It's been 27 years since Rena Sofer was on the set of General Hospital, but she will soon be returning to television screens when her alter ego, Lois Cerullo, makes a long overdue visit. Lois' daughter, Brook Lynn Quartermaine (Amanda Setton), has been living in Port Charles since 2019, and she's recently been dealing with a lot of turmoil thanks to a scheming grandmother and Ned Quartermaine's (Wally Kurth) head injury that has left Brook Lynn's father believing that he's rock star Eddie Maine.
In a recent interview with Soap Opera Digest, Sofer talked about what it was like to get the call. "Out of nowhere, Frank (Valentini, GH's executive producer) reached out to me by text asking if I'd be willing to talk to him," Sofer shared. "I said, 'Of course.' The last time I saw Frank was at Courtney Hope (Sally Spectra, Y&R) and Chad Duell's (Michael Corinthos) wedding [in Oct 2021]. We sat with each other, and it was really great to see him," Sofer recalled. Sofer revealed that Valentini wanted to get her back on GH, but at the time, she was still playing Quinn Fuller on The Bold and The Beautiful. Sofer exited the role in 2022, so it was not an option in 2021, and she didn't discuss it further with Valentini.
"But, with this Eddie Maine story happening, it just really seemed like an absolutely perfect time to have Lois come back for a short amount of time to try to get Eddie to remember that he's Ned. So, Frank reached out to me and asked if I'd be willing to come back for a short amount of time and I said, 'Yes!'" Sofer said.
The timing couldn't have worked out better for Sofer. She had just sent her youngest daughter Avalon off to college, so she had an empty nest and time to focus on reacquainting herself with a character that had always held a special place in her heart. "I've played a lot of characters in my career and Lois is probably one of the top three characters I've ever played in 37 years of being an actress," Sofer admitted. "So to be able to go back and do it was unreal."
Sofer confessed that reporting to work for General Hospital had made her nervous. "It's not even nervous about the timing of making sure I got to the set on time, and did I have enough time to run lines with everyone? That show is full of history; there's so much history there for me, so it was like, 'Oh, my God, is it gonna be okay? Are they gonna like me?'" the actress wondered.
Sofa also worried about the appearance of her hands. "The first, most important part of even getting back into that character was her nails," Sofer clarified. "When I got the job [in 1993], I was like, 'I really want these nails to be like Madeline Kahn in High Anxiety. There's this great scene where she and Mel Brooks are running to go and do something and Mel Brook goes, 'I don't have a car,' and she goes, 'I have a car.' And she's wearing this incredible matching belted suit and it's in this amazing pattern, and she runs to her car, and her car is in the same exact pattern as her suit. And I was like, 'That's what it's gonna be. Her nails are gonna match her outfit. They have to be really intricate because besides being a mathematician in her brain, she's got so much energy and she's got so much OCD that everyday she wakes up and does her nails before she gets dressed. She knows what she's wearing and she does her nails to match her outfit,' which is in my head. That's my story," Sofer explained.
Sofer revealed that one of the makeup artists in the makeup room had a cousin who was a professional nail artist (Amber Studer, polishedbyamber.com), and it was Amber who helped bring Sofer's vision to life. "We sat down for three hours; we went through all the wardrobe that we had picked so far and we just created. And then once the nails were on, it was like nothing changed; it was amazing."
Getting back into Lois' world and figuring out where she'd been was a bit more difficult. "There are parts of Brook Lynn's life Lois missed," Sofer acknowledged. "And I think my whole thing about Lois is being a great mom, so I needed to figure out what Lois has been doing, who she is, what's important to her besides Brook Lynn. It's just interesting to play her at this age. She's still loud and she's still mouthy. She's still a lot like me, except with a Brooklyn accent and nails. But also, the story isn't about me. The story is about Brook Lynn. The story is about Eddie Maine and Ned, so I need to respect that," Sofer said.
"This is not about me coming back (sic) and telling my story; this is about me coming back and supporting the stories that are there with me trying to create the knowledge of who Lois is now, 27 years later. So, that is challenging, but also, part of the fun," the actress explained. Sofer admits that being back on the set was a bit confusing. "I had no idea where I was; I couldn't find my way. I think a very younger version of me would have been intimidated and scared and had a little bit of a wall up, like, 'I belong here,' but I didn't go there that way. This is not my home and I need to respect that. I'm a guest, and I am grateful to have this opportunity, especially in the middle of a strike for the writers and the actors [an agreement was reached in September 2023]."
"To be able to support my family when other people don't have that opportunity? I'm really walking into these months of work with a lot of gratitude and a lot of appreciation, especially for the people who are there every day for the last 27 years," Sofer shared.
Sofer confessed that stepping into the Quartermaine mansion gave her a sense of déjà vu. "I said this to Jane Elliot (Tracy Quartermaine) when I was on set. You walk into the Quartermaine entryway and there's a picture of [the late] Anna Lee (Lila Quartermaine) and John (Ingle, Edward Quartermaine), and Stuart (Damon, Alan Quartermaine), and just looking at those pictures and remembering doing things with Anna Lee when she was in a wheelchair and then she slowly moved to the bed chair, and John who always had a twinkle in his eye and was the sweetest man, and Stuart, and then knowing that they're not there anymore, that was kind of hard-hitting."
The actress was also emotional about the fan reaction to her return. "Oh, it means everything to me," she said. "I mean, if they hadn't spent the last 27 years constantly making little buzzing noises about Lois coming back or me coming back as Lois, I wouldn't be in the position. It's inspiring and I am forever grateful. This whole experience can really be summed up in that word. I'm excited and honestly, even though I did Loving (Amelia "Rocky" McKenzie), General Hospital really started my career. GH gave me a development deal with ABC, which led to me doing pilots and nighttime. I am very grateful for being able to have this option and opportunity during this time."
Naturally, Sofer's eldest daughter, Rosabel, was thrilled about her mother's return to GH because Rosabel's father is Sofer's ex-husband Wally Kurth. "Our daughter Rosabel was literally beside herself," Sofer revealed. "She's so excited that her parents are working together again. It's so fun for her to see mom and dad, working together in a friendly and fun environment, and for me, working with Wally was always fun. 27 years was never going to change any of that."
Sofer returns as Lois Cerullo on October 10, 2023 -- and ypu can check out her very first scene below.
Will Lois' return steal "Eddie's" attention away from Olivia? Can Olivia and Ned's marriage survive if Lois sparks Ned's memories to return? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.