Melissa Archer as Natalie Buchanan
|One Life to Live character|
|Portrayed by||Melissa Archer|
|First appearance||July 16, 2001|
|Last appearance||August 19, 2013|
Natalie Buchanan Banks (previously Balsom, Laurence and Vega) is a fictional character from the American soap opera One Life to Live, played by Melissa Archer. Archer made her first on-screen appearance on July 16, 2001 and has remained in the show until its final episode on its online revival on August 19, 2013.
Archer originally auditioned for the role of Jennifer Rappaport, which Jessica Morris went on to secure. Archer then auditioned for the role of Natalie. On the day of her audition, Archer over-slept and turned up late. The casting department failed to notice this due to the amount of people auditioning. In 2005, it was reported that Archer had quit the role, but ABC announced that she had signed a new contract with the show.
|“||As fiery as her red hair, Natalie honed her scrappy sensibility raising herself in Atlantic City. Vulnerable and loving deep down, Natalie's softened with the discovery of her biological family. But when fighting for herself or her family, she is relentless.||”|
When Natalie arrives in Llanview she reveals that she is the biological daughter of Victoria "Viki" Lord (Erika Slezak). Natalie's bad behavior on-screen transformed her into a "love-to-hate" character with viewers. But some viewers told Archer that they wanted Natalie's boyfriend Seth Anderson (Brandon Routh) to leave her and form a relationship with her sister, Jessica.
On July 16, 2003, One Life to Live celebrated thirty-five years of broadcasting on ABC. Natalie's relationship with Cristian Vega (David Fumero) played a central role in the anniversary celebrations. In the storyline the characters are shown deliberating over their wedding plans. While the characters "dream about what they want," a flashback sequence airs, consisting of weddings that previously featured in the series.
In January 2013, Jolie Lash from Access Hollywood reported that Archer had agreed to reprise the role for the online continuation of the show. Archer told Lash that Natalie is now a single mother trying to make it on her own. She does have the love and support of her family but she is "very determined" to be independent. Archer explained that "I think she’s trying to look for a revamp for herself because of all that she’s gone through in the past 10 years and then on top of [that], the recent things that have happened." Eve Sullivan from the The Advocate revealed that Archer was filming scenes with her on-screen son and that Natalie would still manage to maintain her social life.
Natalie Balsom appears in Llanview on July 16, 2001, immediately befriending Jessica Buchanan and becomes close to Clint Buchanan and Viki. She later claims to be Clint and Viki's daughter. They take a DNA test which reveals she is their daughter. The family come to the conclusion that in 1986, Allison Perkins kidnapped Natalie and replaced her with Jessica. Natalie wants to find her place in the family and instructs Seth to romance Jessica. Natalie then uses him to help her become accepted into the family. But Seth falls in love with Jessica. Natalie and Jessica form a sisterly-friendship, but when Natalie discovers that Jessica is in a relationship with Seth their feud resurfaces. A DNA test on Jessica later proves she is also Viki's daughter. Viki's enemy Mitch Laurence had raped a drugged Viki when she was pregnant with Natalie. Viki was unknowingly pregnant with fraternal twins. Dr. Walter Balsom, who had been one of religious leader Mitch's cult, had stolen Jessica during delivery. Viki thought she had one child. Mitch sent Allison to kidnap Clint's child and swap them.
After settling in town, Natalie meets Jessica's ex-boyfriend Cristian. Viki's alternate personality, Niki Smith, returns in 2002 and pushes Viki's husband, Ben Davidson, out of a window. He is left in a coma. Niki makes sure Natalie takes the blame. Cristian is the only person to believe Natalie's protestations of innocence. He takes it upon himself to find the real culprit. Cristian discovers Niki has returned. When Natalie is cleared, they begin a relationship. She and Cristian marry in 2003.
Cristian becomes involved in a legal investigation and is kidnapped and later presumed dead. Natalie becomes involved with FBI agent John McBain, but he feels guilt over Cristian's death. Cristian returns in 2004 with no memories, and is believed to be an impostor. He kills mobster Tico Santi and his memories return. He makes John swear not to reveal his true identity to spare his family from watching him go to prison. In 2005, attorney Evangeline Williamson appeals his conviction, proving he had been fooled into killing Tico. Cristian is released. He reveals himself to his mother, Carlotta Vega. Furious over the deception, Natalie ends her relationship with John and asks Cristian for a divorce. Natalie later reunites with John after working together to solve a series of crimes.
John has a car accident that scars him and effects their relationship. When Natalie compromises evidence in the investigation into Spencer's murder to protect John, it ruins her relationship with him. When John is found innocent, Natalie ends their relationship despite still loving him. Natalie later meets Jared Banks and starts to fall for him. When Jared claims to be Asa's heir, Natalie decides to end things fearing being in love with a relative. But Jared reveals that he lied and they resume their romance. The duo hide the fact that David Vickers is the actual heir but Dorian Lord exposes the secret. This causes a fight which results in the death of Jessica's husband, Nash Brennan. Jessica, who at the time was currently her alter personality, Tess, decides to seek revenge and kidnaps Natalie and Jared, leaving them in a room with a bomb. Charlie Banks and Viki eventually manage to rescue them before it detonates. Natalie and Jared get engaged, but she soon becomes embroiled in Jessica's latest scheme of swapping a baby. To avoid the situation the duo marry in secret. Jared begins to enact his own revenge campaign against Jessica, including arranging for himself to be beaten up and hiring a stalker to target Jessica. However Natalie discovers that Mitch Laurence actually blackmailed Jared into the committing the crimes. Mitch shoots Jared and he dies in hospital leaving Natalie to grief. She is angered when Mitch manages to evade charges and stabs him. John sabotages the evidence of the attack making it appear as though Mitch stabbed himself.
Natalie and John become close again and kiss. But his girlfriend Marty Saybrooke discovers that she is pregnant and Natalie thinks she has lost John again. Marty miscarries after being pushed down some stairs and believes Natalie is responsible. Natalie is upset when John questions whether she is responsible. Natalie and Jessica's boyfriend Brody get drunk and sleep together. Natalie tries to leave Llanview but John chases her to the airport and begs her to stay. She gets back together with John and Brody agrees to keep their affair a secret. Natalie discovers that she is pregnant and Brody is the father. She decides to deceive John in fear of losing him. When Natalie tries to tell John the truth, she goes into labour and Liam Asa McBain is born. Jessica and Natalie plan a joint wedding with the respective partners John and Brody. But the day is ruined when the truth about the paternity tests is revealed. John leaves Natalie and she believes her relationship to be over after John drunkenly sleeps with Kelly Cramer. Natalie later begins a relationship with Brody in retaliation. Natalie discovers that Marty sabotaged the paternity tests and John is actually's Liam's biological father. To keep the truth concealed Marty pushes Natalie off a roof and kidnaps Liam, who is later found safe. The fall causes memory loss and Natalie continues her relationship with Brody. Natalie later realizes that Brody knows the truth and cancels their planned wedding. Natalie then tells John the truth but return home to discover that Brody has kidnapped Liam. They eventually convince Brody to release Liam.
Roxy informs Natalie that John still loves her. Natalie remains close to him as they investigate the murder of Victor Lord, Jr.. Mitch Laurence escapes from prison and kidnaps Natalie and Jessica. John arrives to rescue them and shoots Mitch. But he does not die and attacks John, Natalie shoots and kills Mitch in self-defense. The events result in Natalie and John deciding to give their relationship another chance.
In 2003, Archer won "Outstanding Newcomer" at the Soap Opera Digest Awards. She was later awarded "Favorite Triangle" storyline at the 2005 ceremony. In April 2010, a reporter for Soapnet praised Archer's portrayal of Natalie. They said she made a "brilliant scene" in which Natalie launches into a tirade of abuse aimed at Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell), following her interference with her romantic relationship with John McBain (Michael Easton). The reporter empathised with Natalie because people often say "awful" things they will regret; but in their opinion, "Melissa brought it home". Katherine Thurston from About.com opined that "Natalie has come from a life of lies and heartache, but since moving to Llanview has become a strong and independent women. She fights for everything she wants, especially when it comes to her family." Randee Dawn from Soap Opera Digest branded Natalie as "terminally-insecure [and] often-nasty". Chris Silk of the Naples Daily News said that "It didn't take long for Natalie to shake up one of Llanview's most prominent families." While Jennifer Snelling from Examiner.com said that Natalie is a feisty character.
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