Rachael Hip-Flores and out bisexual actress Nicole Pacent helped revolutionize the medium of web series as Vivian and Aster in Tina Cesa Ward and Susan Miller‘s Anyone But Me. Now, seven years after it first premiered and three years since they took their supposed final bow, Vivian and Aster are back in Anyone But Me: the Lost Scenes.
These scenes are meant to fit within the existing story structure, and give us another glimpse into the lives of two characters we loved very much. Like their characters, Rachael and Nicole have a delightful chemistry, laughing and encouraging each other as the three of us spoke on the phone. The actresses shared their love for the series and their excitement of being able to step into these roles once again.
AfterEllen: How did Susan (Miller) and Tina (Cesa Ward) approach you about this? It’s been a couple of years now since the show has ended. How did they approach you?
Rachael Hip-Flores: I think I was hanging out with Tina and I think she brought it up in person like, hey, this is a thing we are thinking of doing and I was like, “Oh! OK.” I don’t remember it being all at once, I think it was a slow boil for me.
Nicole Pacent: Interestingly enough, I was in Sweden so I remember getting an email and being like, “Whaaaat?!” and my family in Sweden being like, “I guess this is happening.” It was very exciting because it was so out of the blue and they really had made no beans about the fact that it was over. For a long time, it wasn’t even being entertained. It was funny because I thought enough time had gone by that I was super stoked about the idea. It felt like it was time to see everybody, it was so great to work with everybody again. It was great.
AE: Speaking of that, what was it like to work with each other again, as these characters that you had had such an affection and love for, for many years?
RHF: [laughs] It was really fun! I was a little bit worried because you know, I’m further away from 15 now. I’m further away from that character than I had been so I was a little bit trepidatious, but we did the first read through on Skype and it was like, “Oh, hell, this still feels really right.” That relationship still felt very much alive. And then, of course, it was just fun to get together and see each other for the first time in like, two or three years? It felt definitely easier than I anticipated it being.
NP: Oh, yeah, me too. I was saying, the only hang up that I had was like, “Oh god—am I going to have to pretend that I’m 15, 16 again?” It’s not just a literal time removal from that, but the experience gap feels so different that it’s hard to put yourself in that position. When they said, don’t put the pressure of acting young on this, that’s not what we want, it’s just about the characters and the connection, then it felt like, “Oh, OK.” I felt totally free to step into it.
AE: I had been a big fan of the series from the beginning. I have this very visceral memory of sitting in my really crappy apartment in Queens, watching it in the dark of my living room. But I remember it really was a groundbreaking series. I think that Anyone But Me just ushered in this new wave of new media in how to really present a beautiful, interesting story in that medium, in a way that hadn’t really been done before. Especially with queer characters. So when I heard about how this was going to happen, that these were going to be these lost scenes, I was a little nervous as a viewer because I was like, how is this going to work? Then when I actually saw it, I was like, oh yeah this totally works.
NP: [laughs] I think we were a little nervous about how it was going to work! Trying to wrap my head around that idea was really kind of weird for a bit. I actually started explaining it to people like theatre, because it really feels in a lot of ways, to me, the way they set it up, like theatre. Your suspension of disbelief is such that you set up these couple people in one room, and the scene changes, but everyone knows we’re all still in the same room. You can suspend your disbelief enough that you’re able to get into what’s happening on stage. It really felt more in the world of theatre, even.
RHF: I absolutely agree, it felt very much like these downtown, black box theatres where it’s not about the spectacle and not about all the stuff surrounding the story, it’s about story. It’s about relationships and the characters. We both, coming from the backgrounds that we do, sort of fell right into that. That feels like home, I think.