(ex-hayden, GH, 2015-17; ex-greenlee, ALL MY CHILDREN, 1999-2005, 2008-11; ex-michelle, GUIDING LIGHT, 1995-98)
You’ve been working on a new show. Tell us about it! “Well, it’s called L.A.’S FINEST, and it’s sort of a take on the movie Bad Boys. Its two female leads are Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union. I play Carlene Hart, a crisis management lawyer who has connections in the criminal world and the legal world. She’s a really interesting character because she plays both sides of the spectrum. It’s been really, really fun. I’ve done five episodes so far.”
What has your experience shooting it been like? “I’ve never worked in a more diverse, inclusive, creative, warm environment. It’s honestly been the best experience I’ve had professionally. The first episode I did was their second episode, and everyone was super-kind. You see a lot of women in really high positions there. It’s just really amazing.”
What has Gabrielle Union been like to work with? “I’ve only had one scene with her, but she was really giving and gracious. She really couldn’t have been kinder or cooler, not to mention stunningly beautiful.”
Who else have you worked with? “I’ve had a lot of scenes with Ryan Mcpartlin [ex-hank, PASSIONS], who is wonderful. We have friends in common. He’s friends with Thad Luckinbill [ex-j.t., Y&R], who I know, and Brian Presley [ex-jack, PORT CHARLES]. I’ve also been working with Jake Busey, who is Gary Busey’s son. He is a very interesting, colorful guy! Very nice, like, super-cool. David Fumero’s [ex-cristian, ONE LIFE TO LIVE] on the show, too, but we haven’t crossed paths.”
How did the gig come about? “It was actually one of these things where the audition came in the morning of, and I don’t think I had my nanny that day, so it was just nuts; it was all last-minute and I had to learn [the audition scene] right away. I went in on a Friday and I didn’t hear anything and then on Sunday they said, ‘Will you go in and meet with the director?’ I did that on Monday, and then I found out at like 3 or 4 o’clock that I was starting work the next day. I was excited, but it was also daunting because it was so fast. I was like, ‘Who is this character?!’ That’s the beauty of a soap; you have all this time to really get enmeshed with the character and really figure out who she is.”
How is your 4-year-old daughter, Charlotte? “Charlotte is really amazing. I just had the best morning with her. She brushed her teeth; she said she washed her face. I did not see this because she wanted to be alone. She dresses herself.
She looks like Punky Brewster! I have a friend that calls her Punky because she literally dresses herself in every pattern and color known to man, and I love it. She’s keeping me on my toes, I’ll tell you that.”
Are you still stuck living next to Greg Rikaart (Leo, DAYS)? “Ha! Yes, but I haven’t seen that jerk in a while [laughs]. But I just saw Jane [Elliot, ex-tracy, GH], who’s doing great, except that she’s very sad about Donna [Messina, the head of GH’S hair and makeup department, who passed away in December], as we all are. And I still talk to Michael [Easton, Finn, GH]. I had so much fun working with the two of them.”
Who do you still talk to from AMC? “Cameron [Mathison, ex-ryan] is still in my life, Alicia [Minshew, ex-kendall] is still in my life. I talk to Alicia a lot. Cameron and I text and we try to see each other at least once a month. And I talk to Erin [Torpey, ex-jessica, OLTL] every day. She’s my soul sister. I couldn’t love her more. I keep in touch with Chrishell [Hartley, examanda] and Missy [Claire Egan, ex-annie], too. Oddly enough, I also stay in touch with Michael O’leary [ex-rick], my brother from GUIDING LIGHT. I’m so glad we reconnected because I just love him. He wrote a brilliant play, Breathing Under Dirt, and asked me to be a part of it, but I got back in touch with him too late. I really hope I can be part of it in the future because it’s really good.”
GH fans haven’t given up hope that Hayden may come back to town some day. “I think that’s really sweet. I’m really flattered by that. What can I say? I love the fans. I’ve always loved the fans of daytime. They’re loyal and kind. I mean, some of them can be a little sassy, but I think at the end of the day it’s because they’re passionate about our shows. I appreciate that so much. And actually, I am going to be in Philadelphia in May for this ovarian cancer research charity event with Michael Easton and Lynn Herring [Lucy] and Josh Swickard [Chase] and Wes Ramsey [Peter]. So if there are any fans in that area, come out and see me! I’d love to connect with the fans there.” [Visit coastalentertainment. com for more information.]
What if another soap expressed interest? “I love the soaps and I always will. And I really loved working on soaps. I would never say never.”
Thick As Thieves: Budig, pictured in 2016 as GH’S Hayden, remains close with former co-stars Michael Easton (Finn) and Jane Elliot (ex-tracy).