Rebecca Herbst, Acting at Its Best
By Carolyn Aspenson

Give an actor a few lines and it’s a make it or break it situation. Let’s look at the woman who plays NuLydia, J. Robin Miller.  She’s got an interesting storyline wrapped around key characters on the show. The actor has the chance to really shine, if she can act. Unfortunately this one can’t. At least as this character. Could she have been a Chloe? Absolutely. Some actors as talented as they may be simply cannot pull off the range necessary for characters with depth. Fortunately GH has blessed their fans with several actors who can alter their emotions on a dime; Tyler Christopher, Anthony Geary; Tamara Braun and Rebecca Herbst to name a few.  

Let’s face it, for months now we’ve watch Elizabeth walk into her house blindly, pick up a few things and play mush-much with Ric. She’s been pregnant, pushed and poisoned. All of these scenes (except the mushy love ones of course) could have been played out in almost any way if the writers have given Rebecca more script. They didn’t. None the less, her scenes with Faith showed us a woman in love feeling threatened, defensive and protective all at once with only body language and facial expressions. Try this. Sit in front of the mirror and imagine yourself in Elizabeth’s place. How would your face and body contort to reflect all of those feelings within milliseconds of each other? It’s not easy. Rebecca Herbst has talent.  

Thankfully someone remembered that and took her out of ‘weak, clueless woman’ mode and put her into ‘strong and pissed off woman mode’. Believe it or not, we have a female character on GH with strength, vulnerability and passion.  Her scenes this past week with Ric were chilling to say the least. Rebecca showed us that her character is completely torn between her heart and her head. She has shown us that Elizabeth has values and morals, yet is struggling to sense out of her feelings for her husband. She’s shown us she’s got guts and stands up to those others fear. Sure, any actor can read a line and move with a scene. But Rebecca Herbst seamlessly carries herself through emotional ranges that exhaust me to watch.  

Rebecca Herbst could act when she first came to GH. Her character was the girl in high school that we all hated. But we watched her because we could see deep down she simply wanted to be important to someone, wanted to feel loved. She portrayed those emotions equally with both sides of the character showing, not just the nasty side. Soon after she was given a storyline with depth and the character took off. She became a character we loved. The rape story gave Rebecca the opportunity to show her fans her true talent. She (along with Jonathan Jackson) gave the audience a variety of emotions in each episode. Fear of the rapist, insecurity, inability to feel safe, growing yet confusing feelings for someone of the opposite sex and then finally, strength inspired by anger. Her ‘revenge’ on her rapist and the scenes involved were remarkable. Rebecca brought you right there with her, your heart racing and your body sweating from the anxiety, fear and anger pent up within her. You felt what she felt. It was some of the best acting to reach our TV’s on GH in years.  

Unfortunately until lately, Rebecca Herbst has been underused. Sure, she’s involved in some way with practically every storyline on General Hospital. Good actors usually are. It just seems that the writers either didn’t know what to do with her or didn’t want to move through what appeared to be the natural course of the character. (Think Liason.) She went back to Lucky, which wasn’t successful because Jacob Young as attractive as he is can’t muster up enough chemistry to excite a rock.  The writers teased us with an ‘almost’ relationship between her and Jason, where their connection blew up our screens and the history was strong, but dropped it like a dead fish. Then they paired her with Ric in a relationship that grew within milliseconds -  when most of us were obviously not watching. One minute she meets Ric and almost the next she’s pregnant (which doesn’t say much about the consistency of the character’s actions if you ask me!)  they’re married, he’s drugging her and she’s near death multiple times. Wow! That was fast. To her credit, Rebecca played it like a champ but I can’t help but wonder if she came home at night and thought, “What stupid thing is my character going to do tomorrow?” I know most of her fans did!  

The character of Elizabeth has been soft for quite some time. She was resigned to catfight sessions with Courtney and light weight scripting until the script finally allowed her to see reality. Rebecca has created even more depth to Elizabeth in these scenes. Consider the look in her eyes when she shut the door on Ric in the panic room. Clearly not the eyes of a woman anyone would want to mess with. Shortly there after she’s back in the panic room telling Ric that she will remember him forever, know the signs and make sure she never falls for someone like him again. The anger she produced came on strong and with nothing less than perfect timing, yet within minutes she was trying to help him escape the wrath of Sonny and Jason. Clearly her face showed that even though she knew it was wrong, she couldn’t just stop her feelings for this sociopath, she still loved him. Rebecca’s portrayal this past week left me with goose bumps. Conflict, anger, love, betrayal, frustration, bitterness and resentment and fear to name a few.   

It takes talent to successfully move through scenes with such emotional range. It takes talent to have chemistry with so many characters on a show. It takes talent to take a pathetic storyline and make the viewers like watching you. Rebecca Herbst has done all of that and more.  She could be paired with any actor in any scene and bring out their best. Give her more scenes with Carly and Faith. Let the bitchiness out. She plays that perfectly. Reconnect her with her with her friends because I don’t think she has any left since Ric came around. I see potential with the character of Emily. I see excellent chemistry with nuLucky. Ideally of course I’d like to see her character and Jason find their way back together, but that’s wishful thinking. As much as I don’t like the character of Jax, there could even be a connection with those characters, unless he is written to rescue her.  I’m hopeful TPTB see her talent and continue to create storylines where Rebecca can shine. She is not an actor to be wasted.