Where are They Now? Alexandra Daddario (ex-Laurie Lewis, 2002-03)

All My Children Wasn't Just a Job... it Was High School

Alexandra Daddario (ex-Laurie)

Alexandra Daddario (ex-Laurie Lewis) grew up in front of the camera, and she loved it. "Since I lived in the [New York] City where auditions and agents are very accessible, I have been doing it since I was a kid," Daddario said about her start as a child commercial actress. "My parents signed me up for all kinds of lessons, one of them was acting. The teacher took us to agents. One of the agents wanted to hire me, and I have been going out for roles ever since then."

But her first television role did not come about until she was 16 years old, when she booked a single episode in the role of victimized teen Laurie Lewis on All My Children. "My first scene was JR (Chandler, then Jonathan Bennett) taking me to prom. It was with David Canary (Adam Chandler), Jonathan Bennett (JR), and Elizabeth Hendrickson (ex-Maggie Stone)," said Daddario. "I only had a couple lines, something like, 'Hi Mr. Chandler' and 'Bye Mr. Chandler."

"I was so nervous, but it was the most fun ever just being there," Daddario said.

Daddario' did not let her nerves get the best of her. "They called me back for another episode and another," Daddario said. "I was so excited when they called me back."

Daddario will never forget her first moments at the studio. "When you're a dayplayer, you don't have your own dressing room, they put you in someone's," Daddario said. "I was put in Kelly Ripa's (ex-Hayley Santos). She had a note on the wall from Kathy Lee (Gifford) congratulating her on the new show." Daddario is referring to Live With Regis and Kelly, the nationally syndicated morning talk show Ripa continues to co-host to this day with Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award Winner Regis Philbin.

Still, the road ahead was uncertain for Daddario. Daddario was still attending a traditional girls school in New York, and the new opportunities to recur as Laurie was affecting her ability to focus on her education. "I was finishing my sophomore year of high school at Brearley in New York," Daddario said. "I would not have been able to continue my education there."

With a great opportunity in front of her, Daddario dropped out of Brearley. "I did not have a contract at the time, so I took a chance," Daddario said. "I went to PCS (Professional Childrens School) and did guided study and stuff like that." Being around other children in the industry afforded Daddario the time to continue her role as Laurie. "School was never going to be a problem because that is what the school was made for. They are very respectful and very helpful," Daddario said.

PCS has helped many a young actress on All My Children get their start. Notable alumnus include Sarah Michelle Gellar (ex-Kendall Hart), Lindsey Price (ex-AnLi Chen) and most recently Leven Rambin (ex-Lily Montgomery/Ava Benton).

Daddario (left) was joined by a sleu of younger actors including Michael B. Jordan (ex-Reggie), Micah Alberti (ex-Jamie), Amanda Seyfried (ex-Joni)

The typical high school comrade absent from attending a school like PCS was supplemented by Daddario's set life. "They had all these new kids at the time: Amanda (Seyfried, ex-Joni Stafford), Andrew Riddings (ex-JR Chandler), Michael Jordan (ex-Reggie Montgomery)," Daddario said. "They were trying to start a whole 'teen scene' thing and develop new characters." Later, the brood grew with the addition of Micah Alberti (ex-Jamie Martin).

The younger crowd also found guidance in a surprising source, Darnell Williams (Jesse Hubbard). "Darnell Williams was the on set acting coach and he took a lot of time out of his day to help us," Daddario said. "It was an honor being taught by someone so talented who has been working on the show for so long." Williams has since taken on his signature role of Jesse in front of the screen.

Daddario found herself working a lot. "There would be a couple of weeks where I worked every single day, and the next week only a few days," Daddario said. "Most of the call times were for 7:00am or 9:00am, and I would stay until 1:00pm or 2:00pm, then go to class."

Still, Daddario could not ignore a strange feeling in the studio. In late 2002, All My Children was at a crossroads. "I wasn't aware of it fully at the time, but it was an extremely transitional period. They were testing the waters," Daddario said. Gordan Raysfield just came on as Headwriter. Prominent stars like Mark Consuelos (ex-Mateo Santos), Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley Santos) and Josh Duhamel (ex-Leo duPres) had just departed their signature roles. "I think storyline-wise, they were just trying to adjust to the change," Daddario said.

Another major transition Daddario had to work with was a switch in leading men. By the end of 2002, Bennett left Pine Valley for Hollywood and Riddings took over the role of JR. "Jonathan has been doing it for a while so he taught me a lot. Andrew and I were both so new so we were sort of figuring it out together," Daddario said. The public reception to the green Riddings in the role lead to his abrupt dismissal in 2003.

Before coming back in his signature role of Jesse Hubbard, Daddario revealed Darnell Williams was working behind the scenes as an acting coach for the younger actors on the show.

Daddario revealed that after Riddings was let go, the original plan was to recast the role of JR again. "They did some screentesting. I got to see people from the opposite end. Usually I am the one testing or interviewing," Daddario said about the process. "They did one with Amanda and one with me, just to figure out the character so that the audience was happy." The role of JR would be recast with soap opera veteran Jacob Young, but not until late 2003 after Daddario and Seyfried had both left the show.

The loss of so many legacy characters combined with a shift of focus on the canvas to the younger scene did not sit well with fans. The public reception to All My Children at the time was, "lukewarm at best," Daddario remembered. The sinking ratings reflected this.

"I tried not to read too much on the Internet," Daddario said.

Despite these factors, Daddario persevered and landed a contract. "I was so excited, I screamed for sure.'" Daddario said. "I came in before they (the other members of the younger set) did. I was the first person in. We worked so together so much. We spent most of our time together." By 2003, all the younger cast members were on contract.

Though they were all supposed to be in high school, only Alberti, Jordan and Daddario actually were. "They were a couple years older than me," Daddario said. Downtime onset sometimes became study hall. "Micah had some special program from his hometown. He was being sent things and he would send papers back."

That did not mean the younger cast stayed out of trouble. "Once, we were running around and I don't remember if it was Micah's or Michael Jordan's, but we wrote in magic marker all over his dressing room mirror," Daddario laughed. "Maybe you had to be there."

Being on contract afforded Daddario a few perks, including attending the Daytime Emmy Awards. "I had a full length dress that a wonderful designer made for me, it was so gorgeous," Daddario said. "My mom was my date… I got to walk the red carpet and do interviews with some of the other cast."

"I tried not to read too much on the Internet."

-Daddario about the public reception to her character.

Daddario also remembered the day she was called in to do a shoot for her opening credits reel. "If I remember correctly, they were re-shooting everyone for a new beginning. They had the wind machine going and we all took turns smiling," Daddario said. "It was all the cast that was there filming on that day and they probably had other cast members come in just for the shoot." This new opening never aired. Daddario would never be featured in the opening despite being with the show for almost a full year on contract.

It took time for Daddario to understand the character of Laurie. "The character slowly developed so I didn't know much about her at first. She was a good girl struggling with her difficult father and the death of her mother," Daddario said. "The directors were the people who gave you the most direction. Judy [Wilson, Casting Director] was incredibly sweet and complementary. They were all so encouraging; they really wanted you to succeed."

The same could not necessarily be said for Headwriter, Gordon Raysfield. "I never really met the writer," Daddario said. "I met him at an Emmy party once briefly, but I never really had discussions with him."

"You get scripts months ahead of time, so you have a lot of time to memorize your lines," Daddario said. "But there were definitely changes through to the last minute. There was a lot of this going on."

Daddario's storylines had their light hearted moments. Daddario got to participate in the highly publicized FUSION launch episode. "I got to wear a gorgeous white dress… it was so fun and I did this model thing, and a little fantasy scene," Daddario said. But the shoot did not all go as plan. "It was already a very long day. Something happened and a fire alarm went off in the middle of the shoot. It was midnight. We were going very late and we had to leave the building."

A more dramatic storyline involved Laurie confronting her father, Doug Lewis, about his alcoholism. "One of the hardest things for me as an actress was discovering hot to play and show difficult emotions onscreen," Daddario said. "Basically, this was my father and he was dying before my eyes and it was my responsibility to help him even though he had been abusive in the past," Daddario said. "The director basically told me the same thing, that the emotions had to be high and that I was grappling with something very difficult."

Daddario said, "I wish I could do those scenes again today and see how they would different form when I was 17."

Daddario got to relay on a heavy hitter when the storyline called for a blossoming surrogate relationship with Vincent Irizarry's Dr. David Hayward. "I was excited to have my storyline take a different angle," Daddario said. "I just remember it was great to work with Vincent." This dramatic turn would be Daddario's last storyline. Daddario's last scenes would be opposite Irizarry when the writers had Laurie defer admissions to Pine Valley University to be by her father as he recovered.

The new pairing of Raysfield with Anna Cascio as Headwriters ushered in the end of Daddario's run as Laurie. Daddario's last line was, "I don't care what anyone says Dr. Hayward, you're a great guy. Anyways, I'd better go back in. Daddy's a lousy packer."

"Judy called me and told me they (the writers) were writing me out," Daddario said. "They were trying to figure out what characters were going to be on for the long term and figure out their storylines and see what was working and what didn't work."

"They had planned to end the teen thing," Daddario said. Of that set of young actors, only Michael B. Jordan would remain by year's end.

One of Daddario's last days on set was the FUSION launch episode.

Reflecting on her time as Laurie, Daddario would have liked to see the writers flesh out the character. "She seemed a little bit like a victim, a victim or her father and of JR. I would have loved to play her as a tough girl who didn't take any crap," Daddario said. "Hopefully [Laurie] is in college, and away from her father."

Daddario remained in New York for high school and college. Her latest film, Malevolence: Bereavement, is set for a fall wide release. She also worked with Edie Flaco in a new pilot for Showtime called Nurse Jackie. Daddario points out the alumni of young cast members from her time have all achieved various levels of maisntream success.

"Everyone is in LA!" Daddario said. "I was in LA with a co-star from the movie [Malevolence] and was planning to move out there. I went to a party and because it is a small world, I ran into Jonathan (Bennett)!"

Though focused on a pursuing a career in film and Primetime, Daddario would not rule out a return to All My Children or another foray into Daytime Television. "I had never worked on a TV show before. Working with other people, being in front of the camera, it was the best acting school you could go to, and you were getting paid for it."


Stay tuned for updates about Daddario and her latest film role.
For more on Laurie Lewis check out her Quick Guide Biography
Interview conducted on June 22nd, 2008