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The James Scott Interview – Days of our Lives

Oh Baby!

James Scott

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

This is it! The long awaited reveal of baby Sydney is finally going to come out next week on Days of our Lives. James Scott, who has played EJ Dimera’s plight through this complex baby switch, talks to On-Air On-Soaps about the intricacies of the monumental plot twists from baby Grace to baby Sydney, and all things and destination and angles in between.

The set-up as many know: Nicole miscarried EJ’s baby. She then switched teenager Mia’s baby with Sami’s, because Sami’s baby would still have EJ’s DNA… so she could pass off that baby as EJ’s and hers. Then, the baby Sami believed to be hers (who she believed was EJ’s) suddenly died. Thus, making the only living baby, Sami’s original baby, who Nicole has been keeping for herself… Confused???

In this interview, James Scott, the dashing Brit previews the next beats in the story. He talks about EJ’s backbone, and if “EJami” will get a second chance, and he tells you why (if you don’t already know) that in November, DAYS is must see daytime TV!

You can see James at A DAY of DAYS fan event today in Los Angeles and he is our soap guest this week on The Scott and Melissa Reeves Show airing on syndicated radio airing through next Thursday.

Listen to the audio:

[display_podcast]

MICHAEL:

As EJ, you have so much material and are on the show so much of the time. As an actor, does it ever get daunting?

JAMES:

It’s always daunting. I have spent most weeks thinking how am I going to get through this week? And by the time I get to Friday, I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. But at the same time the story had been really good, and as long as you are not in that trap on soaps where things can be repetitive and get drawn out much longer than they should be drawn out …that is when things get tough. It happens here sometimes when you think, “Didn’t I just have this scene with the same person a few months ago on a slightly different set?“ That gets a bit difficult to remember and all the time I am asking what happened yesterday? Where am I going? Most of the time we are shooting completely out of sequence.

MICHAEL:

James, was it hard for you to keep straight all the twists and turns of the baby switch storyline?

James Scott with babyJAMES:

It has been confusing, but I think I have been doing a pretty good job. I think this has been a really good storyline, and there was a time when it ran into a risk
of being the trap I spoke of, of going on a bit too long, and they kept teasing the end of the story far too much, and to my mind it became a bit tedious. Aside from that, it has been a really strong story and it has had a lot of different twists and turns that I liked. I was chatting with our executive producer yesterday and he was going to give me some information on what is going to happen to EJ into next year and it was lovely. My jaw just dropped and I went, “What? Wow!”

MICHAEL:

So, you liked it?

JAMES:

I really like the things they are doing and some of the stuff coming is stuff I had been pushing for, for a long time…. but I am not going to say what it is!

MICHAEL:

Will you as EJ be more snarky and more evil?

JAMES:

I will be a lot less of a pushover. It was hard to play the scenes where Nicole would be crying and Brady would be with her and I would go, “What is going on here?” She would rub her fake belly and she would say, “I am just having some fake pregnancy things.” EJ would be like, “Oh, well OK”, time and time and time again, and that era I want over. I think I said to Soap Opera Digest that EJ was the ‘village idiot ‘and I don’t want that to be the fair representation of the character and EJ continually being misled in this way. I can understand certain aspects of the story and that he had faith in Nicole and that commitment, and when you have strong faith it’s hard for people to undermine it. But ultimately you would have to ask some questions when they don’t add up. EJ does ask some questions, but he was easily satisfied by the answers. I don’t think he should have taken them on face value, as he did. So, I am happy to see he is doing a lot less of that.

MICHAEL:

So coming up EJ will have more business and relationship drama?

JAMES:

Both, of course. It’s set up for that. Now I have a baby with Sami, and there is that relationship with Samantha that they have been teasing for years.

EJ and SamiMICHAEL:

Would you love to see
EJ and Sami (or affectionately known as “EJami”) get back together? Or, is it time for a new woman for EJ?

JAMES:

It depends on what they do with Sami, because EJ and Sami worked well when they were both bad. Recently Sami has been more of a ‘goody girl’. It’s harder to pair the ‘goody girl’ with the bad guy, but they have these kids that connect them and these huge connections between the two of them. You have to have more of that for a relationship to work. So either I have to be not so bad or she has to be not so good, or we meet in the middle. There are lot of people who are very supportive of Sami and EJ. I have now been working in soaps for six years, and it seems to me that when the fans really want something, and the networks and the producers know about it, they want to give it to you as much as you want to get it. But they want you to have to wait.

MICHAEL:

Right! The powers-that-be and the network brass want fans to tune in to see if the couple they are rooting for will get back together.

JAMES:

So I would think that Sami and EJ would be a potential relationship. I don’t think I am giving anything away about that because it seems like an obvious extension to where we are.

MICHAEL:

How has it been having two other leading men put into the mix for you? I am taking about Galen Gering (Rafe) and Eric Martsolf (Brady).

JAMES:

Galen and Eric are great additions to the show, and Lindsay Harley (Arianna) as well. My relationship with those two guys is important, because on the show it’s very adversarial. It helps me a lot because I don’t like to have anyone at work I don’t get on with. It’s important as soon as you stop tape you get along with people. Both of these guys are good actors, and every now and again my character is a nasty guy to them. So sometimes when actors come on the show that are less experienced, EJ gets to go to town, or James gets to go to town and show what a nasty character I play. But it works to support this kind of character. Eric Martsolf, in particular, makes me work harder. The first thing I did with Eric was I tried to do something and walk around him in a way that he was stuck in the middle. I sort of walk around them, which makes me look like the powerful one. Eric is experienced. He stepped off his mark and came right up to me, which is good, I think.

MICHAEL:

In this entire baby switch arc, you had some very big moments as an actor and as EJ. One that comes to mind was your monologue in the morgue with dead baby Grace.

Nicole and babyJAMES:

The big days I felt for me were the days I lost Grace and I thought she was my daughter and when I went into the morgue. The unraveling of the material with Nicole was not as immediate, he had to piece things together and come to the realization. With Grace it was two scenes of me standing in front of Sami and one scene of me getting it. So you went from knowing nothing to everything within a short amount of time. With the Sydney story it was slightly different and more protracted.

MICHAEL:

But next week Stefano puts out a hit on Rafe, and things start to make sense to many people about what baby Sydney’s true parentage really is!

JAMES:

Stefano puts a hit on Rafe and it does not make sense to EJ. He does not like Rafe, but did not understand the orders for a hit. So he think there is clearly something going on here that he doesn’t know. So it seems to EJ that Rafe must know something about his family that his father does not want to be out as information. And that information is the DNA test that shows that Sydney is biologically Samantha’s and mine. So this is the beginning of my finding out about the real baby and what is going on.

MICHAEL:

Now that the truth comes out, can we expect big emotional stakes and moments between you and Alison Sweeney (Sami)?

JAMES:

The fact is that they don’t like each other right now very much. They are going to have to deal with this situation and put their heads together and work out how they are going to resolve a problem that is not going to go away for a long time.

James and AriMICHAEL:

How has it been working with Arianne Zuker (Nicole) this entire storyline? She has carried so much of the load of this to make it work. And Arianne is due to have her first child in December! She will be a real-life mom!

JAMES:

She is pregnant in real life and she is not at all crazy or emotional…not more than usual. (Laughs) She is really lovely and it is a privilege working with her. She is an exceptional actress. Arianne is no different pregnant or not pregnant. For a long time she has had scenes with a child being taken from her… the miscarriage… and now she had another child taken from her. Now she can relate to Nicole in a way, because now she is having a baby in a real life. So it makes those performances all the more wonderful.

MICHAEL:

Now there is a new drug storyline involving EJ. Tell us the set-up.

JAMES:

I bought the drug operation Victor had. Victor sold it because he did not want Brady’s hands on it. So I am now a drug kingpin, which is fine, and I don’t mind that really. It’s a noble way to earn a living. I have a job in Salem, which most people don’t (Laughs). They don’t have jobs in Salem. They go from having no money at all to giving Nicole $50,000. It’s strange!

MICHAEL:

But being that EJ hates Brady, and Brady is a recovering drug addict, that could only mean….Oh, I hate to think! Bad stuff for Brady?

EJ workingJAMES:

I spoke with our executive producer and I said, “I really, really feel EJ needs to have one or two scenes where he hits Brady in the face till he is bloody and unconscious. I think it
would make EJ feel much better.” Brady was up to
his neck in the cover up about the baby and the
fact that EJ does not rip him apart with his bare hands is beyond me. Let’s talk reality for a second! If someone kept your child’s existence from you what would you do? Guaranty you would just kill them, you really would.

MICHAEL:

So what would you tell soap fans about November sweeps on DAYS? It looks to be kicking into high gear here!

JAMES:

Knowing what I know of this show between now and March of 2010, every week is must see DAYS TV. I have never seen such impressive story outlines, ever! We have an incredible cast now, and Crystal Chappell (Carly) is with us, too. She is lovely and a very nice addition to the cast, and now we really have a lovely cast here. We don’t have any kind of friction on this set at all.

MICHAEL:

I am glad to hear you say that, because there was a time last year that morale on the set was at its all-time lowest, with cancellation rumors and major cast cuts. Has it changed here?

James ScottJAMES:

A year ago the morale was different and it has to do with executives having to hammer a deal with the network to stay on the air. From what we heard, it had to do with the negotiations and consequently we got a year’s contract (not really very long) and we ended up in a hole where our budgets got cut drastically. Our ratings had averaged about a 1.9 and now it is a 2.2. These things are important. NBC does not measure ratings by how many people watch the show. They measure the ratings in how many people watch the commercials, and that is what keeps us on the air.

MICHAEL:

When fans meet you, what do they ask you the most?

JAMES:

Every time: “When are you going to get together with Sami?” Or up until recently, “When are you going to find out about the baby?”

MICHAEL:

Nothing about how incredibly tall you are?

JAMES:

Often when I meet them I am sitting down. So they don’t get the full majesty of my height, because I am pretty tall.

MICHAEL:

So if we were to preview what’s coming up for EJ on DAYS, what would you say?

JAMES:

I can tell you that the stuff I am shooting now with EJ is the best stuff I have ever filmed! There is so much I can’t tell you. It’s the best time to watch the show since I came to the show three and half years ago. The stuff you are going to find out now and the stuff you are going to find out in a bit, and in a long time, and the way they are pulling everything together, is very interesting!

James Scott with babyMICHAEL:

Will there be emotional scenes when Sami gets her baby back?

JAMES:

I can tell you this: There is going to be a huge… huge… twist that you don’t see coming that is going to turn that story on its head.

MICHAEL:

When you found out that twist, were you surprised?

JAMES:

I was surprised, but I thought it was brilliant! Brilliant!

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marjiNANCYchristieRJSMichael Jenkins Recent comment authors
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justin
justin

james is hot

Sue
Sue

The trouble with huge twists that you don’t see coming is not we KNOW there is a huge twist coming! But it is really not possible to be completely spoiler free if you are on the internet, soap sites, show boards, twitter and are a fan of Days. The people who will be surprised will be folks watching that don’t use the internet to keep up with the actors.

I see James has voiced some of the same frustrations I have seen on the boards about the storyline. I have noticed in various interviews with different actors on this soap or others this seems to be the case. I think it’s interesting that the actors feel the same way that the fans feel at times.

I have seen James on his entire run on AMC and Days and this show is a way better fit for him.

Polly
Polly

I see great things for James on and beyond Days. He’s got a beautiful voice and a great screen presence. I’d like to see him in feature films. Wonder if he’s classically trained?

Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

James is my favorite actor on the show, great interview.

RJS
RJS

James presence on the show is really dynamic. He draws you in almost as a Shakespearen tragic figure with both dark, devious, mad sides, but then vulnerable, tender, longing to be loved and to love moments. I really have not watched the show much in years, but I happened to see it the other day, and once I started to watch him I was smitten. He has quite an acting depth and range, and of course, his adonis good looks make him very pleasing to watch :). The writers should be very careful how they handle his character’s storylines – being very careful to keep balancing his evil side with his kinder, likeable qualities and not drag out the storylines too long. Also, since he has this commanding way when he is on, let him carry the story instead of the story carry him. As ratings are key, and so many people seem to like watching James/EJ, becareful not to let the story line destroy this character, but embellish and enhance him.

christie

yummy! I have never been into the soaps…..but my god…..this man….James Scott is so good….but really how TALL is he…..I can see him go far as an actor if he plays his cards right!!!!

NANCY
NANCY

a female stranger named grace ej dimera’s new love intrest but grace has a secret it has something to do with sami and ej played by nancy walberg

marji
marji

“nothing about how incredibly tall you are?” sounds so rude {& jealous}! most of the males in my family are 6’1″ to 6’5″, & some of us females are 6′ tall, so GROW UP, michael!
& learn some manners, while you’re @ it.

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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