After a two year wait, she's back. Julia Barr, All My Children's Brooke English for thirty plus years, says "I walked into the Connecticut studio, and it was like going home." When Barr first joined AMC, Brooke was a hellion. She literally rode into her Aunt Phoebe's living room on Benny Sago's motorcycle. "A scene like that may look like fun, but is not so much fun to do."
For years, Brooke was a user, manipulator, and liar. That changed when she was raped by Eddie Dorrance. Even though Brooke became a heroine, she was not a sugar-coated character. Brooke was a hard-nosed reporter/editor; she took no guff from Erica or saint Dixie.
Brooke spent lots of time without a man and still had a fulfilling life. "All of the men Brooke was involved with were very different. Each one brought something and took something from Brooke's life," says Barr.
Many of her exes are dead or MIA. Brooke will always be connected to Tad. They share a son. It was Brooke who found amnesiac Tad in Northern California, leading an entirely new life. Michael E. Knight is the only actor who can or should play rapscallion turned good guy Tad. Knight has not yet has not yet signed on to the reboot.
For some reason, in 2006, Brooke disappeared from AMC. There was no mention of her character. Poof -- she was gone. Barr did return for a short stint in 2010. At that time, there was a hint that Brooke would be reconnecting with Adam. She loathed Adam, she loved Adam, she married Adam, she divorced Adam, over the years.
As AMC was winding down, Adam and Brooke had a romantic reconciliation.
When the show reboots on the Internet on April 29th, Brooke and Adam will be sharing scenes. The show will have been fast-forwarded five years. Like a good soap opera actress, Barr is not saying what they have been through in those years.
Barr, who is always an honest interview, says "The new scripts and the catching up for those lost years are riveting." An added delight for Barr is that so much of the crew is back. "It makes this even better."
Barr says the taping schedule is great. "We tape for five weeks. We are off for five weeks. They are treating it more like a movie. We do a lot of scenes out of sequence." Like a movie set, they have great dressing rooms and catered meals.
When Prospect Park's first plan to reboot failed, Barr thought it could come back. The two-time daytime Emmy winning actress learned to wait from a force of nature. She was an understudy in the play West Side Waltz, starring Katherine Hepburn. "I never got to work on stage with her. One day, I was asked to do a scene with her. My husband, (oral surgeon Dr. Richard Hirschlag) took a seat in the back row."
"Who is that?" Hepburn said in her quaky voice. "They told her it was my husband. She said, 'He can stay.'"
"After we did the scene, Hepburn seemed pleased. She took my hand and said, 'I know it is hard to wait.'" She was referring to Barr being on tour with the play but never getting to work on stage.
Hepburn was not the only force of nature she worked with. "I loved Ruthie," she says, referring to Ruth Warrick, who played her guardian Aunt Phoebe. "œShe was not only an amazing actress, but an extraordinary person. She did all this charity work."
That ethic was passed on to Barr, who has worked for animal rights and other charities.
Barr really hopes viewers will take to the Internet and watch. "Prospect Park has sunk a lot of money into this. It is not a network show, so there can be stronger language, the showing of more skin. They know that the most important thing is good story and good acting. Not gimmicks."
The acting bug, which Barr got at 13, was passed on to her daughter Allison. Allison is blessed with her mother's amazing cheekbones and acting talent.
In 2002, Allison took on the role of Guiding Light's Lizzie Spaulding. While she still acts, her mother proudly gushes, "She is working on an advanced theater degree at Columbia University." It focuses on stage management and production. "Allison always knew that she wanted to act, but also wanted to do much more in theater."
As for a message to former AMC viewers, Barr simply says, "Watch us. You will be impressed."