|One Life to Live character|
|Portrayed by||Melissa Archer|
|First appearance||July 16, 2001|
|Last appearance||August 19, 2013|
|Created by||Lorraine Broderick and Christopher Whitesell|
|Other names||Natalie Balsom|
Natalie Buchanan is a fictional character from the American soap opera One Life to Live. She is played by Melissa Archer, who made her first on-screen appearance on July 16, 2001 and remained on 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 number 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.||”|
|— ABC on Natalie|
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 said, "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 of The Advocate revealed that Archer was filming scenes with her on-screen son and that Natalie would still manage to maintain her social life.
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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 and Natalie experiences true love for the first time; and she and Cristian become engaged.
Natalie is encouraged by Max Holden to enter the Vegas Pool Tournament circuit. After agreeing, she meets the man who will change her life forever.
Natalie meets the love of her life, FBI Agent John McBain. John is currently undercover on an FBI sting involving the tournaments and he and Natalie have an instant connection and attraction. This fact does not escape Cristian's notice who is quick to distrust John.
Natalie and Cristian marry in 2003 and fly to Vegas so that Natalie can compete in the tournament. Antonio Vega, Cristian's brother, and Jessica go to Vegas to support them The sting goes awry Natalie is kidnapped and held for ransom by Walker Flynn, the brother of Mitch Lawrence. John, Antonio and Cristian go to retrieve Natalie but Cristian runs ahead and is caught by Flynn. Cristian takes Natalie's place and Flynn takes Cristian hostage. He is later presumed dead.
Natalie blames John for Cristian's death who vows to make up for what he did. John stays in Llanview for the MBK case and eventually Natalie forgives John and they become close friends but are still attracted to one another. John reveals that his first love, Caitlin Fitzgerald was killed and later learns the MBK killed her under a different pseudonym. Blaming himself, John withdraws and although he has feelings for Natalie, he refuses to get involved with her. Natalie is distraught by this and the loss of Cristian and gets into a self-destructive relationship with Paul Cramer. John, mistakenly believing that Paul has slept with Natalie, indulges in flirtations with Evangeline Williamson and they began a physical relationship with no strings. This shakes Natalie to her senses and she ends things with Paul but John tells her that he and Evangeline are no longer casual and they can be friends. Natalie accepts this but is heartbroken. Paul stalks Natalie and tries to rape her and eventually is murdered. Evangeline is Natalie's lawyer but John breaks the law to make sure Natalie is cleared of the crime. He and Natalie become close again but Cristian returns home. Cristian returns in 2004 with no memories and is believed to be an impostor. He kills mobster Tico Santi and confesses but later learns he was brainwashed. 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. John and Natalie later reunite after a tornado hits Llanview.
John has a car accident that scars him and affects their relationship. When Natalie compromises evidence in the investigation into Spencer's murder to protect John, it affects their already struggling relationship. Natalie tells John they should breakup. John is resistant at first but they mutually decide to end it and that they will move on despite the fact that they love each other. They make love one last time and Natalie leaves heartbroken. She quits her job at the police department and begins working for Asa. Natalie is babysitting Jessica's daughter Bree in the park and tells her how she had hoped to bring her own baby boy to the park and how he would have dark hair and blue eyes and his name would be Johnny. Then she sadly says that he'll never exists (years later, Natalie would give birth to John's son, Liam who matched her description). John happens to walk in that same park and Natalie tells her that she was hard on him and he says he was a jerk and not to apologize and that he knows why she did what she did. Natalie tells John it's because she loved him and that she still does even though she doesn't want to. John tells her he feels the same. Natalie tells John she will always love him and he tells her he'll always feel that way about her too but that he isn't good expressing his words. They leave on good terms. Natalie still has period of missing John but later meets Jared Banks and starts to fall for him but is upset when she sees John and Marty Saybrooke kissing. Later, John runs into Natalie at Rodi's and he apologizes to her for his treatment of her during their relationship. She tells him that she knows he covered for Michael in a legal case involving her Uncle Todd's son and John apologizes because he now knows what it was like to be in Natalie's shoes when she covered for him. He tells her it was why they broke up but Natalie says it was their excuse but they had other issues. John tells Natalie he wants things to be right between them and Natalie asks if it is because she saw him and Marty kissing. John tells her that he didn't want her to see that and if he saw Natalie kissing someone else, he wouldn't like it. They agree that they are still friends and play pool together with John remarking "Some of the best moments in my life involved this pool table." Natalie and Jared grow closer but Jared pulls off a scam claiming to be Asa's long lost son. Thinking Jared is her uncle, Natalie is devastated. She drowns her sorrows and runs into John, who is also drowning his sorrows as he believes his current girlfriend, Marty Saybrooke is dead. They go back to his place and make love. The next morning they both admit that they weren't that drunk and they would always be there for each if needed. Natalie tells Jared about John and when she visits John to tell him, Jared shows up and they get involved in a physical confrontation. John and Nadecides 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. Sometime later, a Stalker targets Jessica, Natalie and Jared on behalf of Nash's death. John is assigned the case after Jared is attacked and begins to suspect Jared is behind the stalking when he discovers a former inmate of Jared is behind it and has been contacting Jared. Jared denies this but John aggressively pursues Jared to keep Natalie safe. Jared's inmate, Wayne Landers is discovered dead at Llanfair and it points to Jared. Later, Pamela Stewart is found dead in the family cabin and Jared's wallet is found in the vicinity. John is quick to believe Jared is guilty but Natalie sticks by him. Natalie shuts John out and John is upset that she no longer trusts him. John is upset over Natalie's devotion to Jared even though he is involved with Marty who returned to Llanview. Natalie throws John off Jared's tracks so she can find out what really happened but all is revealed when Mitch Lawrence shows up. He confesses to having blackmailed Jared and hold a gun on him, Natalie and Jessica. John and Brody arrives but Mitch manages to shoot Jared before surrendering. aign against Jessica, including arranging for himself to be beaten up and hiring a stalker to target Jessica. Jared dies in hospital and once again, Natalie blames John for not listening to her about Jared. She then apologizes and blames herself. She tells John about Jared's last words and how he died in front of her and John comforts her. She tells him it is too hard to go back to the bedroom she and Jared shared and John tells her she can stay at his place for as long as she wants. John is supportive of Natalie and at Jared's funeral, comforts her when Mitch jumps out of the coffin. He declares that he will not have any charges leveled against him. John says he will try to put him behind bars and they arrest him. The next day or so, Natalie learns that Mitch will not have any charges against him and in a mad rage, she stabs Mitch but John covers for her even though she begs him not to. John sabotages the evidence of the attack making it appear as though Mitch stabbed himself.
Natalie and John become close again and when Mitch frames John for the stabbing; Natalie and Brody bust John out of jail. However, they are involved in an accident and after Brody leaves to save Jessica from Mitch, John pulls Natalie out of the car as it was set to explode. He takes her to a nearby cabin where Natalie has a concussion and thinks John is Jared. John is hurt by this but goes along with it. When Natalie asks "Jared" to tell her that he loves her and to kiss her, John obliges. He feels guilty but continues to kiss her. To keep Natalie awake, he asks her to tell him a story about how they met. As Natalie recounts a general overview, John begins to reminisce about their relationship. Natalie comes out of it and realizes what took place and apologizes but is confused that John told her he loved her and that he let her kiss him since he knew he wasn't Jared. John admits that there is still something between them and that he can't lie about it and that he still feels something for her and always will. Natalie admits that she is still grieving Jared but that she feels the same way and it is as though nothing's changed. John tells her that it is due to all the drama and that they are just reacting to it and it doesn't mean anything. Natalie looks a little hurt by that but John tells her that he will always feel something for her and that won't go away but she said that they have both moved on and they agree there's no point in talking about it but John still leans in and begins a full fledge kiss with the both of them clearly aware of who they are kissing. However, Marty Saybrooke walks in and catches them and Natalie lies and says she thought she was kissing Jared. Later, Marty forgives John and John says he doesn't want to be with Natalie but he begins to have sexual dreams about Natalie while with Marty. He later visits Natalie at Llanfair and she confesses to dreaming about him too but he says it doesn't' mean anything and that they are still friends. They hug and then John, unable to stop himself, begins to kiss Natalie deeply. Afterwards, he is no longer in denial and tells her it wasn't a mistake to kiss her here or in the cabin. However, Marty 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. Later, Roxy convinces Natalie to write John a letter but Marty finds it and hides it. Natalie goes to see John but sees Marty and John kissing and her letter on his desk and wrongfully believes that John chose Marty but it was actually John and Marty saying goodbye. Natalie goes to see Brody who is upset over Jessica having a mental spasm and thinking she is still in love with Cristian Vega. They drink too much and end up having sex. Natalie tries to leave Llanview but John goes after her and tells her "I don't know what the hell we've been doing the last few years, but above ALL others, YOU belong with ME!" They reunite but she keeps her ONS with Brody a secret. Natalie and John consummate their reunion after Bo and Nora's wedding and a few weeks later, she discovers she is pregnant. She is afraid that she will lose John so she still keeps the secret and months later, a paternity test names Brody as the father. Marty, who is bitter that John loves Natalie, uses her as a scapegoat when Cole goes to jail and seeks to destroy her and begins to stalk Natalie and when Rex, discovers that Marty has a copy of the paternity test, he tells Natalie. Natalie tells Marty she will tell John the truth but before she can, John proposes to Natalie and tells her he wants her as his wife because he loves her. Natalie decides against telling John for fear she will lose him. John and Natalie make their engagement official at Christmas and John gives her his mother's ring. They announce it to the family. A few days later, John pushes for them to marry on NYE but Marty finds out and interrupts the ceremony. Fed up, Natalie holds Marty at gunpoint at the family cabin but goes into Labor. Marty delivers Natalie's baby boy and John arrives right afterwards. Marty has a breakdown and is institutionalized. John and Natalie name the baby Liam Asa McBain. John decides he wants to get married along with Brody and Jessica on Valentine's Day but the day is ruined when the truth about the paternity tests is revealed. John leaves Natalie and Jessica cuts her off and Tess comes out. John also starts a sexual fling with Kelly Cramer. Brody and Natalie become closer but Natalie discovers that Liam really is John's son and that Marty altered the paternity results. 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 does not remember that John is Liam's father. Brody pressures Natalie to start a relationship with him but Natalie still wants John. After sharing a kiss with John; she asks him for another chance but John tells her he could get past all of it but he has to respect that Brody is Liam's father and can't just raise him as his own. Disheartened, she gives in to Brody's pressure and begins sleeping with him. Jessica returns and catches them in the act and Brody cruelly tells Jessica he doesn't want her anymore. Natalie is clearly embarrassed and doesn't really love Brody but since she couldn't have John; she decides to make it about Liam and she and Brody make their relationship more serious despite the hurt it causes John and Jessica. Later, Brody finds out that Liam is not his and keeps it from her because he knows Natalie will go back to John. After thinking that John does not love her, she accepts Brody's proposal of marriage but Tina Lord Roberts discovers the paternity test and brings it to the wedding. Brody confesses that he knew and Natalie ends it and cancels their wedding and gives him back the ring as she realizes that Brody didn't learn the lesson from before about keeping secrets. John, who couldn't bear to see Natalie marry another man, resigns from the PD and is headed to Seattle(after saying goodbye to Liam) but Natalie races to the airport to tell him the news. They return to Llanfair only 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.
While John crossed over to General Hospital in March 2012, Natalie and Liam's photos were shown to viewers, and was heard speaking to John on the phone several times, though she nor Liam never appeared on-screen.
In August 2012, Natalie receives an envelope from Todd Manning in Port Charles, New York, which contained a picture of John kissing Sam Morgan on the Fourth of July (John had been drinking). John arrives at his and Natalie's home and finds that Natalie is not there. John calls Natalie, trying to explain what happened, but Natalie angrily informs him that London is her home. John becomes upset, saying Natalie can't take Liam and leave the country. He searches for his passport and finds that Natalie has taken it, preventing him from following her to London, England. John discovers the envelope from Port Charles and realizes Todd sent Natalie the photo and heads to Port Charles to beat Todd for which he is arrested when Todd files charges. Weeks later, John receives a notice informing him that Natalie allegedly filed a restraining order against him, blocking him from herself and Liam. In October 2012, John receives a break up letter, allegedly from Natalie. During the 2013 revival, Natalie is now a single mother raising her son Liam all by herself in her own apartment in Llanview. Natalie leaves Liam with the nanny to attend the opening of Blair's new nightclub Shelter. Cutter Wentworth flirts with her, and Natalie, lonely for attention, is flattered. They share a dance and she leaves shortly after. Missing John, she curls up on the couch sadly. As Natalie is putting in long hours, she falls asleep in her office. Nora suggests to Natalie they go shopping together so that Natalie can shake the blues. After Nora leaves, Clint stops by to suggest to her that she and Liam should both move back to Llanfair, but Natalie says no, and that she and Liam are both fine living in their apartment. Several weeks later Natalie comes back to Shelter and meets up with Cutter, who offers a drink that was named after him from a bartender (who he casually has sex with) named Nikki (Jenni "JWoww" Farley). She, along with Blair and Rama, are entertained and impressed by a singer that Cutter auditions at the club named Dusky (Jessie Malakouti), who Blair immediately hires.
The next day, Natalie runs a lab test to test from the liquor holder that Bo found from Todd's hotel room after Todd claimed that he was poisoned by his twin brother Victor Jr. (who returned to town after he was presumed dead after being shot by Todd, but was really kidnapped and had his death faked by Allison). At first, Natalie found no proof of any poisonous substance, but she later called Bo to tell him that she checked the tests again, and found arsenic in the liquor holder, confirming Todd's suspicions that Victor Jr. poisoned him after all. Later, Natalie finds a mysterious tattoo that was found from a dead body outside in the river, Tea recognizes that Victor Jr. has the same tattoo on his arm. After a DNA test on the dead body, Natalie came to Tea's house saying that the DNA found on the dead body matched Victor Jr., meaning that he killed the person found outside in the river. Natalie also strikes up a friendship Destiny Evans at Shelter.
Natalie is shocked to receive a call from John; who she has not heard from for some time. She visits her mother, Viki, and admits that she still loves John and always Will. Viki urges Natalie to call him but Natalie decides to ignore the call and go to Shutter and hang out. A few days later, she is served with legal papers and is shocked to see that John has filed a suit for visitation with his son Liam. She calls Tea, who quickly meets her and looks over the petition. After reading it, she informs Natalie that John is doing this because she won't let him see Liam. Natalie denies this and says that John left her and that she'd never keep him from his son. Tea promises to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, Natalie has dinner with her parents and has filled them in and then receives a call from Tea. Tea informs her that John received a restraining order allegedly from her and a "Dear John" letter. Natalie is shocked to learn this and had no idea that John had been staying away because of a legal injunction and not necessarily for another woman. The next morning, Natalie storms into Llanfair and tells her parents that she has been calling John to straighten the matter out but was unable to reach him as he is on an assignment with the FBI. Clint is happy that she did not reach him and Natalie tells him that all of her issues with John cannot be resolved. She is upset that John believes that she blocked him from their son and broke up with him via a letter. She suspects that Clint was behind and confronts him and he confesses. He tells her that he did it to protect her but she says it was control and blasts him for coming in between her and John. She tells him that they had a chance to get past what happened with Sam but his interference took away their choices and that she'd never forgive him. Clint visits Natalie and she forgives him anyway. She starts a casual but exclusive relationship with Cutter but ends it when she learns that he had been sleeping with Nikki for months. As Natalie dealt with the admission, her father made a drunken scene at the gala and was taken to the hospital. When Natalie went to visit Clint, she found Allison Perkins standing over him with a syringe.
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, "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, "It didn't take long for Natalie to shake up one of Llanview's most prominent families."
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