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Like Sands Through The Hourglass...
Julianne Morris
Tells YourMVP All About Life As A Soap Opera Ingenue...

Julianne Morris answers the phone and I am instantly struck by her sunny disposition and the hint of a southern accent. As an occasional viewer of her work on NBC's "Days of Our Lives," Morris's almost-southern-belle demeanor seems to clash with the succinct and proper tone that has made her a perfect fit in the role of Greta Von Amburg.

Morris is definitely one gal who leaves her work at the office, casting aside Greta's

Actress Julianne Morris

highbrow lifestyle and settling into a relaxed drawl that summons up my own repressed childhood of growing up in a small southern town. To be fair, though, Morris grew up in Windermere, Florida (arguably southern, though definitely small) - just outside of Orlando and only miles away from Disney World.

"I went there a lot, and I used to love it," Morris admits of her adventures to the land of Mickey Mouse. "But I just don't care for what it's doing to the area . . . it's losing its hometown feel."

You see, unlike the character she plays on DAYS, Morris was fortunate enough to grow up in a traditional family environment in a town where everyone was a trusted neighbor. Her parents, loving Christians who helped pave their daughter's way to a wholesome life, supported Morris in whatever she chose to do.

When Morris chose to attend the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem instead of pursuing intellectual studies at Florida State, they obliged her wishes, and prayed that she was making the right choice. She studied her craft in small-town North Carolina but in the middle of her freshman year, Morris got the itch to take the plunge . . . so she headed for New York City.

"My Mom spent a lot of time on her knees praying," Morris admits of her stint in the Big Apple. "There are definitely adjustments that a young girl has to make when she moves to a city like New York, but I loved it there."

Morris spent the next few years studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She spent some time doing commercials and other small acting gigs before deciding to uproot herself once again by making a move to Los Angeles. Still, her parents supported her decision, and Morris intended to make the move pay off.

"I went there without much money, and I didn't want to get stuck in a rut where I was working

a ton of jobs," she explains of her first few months in LA. "So I got an agent and immediately started looking for work." 

In reality, the work found her. Morris landed her big break a year-and-a-half later when she took the role of Amy Watson on the hit soap opera "Young and the Restless." She instantly got the attention of casting directors and critics . . . not to mention the fans. Eventually, this career-starter at Y&R led to more opportunities and before long, Morris found herself in the featured role of "Swamp Girl" (now known as Greta Von Amburg) on DAYS.

"I entered the audition process kinda late for that . . . I don't think I even read for the casting director," Morris admits of her success in snagging the part. "I just did my screen test and then got the call."

Since being cast in the pivotal role, she's gone from playing scantily-clad "Swamp Girl," covered (literally) with mud in New Orleans, to playing Greta, the ingénue covered in blood, in her latest wacky tale about virtual reality. DAYS has given the young actress plenty to do, and Morris has stepped up to the plate without fail, even when the work seemed a little embarrassing or unrealistic.

"The virtual reality stuff was fun, but it was a little humiliating," she explains hesitantly. "Sometimes, though, you just have to grin and bear it and do your job."

Truth be told, acting on television has been Morris's job for most of her adult life, although she spent a lot of her youth contemplating work as a missionary. As a youngster, she traveled all over the world doing missionary work with her family, making stops in Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize and Guatemala (to name a few).

"I've always been taught 'to those whom much is given, much is expected'," Morris details of her volunteer work. "And it is a passion of mine to return to Central America and help those who are less fortunate."

That doesn't mean she ignores the less fortunate in her own back yard. Morris spends a great deal of time working with children's and youth charities. She even spent some time working with an orphanage in South Central LA, offering the deprived youngsters a chance to be loved and appreciated, and seeing to it that they had the necessities of life. Sadly, Morris explains, because of her busy work schedule and personal appearances, she hasn't been able to do more for the causes she loves, but the desire lingers on.

She credits a lot of that desire to her family, including her adoring parents (she takes extra care to label her father as "brilliant" and her mother as "very smart") and most especially her brother, Scott. According to Morris, he inspires her to be a better person.

"I was never much of a student when I was at home. I hated reading, hated books," Morris explains. "But when I get here to LA and found so many people who didn't care about that stuff, I started to miss it . . . so I talked to my brother (who happens to be an enthusiastic scholar) and he sort of put me on a reading program. He supplies me with a list of books to read."

However, the reading and intelligence of her family wasn't all that she missed about home. Morris found herself longing for the "down home" familiarity of country music and "big ole pick-up trucks," both things she detested when she was growing up.

"We had dirt roads, so everybody had those big ole pick-up trucks," Morris recalls with a laugh. "I hated them . . . but then I got here to LA and I started missing that stuff. Now I tool around in a big ole pick-up truck of my own, and I've fallen in love with country music."

Morris adds that her family is very supportive of her 

career, and in fact, her father insists on watching DAYS "live," even though her mother often reminds him that the episodes are taped weeks in advance. "It's kinda cute, I think," Morris adds of her father's enthusiasm.

And what about those steamy love scenes that every soap opera has? What do the dutiful Christian parents think of those?

"I'm not sure if you would consider it luck or not," Morris replies laughing. "But I haven't had to do a love scene yet."

In three years on DAYS, her character has remained untainted (the epitome of undamaged goods)--at least on screen--though Morris admits to a few passionate kisses with co-stars Jensen Ackles (ex-Eric) and Austin Peck (Austin). She swears the kisses come easy, and assures that there's no way anyone could get caught up in the moment "what with all the production assistants and all the cameramen standing around watching."

"It's just too weird," she adds.

Not that there aren't moments of embarrassment, and after some gentle prodding, Morris reluctantly shares a horrifying experience during her recent "virtual reality" storyline. A scene in which she was supposed to have her clothes magically ripped off went completely awry. She admits she had pasties on her breasts, but the plan was for her to immediately cover them with her hands when the trigger line that pulled her clothes off was yanked . . . unfortunately, though, her arms got tangled in the line and she couldn't get her hands up to cover her exposed breasts.

"There's Austin standing right in front of me and I'm just hanging out for everyone on the set to see," Morris recalls horrified. "It was so embarrassing, and they were so apologetic about the screw-up, but I was near tears. It was probably only

about five or 10 seconds, but it felt like five hours."

Morris admits that her co-star was very gentlemanly about it, and tried to reassure her that it was no big deal. It's that kind of atmosphere and support that Morris credits with loving the job so much. She expresses regret that Ackles (her former onscreen love interest) is no longer with the soap, admitting she loved working with him. She also details the enormous amount of respect she has for Kristian Alfonso (who played her onscreen mother, Princess Gina, and continues on in her other role as the popular heroine, Hope Brady) and many others in the cast.

Don't go fishing for the dirt on her cast mates, though. Morris insists (rather sarcastically) that there couldn't possibly be any "divas" on the DAYS set, and jokes that if there were, she "would never tell." All kidding aside, though, Morris has nothing but good things to say about the cast and her whole experience on the soap.

Work is keeping her extremely busy, and even if she's not onscreen very often, the producers keep her on the road making personal appearances. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for Morris to pursue other avenues of acting, and she reluctantly admits that she has no plans for any new television or film projects in the works. However, she does share one tiny tidbit of information: Greta is about to embark on a big new storyline with longtime audience favorites Jack and Jennifer.

"[Headwriter] Tom Langan has something funny up his sleeve," Morris explains. "It's going to be great."

After a delightful conversation infused by her cheerful and upbeat attitude, it's hard not to believe Morris. After "days" in the mud and covered in blood, she's ready for something a little light-hearted.

For more information on Julianne visit
Julianne Morris Online

Interviewed and written by Jim Jarrell

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