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THE A MARTINEZ INTERVIEW – ONE LIFE TO LIVE

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Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

This week A Martinez returns to daytime! What prompted your decision to come back to daytime and to “OLTL”?

A:

It’s really an interesting show, and so many of the actors on there are actors that I have loved. When I was doing “GH”, I had met most of those actors around ABC functions and the Daytime Emmys. I got to go to a party once for Erika Slezak (Viki), who I think is the most remarkable actress. I have had such a high regard for her and the show. I had met Frank Valentini (executive producer, “OLTL) back in the day, and when you are in daytime, it’s really a small community. Even the people I worked with going way back to, “Santa Barbara” they are still working, and you feel like a connection to them even though months and often years go by, without any real conversations. It’s an interesting feeling to walk back into it. Going back to the set of a daytime soap felt so immediately comfortable. It was actually quite surprising.

MICHAEL:

How long can fans expect your stay in Llanview to be?

A:

I signed a five-week deal and I just finished my last tape day. I think the stories and the scenes will play out over 8 weeks.

MICHAEL:

Was the shows intention with your character, Ray Montez always supposed to be for a short stint?

A:

The character had various incarnations; I think he was originally thought of as someone who would be around for awhile, and then someone who was somewhat disposable quickly. I think, but you never know, but he may survive. I won’t say more than that. I think there is possibly a future for him. I hope so, because he is a lot of fun to play.

MICHAEL:

Is there a down side to only being able to explore this new character for such a short time?

A:

There is no down side. It’s a really fun character and the actors are wonderful to work with. At this point in time, it’s greatly pleasurable to spend time in New York City. We would have to think long and hard as a family if we make a decision to move here.

MICHAEL:

Vince Irizarry (ex-David) who recently left “Y&R” told me he was flying back and forth every week from his home on the east coast to continue taping his role on the west coast. Would you consider a set-up like that?

A:

The thing is, you can’t quite tell how you are going to respond to it until you try it. So far what has happened is, I came and when back to LA once, and did that again, and then my family came and visited me and we had our wonderful little August summer vacation. It’s been a great five weeks, I have to say.

MICHAEL:

What were the circumstances that led you to Llanview?

A:

My agent called me and said, “There is this thing, and would you consider doing it?”, and it was a little much to consider. It was sign on the dotted line and move to New York for two years, and that was a little too much to imagine. But then the showed changed the way they thought about it, and I looked at what was on the table and thought it would be great.

MICHAEL:

You are one of the most beloved and cherished actors the soap genre had ever had. Why do you think you work so well in this medium?

A:

I have always loved working in daytime, it’s certainly where I feel the most free of anything. Once you establish that in your mind, it’s hard to let go of it. Even though I am getting better,  and ‘god knows’ I should after all these years, I think I am getting better in film than I used to be. There is just nothing like it, the soaps….the freedom of being and performing live with live cameras. I love to play with good actors and it literally is fun.

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MICHAEL:

Why do you think some actors and characters transcend in this genre, while some do not?

A:

When I did, “Santa Barbara” I played Cruz for more than 1600 times. He took on weight in my emotional life that was shocking when he was gone. I had no idea for what it would feel like to say, “Goodbye” to that guy.

MICHAEL:

The fans weren’t either.  It was so hard to say goodbye to “Santa Barbara” and to Cruz Castillo. It’s such a testament to you and the character, and how you portrayed him. It is legendary!

A:

He is a great guy, and at the end of the day, it’s about the writing, and he was the best guy I got. There is just no getting around it. He was my teacher and he was my brother, and when he went away, he demanded he be mourned in my own personal architecture. All that being said, it was a nice day when I could finally let go of it.

MICHAEL:

From Cruz on “SB”, we next saw you return to daytime on “GH” as Roy Deluca. This week you come back to daytime as Ray Montez. What can you tell us about him?

A-look.jpgA:

He’s tortured and misunderstood. He’s not well-mannered, but he is capable of being charming. He defaults more often to certain rudeness. He is real different.

MICHAEL:

Is he a criminal?

A:

He is perceived to be a criminal, and legally he has been imprisoned, but it remains to be seen what goes on with his heart. The thing that is so great about him is he is really tortured. He is not a guy that has got the world on a string. He is struggling, and it’s so much fun to play. It’s hard not to root for somebody, if you have empathy for anyone who is struggling unless they are utterly irredeemable!

MICHAEL:

So he is not irredeemable and not a villain?

A:

No. I would not say he is a villain, but people do talk a lot of trash about him.

MICHAEL:

Who have you worked with at “OLTL”?

A:

First, I got to work with Jerry ver Dorn (Clint) immediately. Clint brought Ray to Llanview and Jared went and did the deed. So, then I met Brittany Underwood’s character Langston, and then that turned into the Clint/ Dorian feud. Then I got to do some fairly operatic stuff with Robin Strasser (Dorian).

A-jared.jpgMICHAEL:

Tell me about working with the amazing Robin Strasser?

A:

She is amazing, fearless, and brilliant and that is the heart of it. You go, “OK, this is a person who inserts her fangs and goes to work and attacks the work and has such high standards and a willingness
to take risks.”

MICHAEL:

She knew you were thee A Martinez? Right?

A:

We were aware of each other. We met, although briefly, at this party that ABC threw a few years back. We met across this big white table, and we saw each other, and acknowledged each other and expressed our mutual admiration for the work. I always thought she was fabulous. When you get to do a scene with someone who raises your goose bumps that to me is the thing I most feel and crave as an actor, and as a person watching the theatre.


MICHAEL:

The rumors are that Ray will be adversarial with Dorian, but that he could be a potential love interest for Dorian.

A:

Hmm. From the get-go and the way we worked with each other, it was really cool.

MICHAEL:

So there could be some sparks between them ?

A:

Yeah.

MICHAEL:

Many fans and insiders were swirling around in their soap fantasies, that perhaps when you were going to be brought on to “OLTL”, Marcy Walker (Ex-Eden, “SB”, Ex-Liza, “AMC”) would soon follow?

A:

It’s among my dreams. I work love to work with Marcy again, but I have not heard that rumor personally.

MICHAEL:

Have you stayed in touch with Marcy?

A:

I have not talked to her for several years.

MICHAEL:

Why was that such an unbelievable pairing, Eden and Cruz?

A:

A lot of it was dumb luck of having such a similar approach. We are cut from the same clothes as how we see the task. She is really committed and detailed oriented, and the thing I would always say, right? The one thing that stood out over time, depending if one of us had a bad day, is it would never happen two days in a row, it would never recur. And sometimes that’s hard to do after a time. After awhile it’s real, real tempting to mail this one in… and that was not going to happen with us. And that is what set us apart. We were ferocious about how we protected the quality of the work. I say this to my kids all the time, and I am so grateful about this in my life, and that is, “We knew how good it was, and how special the work was while we were doing it. “ It was utterly clear to us that we had something very special, and we ran with it as long as it was there to run.

MICHAEL:

How was working with Ray’s Llanview relative Langston, played by Brittany Underwood?

A:

She is great, and it’s a sweet group of young actors they have on the show. They have a sense of doing the work, and they seem to know how lucky they are to have the gigs and are committed to the work. Brittany is a strong worker.

MICHAEL:

Langston did not know she had an Uncle Ray.

A:

She did not know of Ray. Langston was looking for relatives when her parents perished.

jachendy.jpgMICHAEL:

Ray has wife, Vanessa!

A:

Yeah, Jacqueline Hendy is the actress that
I have done one scene with. She is very nice. Jacqueline plays my wife and somebody is a trouble maker in this group and that’s the big debate. Who is the most trouble in the marriage? We don’t really know.

MICHAEL:

Any other famous “One Lifers” we should look forward to seeing you on-screen with?

A:

I got to do nice stuff with Kamar de los Reyes (Antonio), and briefly got to work with Hillary B. Smith (Nora).

MICHAEL:

Well, I thought perhaps they would put Hillary and A together? The two Daytime Emmy winning dynamos, and that would really screw Clint for bringing Ray to stir up trouble in the first place.

A:

Hillary’s character, Nora just treated Ray terribly. He is apparently an easy guy not to like. I just knew Hillary from back in the day.


MICHAEL:

So how do we get you in a scene with Erika Slezak?

A:

She walked in the door today! Erika was on vacation the whole time I was there. I just got to say, “Hello” to her, and she’s Erika Slezak. I saw her in the hallway!

MICHAEL:

If you were to explain who Ray is, what would you say?

A:

He’s a tortured guy who is trying to crawl out from under a rock.

Double2.jpgMICHAEL:

So, you have completed everything with “OLTL” at this point?

A:

I filled my contract.

MICHAEL:

What do you think needs to happen for everyone at the show and ABC to commit to telling Ray’s story long term?

A:

I am sure that they have to reconvene and figure what they want to do next. It’s like so many aspects of this game. You don’t really know until you put it on its feet, and see how it stands up. They have to look at it on how it plays within the flow of the show, and then see how the viewers respond to it. I think as you mentioned and intimated, it’s sometimes difficult to separate me from Cruz. He is probably one of 150 people I have played and still he is that guy. I think it’s always questionable how people will respond to any actor, when they are expecting a certain thing and what they are getting is something else.

MICHAEL:

My thought was “OLTL” would be stupid if they did not try to keep you on the show, first of all, for your value?

A:

I think a lot depends on how people respond to it. I am very hopeful.

MICHAEL:

Was their one scene that you felt you got to “dig” into?

A:

There was one scene were Dorian got Ray to loose his cool and he become undone. She got him so mad that he started breathing heavy, and then he tried to get out of the room, and before he could get to the door, she jumped him from behind, and tore him up! It filled my eyes and gave me goose bumps.

MICHAEL:

There was a wonderful new Lifetime Television movie you just appeared in, “Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story”. Tell us about it?

pow-wow.jpgA:

It’s a true story and it was a wonderful experience to get it. I was approached by a woman from the Native American Cultural Studies class at Cal State Dominquez Hills. They had used one of my earlier movies called, “Pow Wow Highway” on their syllabus. She called me and asked me, “If I would come meet her class?”, and I had not seen it in a long time, so I thought I would love to go, and I would watch it again. She let me come and see the movie. It was a joy to see it. I had an audition that same day. I am on this wonderful high from seeing the movie, and I am driving to Hollywood. At that point, my manager calls and says: “Well, there is good news and bad news. And bad news first… the interview you are currently driving to, they have decided to go in another direction. So you don’t need to keep driving.” I go, “Well, what is the good news?” He then says, “The good news is that Lifetime called and offered you this movie, “Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story”. It was one of those great days.

MICHAEL:

The story is so moving. Did you know when you got your part in the film that this was going to be an incredible and powerful experience?

A:

Judy Reyes (Nurse Carla, “Scrubs) played this woman, Luz Cuevas. She busted us down at the table read, and when I saw that, I knew this was going to be something special. Usually, at the table read hopefully there will be hope for optimism on a project. She just killed. She turned to me at one point in time, and this woman thinks she has lost her baby, and thinks her baby is alive, and everyone including her father, and husband and the police are telling her she’s crazy, and she need to get a grip and get on with her life. Well, she finally comes to my character, who in the real-life true story, is the person she turned to, and in the table read she turned to me and said, “Do you believe me?” When Judy said that line to me… her face was pale, her eyes were wet, her lip was moving, and I was thinking, “Holy Moly! This is going to kill, and it did.” We went to the premiere in Hollywood at the Director’s Guild, and it tore the room up. Then the executive at Lifetime addressed the room and said, “I want you to know the real Delimar Vera is here with her momma. Here they are!” We all stood up and turned to her. The baby and she are now together. That is the baby that was supposedly dead in the film, and the entire room gave her in a standing ovation. They just bathed her with respect and it melted her.

little-girl.jpgMICHAEL:

Tell us about your role in the film?

A:

I play this guy named Angel Cruz, who is a representative in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who is out of Philadelphia’s 180th district. I think he may be the first Hispanic legislator to come out of Philly. I think he is in his fourth term now and made it possible for this woman to have her life turned back around, because when she came to him, he promoted himself as the friend of the common persona. When she came to him, he did not brush her off. He went out of is way to get her access to DNA tests which she could not afford under her own auspices and functioned as an angel in her life. So it’s really cool to say the least.

To read a write up and review from the Philadelphia Daily News about the background of this horrific yet triumphant story on Delimar Vera, click here!

MICHAEL:

Have you stayed in touch with Jill Farren Phelps (executive producer, “GH”)? I know she is one of your closest friends from way back to your collaboration with her, when she was executive producer of “Santa Barbara”.

A:

Yeah I have. She is as good of friend as anyone, and helps me with so many things in terms of a career. As a person, she is one of the wisest people I have ever known. Our family owes so much to her family, and the things they do instinctually is just wonderful.

MICHAEL:

When Roy Deluca wondered out of Port Charles and you left “GH”, did you and Jill feel the character had it’s closure?

A:

Basically, they sent him to Miami.

MICHAEL:

I got confused. I think he kind of felt shuffled off the canvas.

A:

There was a thing where he was trying to undo Sonny and then Alcazar came in. Then Roy went into ca-hoots with Sonny and went to Miami to cover some of Sonny’s operations. At that time, I got offered this Lifetime Series, “For the People”. That was a real sweet gig. I was hoping it would turn into something, and then in true show biz fashion, you walk away with another gig.


MICHAEL:

How was it working with heavy hitters… Maurice Benard (Sonny) Steve Burton (Jason)?

A:

They are wonderful, and the best thing for me is that I got to work with Tony Geary (Luke), because Roy and Luke were thick as thieves. It goes back to the very beginning of the show that relationship, and obviously it’s Tony Geary! It’s a wonderful group of actors. I got to do things with lots of people on the show, but most of the stuff, I got to do with the men was with Tony. There really is no one quite like him. You don’t know how much I respect him.

MICHAEL:

What is it about him that makes him so unique and special as a performer?

A:

Tony steps up on a daily basis. He explores these colors, and the palette he is using is just so huge. It’s so hard to pin that character of Luke down. There are things we have come to understand about him. The day by day exploration and wanting to try new things made it such a joy to work with that guy.

MICHAEL:

How was it getting to work with Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) when you were back in the fold with her? So many loved her, as Julia Capwell on “Santa Barbara”.

A:

We’re down. She’s awesome!

MICHAEL:

Also, I know there was a moment in time you thought was very special for Maurice Benard.

A:

When Maurice won his Emmy… it was long overdue. What a night that was!

MICHAEL:

We thought your Daytime Emmy was long overdue by the way!

A:

Oh bless your heart….

MICHAEL:

….I remember. I was there.

A:

The thing I will never forget about it was that afterwards, my wife, Leslie and I stood off one of those big ballrooms, because the show was inside the main Marriot Marquis ballroom in New York City. We stood there together shoulder to shoulder for three hours or so. We fielded a river of people coming to express their best wishes and their pleasure that I had been recognized. That’s a moment where you feel your whole sense of the world tilt a little bit. I mean… it was beyond. It was so genuinely generous from so many directions and gave us certain value to the work.

A-tux.jpgMICHAEL:

Where is the Emmy?

A:

It’s my living room. I will tell you what though, whenever we evacuate because of the latest fires or what not in LA, you grab your Emmy! At the end of the day one thing you can say about it is, “that they are very pretty items.”

MICHAEL:

I wanted to just go back to your “Santa Barbara” days with you. Give me a few words about some of your former female co-stars…Kim Zimmer (Ex-Jodie, “SB”, now Reva, “GL”)?

A:

She was profoundly energetic and fun.

MICHAEL:

Sydney Penny (Ex-BJ, “SB”)?

A:

Soulful.

MICHAEL:

Eileen Davidson (Ex-Kelly, “SB”, now Ashley, “Y&R”)?

A:

Beautiful and passionate.


A-Chains.jpgMICHAEL:

In closing, as you premiere on “OLTL” this week, what can we tell fans to look forward to?

A:

The fans can look forward to that he is a real interesting guy. He got to do a bunch of real interesting things with a bunch of the characters. If people enjoy watching it half as much as I enjoyed doing it, then they will remember him fondly.

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Hi, am Nelly,
from Africa (Kenya) I have read this whole interview but with only one interest, Cruz and Eden..how is it possible that A has not talked to Marcy for several years? this is simply heartbeaking… I think. Their incredible perfomance on SB left many of us all over the world marvel at what real love should be, it was sort of a yardstich for which all love should be measured. The least they could have done for their fans, especially hopeless romantics like me, is to stay friends.. atleast… what happened? so heartbeaking. Yes we respect that they have separate lives now, but aleast remain in touch…. ooh! will always love these two forever!

Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Star Blake Berris Chats On the Everett Lynch/Bobby Stein Mystery, Working with His New Co-Stars, and the Last Christmas Episode with Bill Hayes

On Days of our Lives, the return of Blake Berris is making for some very intriguing drama, with the audience guessing just which way the story will go.

When Berris arrived back on Days of our Lives, after previously playing Nick Fallon, he was taking on the new role of Everett Lynch, who has a past with Stephanie Johnson (Abigail Klein) and Jada Hunter (Elia Cantu). Only, as it has been revealed, the past he had with Jada was under the name “Bobby Stein,” who from what we can tell was far from a nice guy.

Blake visited the Michael Fairman Channel for a livestream interview this week, where fans in the live chat were weighing-on what could be the truth about the guy – is he a split personality suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder? Did the accident that cost him a year of his life in a coma, never happen? Recently, someone set fire to the beloved Horton house. Fans are suspecting it would have been “Bobby” who is working for Clyde Weston (James Read). Others believe that Everett/Bobby could actually be Clyde’s son. With upcoming therapy sessions with Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) about to start, things are about to get more juicy in Salem.

Photo: JPI

Here are just a few excerpts from our conversation with Blake on a myriad of Everett/Bobby subjects. Make sure to check out the full interview for more.

Did you know that they were going to make Everett Lynch a Jewish character? This is only the second time in the history of the show that they have even had a Jewish character on the canvas. Didn’t they reveal this at the Horton family Christmas episode?

BLAKE: No, they never asked me. I am half-Jewish on my dad’s side. There was never like, ‘You’re Jewish, right? We can call you Jewish on the show?’ At the Horton Christmas, “They made a real point of it, yeah.”

And now the new ‘character’ is “Bobby Stein” …

BLAKE: “Right, and that suggests more Jewish, and then Lynch must be coming from somewhere else, maybe the mother. I was so curious because I think the show has been historically, I’m gonna say, Catholic more than like Wasps. With the Bradys there’s this sort of Irish influence, and then the DiMeras, that’s Italian. So, we’ve got Catholics sort of on both sides that are dominant. Now I, “represent”.

Photo: JPI

What has it been like working with Abigail Klein?

BLAKE: I think she is extraordinary. We start off sort of frosty, or she’s frosty with me, like she doesn’t want to let me in. And then, for a while things are going really well. I just could not adore Abigail more. She’s such a good actor. I could always rely on her to bring me back into a scene and be there in this emotionally, supportive way.

Photo: JPI

Everett and Chad seemed to be becoming friend-ish, when all went awry when at the PCPD interrogation room, Everett let him know about Elia and Bobby Stein, and Chad let him have it for worming his way back in to Stephanie’s life.

BLAKE: Billy would call us the ‘disgusting brothers’ and that’s a reference from Succession, because all of a sudden they’re just so chummy with each other. It’s like all of a sudden we just had this like ‘Bernstein and Woodward’, sort of dynamic duo. I think that Everett really started to think of Chad as a friend and feels sort of disappointed, and he feels, “Oh, it’s that easy? I just needed to have some other identity and now you’re a fair-weather friend?”‘

Photo: JPI

In recent scenes, Jada sees Bobby Stein for the first time, and we see you and Elia Cantu share scenes with each other for the first time. What is it like working with Elia?

BLAKE: She’s fire, man. She comes in hot and she tells you the way it’s going to be. I think early on, we were trying to suss each other out and the more we worked together, the more comfortable you get with somebody. I think actors do this sometimes with each other; if there’s spice on screen, you like to keep some of what you have on-screen in your (real-life) interactions because it helps … it helps the work.  Eventually, we just sort of wore each other down and we’re like, ‘I actually totally get you, and you’re great.'”

Did you know that they were going to make Everett Lynch a Jewish character? This is only the second time in the history of the show that they have even had a Jewish character and didn’t they reveal this at the Horton family Christmas episode?

BLAKE: No, they never asked me. I am half-Jewish on my dad’s side. There was never like, ‘You’re Jewish, right? We can call you Jewish on the show?’ At the Horton Christmas, “They made a real point of it, yeah.”

And now the new ‘character’ is “Bobby Stein” …

BLAKE: “Right, and that suggests more Jewish, and then Lynch must be coming from somewhere else, maybe the mother. I was so curious because I think the show has been historically, I’m gonna say, Catholic more than like Wasps. With the Bradys there’s this sort of Irish influence, and then the DiMeras, that’s Italian. So we’ve got Catholics sort of on both sides that are dominant. Now I, “represent”.

Photo: JPI

You were on set and in the annual Horton Christmas episode which sadly marked the last for Days of our Lives legendary Bill Hayes, who passed away in January of this year.  What do you recall of that tape day?

BLAKE: It was the Christmas episode when we were watching Susan (Julie) and Bill, say ‘Merry Christmas.’  And there was something about it that just felt like it could be the last time. I mean, it wrecked us all on set. Bill gets so choked up and there was something really profound about the moment. They kiss each other as they have so many times before on the show. It was just beautiful. It felt beautiful to be there for that last Christmas. He’s just such an icon. Every time I’d see him, he was so with it … he knew my name, he knew his lines. What an incredible, incredible man.

Photo: JPI

Fans will get to see Everett in therapy sessions with Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall)? Would you say she is helping the guy?

BLAKE: Deidre’s always making jokes about Marlena, ‘She’s the worst therapist in the world’ (Laughs) I remember in the first therapy session, we almost couldn’t get through the scenes because it’s just so clear that Everett has a litany of very profound psychological issues that he is going to have to work through. He’ll keep coming back. This guy’s gonna pay the bills!

Photo: JPI

Viewers are waiting to see how they mystery of Everett Lynch/Bobby Stein plays out. What can you say as a tease for what’s to come?

BLAKE: As far as a tease, I would say, you have all these characters sort of, trying to wake up the ‘sleeping giant’ in a way. I think it’s safe to say that like if you poke a bear, the bear might wake up.

Watch the livestream chat with Blake in full below.

Now let us know, what do you think is going with Everett/Bobby? What has happened to him in his past? Share your theories in the comment section below, and make sure to catch Days of our Lives next week on Peacock for more to his story.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Melody Thomas Scott Talks on 45 Years as Nikki Newman, the Keys to Playing Drunk, And Those Genoa City Relationships

February is ‘Nikki Newman Month’ in soapland as the The Young and the Restless iconic Melody Thomas Scott celebrates her 45th anniversary in her leading role.

My how time flies! Nikki has had numerous marriages, and some to the same man, battled her addiction to alcohol too many times to count (and we loved it all), and faced so much heartache in the process.

Currently, on all-new episodes of the top-rated CBS daytime drama series, Nikki can’t quite get a grip as Jordan (Colleen Zenk) is out there and in the middle of her next master plot to make Nikki suffer, all the while Nikki is drinking again. Thanks to the heinous plot concocted by Jordan and Claire (Hayley Erin) that revealed itself last November.

Photo: JPI

In a special conversation for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Melody shared her thoughts on a myriad of subjects including: her current story, those long tape days at Victor and Nikki’s weddings, why she plays drunk better than anyone on television, plus we take a mini-deep dive into Nikki’s past.

Y&R fans were stunned when the powers-that-be had Nikki kidnapped and then hooked her up to an IV of booze. Just how much did Melody know of the story going in? She elaborated, “I knew Nikki would be terrorized. That’s all that I knew. I thought that sounded like great fun. I didn’t know for a little bit that she was going to fall off the wagon in the process of it. And then when I heard how it would happen, I was thrilled to bits. I did kind of want to have a little leader (or crawl) down at the bottom of the screen saying, ‘Hey, people don’t put an IV with vodka in your arm because that will kill you.’ But, poetic license, I suppose.”

Photo: JPI

Melody also weighed-in on if she thinks Nikki will stop drinking anytime soon, expressing, “She just can’t get out of this. Then of course, Jordan’s not letting her out very easily. Just when Nikki thinks she is mentally strong enough to never take another drink, well, of course she does, because something else happens. I think it’s also a learning point for people who are watching the show who may have an addiction problem. Now, I could be wrong, but I think it’d be highly unusual for somebody to be just mentally strong to be able to stop.”

If you wondered if Melody enjoys playing a drunk Nikki, look no more, “I do. That’s simply for selfish reasons,” she shared. “That’s for my enjoyment. I take great pleasure in it. It’s fun for me, and just the process of pretending to be drunk. I love the end result. I try not to do too much because there’s nothing worse when an actor is overplaying drunk. So you have to kind of keep it a little bit underneath (the surface). However, sometimes because of Jordan, Nikki does get much sloppier than I normally would play it.”

Photo: JPI

In recent episodes, it seems that Jack (Peter Bergman) and Nikki are gravitating more to each other, as both are drawn together through their shared experiences with addiction. Victor (Eric Braeden) is not happy that his arch-nemesis is helping Nikki try to stay sober. Could Melody see Jack and Nikki becoming romantic again? “I love Peter. I mean, Peter was my second favorite husband on Y&R. It would be wonderful, but I don’t know if the fans would go for that,” she explained. “They’re so invested in Niktor that I think they would really be upset about that unless Victor did something really crummy, then I could buy that.”

Photo: JPI

One of the more ‘out there’ stories during Melody’s 45-year run, was when Nikki was paired with Crazy Edward, and he took her home to meet his mother … who was in an urn! You would think maybe Melody didn’t like the story .. but think again! “Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) was writing the show in those days, and Bill kept that information pretty tight. I don’t remember us knowing even a week in advance. Maybe, we would get our scripts, three or four days in advance and that was it. You knew nothing about future story, but I loved the story,” she raved. “It was almost Hitchcockian, shall we say. The actor who played Crazy Edward, Paul Tulley was so magnificent and such a sweetheart. We loved working with each other so much, but man, when that red light came on the camera, he scared the you-know-what out of me. He was absolutely terrifying. But then, the minute the scene was over, we’re fooling around and laughing and everything. He was so good. So good!”

Photo: JPI

According to Melody, the pairing of Victor and Nikki was not something she, nor Eric Braeden, initially thought would made sense: “I was a little terrified when I heard that he and I would be doing scenes. I thought, ‘What, what?’ He also wondered, ‘What am I going to be doing working with that young kid, that snotty kid?’ We had no idea what Bill Bell saw. He had a vision with us and somehow knew that we would have chemistry. It didn’t take Bill long to show us in the scripts why he put us together. Then, we started to see it. Although, it was hard to imagine at first, certainly we knew it worked by the time Nikki had baby number one during the ‘Who’s the father?’ storyline. Nikki and Victor weren’t even married yet. So, we did figure it out pretty early on.”

Photo: JPI

From her early years as Nikki Reed, Melody reflected back on some major story points in her character’s history, relating, “I actually did like her in the very beginning when she was just a little brat living with her sister and her father, who of course ended up trying to rape her…  and she had hit him over the head with a lamp … and he died. I did not care for the stripping storyline at all. Only because I knew that I didn’t have the natural dancing ability. I wasn’t fluid enough to really look good up there stripping. I know they hired wonderful choreographers and everything for me, but I just didn’t feel worthy of being up there … I guess is what it was. Of course, now I look back on it and I think, ‘Oh, I guess it wasn’t too bad.’ Later, there was a strip she did in the Colonnade Room. At the time, she was married to Jack. Victor’s sitting there with some other woman and she’s drunk. I saw that scene recently, and I thought it was great. I didn’t at the time, but looking back, I thought, ‘Wow, that was good.'”

Photo: CBS

Watch the full 45th anniversary conversation with Melody below.

Now let us know, are you enjoying Nikki being back on the bottle? Would you want to see Jack and Nikki try their relationship one more time? What has been your favorite storyline of Melody’s over the last 45 years on Y&R.  Let us know 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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Peter Reckell returns for a second visit with Michael Fairman following the wrap-up of his recent run as Bo Brady on Days of our Lives.Leave A Comment

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