloan to have a relationship, instead of Viki falling madly in
love and going back to Clint, which is what they had planned. We treaded water
for a while, and as a result, [Viki and Sloan] naturally came together."
While stressing her special relationship with Ritchie, Slezak confides that
working with Thinnes has been a joy. And the fans are taking notice. "The mail
that I've been getting indicates that this is a different Viki, a younger Viki,
a whatever Viki," she smiles. "And I finally feel that to fall in love with
Sloan is fine, because in the beginning I felt that because the way the story
was handled, Viki could never leave Clint over nothing."
"Sloan is a wonderful character; he's interesting and fascinating," Slezak
raves. "It's fun being romantic again, and Roy is such a gentleman. He is really
just a pleasure. It is always awkward playing love scenes because you must
establish that these are the boundaries: We are madly in love on-screen,
we are great pals off-screen, nothing crosses over at all. I've been in this
business a long time, and you have to set boundaries. Not with Roy, though; he's
such a professional. We both know at the end of the day that we go home. He's
got [his wife] Katie and [daughter] Mary Katherine, and I've got Brian and
Michael and Amanda, and they are our lives."
Now for the million-dollar question: Who does Viki belong with – Clint or
Sloan? "I have no feeling about it one way or the other," shrugs the consummate
pro. "I'll do whatever they write. But frankly, I'm almost wondering if it isn't
too late for Viki and Clint…."
JUST THE FACTS:
August 5 (" a real Leo")
Children: Michael, 14; Amanda, 12.
Soap Watching: "I still love GENERAL HOSPITAL, but I don't watch it as
much as I used to. Most of my favorites are going, like Jane Elliot (ex-Tracy),
and Kin Shriner (Scotty) just left. I'm just like any other audience member; I
get used to a face and I say, 'Yeah, that's the face I want. I want to see him
or her do this in this way and say it like that,' and then they give you new
faces and you go, 'Awww.' "
In The Age Of Innocence: "There was a brilliant performance given
by an extraordinary actor named Brian Davies," laughs Slezak, referring to her
husband. "He plays about the only cheerful character in the whole movie. We all
saw it, and I laughed. He was wonderful, this jolly character who obviously
didn't care a hoot about what happened to anybody."
THROUGH THE EYES OF HER
We asked some of Erika Slezak's co-stars for three words that best sum up the
kind of person she is. Here's a sampling:
Robert S. Woods (Bo): Classy. Talented. Homebody.
Thinnes (Sloan): Sensitive. Munificent. Quixotic.
(Dorian): Wonderful. Intelligent. No-nonsense.
Kirk Geiger (Kevin):
Eloquent. Lively. An endearing hunk of woman.
(Renee): Fearlessly concentrated. Incredibly talented. Great
Hillary B. Smith (Nora): Classy. Funny. Intelligent.