Donna Mills wants to revive career at 81: 'I'm not done yet'


At age 81, actress Donna Mills wants Hollywood to know she's not going anywhere. The iconic star, who played the glamorous, scene-stealing Abby in Knots Landing, hopes her part in Jordan Peele's highly-anticipated film, Nope, makes that clear.

"I want to look to the future," she tells The Daily Beast in a wide-ranging interview. "I'm not done yet."

Shortly after she left Knots, Mills decided to take a break from acting as she became a mom at 54.

"I left the business for 18 years to raise Chloe," Mills says of her adopted 27-year-old daughter. "I didn't want to work when she was little, to be out of town for two months at a time. Once she was in school, I didn’t want to take her out of school. I wanted to be a mom and loved every minute of it. When she went off to college, I was like, 'OK, what do I do now.' I love interior design, and then thought, 'Shoot, I'll have to go to college to train for that.' Then General Hospital called."

Mills guest-starred on the soap as Madeline Reeves beginning in 2014, ultimately winning a Daytime Emmy Award in 2018. She did a few independent projects before the pandemic and enlisted her old manager, Larry Thompson, whom she worked with at the height of her fame in the '80s.

"The reason I rehired Larry was because I wanted to bring an awareness of me back as an actor who was working again. I don’t want to stop. Not at all. I seriously love acting. I love creating a character and creating a role," she explains. "Now I'm trying to get back to a 'network' level, whatever 'network TV' means these days. There are a lot of opportunities for women of my age. As Larry says, 'We have to get you back into the conversation.' That's what we're attempting to do now—so people think about me when they're casting."

Mills is fine leaning into her age — but 81-year-olds can still be glamorous. The Play Misty for Me star tells The Daily Beast she and Larry had a disagreement about what kind of photos to provide the outlet for the feature interview.

"He wanted pictures that show me looking older, with short hair — not glamorous, just real. But I have just done a couple of photo sessions recently that were spectacularly glamorous. We sent you one of each! I love glamour. I love bling. I just do. I always want a little sparkly on me, but I can play the other—the older woman with gray hair. God knows, I should be able to," she quips. "I'm old enough! It's just two sides of me. I'm not glamorous all the time, that's for sure. I am probably offered more roles that are Abby-like than sweet old ladies, but I would like to play all kinds of characters."

Mills admits she thinks about aging "all the time."

"I go, 'This can't be right.' Maybe they forged my birth certificate or something. I don't feel old," she says, laughing at how "it sucks" thinking about mortality. "I want to stay here forever. I just do. But in your 70s and 80s you go, 'S***, how much longer do I have?' That's scary. So, I guess all you can do is live the fullest you can in what time you have left. I’m just grateful I have my health... I'm lucky."

Mills hopes Nope is a launching pad for more roles.

"I don't want to be living in the past. I am living in the present, and looking to the future," she declares. "My career has given me more fulfillment than I ever could have imagined."