Interview with Crystal Chappell

AE: You’ve had a long career in soaps, which are made in a very corporate-driven kind of environment. What are you most looking forward to about working on a more artist-driven project, that’s possible because of the web?
Oh, well, it’s total freedom! Comparatively, it’s just total freedom. Because you have choices. I mean, on the one hand, it’s exciting because it is so freeing. On the other hand, they are all your decisions, and people will react accordingly. [laughs] “It’s not enough, it’s too much.” But I think those of us who have been around for a long time realize that you’re not going to be able to please everybody. You can only be happy with it yourself.

But it’s apples and oranges. It’s so liberating to be able to create the kind of show you want to create. And right now you can only do that on the web, and have an audience.

AE: What was your favorite scene to film of the last year and a half of the Otalia relationship?
I loved the whole lead up to the wedding, and in particular the graveyard scene, where Olivia finally tells Natalia that she’s in love with her. They built that so nicely, and honestly by the time we got to tape those scenes, we were relieved when they were finished. We were all so relieved. Not just Jessie and myself, but you know the crew, because they had been waiting for this for a long time.

I love, love, love the gazebo scenes. I thought they were beautifully written. I thought Jessica was brilliant in them. And certainly the first kiss, which was actually fun and whimsical. Those were the three groups of scenes which I thought were really, really fun for the couple.

AE: There’s been a big complaint among viewers about the fact that Olivia and Natalia haven’t had a realistic physical relationship. When did you find out that these two characters weren’t going to have the same kind of physical relationship that the straight couples on the show were having?
Well, the first kiss I think aired in January, and at that point I just assumed that once these two women said that they were in love with each other that there would be more physical intimacy. I just assumed that. So I imagine at the same time as everyone else! [laughs] You know, I only got my scripts a week in advance and so once I started to see that, I mean, I certainly can’t say anything beyond that, but would I have moved it along personally? Yes, I would have. I would have liked to have seen more intimacy, I would have moved it along much quicker.

AE: Where does that come from, your desire to have moved it along more quickly?
Well I’m just thinking in terms of when they admitted their feelings for each other. Once these two had decided that they were in love with each other, knowing that they had huge obstacles in their way, but it’s a natural impulse to hold each other and it’s a natural impulse to kiss, in my opinion. I think that there’s a lot to be said for yearning. And I think we played that very well. I think they wrote it very well over the last year or so.

But at some point it seems unreal that you wouldn’t just kiss somebody hello or goodbye. I think then that becomes a natural part of your relationship. That’s been a natural part of my relationships! [laughs] Whether it’s just a friendship or something more, I think that’s just something that happens. So it seemed a little unbelievable. And I think that you could see it onscreen.

I’ve said it before — I told Jessica I’m just going to come in and pull your hair, because at this point I don’t know what else to do. [laughs] I gotta let ya know that I like ya! And that’s what kids in grade school do, right? But that’s, ultimately, it’s the big reason why I felt the web would be a very good place to go to tell this particular story.

AE: Did you feel like it was because of pressure from Proctor & Gamble or CBS or some other entity?
It’s really not for me to say, because I don’t know. Regardless, my choice in the matter is to respect other people’s decisions, whatever their reasons are, and to go on and create something that I can control.

AE: So you weren’t running into someone’s office and demanding a kiss?
No, I’m a smarter person than that [laughs], I like to think.

AE: Have you seen this video on YouTube, “Hitler Finds Out Otalia Won’t Kiss”?
Oh, god, yes! Frickin’ hilarious! I love it!

AE: But very cathartic to watch for those of us who are frustrated.
It is! No, I did speak with people. I spoke with P&G, and I spoke with, certainly with Ellen [Wheeler, Executive Producer] and Jill [Lorie Hurst, Head Writer], and I gave them my opinion about it, because they were available to hear it, you know?

Beyond that, all you can do is walk out of a room and say I hope they make the best decision for themselves. And there you go. We’re on the web.

AE: Did you and Jessica, as actors, ever make the decision, “You know what? Our characters are kissing, maybe they’re even having sex, they’re not showing it onscreen, but we know it as actors, and we’re going to play this scene as if we’ve already progressed to that level”?
No. I didn’t feel like that would be honest. It’s hard to do something like that and tell their story, because that’s not what was on the page. Toward the end, like in the last couple of days of shooting, yes. But up until then, no, it was about these women trying to even decide to move in with each other, you know?

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