KIMBERLIN BROWN (SHEILA)
In a recent Digest reader poll, fans ranked Sheila in the top three of daytime’s all-time best villains. What’s your reaction to that? “I’m honored to be ranked as one of the top villains of daytime! It’s rare that we villains get to stay around this long. If it weren’t for the fans, I wouldn’t be in the top three — or the top 10 even — so it’s been fun.... It’s fun to be bad.”
In the early days of Sheila on Y&R, you were fearless in your portrayal. Where did that courage come from? “When I first came on, I was told Sheila could do no wrong: ‘Don’t hold back. Don’t play what you think is safe. Play what you think is not safe. That’s what we want.’ And that’s what I did.”
Was there ever a time when you thought, “How am I ever going to pull this off?” “I have to say, cutting a baby’s birthmark off was a big deal for me. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! This is even beyond Sheila,’ and they said, ‘Oh, no. It’s perfect,’ and they were right. When you play a villain, you’ve got to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.”
Which of Sheila’s bad acts was the most memorable? “That’s a hard question to answer because Sheila has had so many of those moments.... But there was one episode of Y&R [in 2005], shot with Halloween in mind, where I had on this long, full-length black cloak with a hood. Sheila was stalking Lauren and I remember coming out of the shadows. Sheila then was in some sort of an altercation and I had bruises on my face, and [after the work day was done] I got on a plane heading back home to Vegas wearing that cloak, looking like I’d been beaten, and people couldn’t even look at me, so I think that had to be the same way it came across on TV [laughs]. Sometimes, you can say so much without even opening your mouth.... I still have that black cloak to this day.”
How do you establish trust with a scene partner when you have to get physical, someone like Tracey E. Bregman, whose Lauren was often on the receiving end of Sheila’s violence? “Well, Tracey really needed to have that trust and feel that protection because she’s so petite. She is the tiniest little thing, so I protected her during our scenes, making sure I was strong enough to hold her up. Behind the scenes, we’d block everything to make sure that we were as safe as possible. I needed Tracey to know that she could trust me 100 percent, and vice versa, and I think if you were to talk to her today she’d say that, as well.”
When Sheila did something really nasty or abhorrent in a scene and they’d call, “Cut!”, did you shed that intensity right away? Is it ever hard to shake off? “If it was scene after scene after scene, yeah, you might want to go home and sit down and have a glass of wine — or a bourbon on the rocks — and put on some happy TV. I have always been the kind of actor where when I’m up and I have to be up, it does take me a little bit of time to come down — but not because, ‘Oh, I’m so exhausted; that was so intense.’ It was because I’m so excited about what we just did and how it came off. That’s what’s exciting to me. That’s a win, so if I had a really big win on set that day, meaning a scene that just rocked everybody in the room, that’s exciting. And telling your husband or your kids about your day, the more pumped you become. But the same is in reverse: If you think you could have done better and you just ran out of time and you’re like, ‘I wish I could have done it differently,’ then you get yourself in a negative space. When I’ve had a high impact day at work, yes, it will take me a while to come down, but only because I’m so excited about the work that we all did.”
Sheila has had a number of partners in crime over the years. Who do you consider to be her most memorable co-conspirator and why? “Without a doubt, it would be Ken Hanes [ex-Mike]. He was so funny to work with. It was like having Dick Van Dyke in rehearsal — and then, he could really turn on that touching, ‘I’m in love with you, Sheila’ moment that would take my breath away. It was so sincere and so innocent and so lovely the way he played his character. You had the hardness of Sheila at that time with this very nurturing, ‘I just want to please you’ guy in her life. He was so awesome to work with. Just awesome!”
Is there any downside to being famous for playing evil? “My husband and I were on a layover in Texas and I went into the ladies’ room and I had three women who recognized me and one had a newspaper and she actually came over and started smacking me with a newspaper going, ‘How dare you do that?’ and I finally grabbed the newspaper and said, ‘I’m Kimberlin. I play the part of Sheila. It’s nice to meet you,’ and then she was very embarrassed, and her girlfriends were embarrassed for her, but it was pretty funny.”
Have you always gravitated toward bad girl roles? “Always. I started out playing good girls and it’s fun for a while, but I gotta tell you, when you play a villain, you get into a headspace that’s very different than when you’re just playing flowers and sweetness. I’ve played many, many roles and some are much darker than others. With Kristen, what I love about her is that it’s not all dark. I don’t like when they let villains become dark and they’re just one way or the other way. Most people are gray, so there’s a middle road where they do good things. Sometimes they do bad things for the right reasons and sometimes, they just have a dark side that they can’t control. With Kristen, it’s the passion that drives her. There’s something deeper inside her. She has a lot of emotion that she takes out in the wrong ways, and maybe if she sat down with a therapist, it would help. But I don’t think anyone can say that playing a villain is boring.”
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