It’s hard to think about ALL MY CHILDREN’s young Greenlee without also remembering the yin to her yang, Leo. “I really loved the sense of humor and passion in their relationship,” Rebecca Budig (Greenlee; now Hayden, GENERAL HOSPITAL) recalled to Soaps In Depth. “It was natural between them.” Having developed a friendly rapport while Greenlee was entangled with Jake and Leo remained in a marriage of mercy with a dying Laura, the lovelorn duo breathed a sigh of relief when they were finally free to be together.
Alas, more obstacles — amongst them, Leo’s maniacal mom, Vanessa — got in the way. In fact, it was in trying to save a kidnapped Greenlee from her that Leo died tragically. Rather than giving Vanessa the diamonds demanded in exchange for his lady love’s release, Leo dropped them one by one over Miller’s Falls. The day those scenes were taped remains burned in Budig’s memory. “Josh [Duhamel, Leo] came to my room to run lines, and he was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ We couldn’t even look at each other,” she confided. “I’d woken up that morning crying because it was so painful to think of saying goodbye to him, and I couldn’t stop. It was crazy!”
Summoning their courage, the actors took their places on the realistic outdoor set that had been built. Just as Leo’s instinct had been to protect Greenlee by struggling for Vanessa’s gun — inadvertently plunging over the falls with her as a result — Greenlee’s instinct was to protect her guy. The difference was, Leo’s brother, Trey, pulled her to safety. “I was really hanging from that thing, which was great because it helped,” Budig reflected. “It was high up enough that it felt like I was really watching someone go over a cliff. It was horrifying!” As it turned out, Greenlee wasn’t the only one left bereft in the aftermath. “Oh God, I was exhausted!” Budig shares. “When you cry, it doesn’t matter if you’re acting or not. You’re still crying, and your body is telling you that you’re sad. I was depressed for a week!”
Unlike her character, Budig got to keep Duhamel in her life beyond that fateful event, and, though he’s gone on to star in such movies as Transformers and Love, Simon, they remain connected to this day. “We text occasionally, and we met once with our kids,” she revealed. “He’s still lovely as can be. He’s still the same Josh!” The actress went on to be paired with one leading man after another during her 11 years of playing Greenlee. But there’s just something about that romance with Leo that stands out, she maintains. “With him, it was hot, fiery and passionate.”
For more AMC features, keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.