General Hospital’s Jen Lilley in Academy-nominated ‘The Artist’

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Jen Lilley (Maxie, General Hospital; The Artist)Soapdom's brush with The Oscar's

UPDATED 2-26-12 9:00 PM Pacific

Congratulations to Jen LIlley and The Artist!  The silent film, with only 8 speaking parts, took home the Academy Award for Best Picture.  The film also won Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Actor (Jean DuJardin), Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.

More than a year before Jen Lilley took over the reigns of Maxie on the soap opera General Hospital, pinch hitting for Kirsten Storms as she recovers from an illness, she was auditioning for a then little known project called "The Artist." The film was in homage to the halcyon days of Hollywood, the late 1920's. It was going to be a silent film, honoring the films, stars, producers and studios of that era.  Soapdom found out how and why Lilley got involved with the project.  Read on...

"I love the 1920's," Lilley shared with Soapdom. I've seen every silent film that hasn't been burned in a fire. I really love that time period."

Lilley went on to reveal that she became a member of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) thanks to Clint Eastwood. "He selected me to play a telethon operator in 'The Changeling' based on my 1920s face," she said.

But how did she get involved with "The Artist," and what did it take for her to land the role?

"I knew when I saw the breakdown for this silent film (that I had to be in it). The silent film thing wasn't a big deal to me. Everyone was like 'why are they making a silent film in 2010?' I thought I don't care. I want to be part of it."

But Lilley was at a loss. She did not know anyone connected to this project. "Most everyone on the film is French, from France," Lilley shared. " I didn't know the casting people at the time, Heidi Levitt, who is a good friend now. I didn't know anyone else in this production."

Ever the resourceful actor, however, Lilley called her agent and requested that they contact Heidi Levitt. "I told Heidi the Clint Eastwood story," said Lilley. "The audition was cool. They asked us to dress in character, and I went in all 1920ed out."

But alas and alack, Lilley was deemed too young for the role, but they loved her, her energy and her 1920's look. "The director (Michel Hazanavicius, who is also the writer) wrote in a scene for me at the end," she revealed.

As it turns out, Lilley is one of the very few actors to have a speaking part in the film.

"Only eight out of 45 have a line," Lilley shared.

If you've not seen "The Artist," I don't want to spoil the plot point, but for those who have seen it, Lilley is the women toward the end who shows great concern for Jean DuJardin's character at one of the lowest points of his life.

Jen Lilley with Jean DuJardin on the set of The Artist (c)TheWeinsteinCo

And now the film is nominated for ten Academy Awards, and has already won The Golden Globe for best motion picture, comedy or musical, and the Indie Spirit Award for best feature, along with awards in France and the UK -- and did win the Academy Award on Sunday, February 26th at the Theatre formerly known as Kodak at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood.

Soadpom wanted to know how Lilley got the acting bug to begin with.

"I didn't go to school for acting. I wanted to be a layer or teacher," Lilley said. "My dad's a judge and I always admired the way he upheld justice. My parents always said find what you love to do and find out how to make money doing it. I was in school at University of Virginia. I thought I'd do teaching first and then go to law school."

But what's that old saying? Life happens while you're making other plans? It was never truer than for Lilley.

"I ended up auditioning for an indie film on a whim, and booked it! It was the lead role. It was called 'The Loss of Life.' When I got on the set, I realized this is what I want to do."

What about live theatre? "I do have stage fright, but film is okay. The film and crew don't bother me; it's a live audience that frightens me. I would do it to expand myself as a person and get over that fear, but it's not something I would readily seek out. "

Soapdom congratulates Lilley and the entire cast, crew, writers, producers, and the director of "The Artist" on bringing back an art form that is truly -- artistic! "The Artist" became the first film from a non-English-speaking country to win Best Picture, and only the second silent film ever to do so. (The first happened 83 years ago, at the very first Oscars.)

If you haven't seen "The Artist," we highly recommend it. Be sure to look for Jen Lilley's speaking part toward the end.