Charleson is the longest-serving cast member on the hit ABC daytime drama. She has played Dr. Monica Quartermaine since August of 1977 and she is the matriarch of the Quartermaine family. She has been an integral part of the show’s history for well over four decades.
On her character, Monica Quartermaine, she said, “Going back to her history, I only signed on for two years, and I don’t know what happened. I like her spunk, independence and everything about her. Back then, there weren’t a lot of good female roles that had that. It was an amazing time and it was strong material to act.”
“Monica was also a wonderful slut, which was fun,” she said, with a chuckle. “You would pick up the script and you would realize that it is good. If it’s not fun, then what are you in it for? It was really hard work, and that’s what it’s all about. Now, I still enjoy being around.”
The soap opera just celebrated its 56th anniversary on the air, and they honored late actress Susan Brown in a special episode. “I have been a part of the show for 42 of those years,” she said. “The Susan Brown episode was a difficult one to get through because that one was very emotional.”
When asked how she handles being dialogue-heavy all of those decades on the show, Charleson said, “Things change and everything changes. I miss the fun that we used to have in the ’80s. There used to be more time and we could indulge ourselves to do the scenes. These days, it is a study in speed reading, speed learning, and speed acting. It goes by so quickly because they move so quickly.”
Regarding the key to longevity in acting and entertainment, Charleson said, “I am the only actor on the show that doesn’t have another soap opera to talk about since I have never done another soap opera, while almost everybody else has. Interest in the material is what keeps you around and relationships.”
“I just refuse to go away. Almost everybody that is new to the show and comes to Port Charles ends up with the Quartermaines for a while,” she said, with a sweet laugh.
On April 27, 2019, Charleson will be appearing at the “Legends of General Hospital” event in Rosemont, Illinois, and April 28, she will be a part of the fan event in Cleveland, Ohio. “I haven’t done many of these events but they are fun. Kudos to Jacklyn Zeman, who talked me into them. They are great. I love them,” she said. “The fans are wonderful, and they are more than gracious. It is nice to get up close and personal with them. This is another chance to say ‘hello’ and thank them for the hundreds of years of support.”
Throughout her illustrious career in the entertainment industry, Charleson earned four Emmy nominations for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Daytime Drama Series.” “That felt great,” she admitted. “A lot of work goes into doing this.”
Regarding her daily motivations, the veteran actress said, “I have a wonderful horse that I go and ride, and a younger horse that I go and help train to ride. That’s what has kept me going for a long time. General Hospital afforded me the opportunity to get a horse in the first place, though it is not the horse that I am riding today.”
She acknowledged that riding and being around her horses has been quite a “cathartic” experience.
For young and aspiring actors, she said, “I don’t have anything bad to say about doing a soap opera. It is good training and it’s a good way to discipline yourself. You have to move fast, think fast, learn fast and act well. Young actors should go for it. The brain is a muscle and I am very lucky to keep doing this since it keeps the muscle working. Honest to God, if you don’t use it for a while, you lose it. You need to stay on top of it.”
On the impact of technology on the entertainment business, she said, “It all changed when people could put it on tape. The audience used to watch us on small television sets in their classroom. Streaming and technology is the way that it’s going to be, and there is nothing we can do about it. I believe that it’s a losing battle and a double-edged sword.”
Charleson defined the word success as “being able to afford to have a good ride and a good day on the show.” “That puts a big smile on my face,” she said.
For her dedicated General Hospital fans and supporters, Charleson concluded, “Thank you with all of my heart. It has been such a journey and I hope it continues. I hope the fans continue along with me. I couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative of the fans. Without them, it would have been 56 years for the show. I so appreciate their loyalty.”
To learn more about the upcoming General Hospital Fantasy events, check out their official website.