“Hoh about that,” smiles Kristina Wagner of her return to GH, which kicked off earlier this month.
The actress, who began her career in Port Charles in 1984, has been on and off the show several times during her career. “When you’re an actor on GENERAL HOSPITAL, you’re an actor on GENERAL HOSPITAL until death do you part,” she says. But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, “I wasn’t too excited to come at different times; I wasn’t too anxious to see if it was going to be a risk for me. They wanted to include me in Peter and Maxie’s wedding, but I was a little hesitant, which is why it didn’t happen.
She returned for Felicia to attend Sean’s memorial service in 2021 (“I was glad they honored that relationship”), and towards the end of the year when executive producer Frank Valentini contacted her manager to inquire about his interest on the way back, the timing was perfect. “My personal life has been very busy, but I have this new space where I need to occupy my mind with other things,” she explains. “And that [comeback] is a perfect avenue for this. I’m really happy about it. I’m actually really excited to have some creativity in my life again, and being back in that environment has been fascinating. This show is a well-oiled machine and we move at the speed of light. It’s a very different work environment than I’m used to — and it’s tough! It’s very difficult, but I’m up for the challenge and I’m happy to be here.
Since returning to work, Wagner has been impressed with the Covid safety measures the show has taken. “They adapted very well to the problem,” she says. “I think there is a lot of money spent on protocols; we test [multiple] times a week, and in the make-up room, everything is spread out. I kinda like the privacy of that because when we get our hair and makeup done now, it gives you a chance to just be quiet and sit back and study.
She had a warm reunion with her co-stars upon her return to the studio. “That first initial meeting, when you see them in the parking lot or walking down the hall by the locker room, everyone’s voice goes up a few octaves,” she laughs. “You get excited, but then it’s like, ‘Dang it, back to business! You better stay focused cause we’re about to jump on that treadmill! There’s really no time for joking But I’m so happy to be with all these actors that I’ve known and loved for many years. They’re my family, even though I don’t spend time with them outside of the show.
Having been a little out of the Port Charles loop, Wagner had some catching up to do. “Having been away from the show for so long, I don’t know who some of the characters are, or what’s going on with the characters that I know. What I’ve found out is that if you have a question about what whatever – you know, ‘What’s that thing with Maxie and Peter?’ or, ‘Who is that guy from ONE LIFE TO LIVE [playing]?’ – you can just google it and it’s amazing! While I study my scripts I have my computer right next to me asking questions and I got all my questions answered. I told my mom too, because she kind of paused for a while; of course she wants to watch it now. I said, ‘Mom, Google your questions!’ ”
Although Wagner has had recurring status since taking over Felicia in 2012, this time around she’s back under contract. “There are a lot of opportunities,” she notes. “And I like what we’re doing now; I love how they kind of put me on the canvas and it created a lot of color for the story that’s unfolding right now. I think the fans are going to like it. I think it’s going to be fun!”
Wagner is touched by the warmth with which viewers greeted her. “It’s deep,” she said. “You know, I always thought, ‘Why do they like me so much?’ Fans have always been supportive of Felicia, they always wanted her to be on the web and have a story and drama and they always seemed charmed by her. It’s like some kind of unthinkable magic! I’m just beside myself about this. I think it’s absolutely wonderful and I hope we can deliver and please the fans, especially the long-time fans. It’s different now, but we’ll find the magic in a different way and let it happen in a different way.
Stepping forward as Felicia, the actress is ready for anything, well almost anything. “No twin sisters!” she winks. “I’m really not ready for this challenge. I don’t want to be an Alex or an Anna!