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Click on the links below to read various Finola articles from 1985-1989.

-Riding High in Hollywood! 1986? 
-Odyssey to GH, 3/11/86
-Loves Her Leading Men, 1987?

-Up Close With Ian Buchanan and Finola Hughes, SOU 4/11/88
-A Day with Finola Hughes, SOU 1989?


British born Finola Hughes is Riding High in Hollywood! (by Janet DiLauro, 1986?)catfin.jpg (11277 bytes)
"Finola Hughes has had a difficult time winning over General Hospital fans, but the odds have been overwhelmingly against her. Cast as the devious Anna Devane, her first storyline mission was to break up the marriage of the ever-popular Holly and Robert Scorpio. Anna, viewer's soon learned, was Robert's long lost ex-wife, and they were outraged by the outlandish plot twist. But as time went on, the storyline changed. Anna was transformed from sinner to saint. To help the transition and make Anna more sympathetic in the fans' eyes GH's clever writers gave Anna a daughter- Robert's daughter. Slowly, but surely the strategy worked. Today, Anna Devane is one of Port Charles' most respected heroines, and actress Finola Hughes one of GH's most popular stars.

Where did you get your unusual first name?  'My father was reading this old Irish book right before I was born, and Finola was the name of one of the characters in it. He thought the name had a nice ring to it, and my mother agreed. So I became Finola.'

You're from England aren't you?  'Yes. I was born and bred in London. I lived there practically my whole life.'

Hadn't you originally planned on a career in dance?
'I went to theatrical school and studied ballet from the time I was 10 through 17. I made my first public appearance at the Royal Covent Garden when I was just 11. Later, I joined a ballet company. But as time went on I found it too limiting. I wanted to do more. So I returned to London and soon started work as a dancer on television and had a few small parts in film.'

It's back in London that you met your boyfriend, actor Michael Praed (Dynasty's Prince Michael), isn't it?  'Michael and I met a little over three years ago. We were both doing shows in London's West End. I was in the original production of Cats, and Michael was in Pirates of Penzance. We started dating and have been together ever since.'

Does Michael get to watch your work on General Hospital much?  'Not that much really. He doesn't have all that much time. Michael's just about as busy with his role on Dynasty as I am with mine on General Hospital.'

How do you like working on your first soap opera?  'Very much. I'm learning so much- more every day. It's a great experience for me.'

Is there anyone on the show you particularly enjoy working with?  'John Reilly (Sean Donely) is a lot of fun. He's a real comedian. Everytime I do a scene with him, I wind up cracking up. He's a very funny man.'

Are you anything like Anna Devane?  'She's a lot tougher than I am and a lot more daring, especially now that she's the chief of police. I've never played a character anything like Anna before.'

What do you like to do in your spare time, away from the set?  'I take acting lessons and still study ballet too. I also like to work out regularly. I do aerobics and enjoy swimming. Another one of my favorite pastimes is watching music videos. I just love MTV.'

If you had your choice of any actor in Hollywood to work with who would you pick?  'Jack Nicholson. I think he's a wonderful actor- just marvelous. I've been a big fan of his for years. To get to work with him someday would be quite a thrill for me.'

You've worked with some big-name talents before, haven't you?  'Yes. I was in the film Stayin' Alive opposite John Travolta. I got to work with Sylvester Stallone, too. They were both wonderful to work with. Back in England I worked on the film The Nutcracker with Joan Collins. That was a few years ago. That was quite an opportunity too, and quite an interesting experience.'"

sunsetbeach.gif (38643 bytes)London, Berlin, Hollywood.... Finola Hughes's Transcontinental Odyssey to GH (by Ginger Myers and R. J. Johnson, Soap Opera Digest 3/11/86)
"Life in England
'I had a real middle class upbrining.  We lived in Nottingham, a very cosmopolitan area like SoHo in New York City.  My mother was a devout feminist.  She worked to reform abortion laws.  She worked on a War on Rape program.  I was brought up on Spare Rib, a real heavy feminist magazine, when I was nine.

My mother made me world-wise.  She was a very strong woman.  Her influence on me was to be independent.  My father had an influence on me, too... He worked as a taxi driver.   He was a marvelous man... a philosopher.  He would laugh at nearly everything.   I don't think much of anything really bothered him.  He always told me to just do my best, which I think took the pressure off of me.'  Her parents were, above all, practical people.  Their advice about men? - 'Have your own car.'

Ballet was Finola's first passion:  'I started dancing when I was three.  My mother took me to ballet school, and I said, 'Oh, I have to go back.'  After one lesson, I started going three times a week, I just loved it.  When I was six I turned to a lady and told her that I could see Swan Lake every day for the rest of my life.  She said, 'You'd get bored.'  But I told her, 'No, I wouldn't!'  When I grew up, I got into a professional ballet company.  We did Swan Lake every day and I never got bored!'

It took years of rigorous training before Finola was able to prove that point.  'When I was ten, I went to a brillant school (Arts Educational School).  My first public appearance was when I was eleven.  I danced at Covent Garden, I played a gnome.  I remember thinking that if I never do anything again, I danced in an opera at Covent Garden.

But Finola's dreams of a dancing career were almost literally cut short by glass.  'When I was 16, I had an accident which sliced my leg open.  I was walking on a snow-covered glass skylight over a cellar.  I went right through it and lacerated my leg.  And that put me out of action for two months.  I was livid.  I was right at my peak in school.   I had the lead in the end of the term ballet.  After my leg healed, I had to work very hard, and I did do the performances.'

Dancing school   opened Finola's eyes to the class system in Britain.  'There were huge class differences in the schools I went to.  My mother told me that I should go when invited out to tea, but that we couldn't really invite them back.  Fortunately, being a performer is a huge leveler because your talent is the thing that stands out... not where you came from.'

Destination:   Berlin
With solid training as a dancer, 20-year old Finola left her native England for Europe.  It was a quick journey from adolescence to adulthood.  'I was a real trained dancer.   Then, I went to Berlin to dance in a film, and I saw all of this stuff going on there.  Berlin is very colorful and decadent.  For example, there are many transvestite clubs.  I was suddenly in a very commercial atmosphere, and I met up with other sorts (of dancers).  It influenced me.  I started to veer away from the classical dancing.'

Destination:   London
Finola's return to England was for a very personal reason.  'I thought it would be best to be at home.  My mother was sick and dying at the time.  Seeing somebody die is a huge blow.  My mother had cancer... it takes a long time.  And they change.  They are not the people you knew in the beginning.'

In 1980, the independent Finola drove her car to an audition which truly launched her theatrical career.  'I heard about the audition for CATS from a friend.  I called and called to get in.  I knew it would be a big hit.  I never doubted that it was going to be a success.'

'I met Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer of CATS) at the first audition.  There were many callbacks.  It was so exciting.  Near the end, he called me in to do a scene to see if I could take direction.  He gave me the bitch part (Victoria).  I always like to do bitchy things, it's so much more fun.  After I read, he told me to do the bitch part again but with a "nice" interpretation.  But it came out even bitchier!'

Destination:   Hollywood
Her performance in CATS caught the attention of a casting director who asked her to read for the movie, Staying Alive.   'They videotaped my reading and sent it to Sylvester Stallone.  I hadn't seen Rocky, but I knew who Stallone was.  I was asked to come here to audition for him.   It was my first trip to America.  Stallone wasn't intimidating.  He was friendly and funny.  I found out the same day of my audition that I got the part.   I was doing another Andrew Lloyd Webber show, Song and Dance (now being performed on Broadway and starring Bernadetter Peters).  When I knew I had the job, I tried to keep calm, but I was really excited.  I called everyone I knew in England and screamed and shouted with my friends.'

The initial thrill of victory quickly turned to the agony of a disciplined body building program.  In an interview in People, Stallone said, 'Her buttocks had to be more curved, her shoulders broadened.'  Finola explains, 'I was real thin at the time.  Stallone had me work out with John Travolta's trainer in order to build me up.'

With that intense body development course behind her, the renovated Finola admits that, 'I've only seen Staying Alive two or three times.  I was so blown away by everything that I didn't sit and analyze it.  Some of the reviews tore my stomach a little, but everybody gets panned in their career.  Someone came up to me once in New York and said, 'God, you were a great bitch!  I thought that was a great compliment.'  But not nearly as complimentary as Stallone's People Magazine prediction, 'If stardom isn't a strut away (for her)... then I give up.'

blossom3.jpg (5871 bytes)Destination:   New York
After Staying Alive, Finola journeyed to New York where she  lived with her boyfriend, Michael Praed (Prince Michael, Dynasty).  'We didn't live together when we were both working in London.   Michael came to New York in the summer of 1984 to do a Broadway play.  I joined him in the fall (of 1984).  The situation just kind of threw us together.   It really wasn't a hard decision.

We actually met several years before in a restaurant in London.  Some friends introduced us.   Later, he told the newspaper that he thought I was plain looking.  It was a headline in the Daily Mirror.  He never lived that down.  ' 'I was attracted to Michael because he was carrying a plastic bag.  I thought that it was great instead of a Louis Vuitton handbag.  After our first meeting, he sent me a letter at the theatre where I was working.  The next week, we went out to dinner.   He was very funny, and we got along pretty well.  Afterward, we met quite often.'

Destination:   Hollywood
A return trip to Hollywood is the latest stop on Finola's itinerary.  'Unfortunately, the Broadway play Michael was in flooped and he was kind of down about it.  I told him I was going out to Los Angeles to look for work.  I wanted him to come with me.  People were calling to ask him to screen test for Dynasty.  So, we both came to L.A. in November of 1984.   Michael was cast in Dynasty right after we arrived.'

'About three months later, I was called in to read for the role of Anna Devane on General Hospital.  By the way, it was originally written for an American actress.  After the screen test, it took two weeks for them to make their decision.  I was going to a wonderful acting school (run by Milton Katselas), and all of these very sophisticated, blonde American girls in my class were talking about being up for the role of Anna.  I just knew that I hadn't gotten the part.  When I found out I did have the job, I screamed and jumped up and down.'

With their signatures on successful television contracts, Finola and Michael negotiated their next important contract:  a house.  'Michael and I rented this house (with an option to buy) early last summer.  Whe he found this place, we fell in love with it.   It's so quiet.  It's really easy for us to make a place look lived in because we are basically messy.  Michael has his recording studio set up here.  And my brother, Sean (age 17), has been here for three months.  I brought him out after my father died so he could be with me for a while.  Sean is brillant.  He plays the guitar, and he has put a band together, and they already have their first gig!'

Now that they are settled in their new home and are established in their careers, Finola and Michael have become a highly recognizable couple.  Do adoring fans ever disrupt their privacy when they are out in public?  'It can be a problem, but I don't find it a problem,' said Michael in an interview with Tv's Am Los Angeles.  "I find it quite flattering, really.  I do.  I love it, as a matter of fact.'

Regarding her responsibility to fans, Finola expresses this philosophy, 'I don't believe that a fan would like to think that I was obligated to do anything.  I think they would like to know as much (about me) as I'm comfortable in telling... that I'm not being put on the spot.  So, I tell them as much as I'm comfortable with.  They have to respect that just as I respect them.'

'I take fans seriously.  I read my mail.  If someone writes as says I look nice in the green dress, I tell wardrobe and I wear it more often...'  Finola seems to enjoy her work more than fame and fortune.  'I don't think about making a lot of money.  I think it's nice that I can pay my bills.  I just love working.  If you are rich you are working.  I've never been out of work for more than four or six months.   My advice to a young actor is to work hard.  Take the first job that comes along.  Work begets work.'"

From Travolta to Tristan, Finola Hughes- Loves Her Leading Men (1987?)
"A native of London, England, Finola landed the role of Anna Devane on GH after American audiences were introduced to her when she had the lead in the motion picture Stayin' Alive with John Travolta. Finola was educated at Norland Place, and English private school and she also studied ballet. When not busy on the Port Charles set, Finola loves to swim, aerobicize and watch MTV!trio4.jpg (13625 bytes)

Are you excited that Tristan Rogers (Robert) has come back to the show?
'Oh yes, I'm very glad he's back. He's such a wonderful actor and so much fun to work with. The last time he was back we had a great time, so I expect more exciting things to happen in the future. I'm so lucky to be able to work with Tristan and Ian (Duke). Ian is in a class all by himself! He's very subtle... like an old-fashioned movie star.'

Anna and Duke came so close to getting together and then his past broke them up. How will Robert's reappearance affect Anna and Duke?
'Well, it certainly won't help matters! I really don't know what direction the Anna/Duke/Robert story will take. Anna loves Duke very much. I can't see her just giving up on him... but now that Robert's back you never can tell! I think the fans of the show are in for a lot of excitement.'

You also work very closely with Kimberly McCullough. How is it having a pint-sized co-star?
'It's wonderful. I simply adore that girl. She's so pretty and she's so intelligent. She's very "old" for her age. It's amazing, you can sit and have a completely normal conversation with her! She's not your everyday seven-year-old. She is completely unspoiled, which is fabulous.'

You starred with John Travolta in the film Stayin' Alive, which was directed by Sylvestor Stallone. Do you want to get back into the movies?
'Yes, eventually I'd like to do another film. I was fortunate that I was able to work with two of the biggest stars in America so I think maybe I was a little spoiled! It was great working with them, though. Right now I'm committed to the show, so I have to wait a bit.'

Do you miss England?
'I really don't get that homesick, though I do miss some friends. I'm very happy in the United States. I couldn't be happier with the way my life is going. I don't worry about things because I feel that most things are meant to be. I used to spend a lot of time worrying, but I think now I'm a little wiser.'"

Up Close With Ian Buchanan And Finola HughesThere’s Much More To Anna And Duke Than Meets The Eye (SOU 4/11/88)
“How do you keep the music playing, how do you make it last?”
How indeed?  How does one of daytimes drama’s most popular romantic duos- Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) and Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan)- survive the oftentimes death knell for soap opera lovers, that is, marriage?  “It can be interesting to see Anna and Duke, married, develop as individuals, not just as a couple,” offers Ian Buchanan, the charming, classically handsome actor who has brought “General Hospital’s” dark brooding Scot to life.  “When two people marry, they still continue to grow separately.”

“I still feel challenged as an actress,” assure Finola Hughes.  As Port Charles’ resident female superwoman, Finola’s Anna has grown tremendously since she entered the show in 1985.  Originally cast as the “other woman” in Robert Scorpio’s life- actually his first wife- Anna was a character ripe for discovery.  Through Hughes’ interpretation, Anna went from sinner to saint, from former double agent to the first female chief of police in Port Charles.  “I love it when I get an interesting story line,” Finola explains, “but right now, we’re (Duke and Anna) in limbo, and I get frustrated between story lines.  I’d like to see something happen to Anna that she really has to cover… maybe an affair.”

If this were the case, what would happen to her marriage to Duke?  Would she jeopardize her marriage to him?  Would he fight for her?  “I’d like to see them sophisticatedly work it out,” she offers.

“It would turn the relationship around,” says Ian.  “Having an affair, however doesn’t have to be, and often isn’t, the end of a relationship.  It’s only one way to approach it.  A situation like this is a whole new set of feelings and emotions.  It can be handled on so many different ways.  It tests how you really do feel about another person.”

But could this type of story line sever Anna and Duke’s relationship beyond the point of repair?  Cold the show handle infidelity in a way that doesn’t alienate the viewers who have so obviously embraced this couple?

“It doesn’t have to be black and white,” opines Ian.  “They don’t have to follow a cliché.  Everyone has been hurt or scarred, and the viewers could relate to a broader sense or reality.  Often the networks play it safe.  I think they could take a bigger chance and still be accepted.”

“I think it would’ve been very interesting had they (the writers and producers) stuck to their guns,” adds Finola, “… had me remain a single mother, still in love.  A very realistic ‘80’s relationship.”

Smiling, Finola continues, “They could’ve shown that you can be single and be committed, you don’t have to play the field.  The fidelity can still be there.  I think that would’ve made a great lesson.”

But then, as Ian explains, “We don’t think about our characters, or story lines.  We just let things happen as opposed to thinking about what’s going to happen.”

Certainly the “General Hospital” fans think about what’s going to happen to them, no doubt with some trepidation.  Since their marriage, the characters have faced new problems, and once again it appears as though Duke’s secrets, his inability to deal openly and honestly with Anna, threaten their domestic bliss.  In addition, there’s Anna’s ex-husband, the dashing, dynamic Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers), father of Anna’s child, robin, waiting in the wings, so to speak.  Robert is more attached to Anna than he’d like to admit, and since the death of his beloved wife, Holly, Robert has been in a romantic void.

Are Finola and Ian aware of the fascination fans have with them?  “It amazes me how very much people (do) fantasize about soap characters!” exclaims Ian.

Teasingly, Finola suggests, “I guess there are hundreds of women who want you for a husband.”  More seriously, she goes on, “It doesn’t always have to be such a fantasy.  It (drama) can be real.  Take a show like ‘thirysomething’- that’s a real slice of life.  That show hits home and still has an audience.

“I think the show has a lot of fantasy.  I like the characters, especially the core characters, like the Quartermaines.  The show has very likeable characters,” says Finola.

So, it’s the fantasy that makes “General Hospital” so popular?

“The show is popular because we’re so good,” quips Ian, offering his brightest smile and a twinkle in his eyes.  “I think it’s well-liked because they (the producers and writers) create a situation and a social issues comes out of it.  The writers and producers don’t sit around and say, ‘I think we have to do a show about this disease or about this topic.’  They don’t totally emphasize a social issue or crisis just because it’s hot.  I think the show is quite intelligent.”

“I like Anna.  I’d like to know her,” says Finola.

“I’d like to see more of duke’s friends,” adds Ian.  “Who are they?  You can’t spend all your time with your wife.  I also wish that Duke would stop complaining about money, especially since he always seems to be home in the middle of the day and seems to be wearing something new all the time!”

And what about the chemistry between Anna and Duke- was that a challenge to create?  Did the writers and producers make the romance work by bringing Duke on as a mystery man, quick with a tango or a line of verse, poised to sweep Anna Devane off her feet, as he did soon after arriving in Port Charles?  Or is it Ian and Finola who deserve the credit for their special on-screen magic?

Grinning at a nodding Ian, Finola explains simply, “We like each other.  We have fun together.  We have the same tastes in things- the way we approach a scene, and certain things within a scene.  Actually, we are very similar as people.”

I noticed, commenting that they are both dressed in black for this interview.  They laugh.  “You’d think we consult with each other at the start of the day!” Finola says, sipping a cup of tea.

Having experienced success as an actress and dancer before joining “General Hospital” in the London Company of “Cats” and as John Travolta’s leading lady in “Staying Alive,” how does Finola Hughes fell about where she is today?

“I don’t think that my life is so different than anyone else’s.  The perceptions that people have of you, well… let’s just say that I don’t take any of it for granted.  For the most part, the changes have been good,” she smiles.  “I’m happy right now, both professionally and privately.  I don’t think that to be happy you can separate the two.”

“I don’t know what ‘happy’ means,” Ian says, somewhat reflectively.  “I do know that I’m continually changing, which is nice.  I like myself a lot more now.  I’m much more tolerant, patient and understanding.  I used to be far more judgmental.  I’m also more compassionate.

“I sometimes find it odd when someone comes running up to me in the street.  I could never go up to someone that I recognize (a celebrity).  I guess I would feel as though I were intruding.”  Pausing for a moment, Ian then adds, “It’s very difficult for me to receive.  I’d rather give.  It’s very difficult for me to receive… I’d like to go back fifteen years and have tea with myself.”

“I’d like to go back five years,” adds Finola, “but only if I can come back to the present and…”

And what, I wonder?

“Hopefully do some theater,” she confesses, then glancing over to Ian, she adds seriously, “Hopefully together.”

And hopefully, whatever their future projects, Ian Buchanan and Finola Hughes will always keep the music playing not only on-screen as Duke and Anna, but also in life as two very gifted and versatile performers.

On the General Hospital Set- A Day with Finola Hughes (by Rosemary Rossi, SOU 1989?)
"Finola Hughes stretches her legs with a sigh of relief in an attempt to exercise out the kinks, leans back in the makeup chair with mirror in hand, carefully applies gloss as she says without moving her lips, 'Forty pages today...'

As a General Hospital veteran of five years, Finola (a.k.a. Anna Devane Lavery) has added an irrefutable style and panache to the look of daytime drama. The waist-length shiny hair; the dark attentive eyes; the rich accent that could melt lead; and of couse, the Anna/Robert, then Anna/Duke romances. Face it, some people have all the luck.

Today, Soap Opera Update played 'shadow' to Finola. We followed her through hair and makeup, through the halls of the studio, through rehearsal and through taping.

While the hair stylist worked on making 'the famous Anna braid,' as Finola calls it, she affectionately speaks of ex-co-star Ian Buchanan (ex-Duke). 'I just got off the phone with him. I wanted to find out what "name" he used to call me. She smiled as she spoke of his innate sense of humor.

ghset3.jpg (12617 bytes)ghset2.jpg (11823 bytes)

We wandered down the hall past David Wallace's (Tom Hardy) wife Lisa Trusel (ex-Melissa, DAYS) with their new baby Ryan. Lunch today for Finola was spent going over lines with Tristan Rogers (Robert) in his dressing room. He relaxed in a chair while she reclined on the couch with her feet on a nearby coffee table. Listening to them rehearse was like eavesdropping on two friends talking over dinner. Though they were just doing this to learn their lines, they played the scene with enough intensity to make the sometime stale lines spring to life. Every now and then, one of them would thow in an ad-lib, 'Yeah! That's good. I like that!' They'd laugh.

Upstairs on the stage, John Reilly (Sean) was pacing 'his office,' Jason Culp (Julian) was trying to look cold while shooting a scene 'on the docks,' and the prop department was creating the look of reflecting water with mirrors and lights. In a short time John, Finola, and Tristan shot their scene. When the camera was rolling, I could feel the pressure to get it right. And... they did. Another unique hour in Port Charles."