Don’t let the fair hair fool you – GH’s Alicia Leigh Willis is tough as nails and full of surprises.
Alicia Leigh Willis (Courtney) sits down for lunch at Vermont, a restaurant close to General Hospital’s ABC studios, and immediately starts dishing. Reaching for the bread basket, she grabs a slice, dips it into a garlicky pesto drip, and announces, “I probably shouldn’t be eating this. I have a love scene this afternoon with Tyler (Christopher, Nikolas).”
That was never a problem with her other leading man, estranged TV husband Ingo Rademacher (Jax). “He eats garlic cloves – raw.” guffaws Willis. “We’ll do love scenes and I’m like, ‘You just ate garlic, didn’t you?’ He’s crazy. He thinks it’s funny.”
Willis reveals that she and Christopher also share “a sick sense of humor. We’re always cracking jokes, and they’re not always the most tasteful jokes. We crack each other up, although I’m sure everyone else find them more offensive than we do.”
In fact, confides the blue-eyed, golden girl, “I have a huge potty mouth.” Willis says that it once earned her the nickname “Potty Mouth Blonde” from her guy friends. “I am working on it, though. I’m not liking the way it sounds all the time. It’s getting a little bit better….”
But the expletives do “slip out” on occasion, particularly when she messes up on the set. “The worst is when I do it in front of the kids, by accident. I’ll be like, ‘Don’t ever say that!’ Now, whenever I feel the need to cuss and the kids are around, I just say, ‘Earmuffs!'” chuckles Willis, cupping her hands over her ears. “Everyone seems to know what that means.”
It’s shocking to imagine swear words slipping from the angelic-looking Willis’ mouth. But it’s no more shocking than her GH character’s behavior lately. No sooner did Courtney return from her honeymoon with Jax than she began pawing Nikolas.
“I was like, Wait! I just got married! What happened? It’s already falling apart?” recounts Willis with a laugh. “I understand that if couples are too happy for too long on soaps, it gets boring and they need to mix it up, but I expected Jax and Courtney’s marriage to last a little longer than it did.”
Willis was also worried about viewers’ reaction to Courtney’s uncharacteristic conduct. “I thought they were going to crucify me,” sighs Willis, who anticipated that most fans “weren’t going to be happy. But people have to remember that as scandalous as this story is, it happens in real life. People make bad decisions. They do bad things and deal with the consequences.” Nevertheless, Willis and Christopher did discuss how to tackle their characters’ sudden animal attraction to one another. “Tyler was like, ‘We have to be really careful how we play this, work on it and try to make it as real as possible.” That’s what we’ve been doing.” maintains Willis, “Still, it’s hard to get people to root for you when you know what you’re doing isn’t right.”
This isn’t the first time Willis has had to forge ahead with a new daytime coupling and forsake a popular fan favorite. Her on-screen split with Steve Burton (Jason) a couple of years back left Journey fans heartbroken. But the resilient Willis bounced back and caught lightning in a bottle again with Rademacher. Now, she’s looking to do it a third time with Chrisopher.
She has embraced this latest GH assignment like she does all challenges – the bigger the better. “I’m definitely competitive, and I love to keep up with the guys,” shares Willis, recounting a story from a recent vacation in Fiji with a group of pals. “We rode around on Jet Skis, these little Wave Runners, I took one of the guys on mine. I was doing 360’s jumping over waves, and throwing him off the back. I scared the guy. He was like, ‘You’re psycho. I’m not driving with you anymore.’ I love having fun, enjoying life…I’m a little crazy.”
Perhaps that’s why GH’s rock ’em, sock ’em Courtney appeals to her – particularly after having been perennially cast as a brainless bimbo early in her career.” For a while it got to be pretty bad,” remembers Willis. “I felt like all anyone wanted me to play was the cheerleader or arm candy. That bothered me.”
But the strong, independent little sister of GH mob boss Sonny Corinthos is a different story, “Courtney stands up for what she believes in. She’s not an airhead,” says Willis. “That’s important to me. It’s easy for people to look at me and think: dumb blonde. That totally pisses me off.”
Willis also appreciates Courtney’s tough physical edge; the side that can haul off and punch anyone. “I always love doing the fight scenes,” smiles Willis, “although there were certain situations where it seemed a bit much. Like I’d just be walking through the park and start to beat some up.”
As for life in Los Angeles, Willis keeps things low key. She’s much more the girl-next-door type than the Hollywood starlet. In fact, Willis admits to feeling “uncomfortable and out of my element big time,” on the occasions when she has to get all gussied up for a splashy industry event. “Most people I meet think it’s totally weird that I’m and actor. They’re like, ‘You don’t seem like an actor.’ Whatever that means!”
To Willis, that means living modesty and thinking about the future. “I bought a house and I’ve been putting money in my retirement fund. Planning ahead.” She’s meeting her goals, except for one vice. “I’m a shopaholic. I love buying clothes. My mom is always like, ‘Alicia, cut it out!’ But it’s not that bad. It could be worse.”
Like, say, a vice for dating Hollywood actors. “That’s not my type at all. I try and stay away form anyone who is in the business. I normally go for beach kind of guys…. Surfers are more my type,” contends Willis, admitting that she’s dating, but discouraging any further probing into her love life. “I made the mistake of talking about that way too much before.”
Men aside, are there any other tidbits Willis wants to share before heading back to the set? She pauses, “I’m pretty much a big goofball. If you see me on set, I’m constantly making faces and breakdancing in between scenes, although it’s not very good breakdancing,” she qualifies with a laugh. “The cast and crew just roll their eyes. They know I’m a big dork.”
© Soap Opera Weekly – By Janet Di Lauro