One Life To Live Q&A: Kassie DePaiva On The Return Of Blair Cramer

Blair is back!

On April 29, when “One Life To Live” starts its new life online (weekdays, via Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes), Kassie DePaiva will once again bring to life Blair Cramer — part sexy single mom and part club-running businesswoman, with a sprinkling of mischief thrown in for good measure.

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Prospect Park’s The Online Network paved the way for Kassie to return to the role she played for nearly two decades on ABC (before it bowed out in January 2012), and hitting the show’s new Stamford, Conn., set brought a flood of emotions to the actress.

“The first day I went back was about three weeks prior to production for us… All the sets were being built and I walked out on the soundstage and I literally cried because that is what made it really, real,” the actress told in a new interview.

Blair’s life has moved on since fans last saw her on “One Life To Live,” or through the guest spots Kassie did on “General Hospital.” But, she told Access — as we count down to the return of “OLTL” and “AMC” — her character is still dealing with a few of the same problems. There’s still trouble with her TV son, Jack Manning, and her heart is still torn over Todd. How excited were you when you found out that this was going to happen again?

Kassie DePaiva: ‘Again’ is always the key word – ‘again.’ I just didn’t even want to emotionally go there because I was so devastated, really devastated and in hindsight, I can see how devastated I was that we were canceled from the beginning, so it has been an uphill battle and a downhill road for so many months. But, when we found out that this was coming back, it was just too good to be true and I still cannot believe it. I think it’s just short of a miracle.

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Access: Prospect Park tried to reboot the show over a year ago now, and it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Were you guys a little scared when it came back around or did it just feel right and the magic just felt like it was there?

Kassie: Everything works out the way that it is supposed to. To a certain extent, I think it’s almost better that it didn’t happen that Monday right after it went off air on ABC because I think it allowed time for the audience to miss it, for our fans to be vocal and for the actors to be — believe it or not — more appreciate of the jobs that they had and for the crew to be more appreciative. We were blessed to have those jobs and [there is a] very special group of people that have come together to reboot both ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life To Live’ and most of them, I would say 99-percent of us out in Stamford, are there because we truly want to be… Does that make sense?

Access: It does. Part of it is absence makes the heart grow fonder, a bit.

Kassie: Yeah, and I don’t believe it’s, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ I think this show — it left a haunting hole in so many people’s lives when it was off the canvas and I think the excitement of it coming back is unbelievable. My body quakes… I would shake on the set, I was shaking with joy.

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Access: Of course you’re married to James [DePaiva, who played Max Holden on ‘OLTL’]. Did you go home and he would just notice how excited you were about this – because you could really share that with him?

Kassie: Oh yeah, he totally has been along for this ride. When I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Jimmy there’s some rumors that maybe Prospect Park is really gonna do this.’ And he’s like, ‘OK, Kassie you just be careful. You know how it is.’ (laughs) He’s been a really good monitor for me to just keep me from having my highs and really picked me up in my lows so, yeah, he’s excited. We both grew up watching ‘One Life to Live.’ He was a huge fan of ‘One Life To Live’ before he ever got on the show and you know, I’m still a believer that there’s a place there for Max on the canvas at some point. So we’ll just see what happens down the road.

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Access: How much of what your character did on ‘General Hospital’ is going to factor into ‘One Life To Live’ when we pick up on April 29?

Kassie: Blair has had a life over in Llanview, off camera. We pick up with Blair… moving on with her life and trying to pick up the pieces that Todd left behind. At the end of ‘One Life To Live,’ John [McBain] breaks through the door and says, ‘You killed Victor!’ It’s like, ‘What!’ And then of course we had rumblings of Tomas [Delgado]. Tomas is not going to be an issue this time around so far.

Access: He disappeared through the ‘General Hospital’ storyline you were involved in.

Kassie: Yeah! (Laughs) So they kind of took care of that one, so she’s just picking up the pieces and moving on and trying to stay afloat personally and emotionally with her family and… who knows? Todd and Blair are an endless story and with endless possibilities and Blair, no matter what, will always love him. So, there’s great story to be told.

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Access: So Blair is going to be running a new nightclub and you’ve got a ‘Jersey Shore’ cast member that is under your character’s employment?

Kassie: Yes and it’s really been lovely to get to know Jenni [‘JWoww’ Farley]. She’s hard working. She’s really a professional, has a great sense of humor, doesn’t take herself too seriously and she’s fun. I, unfortunately, I really don’t know her program and I know that she’s got a couple of spin-offs and I know she’s ultra-popular. All I know is what I see and she’s really fantastic.

Access: And you’re going to be singing on ‘OLTL’?

Kassie: I performed [the other] week a song on my second CD, the title cut, called ‘No Regrets’ and it was a complete and utter surprise when I was told I was singing. I was like, ‘Huh?’ (laughs).

Access: Why was that a surprise? You sang – it felt like, once every couple of months on ‘One Life To Live.’

Kassie: I don’t know. I think because the club that Blair runs is more of a hip, younger crowd and we also have a wonderful artist named Jessie [Malakouti] that’s gonna be performing, whose an upcoming new hip star and [Blair will] have various people performing and DJs. They’re trying to really bring in a younger audience, so when they asked me to perform, I mean, I’m so grateful, but.. I’m from a totally different demographic if you know what I’m talking about.

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Access: Singing is kind of universal. It doesn’t matter how young or how old the voice is. If it’s a good song…

Kassie: That is absolutely true and the way that this works in the show is absolutely perfect because her message is always to Todd through music.

Access: Blair’s kids have to be older now – Jack’s got to be late high school or college – and he was involved in a lot of trouble last time around. Is there more trouble on the way for him?

Kassie: Jack is still in high school. Jack is troubled because of the loss of both of his fathers. As far as he knows, Victor is dead and Todd is gone and he misses that male figure in his life and Blair’s busy running the club and he kind of gets – emotionally — lost in the shuffle. So he has his issues, which definitely color the whole family and Blair can’t fix those things. So hopefully we will really get some insight into his heart and his emotional dilemmas, as well as Dani’s which is really exciting. They definitely have matured Dani into – there’s different stories that can be told as a young adult as opposed to a teenager. You can delve into some darker things and I think that they’re looking to do that because we can.

Access: Lastly, let’s talk about the first day you went to the new set. What did that day feel like? What were your emotions that day? Were there tears at all?

Kassie: The first day I went back was about three weeks prior to production… All the sets were being built, and I walked out on the soundstage and I literally cried because that is what made it really, real. And our scenic designer/art director Tim, to me is the biggest hero in this whole reboot. The sets are phenomenal and he’s done them in such a clever way, in a way that it’s money saving as well as just beautiful to use, say one set that might be Opal’s set and then to switch it around overnight [to] Dorian’s set and they look completely different. He’s just really smart and I know that this whole team — because they had such a short amount of time — these last two months and definitely these last six weeks of really on-air production have just been exhausting. Everyone’s working [so many] hours so the fans can have a show that they want and they deserve.

Fans can watch “One Life To Live” weekdays, beginning April 29 on Hulu, Hulu Plus or iTunes.

-- Jolie Lash

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