Constance Towers: Classy, Beautiful, Talented, Woefully Underused
By Miss Kris
In the past few years or so, too many talented veteran actors and actresses have been gathering dust in the attic, or sub-basement, if you will, of GH. Rachel Ames, Leslie Charleson, Denise Alexander, Stuart Damon, Jacklyn Zeman, Wally Kurth, and my confessed favorite, Constance Towers, have languished so far from the front burner they’re no longer on the stove. This is a shame, as these are capable actors who can easily be integrated into storylines by writers who understand and respect the multigenerational nature of the soap genre. For the purpose of this column, I will concentrate on the talented and charismatic, but criminally underused and misused Constance Towers, who gives her all as the dastardly Helena Cassadine.
Helena is a villainess, and with competent writing, can be a very powerful one at that. In 1998, when I first started watching, Helena was involved in “saving” Katherine Bell so that she can use her against her despised second son Stefan. What first struck me about Constance Towers was her elegance and effortless screen presence. She commanded the scenes she was in and held my attention every second she was onscreen. She was extraordinarily beautiful, with classic bone structure and luminous blue-green eyes, impeccably dressed, coiffed, and accessorized. The icy perfection she embodied as Helena made her appear formidable, a woman you didn’t want to mess around with, to say the least! From 1998 to 2001, Constance, though not on contract, was featured often on GH and quickly gained popularity as the evil Empress Cassadine whom you loved to hate. In 2002, however, once Robert Guza, who had left at the end of 2000 and was replaced by Megan McTavish as headwriter, with Jill Farren Phelps as executive producer, had returned, Helena was swiftly banished to Antarctica and a newer, younger villainess was introduced; Faith Roscoe, a mob widow who would soon become Sonny’s nemesis. It was over a year before Helena was seen again, at Stefan’s funeral for a brief, two-day appearance. She appeared again two months later as the “Ghost of Christmas Past” in Luke’s “A Christmas Carol” fantasy.
In January 2004, she resurfaced once again, this time to play the “evil old witch” who was trying to keep the Disney fantasy couple, Nikolas and Emily, apart. This storyline lasted through most of 2004 and into 2005, with Helena popping in and out to cause trouble. While it was great to see Constance on screen again, seeing her limited to being a foil for Nikolas and Emily was disappointing. The delicious scenes between Helena and Luke and Helena and Jax that dazzled a few years before were now a rarity, as Helena’s sole focus, her obsession, was Nikolas. It was as if Helena had been reduced to being a “bad granny” and nothing more. Now, in 2006, Helena’s latest obsession is Nikolas’s son, John…er…Spencer (Wait till she hears that name!).
GH has such a talented and experienced actress in Constance Towers. I’ve met her and corresponded with her through letters and she is a class act. She’s intelligent, professional, thoughtful, and has some great ideas of where she would like to see her character go. Helena can be so much more than merely a fairy-tale villainess. Since Helena squandered the Cassadine fortune in her quest to unfreeze Stavros and dominate the world, one would think she might be going after all the men with money in Port Charles to try to rebuild her fortune and her power (*ahem* Edward) Or, she could be given a love interest, possibly someone so much like Stavros that she finds him irresistible and discovers that she is capable of loving again. A love interest might make her seem a little more human, and therefore more viable a character. She can retain her controlling, manipulative, and even downright evil ways if she were paired with someone who could serve as an ally. An ally that would not be young, female, and in love with Nikolas, that is! Constance is a very attractive woman who has chemistry with so many of her male co-stars that it would be a shame not to take advantage of that chemistry. If not a new love interest , at least a boy-toy! Where is the sexy Andreas when we need him? GH should be doing all the can to hold on to such a gem of an actress who is being sought out by soaps on rival networks, such as CBS’s “The Bold and The Beautiful”
The Powers that Be at GH, in a misguided quest for the almighty demographics, have cast aside too many talented actors, including Constance, and the show, in my opinion, is suffering for it. For what it’s worth, I am 30 years old, clearly in the desired demographic and I want to see more of Constance, Rachel, Denise, Leslie, and Wally and less of Sonny, Carly, Jason, Emily, and Sam.
Questions? Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.