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THE JOHN MCCOOK AND JENNIFER GAREIS INTERVIEW – THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

John-Jennifer.jpgBy Michael Fairman

Listen to the audio:

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TV SOAP:
Are you worried that Eric is being taken by another woman, like he has in the past?

JOHN:
Certainly not!  Eric is not being taken, and this is not just any other woman!

JENNIFER:
I am not just any other woman! (She laughs)

JOHN:
Eric is not being taken by Donna.  Donna is not coming after Eric the way
she had manipulated Thorne, not at all.  Eric is surprised at how open, and honest, and
vulnerable this woman is.  She is not a girl.  She opens the door, and he sees her and he
goes, “Oh, my God!”  Donna has things to offer him emotionally, that he has never been aware of.

TV SOAP:
Stephanie has perpetrated so much.  How has that affected Eric’s decision-making?

JOHN:
Stephanie walked out on the entire family after perpetrating this last
debacle, and Eric is finished.  There is an emotional void in his life now, as there is nobody living upstairs with him, either.

TV SOAP:
Jennifer, what do you think Donna’s modus opperandi truly is, in regards to Eric?

JENNIFER:
I think she is just reacting, and not in a mode, or anything like that.  She is being honest. Here this great, wonderful, talented guy comes into her life and sweeps her off her feet.

TV SOAP:
But doesn’t Donna want to punish Stephanie?

JENNIFER:
She wanted to get back at Stephanie and that’s why she got together with Thorne, and that is why she went for him.  But, it still wouldn’t have been really nice to be with Thorne, because he is really hot and nice, and everything like that.  With Donna’s relationship with Eric, it’s bigger than that.  It’s not about revenge.

TV SOAP:
So, Donna’s feelings are true blue for Eric?

JENNIFER:
Yes, she has honest feelings for Eric.  For Donna, that surprises her because she doesn’t know what that is. This is the first time in her life she has really fallen for someone.  She has just been blindsided with this new relationship.

JOHN:
It’s great!  Yes, Eric has had several love interests in the past.  What has been delicious for me as an actor, and for Eric, is that Jennifer pretty much has been an unknown quantity.  I mean, I have seen her and said, “Hi!” and we know each other, but now it’s really wonderful to open the door in the scenes of discovery.  These two characters are discovering one another, and as actors, discover one another, too. We discover what is fun about this and what is deliciously different about it. That is the fun of being an actor.

TV SOAP:
So, you were surprised by Jennifer’s commitment and ability as an actress, in regards to this new on-screen relationship?

JOHN:
She surprises me damn near everyday as an actor.  It doesn’t scare me or blow me away,  or anything.  But, she will do something and I will go, “That’s nice!”

STEPHANIE:
He surprises me, too. I will be in the middle of scene, and he does something when he acts like a little boy and gets all excited, and it’s really fun.  John is energetic, and I think seeing that in John and in Eric, makes Donna really happy.  It’s wonderful to work with that energy and spontaneity.

TV SOAP:
Do you ever think about the older man/younger woman dynamic of this new coupling?

JENNIFER:
No, I don’t think about that very much.

JOHN:
No, I have been very careful.  I have made a concerted effort not to refer to it as a May/December romance.  This is a new Eric.  He is unburdened by the negativity of his marriage to Stephanie, and the emptiness of it.  He is unburdened by it because Stephanie is gone right now, and here is this wonderful woman.  She is honest and supportive and energetic with him, and it’s pretty cool.

TV SOAP:
But the big dilemma is whether to go back with Stephanie or divorce her and win back the company from Nick. That has got to be a huge part of this.

JOHN:
I think he anticipates a dilemma when Stephanie comes back.  But, when Stephanie comes back, I don’t think it’s going to be much of a dilemma.

TV SOAP:
But Eric could fall back into old habits!

JOHN:
He is vowing not to. This is different than before, in his relationship with Stephanie.

TV SOAP:
But, what is going to happen to Forrester Creations?

JOHN:
He desperately wants his company back.  I don’t know what is going to happen there, but I would like to see him get his company back, at any cost.  So, let’s see how that goes.

TV SOAP:
What about how Thorne feels, now that his Dad and his ex-fiancée are hooking up?

JENNIFER:
I think Thorne and Donna made peace, and we wished each other well in previous scenes… but then Thorne ends up catching Donna and Eric kissing.  I think after he sees  that his Dad is moving in, he is freaked out.

JOHN:
He freaks out!

JENNIFER:
There is a bit of jealously, and a feeling that it is kind of creepy. There is some disgust and it’s very gossipy to Thorne.

JOHN:
Yeah, it’s creepy to him and it offends him.  Eric says to him, “Stop it.  Just stop it.  Be a man here and get over it!  And let’s have a little respect here!”  Thorne is not coming at it with respect, because Dad has a new woman and it’s Donna.  It’s too fresh and it freaks him out.  Then, we have other members of the Forrester family, like Felicia… she freaks out.

JENNIFER:
Everyone is freaking out, but I don’t think Eric and Donna really care.  I think they are going to do what’s best for them and that’s being together.
JOHN:
That is something that has been very important for us to keep this going.  We deal with the other characters on the show, and when we are alone together is when we get to show each other about what this relationship means to the audience, and us, too.  And hopefully, the audience will see that.  And then they see us dealing with everything else out there, and it’s hard to deal with everything else.  But, when we are alone together we are very happy!

TV SOAP:
Brad Bell (exec. prod. and head writer, “B&B”) often changes direction in the middle of storyline and takes it off its course into another story arc.  Are you concerned about that with Donna/Eric?

JENNIFER:
Well, I hope it doesn’t change.  It would be a shame if it did.

TV SOAP:
Did you see this coming?  That after the fallout from the Thorne/Donna Wedding, that Donna would be paired with Thorne’s dad, Eric, of all things?

JENNIFER:
No, I did not see that coming.  I don’t think anyone saw that coming.

JOHN:
No!  It was a nice surprise to everybody.  Then, when Rhonda Friedman (supervising producer, “B&B”) said to me, after we were just wrapping up the wedding scenes with Thorne and Donna….

JENNIFER:
(She interrupts him)….Oh, yeah, John said to me, “Do you know what I know?”

JOHN:
And I go, “Yeah I know!”

JENNIFER:
And I go, “We are not supposed to talk about it.”

TV SOAP:
But when you first figured out that you would be romantically paired, what was your initial gut thought?

JENNIFER:
Wow!  I can’t believe we are going there.

JOHN:
Me too!  Rhonda whispers to me, “Donna falls in love with Eric” and I went, “What? Cool!”  The first thing you think of is, “Wow, this will be fun to play.”…and the next thing you think is, ”This is going to impact every other character on the show… it’s cool.”

TV SOAP:
John, what do you think is the core of Eric Forrester?

JOHN:
The core of Eric is that he is an artist and he enjoys the beauty in life, and he only wants to do that. That is what drew him to Stephanie when they were 20 years old.  That she was this business person.  She was practical about things, and the two of them sparked things in one another.  They thought that this was a great partnership, and they were right,  it was for a long, long time.  What happened to Eric is that the enthusiasm of their young time together went totally away.  Stephanie focused more and more and more on her children and less and less on Eric and the business…. and her offenses have been numerous.  She has offended the law.  She has crimes, misdemeanors and felonies for her protection of her children, and Eric has been trapped in that.  I think that it is not so much that he is weak…. because he is my Eric!  I think of him as manipulated and squashed down, and inhibited.  He’s been pushed into a corner by a relationship that has evolved into something that is not very good.

TV SOAP:
In reality, you do see many men in long-term relationships with domineering, tough, and powerful women, where they have the feeling of being stifled.  So, it is an important issue you are representing.

JOHN:
This is why I am very proud of Eric, for keeping Stephanie out of his life right now.

TV SOAP:
Jennifer, what about Donna’s feeling for her sister Katie?  Does she resent her?

TV SOAP:
I thought for a while Katie and Donna would have some problems, but she is my sister.  I guess if Katie would have not stopped the wedding, I would not have met Eric and been with him the way I have.  So, it is hard to be too mad at her when her actions caused me to fall in love with the man of my dreams.  I have mixed feelings with Katie. She is always a pain in my butt.

TV SOAP:
So, how are you going to play Donna when Stephanie returns to the mix?  Will you set out to get back at Stephanie through Eric?

JENNIFER:
Am I trying to get back at Stephanie?  No.  I think it’s a fringe benefit, and it’s not a cause anymore.  If anything, I don’t have vengeance in mind, but more justice in mind, because she has done criminal acts.

TV SOAP:
Who is perpetrating what on whom then, seems to be the central theme coming up.  Will it be Donna or Stephanie?

JOHN:
That is a good speculation! (He laughs)

JENNIFER:
She has been wrong before, and it’s not Donna wanting revenge.  It’s just that Stephanie needs to get the hell out of our lives.  It’s not just my life; it’s everyone’s life.  She is nuts!

JOHN:
She has offended everyone on the show with what she has done.  There is no reason for anyone on the show to let her through the door when she knocks.

JENNIFER:
But of course, her children are going to try to defend her.  If you are a woman, you should know what Stephanie did to Brooke was wrong, and stand up for Brooke.

TV SOAP:
What did you think about the recent Brooke storyline where she was raped?

JENNIFER:
I thought, “Ooh, that is going to be really hard to play.”

TV SOAP:
John, what did you think?

JOHN:
I think those things are always hard to play.  I salute Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke), because she did an amazing job.  It is hard to imagine that and play it, and execute good scenes, but Katherine does it every time.

JENNIFER:
She did an amazing job!

JOHN:
It’s a cool story!  The thing that has happened with us is, that Stephanie has narrowed her cause in life so much in the last ten years, that there is hardly any room left for sympathy with her.  I think that the characters are more and more feeling that way.  I don’t know how the viewers feel, but as I said, I don’t even know why anyone would answer the phone for her or let her in the house.  When she comes in the front door, she is already in a tirade.

JENNIFER:
She throws Jackie off a balcony…. takes Brooke’s kids away…. gets Brooke raped….

TV SOAP:
Are there emotions or things in scripts that are harder for you to pull off?

JOHN:
Not for me.  I think the hardest thing I am asked to do on this show is to be angry, and to be in confrontational scenes, because I am not a controversial guy.

JENNIFER:
I love being angry!  I don’t know.  One time, I had to play high on heroine, cocaine and pot, in a movie.  I felt like, how I am supposed to know about heroine and pot!
That was a challenge.

TV SOAP:
What about when called upon to cry?

JENNIFER:
I kind of have to walk around miserable all day, if I have a crying scene that day.  The hair and make-up people are asking me, if I am all right?  And I go, “Yeah. I am just thinking about my scenes,” and they leave me alone.

TV SOAP:
John, is it hard for you to cry, on screen?

JOHN:
It’s hard to cry a little bit, from time to time.  That is the beauty of being on a soap opera with people for decades, when someone I love on this show, their character is dying.  Or if there is an emotional sweet thing that happens with my daughters, and when I look at them, it’s easy for me to well up.  I don’t have to go, “I am going to well up here.”  I will do it if it happens and when it’s appropriate.  We love each other here, and we have emotional connections with one another.  It’s not about the show or the script; it’s about each other.  We depend on each other so much.

JENNIFER:
But there are two types of crying, though…. there is eyes welling up, and then there is tears dropping out.

JOHN:
Tears dripping out, I can’t do.

TV SOAP:
Do you joke on the set with one another?

JENNIFER:
That is what is really fun about this.  If there are really serious scenes, Patrick Duffy
(Stephen) and John McCook, are so funny together.  They will exit the scene and pretend to bump heads in the door.  Laughter and crying are so close, so its fun to have some comic relief.

TV SOAP:
It helps relieve the tension during a hard day’s work?

JOHN:
When you have serious scenes that day, Mr. McCook is not going to be as funny and as goofy as he wants to be.  But, I am still going to do that, because you want to blow off steam when it’s building up.

TV SOAP:
Who is the goofiest “B&Ber”?

JOHN:
I am goofy, and Ronn Moss (Ridge) and Patrick Duffy are great.  Patrick is great coming back on the show, because he worked with Larry Hagman (Ex- JR Ewing, “Dallas”) all those years.  Those people were crazy on “Dallas”.  So, it’s really goofy and fun.

JENNIFER:
All the girls are giggly.  Katherine Kelly Lang and I are giggly.  Heather Tom (Katie) is pretty giggly, too, but not as giggly as Katharine and I.

JOHN:
Heather came in with two copies of a magazine that had someone else on the cover besides Forrester.  She came in and her first line is, “Have you seen these?”  And we’re talking about PR, and she’s wearing this pretty low cut dress.  She came in and put the magazines down and said, “Have you seen these?”  (He laughs) She is such a funny girl.

To hear this audio snippet, click back to The Global sections,
“New This Month” area.

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TV SOAP:
How is it rolling around together in bed, on screen?  Is it fun?

JENNIFER:
Yeah, sure it is. Why not?

JOHN:
We have to have a matter of fact, point of view about it. You can’t be 17 years old and come in here and be naked in a tube top, and come into a bedroom scene.

JENNIFER:
I think on Monday, I got too into it.  I think I forgot where I was.

TV SOAP:
What can we tell fans to look forward to from Donna in the coming months?

JENNIFER:
Look for Donna to stand up to Stephanie, and stomp her into the ground.

TV SOAP:
And Eric?

JOHN:
Look for Eric to tell Stephanie to get a room somewhere.

TV SOAP:
Jennifer, in a few words describe John McCook.   John is…?

JENNIFER:
Funny, silly, handsome, good kisser… did I say that?  I am embarrassed!

TV SOAP:
And John, describe for us Jennifer Gareis.

JOHN:
She is a sexy girl!  I love that she has opened her creative side to playing this woman, and being touched in a different way in the character, than she has done before.  I have seen all of her stuff and she is a sexy girl, and I love what she is doing with this material.  I love what we get to do together.  She is not only sexy and beautiful; she is conscientious and working really hard on it.

TV SOAP:
What is better… being on the front burner or back burner with storyline?

JENNIFER:
Front, front, front.

JOHN:
Front, for me, too.  I want to be out front all the time.

JENNIFER:
It makes me feel anxious when I am not.

JOHN:
You go, “Oh my God, now that I am this age, am I less important to the show than I was ten years ago?”  That happens, too.  We are all children and we are afraid when we are not being used.  When I am on the back burner, it bores me.  I love to come in and work, even when I am on the back burner, if I am being cavalier about it.

JENNIFER:
I guess the thing is, being on the back burner helped me with school.  I am half way through my MBA, and now I don’t have time to continue it at the moment because of the new storyline.

TV SOAP:
In the soap world, you never really know from week to week, month to month, what direction your character may go. How do you deal with that aspect of being a soap actor, and the insecurity it can bring?

JENNIFER:
You’ve got to take it one day at a time and one week at a time.

JOHN:
The cliché is true.  If Eric is having pain in his heart before dinner; you better call your agent!

TV SOAP:
What do you think Donna thinks of Thorne/Katie’s budding romance?

JENNIFER:
I think if it hadn’t been for Katie breaking up the wedding, I wouldn’t have met Eric, so I don’t think I can be too upset.  It’s not like I really loved Thorne.  So, when you are really not in love with someone, there is not that weird jealousy thing going on.

TV SOAP:
Can you see the four of them, Katie, Thorne, Donna and Eric, having dinner together?

JOHN:
That would be an interesting dialog.

JENNIFER:
Yeah, I think it’s fine.  As long as Donna gets her way, Katie can do what she wants.

JOHN:
Once in awhile I think, “This is a silly thing for an adult to do for a living!”

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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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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