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DAYS Melissa Archer Interview: The Scoop On Serena, Past and Present With Eric & Thoughts On OLTL's Natalie!

Courtesy/NBC

One of the most dynamic characters over the course of the final years of ABC’s One Life to Live was that of Natalie Buchanan.  It was that portrayal that introduced daytime audiences to the talents of Melissa Archer.

Over the years that followed, Melissa would become a fan favorite.  She also continued playing the role of Natalie B. when Prospect Park brought the series online for one season of 40 episodes.  Then, after a series of independent film roles and a turn in Crystal Chappell’s web series, Beacon Hill, Archer landed a primo role on NBC’s Days of our Lives, where just a few short weeks ago she debut as Serena Mason, the complex ex girlfriend of Eric Brady (Greg Vaughan).

As DAYS fans have witnessed, Serena comes to Salem as a journalist.  She has ties with friend Melanie Jonas (Molly Burnett), and already has a definite “issue” over Eric… with that man’s recent ex, Nicole (Arianne Zucker).  On-Air On-Soaps sat down recently with Melissa to get her thoughts on a multitude of subjects including: what she thinks of her new character, what fans can expect, the relationship between Nicole and Serena, and Eric and Serena, plus some hot button topics such as: what she felt about not being asked to join General Hospital to reunite her with her OLTL on-screen love interest, Michael Easton (formerly John McBain, now Silas), what if Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki, OLTL) were to get a job on DAYS as a recast Laura Horton, and where she thinks Llanview’s Natalie is at right now!  Here’s Salem’s newest gal (even though we all know she has been taping for months … wink-wink) the beautiful Melissa Archer!

So, how did Serena feel when Eric (Greg Vaughan) told her he was going to chose religion over her?

Courtesy/NBC

MELISSA:  It was off-camera obviously, she kind of knew that it was coming, and when Eric finally came to her it was sad, but she understood, because she loved him.

What can you say about the relationship between Melanie (Molly Burnett) and Serena, since what we know is that they met in Europe?

MELISSA:  It’s interesting the dynamic between them and that is what I loved coming into it. There is this really cool feeling of having this back-history even though I wasn’t a character that was here before, if you know what I mean.  It felt comfortable, not like when Natalie came into the canvas on OLTL … nobody liked her! (Laughs) Well, that’s not exactly true.  Nobody knew what to think of her.   In of herself, she kind of felt that she was not as good as other people, and I don’t feel like Serena is like that.  I feel like Serena is very confident. She is liked by people except perhaps by her frenemy Nicole! (Laughs)

Is Serena going to eventually attached to anyone else on the canvas? Do you know if she is related to someone from one of the core families?

MELISSA:  I have not heard anything like that … I have only seen people speculating on Twitter.  I guess there was a character Sarah Horton.  They wanted me to be Sarah Horton!  I think that would have been great, because I love Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) and I love Molly Burnett (Melanie), so I think being related to them on the show would be awesome – the three redheads!  Right now it’s fun, related or not related.  I will say, when you play a character that is not related to anyone though, you have more chances of your character being able to go all over the place with relationships.

Will Serena be spending Christmas Eve with the Horton’s hanging ornaments on the tree? (Laughs)

MELISSA: She ends up spending Christmas with Eric and the family, and it was really cool.  Every soap does things a bit differently for its holiday show.  I really loved how they did it here at DAYS.   It was interesting how it was done.  Everybody was in the scene, but the scenes weren’t really long.  So, it’s like you got the feeling of it, but you didn’t have to spend 12 hours to shoot the episode.

Do you see Eric and Serena’s revisiting of their romance being a slow burn … or do they hit the sheets … like tomorrow?

Courtesy/NBC

MELISSA:  I don’t think they hit the sheets tomorrow.  You’ve got to remember he just came from abstinence and then deal with the trauma of what happened to him at the hands of Kristen (Eileen Davidson).  Serena knows about it, and because of it, and the situation, there will be a lot of slow moments rather than jumping right into it, because it has to be something that Eric is comfortable with.  However, Serena is a bit of a man-eater sometimes! She is like, “C’mon let’s go!” (Laughs)

Did you know a lot of the DAYS cast here before you began taping episodes?

MELISSA: Yes. I knew Eric Martsolf (Brady), Kassie DePaiva (Eve) obviously, and Chrishell Stause (Ex-Jordan), and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben).  Kassie actually found out I was coming to DAYS even before I told her!

Was it nice being away from doing the day in and day out of being on a soap, or did you miss the daily grind of it?

MELISSA:  I love working.  The thing about daytime that is so awesome is that you do get a feel as an actor of having consistent work.  It’s fun to take something that you don’t get a lot of preparation work or rehearsal for, and still try and figure out how to make the scenes work to the best of your ability, and hope you are in the realm of what the writers are looking for, and what the show as a whole wants from you, and then what your fans want, and also what is good for you.

Courtesy/CBS

You had know DAYS head writers Gary Tomlin and Chris Whitesell from your time at One Life to Live, so I assume that is how your name popped up to play Serena!

MELISSA: Gary was the executive producer at One Life to Live when he brought me on there as Natalie, and then he was also a writer for a short period of time there.  I love Gary.  And, Chris Whitesell and Lorraine Broderick were both the co head-writers at OLTL and originated the character of Natalie.  I love them.  It’s a privilege to work with this trio again.

So many fans are saying that they want OLTL’s Erika Slezak (Viki) to come to Days of our Lives and play perhaps the role of Laura Horton!  They miss her so much.

MELISSA: Oh, my God!  How great would that be?  I miss Erika, too.  I love watching her work. She is amazing.

So, do you want Serena to be a bad girl?

MELISSA:  I want her to be more than just bad, and I want her to be more than just good.  I want her to be human, but I don’t want her to have to be sweet just to get along. I like that she is tough, and she will stand up for herself.  I like that she can be devious.

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Is Serena devious because she needs get a story on the professional side of her life and in her career,  or is she devious in her personal life to go after whom or what she wants?

MELISSA:  I think there are multiple layers to that, and I don’t want to give away anything because we are so far ahead, but I think there is not just one part to it – so there is this reason, and this reason, and this reason, and now for today this reason is more powerful than this reason.  How’s that for an explanation? (Laughs)

Do you want the fans of Days of our Lives to be rooting for her?

MELISSA:  Personally, I would think so, but I don’t know.  There are things that happened in her past that she has to deal with currently that are questionable, and therefore some of her choices aren’t the most upfront choices.  The thing that is nice about her is her sincerity in the rest of things she is doing is real, and just because she has made bad decisions, doesn’t mean she is a bad person.  So, that is why I like her, and that if you want to sort of compare her to One Life’s Natalie, she did make a lot of poor choices also!

But eventually One Life’s Natalie was good at heart!

Courtesy/ABC

MELISSA: Yes!  I do feel that Serena is good at heart.  I don’t know what the audience will feel, but I personally feel she is good at heart, but that does not make her an angel by any means.

The journalist side of this … Serena came to University Hospital in Salem to work on something.  Do you know what it is?  Do we know what it is? (Laughs)

MELISSA:  No, and no. (Laughs)  All I know is I am supposed to be a medical journalist. I am doing some research on stuff at University Hospital and I am so smart! (Laughs)

What has been your favorite moment that you have taped thus far?

MELISSA: One of my favorite scenes was one with Arianne Zucker (Nicole) at the club, and all I can say there is it’s one day that everyone needs to tune-in, because it’s really good.  It’s emotional, but not the kind you think between Nicole and Serena!

Tell me about working with Arianne Zucker?

MELISSA:  She is so great, and so fun, and she is so funny, too!  It makes the day enjoyable when we work together.

Courtesy/NBC

You were always really good at learning lines if I remember correctly.  Well, Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki) knew everyone lines at OLTL too!  Why does that come so easy for you?

MELISSA:  I like to say I have a photographic memory, just because it sounds good! (Laughs)  I have my moments and struggled learning lines when something doesn’t sit well in my brain – and that could be that sometimes I just didn’t understand it … like sometimes I have read it, and sometimes it didn’t register in my brain.  Sometimes it’s like I read a word wrong, and I am questioning, “Why am I not remembering it?” Soaps believe it or not, are slightly easier to memorize lines in than other mediums, because you know your character, and a lot of it is just telling story.  Then sometimes, the other person in the scene with you is going to say something that calls for a response, and once in awhile you will have a response that has nothing to do with what they said! (Laughs)

If you were to tell me in your own words what makes up Serena, what would you say?  Serena is …

MELISSA: Serena is a fiery lady, a firecracker, she is passionate, and because she is so tough, at times you think she is not going to be that sentimental, and that at other times you see that she really is.  Serena can be very sweet.  Her feelings are so genuine when she cares for someone.  And as for her being tough, I think a lot of that comes from what she does. She is a journalist who has to go out there to get a story in a third world country, and therefore if she would have carried her heart on her sleeve, she wouldn’t have made it through there and survived.

Courtesy/NBC

You don’t think her passion for Eric (Greg Vaughan) will turn into an obsession for Serena down the line, do you?

MELISSA: No, not at all.  Serena is not someone who just lets her heart out for any person.  So the fact that they did have that time together, and she did love Eric and he really did love her, I think she sincerely just wants to see if there is something there between them.  If not, she is OK with that too, but she would be an idiot not to try.

Does Serena know why Eric ultimately walked away from her in the first place?

MELISSA:  She knew why, and they do discuss it.  I hope the audience takes to her, because I think she has a lot of interesting things going on.   I think there are more colors to her, than just one.

Is it more scary than fun when you get to take on a new role and craft it?

MELISSA:  Fun, but of course it’s scary.  I mean, you don’t want to bomb, and you don’t know what people are going to think when they see you in a new role.  You have to hope that people like you.   But it’s always fun.  That’s why we are actors, and why we do this.

Has your family watched you on DAYS yet?

Courtesy/Twitter

MELISSA: Yes, and my family is awesome.  They are very supportive, and if my grandparents were alive they would be recording DAYS every single day.  They watched One Life to Live for the entire time I was on the show and they recorded it every single day. It was really sweet.  They recorded it on a VCR, and they finally got a DVD player, and then there were stacks of the show and such in the house.

Do you think you will ever to fully get away from the role you are so remembered for … that of Llanview’s Natalie Buchanan?

MELISSA:  Natalie is part of my history.  I never want to get rid of her.   I just want to be able to create other things, other people.

What do you think Natalie is doing right now?

MELISSA:  She is probably taking care of that little kid and trying to figure things out.  And, she is probably thinking about all the husbands she had, and all the husbands she wanted to have, and trying to figure out what happened to John McBain, who is now in Port Charles? (Laughs)

Did it honestly bother you that you were not asked to join the cast of General Hospital to play Natalie opposite Michael Easton (John, now Silas)?

Courtesy/ABC

MELISSA:  I don’t take much personally in life, and if I do, it wouldn’t be over something like that.  I am sure they had their reasons for that, but things have worked out well!

Is there someone in the DAYS cast you would like to work with, that you haven’t had a chance to have scenes with yet?

MELISSA: I would love to work with Kassie DePaiva (Eve) more, and I think we would have a blast together.  I think we have done like one scene together thus far.  I would love to work with John Aniston (Victor)! I love him, and I don’t even know him that well.  John reminds me of someone in my family.  I would love to work with Kristian Alfonso (Hope) too! She is iconic on this show.

Did you ever watch DAYS growing up?

MELISSA: When I was younger, I did a little bit.  My friend back in school … her mom watched DAYS.  So, when I was over at there house during the summer it would be on and I believe Marlena’s (Deidre Hall) possession storyline was going on then!  So I knew how some of the characters were. I am friends with Farah Fath (Ex-Mimi, DAYS and Ex-Gigi, OLTL), and she filled me in on stuff as well.

Courtesy/IMDB

What would you like to say to your fans for continuing to be interested in your career from One Life now on to Days of our Lives as we close out 2014?  Your fans have been so behind you every step of the way!

MELISSA: I would love to say to my fans, “Thank you for all the support and all the love.  It does not go unnoticed.”

For more with Melissa Archer, come back on Tuesday to On-Air On-Soaps for a brand new video interview of additional questions from our chat, where she discusses working with Greg Vaughan, some upcoming scenes, and more! Plus, our very special behind-the-scenes tour with Melissa in her new DAYS digs: her dressing room, the make-up and wardrobe departments at DAYS and an impromptu meeting with Ari Zucker!

In the meantime let us know, what do you think of Melissa comments on Serena? Are you intrigued by the character thus far?  Do you hope Serena becomes truly bad?  What did you think of Melissa’s thoughts on not being asked to join GH? Having Erika Slezak appear on DAYS? Where Natalie is now? Comment below!

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I wish Melissa well and continued success. Truth be told I was and continue to be upset at how GH ruined Jolie. For those of us who had followed Michael and Melissa’s portrayal of John and Natalie through the years it was a huge disappointment. There was so much more to their story to be told. The characters had finally shown growth and were moving forward. I would be thrilled to see Melissa and Michael Easton work together again. Here’s hoping….

Yes, Michael Easton can return to his role as Tanner Scolfield on DAYS!

One can always hope. Michael Easton’s talent is lost as GH’s Silas. There is nowhere for him to go. Give him a meaningful storyline.

Thank you for the interview Michael. Melissa is one of my favorites. In reference to GH , the Jolie fan base was screwed .Michael’s character of Silas is awful. I say bring Michael Easton back to Days and give Michael and Melissa a chance to recreate their magic. More OLTL fans will tune in and help Days ratings.

REUNITE ARCHER AND EASTON , THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN!

Seriously, would love to see this happen…

Me three…

I wish Melissa great success on Days. I will always miss OLTL but I’m happy that she has found a new home.

Ditto.

I think Serena is going to be a great addition to DOOL. She has a firery disposition and seems to be a bad girl coming in at first, I don’t know about the following Days but so far so good. She may turn out to be a good girl. Who knows right now.

I agree with the prior posts. Fans were robbed of a happy ending for John Natalie and Liam. Yes Days is a different soap but the writers should capitalize on the known chemistry between Archer and Easton and resurrect a pairing. These two would knock it out of the park! Miss them!

Gray, complex, layered characters make for the BEST soap drama IMO. I can’t wait to see what she can do with Serena. So far, me likey! I know I will come to love Serena as much as I did Natalie.

I am a HUGE Melissa Archer fan so thank you, Mr. Fairman for the interview I’ve been waiting for! Merry Christmas to me!

Happy Holidays to my fellow daytime drama fans. Here’s to a soapy 2015!

I was the one of the first…if not the first…to suggest Erika S. as Laura and Jerry Ver Dorn as Bill and Melissa as Sarah…Days wouldve been so much better…but why cant Melissa’s Serena still be related to Maggie…a distant relative perhaps or better yet Serena could be Maggie’s daughter…unknown to Maggie she gave birth to faternal twins Serena/Sarah(like oltls Nat and Jess)…a nurse switched Serena with a friends stillborn…Maggie wasnt told about the second baby because they thought she gave birth to the stillborn and only Neil and Mickey knew…they thought it best not to tell Maggie and kept it a secret, unaware the faternal twin did live and was stolen by the nurse and given to her friend…id accept this storyline…DO IT DAYS…DO IT…lol

I like it, jimh…but only with ME in the picture. Eric is so boring…brings nothing to the table…not a good fit with Serena. She sparkles; he’s dull. I can’t shake off this priest thing. Plus, his saintly countenance gets on my nerves. Does he think he’s better than Nicole?
I hope Eric and Serena do not become a couple…very unnerving.

Great interview! Looks like Serena is going to be mighty interesting! Love her already!!

I’ll add that OLTL was my all time favorite soap. In the OLTL in my head, Natalie & John McBain married and got their Happily Ever After with their beautiful son Liam. They still reside in Llanview, PA. Oh, how I miss this show…

I love Melissa and am very impressed with Serena. I think she and Eric are very cute together. Can’t wait to see how their story unfolds.

But, Melissa will always be Natalie Buchanan to me. I miss OLTL so very much.

I still miss OLTL every single day, but watching Days is helping me with that. I love seeing Melissa and Kassie and if Days could bring on Erika Slezak and Robin Strasser I would be over the moon!

Melissa seems to be a sweet and fine person…

That being said, this whole new relationship Serena has (and had) with Eric seems way too forced, too contrived. And to tie a bow on it (in time for Christmas), everyone (except my fave Nicole) just seems to love her. Barf!

DOOL, in the span of a couple of weeks, is shoving Serena and a returning Melanie, both bubbly redheads, down the viewers’ throats. For a show that shoots 4 months in advance, why they can’t slow down the storytelling just a little, particularly for new faces on screen?

Yeah, I totally agree, Serena and Eric and their past does feel a bit forced. Though, I am more into Serena as a love interest for Eric, than the tiresome Nicole. And, can I just say, I’m so not a fan of Melanie and the bubbly actress who plays Melanie is so not funny.
I do like Melissa Archer.

Jeremy, another thing about Melanie: I don’t remember her being so flaky…

Hey James, between Melanie and her father, doctor Daniel… they are both banal characters. She’s really a bore. Whatever, she’s back now.

Wasn’t familiar with Melissa Archer on One Life To Live but Serena is close to becoming a favorite of mine. She’s very appealing. Eric is lighter and less douche like thanks to her and they make a beautiful couple. I am curious as to what she could be hiding? Look forward to her stirring things up in Salem and with another of my favorite characters Nicole.

Loving Serena Mason. So happy to have Melissa back on my TV. I hope Serena stays sweet, Smart, and strong as she is now. Great addition to DOOL.

I am loving her on Days and am liking Eric and Serena…with that being said ME/Silas is being wasted on GH and he needs to come over to Days and be a detective again…

Dani from your mouth to God’s ear. Michael Easton certainly is being wasted. Would love to see him in a role better suited for him. Would LOVE to see him and Melissa again….One never knows…

bring the whole cast of oltl to days and we will all be happy again!

Love this girl! Serena is more interesting than Natalie IMO! Of course I prefer Days to OLTL and GH for that matter. The writing is less flashy and shallow! Just sayin!

Yes, I too agree w/the above posts that it would be GREAT if Michael Easton came back on DOOL. So far he’s not popping on GH as Silas, so I keep wondering and hoping….One day…..:)
Thank you Mr. Fairman for the interview and video interview as well. You always deliver when it comes to my favorite soap actors/actresses. Melissa Archer is a talented and lovely actress. I’ve been waiting for this interview. It’s a great pre-Xmas gift:)
Happy Holidays!!

Love the slow burn with Eric and Nicole and will never like this forced pairing.

Thanks for the interview, Michael! I love Melissa on DAYS so far, and can’t wait to learn Serena’s real reason for being in Salem.

As far as John/Nat and MA/ME…. they had their time on OLTL. I want to see Melissa playing other characters with different partners. So far, so good!

Man Melissa Archer is always so sweet and positive, we need more people like this in the world! I loved her on OLTL and I loved Natalie and John. I was hoping she would join John on GH but even if she did it would have gotten messed up because Natalie would have to leave too and she would have to play another character.

I always watched OLTL since the late 90’s, but when my favorite soap Guiding Light was cancelled I watched OLTL full time til it was cancelled a few years later.

Melissa fit in with Days right away and she looks like she’s been on the show for years that’s how comfortable she looks.

I wish Kassie D. was doing as good on Days but she really is mis-cast as Eve. I feel like she is over acting and is screaming too much. And when Eve and JJ had sex on the Christmas Eve and Christmas show I seriously was like WTF?

It seems as if Days needs some energizing. Love Melissa Archer. Even though she and Greg Vaughan are an attractive couple I see no real sparks between them. Watch Jolie’s first kiss. Sparks galore. It was game on after that. Would love to see that again. Please soap gods,,,,

All My Children

Soap Favorites Jason Cook, Brytni Sarpy and Jacob Young Visit the Michael Fairman Channel

On Wednesday night, February 28, Four for Fun, the movie written and directed by former Days of our Lives and General Hospital star, Jason Cook (ex-Shawn-Douglas; ex-Matt, respectively), which stars Brytni Sarpy (Elena, Y&R) and Jacob Young (ex-JR, AMC, Lucky, GH, and Rick, B&B), will have its premiere as part of The Golden State Film Festival.

If you’re in the Southern California area, tickets for the festival and to see Four for Fun showing at 7:30pm PT can be found here.

In the premise of the film, a dinner party between two couples experiencing eleven different endings, all of which points to the same conclusion – the best possible life comes from the one lived the most in the present. Sarpy and Young play one of the couples and actors Donovan Patton and Annika Foster, play the other.

Photo: FourforFun

After its premiere at the festival, on the next night, Jason, Brytni and Jacob will visit You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel for a livestream conversation about the making of the film, working with each other, and a discussion on their numerous soap opera roles and much more.

It all begins on Thursday night, February 29th beginning at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Make sure to join us in the live chat, so you can ask your questions and share your comments with this talented trio.

Photo: FourforFun

Check out the trailer for Four for Fun below, followed by how to watch the livestream interview.

Then, drop any questions you would like us to pose to Jason, Brytni and Jacob in the comment section, and we just might ask it live on Thursday night.

 

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Blake Berris to Chat Live on the Michael Fairman Channel as Everett & Bobby’s Story Heats Up

The tale of Everett Lynch and Bobby Stein is starting to reveal itself on Peacock’s Days of our Lives, which puts returning cast member, Blake Berris front and center in story.

On Monday’s, February 26th episode of DAYS, the results of Everett’s CAT scan indicate he suffered a traumatic brain injury which jives with his story that he was in a car accident and spent in a year in a coma, or does it?

Stephanie (Abigail Klein) and Everett are reeling that Everett as Bobby Stein was married to Jada Hunter (Elia Cantu) and treated her badly. While Everett claims he doesn’t remember anything about his time as Bobby, despite his fingerprints matching those of Robert Stein’s, Marlena (Deidre Hall) ponders if he could be suffering from PTSD, which might explain his memory loss.

Courtesy/Peacock

Everett wonders if he has a brain tumor, but Marlena points out that they would have found it on the CAT scan. While there is no obvious reason for his memory loss, Kayla wonders if he is faking his amnesia? Marlena tells Everett that she is a psychiatrist and they should set up sessions immediately. Will it be revealed that Everett and Bobby are split personalities living inside one man?

Blake Berris is set to chat about the latest storyline developments and more, when he visits the Michael Fairman Channel on Wednesday, February 28th beginning at 3 pm ET/Noon PT.  Make sure to join Michael and Blake in the live chat for your turn to share your questions and thoughts on the story.

Photo: JPI

Days of our Lives fans first met Blake when he played the character of Nick Fallon who was eventually murdered in 2014. Later, Nick made a few return appearances from ‘the grave’, in 2021 and 2023. Recently, Blake returned to the show in his newly-minted role of Everett Lynch at the end of October of last year.

Blake will talk about portraying Everett/Bobby, plus working his co-stars, and being a dad to his three boys, and more.  You can catch the livestream below.

Now, let us know, what is your theory about Everett Lynch and Bobby Stein? Looking forward to hearing what Blake has to say? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Legendary Susan Seaforth Hayes Talks on the Horton House Fire Storyline, Mourning the Loss of Husband Bill Hayes & His Near-to-Final Performances

It has been an emotional time for longtime fans of Days of our Lives and beloved veteran, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie Williams). On-screen, the iconic Horton home was burned to the ground in what appears to be a storyline-dictated decision that shocked many. In real life, Susan is mourning the loss of her husband and DAYS enduring favorite, Bill Hayes (Doug Williams), who passed away at 98 in January. Over the weekend, during the 2024 SAG Awards In Memoriam tribute, Hayes was remembered along with other motion pictures and television stars whom we lost over the past year.

Since the Peacock streaming soap opera tapes months ahead of air, the Horton home fire and its aftermath are currently playing out in all-new episodes with more on this story featuring Susan to come. Bill Hayes also appeared in several of these episodes making it all the more touching and heartfelt.

When Julie came back to the Horton home to see what remained of it after the fire, Days of our Lives fans were treated to a heart-tugging episode that streamed last Wednesday, February 21st. In it, newly-taped scenes of a young Tom (Zach Chyz) and Alice (Sydney Kathrann Smith) Horton telling the story of how they came to live in the house to raise their children, juxtaposed with Julie and Doug (and members of their family and friends), surveying what’s left of the beloved house, brought many a tear.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Susan Seaforth Hayes for this very candid and heartfelt conversation to get her feelings on the Horton house fire, and being given the opportunity to have a storyline at this point in her storied career. In addition, Susan provides some insight on what it was like for her ailing late husband to tape scenes at DAYS shortly before his death, what the series plans to do about writing off the character of Doug while honoring the legacy of Bill Hayes, and how she knew she had the greatest love affair that anyone could hope for in their lifetime, which in turn, has inspired all of us.

Photo: JPI

I was shocked when they decided to burn down the Horton house. Were you at first devastated … and did you know that there would be a big story surrounding it?

SUSAN: I did not know how big a story was with it. I knew that many years ago, another regime had planned on trashing the set and getting rid of the set because nobody cared about the Hortons anymore. It was stopped by one person, and I was eternally grateful for that. This time I thought, “Oh, my goodness! I guess I’ll be meeting people for a cup of coffee at the Horton Square. No home, no roots, no reason to be called in,” and thinking that’s the end of Julie. That’s the end of Doug and Julie. Then, when they began to structure a story around it, I think all of this came up during the writer’s strike. So of course, I was curious to see how this was going to turn out. I enjoyed the aftermath, because in the aftermath, and a little bit before the fire, if you saw the show, I get to talk a bit about the history of the household and the people in it.

Photo: JPI

In the special episode that aired last Wednesday, Julie gave Leo (Greg Rikaart) the family tree history of the Hortons for his story in the Spectactor.

SUSAN:  I’ve had a couple of good long soliloquies about the past. I’m fated to be the character that does that because I’m the one still standing. I must say, I do enjoy doing them. Emotionally, all I have to do is rerun some of the actors and my own family in my mind and the emotion starts to come, you know, the emotion starts to flow.

Julie talks to Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) immediately after the fire. She is upset that the Horton family Christmas ornaments are gone. Fans were not happy that they could possibly have burned up. Thank God! There was a happy ending when they were located and unscathed, or there would have been hell to pay! 

SUSAN: I knew that they were in the prop room and that they still existed. But how much they were going to put a story around their loss, I did not know. We don’t get to ponder the plot. We just get to show up and start doing it. I think on this particular matter, something as important as a structure of the original set of the show, there’s been quite a bit of interest. So, I can appreciate that.

Photo: JPI

I was thinking, ‘Did they decide to burn the house down, because they were finally retiring the old Horton home set?’ What was the purpose of it?

SUSAN: They’ve done everything to make quicker set changes, which is remarkable and very efficient right now. The set designer said, “I’ll be interested in your input,” which was nice. The one thing that I loved that had been done, didn’t work. You couldn’t shoot into it. It was a federal mirror over the mantle. I loved it. The size was perfect. I was just delighted. And then, we tried to shoot it, and because of the roundness of the mirror, you got a perfect view of camera one and camera three. So, it came down.

This is Julie’s project to renovate the home. She’s determined to bring back all the memories and redo it?

SUSAN: Absolutely, which is another nice note to play for my character. She’s determined to make the house something that her grandparents would recognize and still feel comfortable in.

Photo: JPI

What did you think of the episode that just aired where the show incorporated flashbacks of a young Tom and Alice Horton?

SUSAN: Well, I set it up. They had their own their own lovely scenes. I read them, and I’m sure the audience was charmed.

What do you remember when you first came to DAYS, and you were in that house, in that set?

SUSAN: What did I notice about the set? I noticed that it was a strange shade of green. (Laughs) It was explained to me that that dull color meant that your face would pop on color TV. I understood that. I loved the little window up the staircase. I’ve always loved that. And at one time, there was a model of the house that sat on the set on its own little pedestal, a little playhouse of the exterior of the house. Whenever the house was on (and remember this is when we were a half-hour and practically live, but not live, because there was no editing), there would also be the sound of a barking dog whenever we reached the Horton house neighborhood. We never saw the dog, but I’m sure his name was “Spot”, and I’m sure he belonged to someone.

PhotoL JPI

You shared so many scenes with Frances Reid (Alice) and MacDonald Carey (Tom) in the Horton living room set and up till they passed. Did they get along well with Bill? Looking back, how was your relationship with them?

SUSAN: They loved him. Well, Mac and Billy had worked together before in theater. Mac was very kind to me at the beginning and helpful. Frances was as well. As Frances got older, she got a bit testy. When someone says, “You’re not going to read the line like that … are you?” It catches your attention. (Laughs). I got peeved at Frances from time to time, but her intent was always to make everything as good as it possibly could be. I saw her come back from her stroke. learn to talk again, learn to do it all again. Not do it easily, but to do it at all was wonderful, and the same with Mac. In his last shows, he was very frail, but we’re actors. We liked being there.

Photo: JPI

During the taping of the episodes surrounding the Horton house fire, Bill was mostly in them with you. How was Bill doing at the time you taped these scenes?

SUSAN: He was okay. He was up for it. He had difficulty moving at that point. So, they restricted his movement a lot. Bill always enjoyed coming to work a lot, and it was extremely difficult for him because he was blind, and didn’t move very well. And now, to do a scene with people who may or may not, have rehearsed with you, who may or may not, give you the exact cue, and when they are attempting to have you look each other in the eye, you can’t see who’s eyes they are, that was the hard part. The easy part was working with him, which was lovely and was a gift. It was a gift from Corday Productions that he was able to work within three weeks of his death, which I thought was super and extraordinary.

Photo: JPI

That is amazing. Did Bill understand everything that was going on at the time of the tapings?

SUSAN: Absolutely. He understood what was going on. He just couldn’t see it or touch it.

The timing couldn’t have been easy for you with Bill’s declining health, and that the show was going to burn down the Horton home where you shared so many scenes and memories.

SUSAN: Well, it hasn’t been my greatest stretch. But I knew that life would be like this. I’ve had five decades of an absolutely wonderful, blessed marriage and a chance to work and a chance to live in my own home and travel, all good. And now, we’re going to have the epilogue. And the epilogue is the hard part, seeing rapid change around you and losing the people that were the center of your life. I’ve just been very fortunate to have cultivated some wonderful friendships, and to have a wonderful large family of Hayeses.

Photo: JPI

You do realize that you and Bill were the gold-standard of what we all should be lucky enough to have in our lives. What an incredible, beautiful, passionate, loving marriage that the two of you had. You don’t see marriages like that anymore. We were all just in awe of the two of you. To us, it was the greatest love affair. You got to have that which is so extraordinary.

SUSAN: I know, and it was all Bill. I mean, any idiot could have been married to Bill Hayes and been deliriously happy. The guy was so perfect in every way that you really would have to pick something and blow it out of proportion to ever complain about any of his traits of character. He was just all good character, goodwill, and good humor. I just followed along and tried to live my life for him, with him, and follow his style, which I hope to carry on. I hope to be as good to people as he was to people, and, not be selfish.

Photo: JPI

I always remembered how the two of you would come to the studio with your suitcases, ready to work no matter what material, large or small, they gave you. You showed up. You just had such great work ethic and you don’t see that as much anymore.

SUSAN: At the moment, it’s hard to find it everywhere. I think it’s probably generational. You cannot get too angry at people that are still holding up their phones in the one rehearsal that we have. I think it’s more convenient to receive your work electronically, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite as real. You don’t have a script in your hand anymore unless you print one up yourself.  Sometimes you haven’t met the person you’re working with. Well, that’s not unusual, but no rehearsal at all, that’s kind of marvelously new.

Photo: JPI

Does Julie lean on anybody for emotional support as she tries to rebuild the Horton home. Who’s there for her?

SUSAN: As far as I can tell, nobody. I’m supposed to be the wise woman, and Marlena (Deidre Hall) is supposed to be the other wise woman. I haven’t had any scenes with Marlena for help. I would think Marlena would be the person I would be going to for grief counseling, for friendship, for all of that. I haven’t seen it in the scripts, yet. I’m still deeply entwined with Chad’s (Billy Flynn) storyline.

How is Billy Flynn to work with?

SUSAN: A pleasure. Billy Flynn has grown a lot as a human being and as an actor since I’ve known him. I’m really enjoying his company and really enjoying doing scenes with him. We rehearse and then we get on other subjects and laugh and talk and inform each other. We’re interested in a lot of the same things. He’s a new parent. He’s really devoting himself to that, to that experience in the best possible way. So, I’m lucky.

Do Julie and Chad try to figure out who set the fire?

SUSAN: Oh yeah.

Photo: JPI

I kept thinking about how Julie got burned in the kitchen fire years ago and her face was scarred, At the time, your mother Elizabeth Harrower was writing DAYS and wrote that for Julie. Did you hate that story?

SUSAN: Well, I know where the story came from. It came up from something in mother’s own life. I knew the people involved, and I wasn’t crazy in love with the idea. Then, when it was supposed to go for six weeks and went on for months and months, I was concerned. Mainly, I was concerned that my face was going to be affected because of the appliance, the scars, that I was wearing. I was told by a dermatologist, “You’re going to have a little beard after this. Ripping your face every single day to get this off is going to be hard on you.” But, I seem to have survived.

Has the show even addressed with you how they plan to handle writing-off the character of Doug Williams, and how they want to honor Bill?

SUSAN: Only in the smallest way. I had a conference call with the producers and our head writer last Friday. I was informed about the immediate, immediate future. I’ve also been promised that they’re going to keep me busy. It’s a cast of over 40 people. I’ll be happy to show up and to be included.

Photo: JPI

I was just hoping that whatever they decide to do with the character of Doug that they were going to run it by you, first.

SUSAN: They have, and they have been very sweet about it.  I’ve got to tell you, this regime, they have a sign up on the wall now, that says, Things we expect on this stage.”  The first one at the top of the list is “kindness.”

Have you watched your work back all these years? I know some actor’s never like to watch the scenes they taped.

SUSAN: I think you learn by watching yourself, if you have an open mind, and if you are not hypercritical, or dismissive. I cannot be dismissive of a character that has given me such a wonderful life. I’m still interested in Julie, perhaps I wouldn’t have been if I’d been on the show for three years and never returned to it. But I’m quite interested in her now, and what she has to offer as a member of this ensemble.

Photo: JPI

Julie’s ties to the whole history of Days of our Lives from this point on are very important. How do you feel about that?

SUSAN:  There are those that don’t care about the history of the show. I know that. I know there are those that only care about continuing with something snappy to keep eyes on the screen through action, adventure, drama, death, kidnapping, missed opportunities, all that, which I suppose that’s what the audience craves. But, that’s not just what the show can do. What the show can do so well is character. There’s a lot of people over 70 who are still on the show now. I’m the oldest one, but I’m not the only one. We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary. I don’t think the show is worn out. And if it is, it’s had a remarkably successful six decades.

Lamon Archey (Eli) is back on DAYS for a stint. What has it been like to work with Lamon as his on-screen grandmother?

SUSAN: I think he’s terrific and visually he is so beautiful, so appealing. I think both Eli and Lani (Sal Stowers) are very appealing as characters. I’m delighted to be connected to Eli as a family member. That was a lucky break for me.

Photo: JPI

Do you think DAYS fans are going to continue to be emotional in the aftermath of this fire and all the story that comes out of it? Do you think we’ll be touched by what Julie goes through to get the remains all cleaned up for a new house?

SUSAN: I think anybody in America who’s gone through a disaster, and have unfortunately had the disruption of their home, will be sympathetic and interested in how it all turns out. It’s a nice note to play. We haven’t had to do that very often. We just go from one lovely apartment to another without much discussion. I think this is the one set that meant a lot to people. I was very sorry to lose “Julie’s Place,” as it turned into kind of a sandwich shop. I still loved having a business, a tangible place to be, and an alternate place for people to meet.

Photo: NBC

Upon reflection, what was your favorite scene with Bill? Was it when Julie and Doug got married on-screen, or was it something else that was much more intimate?

SUSAN: I think our last scene is going to be more important, emotionally. I think the first wedding was beautiful, but the material around the time of our second wedding, when Brenda Benet (ex-Lee) came back on the show and Doug stood up to her and says, “I’m not going to be manipulated anymore,” was also strong. There has been a lot of very important times – when Doug was killed-off by James Reilly, and we met in the tunnel of light. That was a day. That was a difficult day, which I certainly can’t revisit right now emotionally. When Julie found out Doug had run off and married her mother, Addie, that was a day. It was a day because, I went to the producer at the time, Jack Herzberg, and said, “Is this it? Am I not going to work with him anymore?”And he said, “Right! That’s it. You’re not working with Bill Hayes anymore.” We were not married at the time, and I thought I was going to go through the floor! That wasn’t a happy day.

Photo: JPI

In terms of Bill’s final day on the set with you, did you know that it was his last, and what would turn out to be his last scene?

SUSAN: Well, they didn’t know. But I knew. I had been allowed to rewrite it. So, I can’t tell you Bill’s last line now, of course, but I will in time.

What do you think about the sentiments shared by Susan on her late husband, and this storyline? How do hope the show properly honors Bill and Doug Williams when the series writes-off the character? Are you enjoying the Horton house fire story arc or does it upset you too much? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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