Sarah Brown is an excellent actress. She has a mesmerizing presence that makes me almost want to forgive Carly her transgressions (mostly because she can be so damn stupid!). She has an ‘in your face’ acting style. Sort of New York-inner city-tough girl-trying to be classy without coming off as white trash. (No, these are not words I found in my trusty Thesaurus!) I enjoyed her toughness and envied her athletic build (I’m pretty sure she got implants somewhere along the way, but I can’t be certain) and the way she walked with attitude. She was all about sex appeal and carried that through her scenes. She was tough. Sarah Brown had phenomenal chemistry with both Maurice and Steve and many other characters on GH.
Sarah’s acting was true enough that I think a lot of women fantasized that they were doing what she did; toying with rich men, riding on the back of Jason’s bike (who WOULDN’T enjoy that?!), telling people what she thought no matter the consequences and always having a ‘reason’ inside her head to rationalize the stupid things she did. Loved that Carly. She was wild, impulsive and sexy.
Then came Tamara Braun. First thought? Give that girl a sandwich! She was skinny, skinny, skinny and I again found myself (secretly) envying her build. I’m never satisfied. I either want muscle and breasts or skin and bone. Go figure. Both actresses had a few facial similarities but other than that there wasn’t much of a resemblance, physically or when it came to talent.
I tried to keep an open mind about Tamara Braun. I wasn’t thrilled with her initial scenes in the stairwell with Roy. I thought her arms flailed. I thought she was all bone and no breast. I thought her hair was too thin. I thought her voice grated on my ears and down my spine until my back ached. I thought she had a big pair of shoes to fill. My husband, who by the way, doesn’t EVER watch soaps and can’t understand why I do, wasn’t impressed either. His comment, “She’s too skinny and not tough enough.” Amazing how men can have an opinion about something they profess to have no interest in whatsoever. I was disappointed because I really had grown to enjoy the character and now I felt like I’d have to find a new favorite (can anyone say Skye?). I missed “Carly”.
There were other scenes with Tamara Braun where I felt she just didn’t cut it. With Sonny, for example, it went flat. Jason and Carly seemed to have a fizzle instead of a sizzle. Those limited scenes with Michael were all right, as well as those with Bobbie but that wasn’t enough to turn me or to make me not miss Sarah Brown’s Carly.
Even though I wasn’t impressed there wasn’t much I could do. Unfortunately TPTB don’t give a hoot what I want or feel, so I was hopeful things would improve. But then again, I was hopeful that Jacob Young would be an acceptable Lucky and we all know what happened there! (JJ will NEVER be replaced. Just ain’t gonna happen folks!) Being a fairly open minded person, I decided to just go with the flow and see where Tamara Braun took me. Where I ended up was a big surprise.
Watching Tamara Braun develop comfort and grace as Carly was like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. I was and still am in awe. I started to enjoy the “independent” Carly she showed us and relished in her more humane side. She was tossed into the mix of various characters and had chemistry that didn’t exist with Sarah Brown. Tamara Braun hooked me with her acting while working with Ingo (whom I don’t like, so that says something!). Their chemistry actually had me wanting a final ending to Sonny and Carly and a beginning for Jax and Carly. But when Carly “died” I became a real fan. The scenes were excellent and her portrayal, exact. She showed layers of emotions that frankly, Sarah Brown hadn’t. Within those few scenes of her “death” I was well on my way to being her number one fan. I felt like I was cheating on Sarah Brown. I felt bad for watching her and enjoying her. I felt bad for looking forward to her scenes. But I got over it.
Tamara Braun’s portrayal of Carly is intense and multi-layered. No, she doesn’t have that ‘in your face’ acting style of Sarah Brown. And I’m glad. I’m glad to see she has feelings. I’m glad to see that instead of being blatantly obvious in her “toughness” she can portray manipulation and deviousness to a key. I watch Tamara Braun’s version of Carly and I FEEL for her. I BELIEVE her when she says she thought she was doing the right thing. She is sensitive and strong, which is difficult to depict simultaneously. She can move one eyebrow and say more than I can with both of my Italian hands flying through the air. The girl can act with anyone, in any scene. She has chemistry with the wall. Jason and Carly in that bar trying to get the boat? Hilarious. Even better, their boat scenes. Carly and Ric fighting because he is slime and she knows it? Entertaining. Carly and Sonny? Hey, even though it was all about them for months and did get old, she developed an ease and affection with their characters together that was evident in her performances. Maybe Tamara Braun just needed to adjust to the character, find her place. Maybe it was the writing. I’m not sure. I was just glad to see that she did have chemistry with Sonny and Jason and the wall. Carly and Liz when Sonny “died”? Just plain real. She acted as I would expect a person to act, to connect emotionally with someone in a similar situation even though they despise each other and then once the situation ended, back to despising again. She played that well. (So did Becky Herbst by the way.) As a matter of fact, she played the whole “Sonny’s death” incident with ease and raw emotion. I was impressed. Tamara Braun even makes Carly’s friendship with Courtney believable. And anything believable where Courtney is concerned is not an easy task!
Tamara Braun has taken Carly to a new level. She has softened the character, taken out some of the roughness and added some class, making the character less white trash-like and more soap heroine-like. She has given the character layers and levels of emotions unseen in Carly. She has showed us that even though the character can do terrible things and be a bitch, we still root for her to get what it is she wants, no matter what road she takes to get it. She has made the character real. Yes, Sarah Brown is an excellent actress but I’m not confident she could have taken the character to the next level. Sarah Brown eludes rough and tough. Soft and gentle with a dash of dastardly manipulation is Tamara Braun’s thing. She makes me believe that Carly isn’t a woman I want to cross but a woman I want on my side, kissing her skinny butt when necessary. She’s got it down and I relish in her acting abilities. She simply makes me want to watch. What more could I ask for in a recast? Oh and by the way, my husband, even though he doesn’t watch soaps, loves Tamara as Carly now.