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THE DANIEL GODDARD INTERVIEW – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

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By Michael Fairman

Listen to the audio:

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TV SOAP:

How do you feel about the whole Cane/ Lily, and Chloe pregnancy story angle?

DANIEL:

I am kind of curious to see what happens. I was wondering which way they were going to go with it. I have to say at this point, I am extraordinarily impressed with the storylines that are coming out. There is a very solid morale on the set at the moment, because all the storylines are intersecting now. Everyone has this new vigor!

TV SOAP:

So, do you attribute the changes to the new writing regime at “Y&R”?

DANIEL:

Definitely! When I found out where it was going I was so impressed. I went and phoned Maria Arena Bell, our co-head writer, and said, “I think its genius, because generally with anything to do with paternity suits or babies, and love triangles, it’s kind of been done. I was so impressed to make it new and fresh and to have a pay off, and I am excited to play it.” I have fear in my heart at work though, that all good things must come to an end as far as Cane and Lily, but at the same time I hope they will prevail.

TV SOAP:

How is working with Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) on “Y&R”?

DANIEL:

She is awesome! What I love about Liz is we have a very solid rapport with what we want to do in scenes. Chloe is such an interesting character. You thought she was this put-together stylist. Then, she took a dive off the deep end. To not let her be a complete nut-bag, I think Liz is working the character so well. Honestly, you don’t think she’s crazy. If you put yourself in Chloe’s shoes, she is not crazy.

dan-ChristelTV SOAP:

What do you have to say about the whole older man, Cane, and younger woman, Lily storyline point?

DANIEL:

I never thought of it that way.

TV SOAP:

Well, I do!

DANIEL:

Well, some people do, but I never thought about it that way for the dynamics of the relationship. It’s always going to be a point in storyline. It was a point in storyline to break us up when I knew how old she was. Cane then decided he can’t be without her, so he tells her we will make this work. Because of the age difference between Christel Khalil (Lily) and myself, I think it allows Cane to play a sweet and tender side to his character. I think if Lily were the same age as Cane, it would be a different dynamic. And even if she were the same person, it would have to be different.

TV SOAP:

But, Cane has another new story coming down the pike, correct?

DANIEL:

Now Cane is going to have a business storyline, because he just got promoted as the CEO of Jabot, to everybody’s chagrin, due to his lack of experience.

TV SOAP:

How do you justify Cane’s suspending belief that he could have gotten Chloe pregnant when he doesn’t remember a thing?

DANIEL:

It’s difficult. When you have a moment of blackout, and even knowing he couldn’t get an erection, all things being equal, assuming he is this super potent guy from the outback…. He woke up and didn’t know what happened. It is tearing him apart at the moment. It plagues him to know it, but at the same time, I try to play it like the baby’s not mine. But Cane certainly must have his doubts.

TV SOAP:

I hate when they dummy-down leading men on soaps!

DANIEL:

I remember when Cane was with Amber. I looked back on it and it was pretty obvious something was going on. You find yourself having to make a choice. When Amber was entered in the “Face of Jabot” contest, I played it from day one that Cane knew it was Amber. I always try to justify things, if they do things that make the character look like not the sharpest tool in the shed. You have to be very careful. You are walking a fine line. If you’re not careful, you will make your character look like a manipulator, unless they are going to do a Nick and Phyllis type of story where they start off hating each other, but Cane comes to realize that he really likes Chloe.

Dan Goddard profileTV SOAP:

But do you really think they would really break up Cane and Lily?

DANIEL:

We are so popular at the moment. We are up to number 2 in “Soaps in Depth” magazine as actors and as a couple. Would they run it? That’s the question I don’t know the answer to!

TV SOAP:

So, what do you think the chances are that the baby is ultimately going to turn out to be Cane’s?

DANIEL:

The DNA test comes back. Chloe has not manipulated the DNA test. It comes back that Cane could be a possible match for the baby. So what ends up happening is Lily tells Cane to marry Chloe.

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TV SOAP:

There were so many reports online about the shock over the letting go of Raya Meddine (Ex-Sabrina) while the new writers were coming in. Were your cast mates afraid for their own jobs, as well? Were people truly shocked by her exit?

DANIEL:

When I thought about it my jaw-dropped! I was in shock; it did come out of left field. But, when you look at it logically, it makes sense. Victor and Nikki will always be together. I think the problem is when you put yourself in a position where you’re going to be Victor’s new wife; you are basically a storyline waiting to happen. But if the audience totally falls head over heels in love with you and they break up Nikki and Victor, they will put you with someone else. I feel within the confines of logic, if you have characters that work very well, and storylines with other characters that work well, and when you introduce an unknown factor and a new character, people will always come and go as a service of storytelling.

TV SOAP:

How is working with Christel?

DANIEL:

I love it. I love everything about her.

TV SOAP:

Your road to “Y&R” and the role of Cane came after numerous younger leading man role auditions for the soaps, right?

DANIEL:

I tested for Austin Peck’s role on “As the World Turns”. I tested for the Nash Brennan role on “One Life to Live”, and ironically, I recall I met the producers of “General Hospital” for Jason Thompson’s role of Patrick. It’s one of the things I forgot about it. I saw Brandon Beemer (Owen, “B&B”) today, and we talked about how he left “DAYS” and ended up on “B&B”. I said, “See, everything works out. You are on a bigger show that has fewer people in your demographic and you have people to work with, plus Susan Flannery (Stephanie) and John McCook (Eric)! It’s crazy how things work out. I think I was meant to end up on”Y&R”. I did not want to relocate to New York. It worked out perfectly and it could not be any better.

TV SOAP:

How are your parents enjoying your success, back home in Australia?

Dan Goddard and wifeDANIEL:

They are great parents, and they enjoy my success and following the journey of my career. I probably won’t go back to Australia till next year because I am heavy in story, and my wife Rachel and I have another baby on the way! She is four months pregnant, and we will find out the sex in a week. I am excited! I already have Ford, my two and half year old son. I am excited to have this new baby, with what I learned from my first time experience with raising Ford.

TV SOAP:

What do you miss most about Australia?

DANIEL:

I miss everything about it. There is a sensibility about Australians. When I first moved to America, I had to reprocess how I interpreted what I heard, because it was different than the speed and tempos of Australia.

TV SOAP:

Many have said, that the hiring of Australians, Daniel Goddard and Tammin Sursok (Colleen) to “Y&R” was a direct attempt to raise the ratings of the show in the Australian market. Do you think that was the partly the reason you both were hired?

DANIEL:

I was told when I tested for “Y&R”…”Oh, you’re Australian?” I walked in with an American accent, and they said, “So, where are you from?” The concept of Cane was that he was given away at birth. So he could have been from Mongolia. It just worked out luckily for me that I was the right person for the job. As far as Tammin, I think it’s just the way it worked out.

TV SOAP:

Do you and Tammin hang-out as “Aussies” on the set?

DANIEL:

What I like about Tammin is that we have a flow of conversation that’s at a different level than anyone else, because there is a nicety that doesn’t have to be there. We speak so fast together, and chop our sentences down so much, that people look at us and go, “We can’t understand a single word you are saying!” I enjoy that because I don’t have another single Australian out here other than my family. The problem is after I speak to Tammin so much, I go on set and they go, “Daniel we don’t understand what you are saying! Slow it down and annunciate!”

TV SOAP:

What do you make of all the success of Australian actors on the soaps? First there was Ingo Rademacher (Jax) on “GH”, and currently we have you, and Murray Bartlett (Cyrus) from “GL”!

DANIEL:

I think when Ingo came out here, I am sure it was very difficult for him to get a job. No one wanted to hire anybody with an Australian accent. You could be English, Irish, Scottish, or Canadian, but no Australians. I truly think that Mel Gibson pioneered for every Australian in the industry to come over to the States to get a job.

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Dan-JeanneTV SOAP:

How did you feel about your on-screen grandmother, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) winning the Emmy?

DANIEL:

Oh, I was so excited! I was jumping up and down. When I found it was the first time she won, it dumbed me down to the point where I didn’t know what to say. I think she would have had five or six or seven in the bag already. I am so proud to be part of a storyline that Jeanne is in and to be part of that family. I am proud to say that Jeanne Cooper and Peter Bergman are my mentors on that show. There is nothing I cannot go to them about. I can talk to Jeanne about life, and she will say, “Sweetheart, what is happening with the baby, and how do you feel?”

TV SOAP:

We wish for more storyline for your incredible on-screen mom, Jill, played by the amazing Jess Walton!

DANIEL:

She is getting a great storyline at the moment and so is everyone else. Cane and Jill have a very different relationship than most men who are 31 and women who are in their 50’s. Whenever I see I have scenes with Jess, I am so excited.

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TV SOAP:

So what is the best part of being a leading man, and the worst part?

DANIEL:

The best part has to be you get to do what you love. I love to act.

Dan WorkoutTV SOAP:

But you know what I mean; to be the guy that gets the girl that everyone lusts after.

DANIEL:

It’s funny. “TV Guide” just ran “The Soaps Sexiest…

http://www.tvguide.com/

TV SOAP:

… And weren’t you number one? Congratulations Daniel! How do you feel about that? It’s cool!

DANIEL:

It’s a testament to the fans…

TV SOAP:

…. But you keep yourself in shape. Right?

DANIEL:

Well yeah, but if it wasn’t for the fans… I am extraordinarily flattered! What I love is when I get a smart piece of dialog that allows me to show something that has cutting-edge intellect or mother/son, Cane/Lily. I try to play everything in a different way, so the character becomes complex. I know a lot of people who say to me, “I don’t trust Cane” because there is something going on. That’s great for me, and it shows me that they are seeing that he is different with everybody, which allows me to become a more complicated person.

TV SOAP:

But being a good–looking guy or woman, when somebody compliments you on your looks, how do you handle that? Do you say “thank you” or do you get shy about it?

DANIEL:

I get shy about it… always. At the end of the day, when you get cast in a role that’s based upon your physicality…. and I use to play against my type all the time. I would try to audition for roles where I wasn’t the leading man. I was going nowhere. I was banging my head against the wall. My wife said to me once, “Daniel, when are you going to understand they are not going to cast you as the serial killer or the evil guy, because against him is the guy who is the leading man… and when you look at him, he looks like you!” I finally embraced it. Ironically, after that I booked this. It has become the greatest acting experience, and one of the most wonderful periods of my life. Looking back, in “Beastmaster” I ran around for three years in a loincloth and looked ripped, with hair blowing in the wind and saying, “I want to do these other types of roles.” My wife, said, “I am telling you that you’re going to get really frustrated by it!” So, I decided to try and go the other way and not try to fight against type and see what becomes of it. Now I am glad I made that choice.

TV SOAP:

What can we tease our fans to look forward to in the coming months?

Dan and JessDANIEL:

I think you are going to see an emotional unraveling of someone that had the ability to put everything they have neatly packaged in a box, because that is what they have done for so long. You’ve seen a person who drops his guard after it was up for so long, and now all of a sudden, he is put in a position where he asks himself: should he put it back up? That, plus Cane is going to become a corporate powerhouse who puts all his angst into something he can control. He knows he can control the business side of things.

TV SOAP:

But will he lose his integrity?

DANIEL:

No. I would not allow him to lose his integrity. Eric Braeden is notorious for not allowing Victor to do non ‘Victoresque’ things. I am a firm believer that you are who you are at the core, and your morale compass dictates this is the direction you should head.

TV SOAP:

Should Cane and Lily fans be very worried?

DANIEL:

I think they will always root for the couple, but I don’t think they will always enjoy the ride. I think it’s hard, when you are a fan of a character or a couple, to sit back and watch everything fall apart. Especially, when you know that guy didn’t do what he is accused of doing, because the fans are on the inside.

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TV SOAP:

As an actor, what did you think about the recent Christian Bale incident involving some form of abuse to his mother and sister?

DANIEL:

I don’t know what happened, but to be honest with you, nothing surprises me. Here is the thing: I remember watching a documentary called “Spielberg on Spielberg,” and he was talking about doing “Empire of the Sun” with Christian when he was 8. Christian had an orange on the table and he was asked a question from the press, and he did not know how to answer it, so he picked up a pencil and stabbed the orange and got up and walked away. I was like, “If you are 8 years old, and that is your reaction to something, there is something going on.” You look at the films, “The Machinist” and “American Psycho,” which I have to say, is one of the top five roles I would want to play. That being said, I am not surprised when you have an innate ability to play such a dark character, within you something must be lurking. I can’t judge whether or not, it’s the mother and the sister trying to cash in. I can’t judge, but I am not surprised by anything.

Grand Hotel

Denyse Tontz and Lincoln Younes Preview Forbidden Romance & Intrigue As ‘Grand Hotel’ Premieres

When Grand Hotel opens its doors to its audience tonight on ABC (10PMET/PT), it will have a very familiar feel to soap fans for several of its series regulars and its executive producer all come from the world of daytime or serialized storytelling.

Executive Producer, Eva Longoria (Ex-Y&R, Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Telenovela) brought to the screens a provocative drama with Miami Beach as its backdrop of the last family-owned hotel (by the Mendozas) with a contemporary take of an upstairs/downstairs story of 2019.

Former General Hospital’s Bryan Craig plays Javi, who is joined by two other soap notables; former All My Children reboot star, Denyse Tontz (Ex-Miranda Montgomery) and Australian-born actor, Lincoln Younes (Ex-Casey, Home and Away) who’s characters are interlocked in some very sexy and mysterious ways.

Tontz, plays Alicia Mendoza the strong-willed daughter of the Mendoza clan, who is fresh out of business school… and who will make a huge discovery about her dad, but is also set to embark on a romance with a new staff hire!  And that staff hire is Danny played by Younes, whose character Danny is not who he says he is at all … and he has one goal in my mind which brought him to the hotel … but things get complicated for him when he feels a massive attraction to the hotel owner’s daughter … Alicia!

Michael Fairman TV took part in a press roundtable discussion with Tontz and Younes to get some teasers of what’s to come when Grand Hotel premieres.  Here’s what they shared in some questions posed by us and others below.

Photo: ABC

Danny and Alicia definitely have an instant attraction in the season premiere. Where can you tease that it might go?

LINCOLN:  Well, it can go in a number of directions, but hopefully towards a positive one.  They each have their own motivations for why they’re at the hotel.

DENYSE:  Alicia’s main goal, or at least from the beginning, is to prove herself, just having graduated business school and sort of step into her mother’s shoes a little bit. She’s had a lot of pressure on her for most of her life to sort of fill that role and keep the family together.  I think it’s really tough to have to juggle that and the desire to explore this potential romance with this person who is so intriguing to her.

LINCOLN:  I think with Danny, his reasons are kind of unknown as to why he’s at the hotel.  He comes in as a new employee, but there is something off about him.  It is complicated by the arrival of Alicia and the chemistry the kind of ensues between them.  I think that’s kind of the interesting thing to watch is them navigating their priorities and their initial motivations with the inevitable chemistry and dynamic that has appeared.

Photo: ABC

The main family in Grand Hotel is Hispanic.  And what is intriguing about the premise is that their ethnicity is not the backdrop of the story, it’s just who they are.  Would you agree?

LINCOLN:  Eva is kind of a trailblazer in that way because this is about the story of a family, and a hotel, and the guests, and the employees, and the employers, and all of the different things these people go through.  It’s not so much the color of their skin and their background.  I think as soon as you take away the magnifying glass of how a person appears and really look at what is going on inside, that’s a step in the right direction.

DENYSE:  I think that even though we are really a diverse cast and crew, that really has nothing to do with the actual premise of the show, and I think that’s really cool even to just see that.  To just play a character who happens to be Hispanic, and that’s not the central theme of this character, I think there really are no stereotypes that are perpetuated in any way.

LINCOLN:  It’s the perfect melting pot of culture, and the fact that it is set in a hotel where anyone from any part of the world can come into, it creates this show that I don’t see anything like this on TV, and that’s very exciting.

Do you see Danny and Alicia as a duo to root for with their dysfunction and all throughout the series?

DENYSE:  I think there is this sort of allure to the forbidden romance aspect of it all.

LINCOLN:  They have these obstacles in front of them.

DENYSE:  But you want it to happen. (Laughs)

LINCOLN:  You want it to happen, and it’s just against all odds.  That complicates things.

Photo: ABC

You have such a great cast to work with; chief among them Demián Bichir, Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids)!

DENYSE:  Oh man, working with Demián and Roselyn and Eva Longoria was a dream.  They’re each so special in their own way.

LINCOLN:  Three powerhouses.

DENYSE:  Yeah, three powerhouses and very different.  They each have their own way of approaching a scene.  Demián is mostly a movie actor, and it really shows in the way he approaches scenes, and the way he is not glued to the lines, and it’s kind of cool to watch him and learn from him in that way.  He’s so funny too.  He makes it a really comfortable environment, and you feel safe to try stuff.   Eva … same thing.  She has a clear vision for what she wants.  She can direct in such a way that I think a lot of directors can’t, because she has been on the other side of the camera, and she has got a really good perspective.  I think she’s really great at articulating what she wants you to do.

LINCOLN:  Yeah, she’s very meticulous.  I think the thing about all of the people who you’ve just mentioned is that they all have levity.  They are all very specific, but they are all very authentic.  That carries through in both their acting and how they carry themselves off set.  That was really great to kind of learn from them.

Photo: ABC

Many in the cast are from daytime dramas, or soap operas previously, including both of you!  Was that a coincidence in the producers casting choices, you think?

LINCOLN: I think, just knowing Eva so well now, and Brian and Ben, the creators behind it, they searched long and hard for the people they wanted to play the roles.  So, it might just be a happy coincidence.

When the scripts came out, how did the cast handle the twists?

LINCOLN:  There was a lot of speculation going on.  There was a lot of gossiping on set and off set.

DENYSE:  Lots of gossiping, stealing scripts… a lot of bombshells though.  There really is no shortage of plot twists.  A lot of these characters you think are going to start out a certain way, and then you find yourself completely changing your opinion of them halfway through the season. Without giving too much away, nobody is really who they appear to be.

Photo: ABC

How do you both feel about the fact that the wait is over and Grand Hotel is finally premiering?

DENYSE:  It’s super exciting.

LINCOLN:  It’s very surreal.  This is my first American show, so I have no idea what to expect.  I just go to Denyse for advice.  I’m like, “What do I do?”  (Laughs).  It’s all very exciting.  I think when you love a project; there is another element when it is released to the public.  Everyone on the show loves it.  Everyone is so passionate about it.  So, I just hope that the audience feels the same and that we get to keep doing it.

So will you be checking out Denyse, Lincoln, Bryan, Eva and more on Grand Hotel?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below. But first check out this promo for the kick-off tonight!

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General Hospital

GH’s Cynthia Watros Talks On Taking Over The Role Of Nina & Ingo Rademacher Dishes Jax’s New Love Interest

Today on June 3rd, Daytime Emmy winner, Cynthia Watros is set to begin taping all-new episodes of General Hospital as she steps into the role of Nina Cassadine, last played by Michelle Stafford, who has left the ABC daytime drama series and headed back to The Young and the Restless to reprise her signature role of Phyllis Summers.

Watros, best-known for her delicious portrayal of Annie Dutton on Guiding Light, and who was last seen on daytime on Y&R, is back to the grind of the soaps taking on the complex Nina.  Add to that, it is clear that GH is setting up a potential love triangle, or new love interest for her, now that Jasper Jacks is back in Port Charles with GH fan favorite Ingo Rademacher returning to the show.

Last month on the recent GH Nurses’ Ball episodes, we saw Nina (then Stafford) lock eyes with Jax, and the two demonstrated an instant attraction to each other.  Add to that in story; Jax was revealed to be the new 50 percent owner of Aurora Media, which Nina’s Crimson Magazine falls under, putting them in each other’s path in more ways than one.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Cynthia and Ingo along with other members of the media at last week’s ABC Summer Press Roundtable junket, and here were some intriguing and insightful moments from the conversations below.

When we asked if Cynthia had a conversation with Michelle Stafford on taking over the role of Nina, Watros responded: “I did.  We had lunch together, and I have to say, Michelle is an amazing, lovely, giving woman.  Just to be able to sit across from her and talk about Nina and to talk about the show, I was just in awe of her generosity.  I will always be a fan of Michelle’s.  She actually reached out to me and said, ‘If you ever want to call or text…’ and I said, ‘Let’s have lunch!’  So, we found and afternoon and spent like three hours just talking about it.”

Photo Credit: ABC

Since Watros has brought the cray-cray to her best known role of Annie on GL and is so adept as an actress to go from that to playing grave reality, Cynthia weighed in on how she sees Nina and the challenges of being a recast in a soap role: “Nina has all of this stuff that I can’t wait to play.  She’s got stuff that she hasn’t explored for a long time because her life is going pretty well right now.  What happens though when your life doesn’t go really well?  You start exploring those things that you thought were sleeping a little bit, you know, that weren’t necessarily bubbling up to the surface.  So, I like it all: when a character’s life is going well and when a character’s life is not going well. Because I’m playing Nina now, it’s going to be different.  It’s going to be challenging.  It’s the first time I’ve ever taken over a role that someone else has played.  I don’t want to totally go off, so people go, “Wow.  Nina’s totally different,” but of course, I want to make it my own.  Again, I’m an actor who likes to use all of the tools.  I like it all … the funny, the not so funny, the playful, and the crazy.”

As to the timing of Watros returning to the soaps at this time in her life … and how it went down that she landed her new gig at GH, she revealed: “It sounds not very dramatic, but I got a phone call.  Just a phone call asking, ‘Would you be interested?’  Guiding Light will always be in my heart because I had such a good time doing Annie, and I was on Young and the Restless and Another World for half of a second.  So, daytime has always been in my life and in my world.  My last show was in Atlanta, and my daughters were in high school in LA, and it’s hard to go back and forth for them, for me, and for my life as a mom.  So, I kind of took my acting and said, ‘Well, I’m going to slow it all down until they graduate high school.’  They graduate high school June 2nd and I start GH June 3rd.  So, it just seemed like it just made sense.”

Photo: ABC

As to what the future holds for Nina as she takes over the role, Watros shared: “I can tease that I get to play with this guy (Ingo) a lot, and Nina is trying to find a stronger role in the magazine where she is really going to step up in making that a success and her love for the magazine , and trying to navigate her relationship with Jax.”

Cynthia will also get to work with Nina’s present love interest, James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), which the actress is also excited about:“I have to say, I have not met him, but I have been watching the show, and he is just phenomenal.  I love his character.  I love how he is this sort of like bad guy, but it seems like the women really dig him.”

Watros says she is excited to work with Maura West (Ava), Laura Wright (Carly), and Billy Miller (Drew) from the cast.  She has previously worked with Laura and Billy in her soap career. As to her nerves for her first week at the ABC studios where GH is taped, Cynthia shared that she is: “Less nervous, more excited. I feel like a 20-year-old back in soaps.  I remember Kim Zimmer (Ex-Reva, Guiding Light) back in the rehearsal room, and I was off script, and she was on the show for a long time before me, and I was new. I was yelling my lines, and she goes, ‘Excuse me! Can you tell this actress not to act so early in the morning?’ (Laughs) I feel like I’m going to do that again.  So, I’ve got to tone it all down.” (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

For Ingo, he certainly has a view as to how Jax fits into the canvas of Port Charles: “Jax is to me, and I’ve only just been able to put it into words now that Captain America came out, but he’s ‘Captain America’.  He’s all about fairness.  If he sees a bully, he will stand up for the person who is being bullied.  So, that’s who he is.  He’s the white knight.  He’s the person who will always do the right thing.”

Now that Jax has big time ownership in Aurora Media and thus Crimson, does he see the sparks flying with Nina? Ingo reveals: “Yeah, basically he walks in, and she goes, ‘What are you doing in my office?’ and he goes, ‘Actually, it’s my office.’  When I heard about him doing that magazine, I was a little surprised because that’s usually much too small for Jax.  He’s more of a Richard Gere in Pretty Woman character, corporate leader, takes corporations apart, sells pieces … this is, I think really for his daughter, Josslyn (Eden McCoy).  He’s thinking about the future.  Also, to keep him busy in an actual job that he might be good at.   I think it’s a big change in lifestyle for him where before it was about businesses which were much more global.”

Photo: CBS

As to what is behind Jax’s attraction to Nina, Ingo summed it up by sharing: I think Jax is attracted to Nina the first time he sees her.  I have a feeling he already knew who she was the first time he sees her at the Nurses’ Ball, because he’s been studying Aurora Media before purchasing it.  He’s done his background work, and to piss off a Cassadine is just a bonus.  Also, I think what is interesting for Nina’s character is the two different guys.  She’s engaged to this more mysterious character, and then, you’ve got this jolly, upfront one going, ‘Hey!  How’s it going?  Everybody having a good day?’ (Laughs)  He’s very confident as well, but in a different way.  I think it’s nice for the story for Nina to be tugged between two completely different men.”

So, excited to see the debut of Cynthia in the role of Nina? Are you up for a triangle between Jax/Nina/Valentin? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first, watch Cynthia’s Emmy-winning moment as Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on Guiding Light.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk & Paul Telfer Talk On Masks, Villainy & Their Wildest Storyline Yet

Take three great actors, add a prosthetic mask into the equation, and let them have at it! That’s just what NBC’s Days of our Lives is in the midst of serving up to its fans with this latest plot device and twist.  Last week, it was revealed that the nefarious Kristen DiMera (Stacy Haiduk) is alive and well and pretending to be Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker) donning a mask, a voice alternating device, and some other body tweaks!  The goal …  to be with Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) and she will do anything to accomplish that!

Enter Xander (Paul Telfer) who has been in the thick of the plot being the only one we know of, so far, who knows that Kristen is parading around as Nicole.  They hatch their next moves inside a room at the Salem Inn.  They even went so far as to set it up to appear that Nicole’s daughter, Holly was killed, so she could blame Eric (Greg Vaughan) and cause a break-up of the long-suffering lovebirds and play it off as she needs to be consoled by Brady!

Michael Fairman TV chatted in an entertaining and wickedly funny interview with Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk, and Paul Telfer to get the lowdown on what happened when they learned they would be wearing or working with a mask, how they pulled off the emotions in the storyline twist, and what to look forward to from here.  Under the clever pen of head writer, Ron Carlivati looks for the hits and twists to keep coming as this storyline continues to rock the world of Salem for some time to come.  Here’s what Arianne, Stacy, and Paul had to say about their latest on-screen predicaments and schemes!

Ari, at what point did you know that you really weren’t Nicole … and that you were Kristen playing Nicole?

ARIANNE:  I actually didn’t find out until a little bit after the van went off the road in the storyline; thinking it was Holly who was killed.  Sometimes, the less I know makes it fresher, and I think if I had known before those scenes, and the scenes with Eric (Greg Vaughan), and when I first came back, I would have had a little too much Kristen on my mind, and I don’t know if I could have been as raw as I felt in those scenes.  So, anyway that’s my long explanation.  I found out after I started back on the show! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Additionally, did you have a conversation with Stacy about certain mannerisms hat Kristen has if you’re “masquerading” as Nicole?

ARIANNE:  Our co-executive producer, Albert Alaar had talked to me about watching Stacy because everything was happening fast.  Stacy and I really hadn’t had a chance to even talk to each other even from the last round of me being thereI remember Stacy was inundated with dialogue up the wazoo when I came back for that twelve-episode arc.  So, because of all of that, Albert said, “Watch Stacy! Watch her mannerisms, watch what she does,” and then I’ll throw a little Ari in it.  I just hope that I do as good of a job as Stacy does.

Paul, you and I talked about this on the NBC ‘Inside Salem’ podcast, when we played back for you (for the first time) the clip of Kristen taking off her Nicole mask.  Xander had the perfect set-up line for the reveal: “The part of Nicole Walker is being played by Kristen DiMera!”  Did you not have a good laugh doing that scene?  How did you get through doing that moment?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  Oh, yeah, I was laughing my ass off the whole time.  This is an insane storyline with masks and doppelgängers.  But, it looks great on-screen, and that way it’s edited.  So, I was really happy.

STACY:  There was one moment when Nicole would hold steady to unfold the neck.   So, Ari started that to the point where I’m pulling it off completely.  I think it’s cool.  It’s “Mission Impossible”.  How nice!

PAUL:  That’s what I going to say.  If Tom Cruise can make a hundred million dollars doing this stuff …

STACY:  … then, we can do it!

ARIANNE:  Right?  We can make a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of that.

STACY:  We’ll make it look good!

What is the real deal between Xander and Kristen?  They are conspiring and in cahoots, but there’s this underlying sexual tension between them.  I think Xander respects Kristen in a way, because she can one-up him!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  I think every character who Xander has interacted with who isn’t a member of his family, he’s trying to either get something from, or get into bed with, and he can’t really do either with Kristen, because she’s crazier and more dangerous that he is up until this point.  That’s certainly the way that it feels.  The way Stacy plays it, she is not to be messed around with. Honestly, I think that turns him on.

STACY:  Yeah, there you go.  That sounds good. (Laughs)

PAUL:  I mean, it makes sense.  Just like, “Wait a minute.  This is a bit spicier than I’m used to,” so, he’s excited, but at the same time he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he doesn’t want her to murder him!  (Laughs)

STACY:  Well said.  I like that. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what does Kristen think of Xander at this point?

PAUL:  That, he’s a useful idiot.

STACY:  She actually needs him to go out into the world because she can’t leave.  When she does, she has to leave as Nicole, and then it becomes a whole other storyline.

PAUL:  It’s fun because Kristen is actually the boss, and Xander is convinced that they’re actually partners and that becomes our whole dynamic where she’s treating him as her lackey, but he’s like, “No, we’re partners, because I know your secret.”  Then, it becomes kind of a bargaining chip between the mask and all of that.  It’s so crazy because certain evil characters when they come back, they have to come back in disguise; whereas Xander’s always quite happy to be just jogging through town square with his shirt off after holding someone ransom or kidnapping a baby like, “Ah, whatever.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Arianne, it’s been awhile since you got to play the villainess side of Nicole, and with this return to DAYS you get to play that side of her as well, even though it’s really Kristen. Do you enjoy playing the bad girl?

ARIANNE:  Stacy and I were just saying today that you have these conversations about the villain character, (and Paul, I’m sure you’ve felt a lot of this too) people hate you or they love to hate you, and you’re like, “Hey, it’s a good thing because I’m doing my job if you hate me,” but in order for the storyline to move, you’ve got to have a villain.  Nicole used to be kind of villain-ish but playing someone like Kristen who is such a valued villain on this show is just … oh, my God!

Stacy and Paul, what do you think is the most heinous thing your characters have done so far?

STACY:  The most heinous?  (Laughs). Wow.  You know what’s funny is that she’s done all of these things, and I don’t think she thinks what she does is bad.

PAUL:  It’s so funny because you totally would expect her to be like, “The other characters are evil.  We’re the good guys!”

STACY:  I mean honestly, so she kidnapped Nicole, and took her baby.  There’s Marlena and the window.  I mean, it’s hard when she’s done all of these crazy, horrible things.  I’ve just really enjoyed playing her because she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s this brilliant, deviant person who just wants one thing, and there’s one thing on her mind, and everything else gets in her way.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is the one thing Brady?

STACY:  Brady, Brady, Brady, and I think even Xander has to repeat it over and over again.  We were playing in rehearsal, and I think I had him do that.  I don’t remember the line, but I said something, and he goes, “Brady Black,” and I go, “Say it again,” just because I want to hear him say it again.  That’s her driving force.

What did Greg Vaughan and Eric Martsolf say when they found out about what the twist was?  Did you tell them?  How did they find out?

ARIANNE:  Well, Eric Martsolf always has a great chuckle.  He has a great laugh, and I think Greg Vaughan just stared at me for a minute.  Then, I told him about the mask process … about making the mask …. and how I thought I was going to pass out and die.  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is putting on the mask an extremely weird experience?  How long does it take to put on? 

STACY:  About an hour?  It’s quick, and I thought we were going to suffocate when we were under that because I’ve never done my whole face before, but I’ve done body things. Make-up department is like, “You’re going to be fine.”  It was heavy too, really heavy.

ARIANNE:  Yeah, and because it’s so heavy, after a while, it starts to pull your skin down a little bit, and you’re like, “No, no!” (Laughs)

Did anybody else go running around with the mask on?

PAUL:  Oh yeah.  Everybody!

I knew it!

ARIANNE:  How could you not?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what is the relationship between the real Nicole and Xander, which we saw play out before her death?

PAUL:  She’s my wife!

So, Xander sees Nicole as his wife?

PAUL:  I’m happy to give Xander’s perspective on Nicole, and then Arianne can feel free to correct it.  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  Alright, that sounds good.

Photo Credit JPI Studios

PAUL:  The way I’ve tried to handle it over the years in our ins and outs of this failed romance is that they’ve saddled poor Arianne with: this psycho chasing after her, and kidnapping her and her baby, and whisking her off to foreign lands – and also to Nashville.  When Xander first came into town, before they decided to make him a total psychopath, it was all working nicely, and Nicole wasn’t really on the up and up with Xander, and she wasn’t really honest about what her intentions were.  Meanwhile, Xander was involved in all of this chicanery with Serena, so once that metastasized into full-blown evil, and Nicole was aware of this, it shifted from, “I just really wanted to take this girl to the movies,” to, “Well, I guess I have to kill her now.”  (Laughs)  So, I think he’s just been playing that out ever since.  “Well, if I can’t date her, and if she won’t love me, then I guess I just have to torture her for the rest of her days.”  I think now on the other side of her supposed death, I think Xander has probably reconciled that his twisted romantic notions, or torture, or whatever he was doing with Nicole, is probably over, and he’s moving on to greener, more alive pastures like Sarah.  To be fair, I do think they’ve purposely made it confusing.  Not just for the audience, but for us.  There’s a real sense of, “Am I playing this to Nicole as Kristen, or do you want me to play this just to Nicole?”  Very often they just go, “No, just play it to Nicole,” because it’s funnier if for Xander it just occasionally slips his mind because she looks just like Nicole.  I’m kissing her… like he’s just enjoying the fact that he can.  “I never really got to kiss Nicole much, but this is Nicole’s face, so I’m going to.”  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  That’s hilarious.

Ari, what would you say is their relationship?

ARIANNE:  Well, I’m certainly not as long-winded as that.  (Laughs)

PAUL:  He’s a creep!

ARIANNE:  He is a creep.  What cracks me up coming from Nicole is, “Ew, what a jerk.  He’s so gross.  Yuck, yuck!”  Like, really?  You’re not going to make that one work, huh Nicole?  When you reach that far back to the history of Xander and Nicole, it doesn’t have a lot of depth for the two characters because the next thing you know he’s trying to kill her and Eric.  It’s like that scary online dating when you go on one date and it didn’t work out because that guy is going to kill you.

PAUL:  Xander is like the ultimate bad Tinder date.

ARIANNE:  Totally. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

That is classic.  The bad Tinder date.  That’s basically it.  Xander also apparently feels bad for Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) as she is having her bout with alcoholism.  Is that correct?

PAUL:  Yeah, I’m actually excited to see some of that stuff.  It was great doing it because I love Suzanne to bits.  I was very afraid of ruining Xander by making him too nice, but at the same time when I was first brought on to Days, I wasn’t offered a villain role originally.  Xander morphed into a more severe villain than I’d been led to believe he would be, and it happened quite quickly.  So, I’m actually quite happy to right the ship a little bit back towards he’s bad but he has some occasional glimmers of goodness in him.  So, Maggie really represents that because she’s actually quite nice to him and nurturing in a way that no other character on the show is.  When she has her dalliance with alcohol, he’s one of the few people who doesn’t judge her for it, and we finally get a little bit of Xander’s back story.  I’m actually excited to see those scenes because they felt nice to do, so hopefully they come across well.

Stacy, how did you track this storyline, when Arianne would be playing Kristen as Nicole? 

STACY:  Well if I didn’t get the script, I didn’t know about it.  So, if I wasn’t in the script that time, then I would be looking at Paul going, “What are we talking about?” and then, Ari had obviously already shot those scenes, so they were written for me, so I’m like, “What did I do?  What did I do?” It’s just scenes between Xander and Kristen at the Salem Inn.  Occasionally, you’d get somebody knocking at the door, but then I’d have to quickly put on my mask. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, Ari did you ever have to go to Stacy to get tips about Kristen’s past or anything?

ARIANNE:  It was all about the future moving forward.  I think old, former Nicole had some crazy similarities with current Kristen because it felt kind the same as pulling some things from what she used to do … you know, just a couple of crazy chicks in one crazy character. (Laughs).

The other big part of this is Rolf’s diary that Xander has in his possession.  Is Kristen in cahoots with him on that?  Is she trying to get that from him?

STACY:  I think she is.

PAUL:  Yeah, that’s when she starts to get mad at him; when she realizes that he’s not just being her underling and he’s off scurrying around with his own agenda in the meantime.

ARIANNE:  He’s manipulating and doing his own thing.

PAUL:  I use it to start manipulating Eve (Kassie DePaiva).

So, what would you say to the fans to look forward to?  “You never know who you’re talking to on DAYS?” “Gird your masks?”

ARIANNE:  I definitely think fans know that’s not Nicole the way she is.  And, you never know who is going to give you a shot in the butt and turn you into somebody else.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Well, that’s true.  You never know.  One day they’re going to tell you that you’re playing Julie today! (Laughs)

ARIANNE: “Today the character of Julie will be played by…”

STACY: “… you will never guess by whom!”

PAUL:  This was fun.  This is a fun way to do it.  Let’s all do all of our interviews together moving forward!

So, what have you thought of the plot twist? What do you think of the Nicole mask and the performances and comments made here by Arianne, Stacy, and Paul? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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