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Wally Kurth Talks on His Daytime Emmy Nomination For DAYS As Justin’s World Is Turned Upside Down

Courtesy/NBC

You kind of know when you are handed the ball in the world of daytime drama, and it’s your turn to shine, especially when you get meaty material that runs the gamut of emotions. And this past Emmy season, Days of our Lives’ Wally Kurth delivered the performances of his soap career (although we suspect there is some more to come in 2020!) in the role of the grieving Justin Kiriakis.

For Wally not only played grief, but starting life anew in a romantic entanglement that can be all too familiar when someone tries to move on after the loss of the love of their life. Add to that, the complication that his son’s husband, was believed to be the person who caused the accident that killed his wife, Adrienne (Judi Evans), and with that the deck is stacked for an emotional fallout that landed Kurth in the running for the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at this year’s 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards to air on CBS on Friday night, June 26th, albeit in a virtual presentation.

While Wally is getting many accolades for his work on DAYS, let’s not forget the double duty he pulls on General Hospital, where this week his Ned Ashton. This week Ned is front and center during the encore presentations of the GH’ Nurses’ Ball episodes, which feature Wally singing his heart out in numerous memorable performances through the years.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Kurth to get his thoughts and insight into his well-deserved acting nomination for DAYS, plus to find out his favorite GH Nurses’ Ball performances, and much more. Here now is what Wally had to say about it all.

Photo: JPI

I am so thrilled about this nomination because you know, I willed this to happen.  I was like, “It’s got to happen!” (Laughs)

WALLY:  You actually were saying that, and you have been very supportive and positive.  I appreciate it.

What did you end up submitting? I believe I gave you “Power Performance of the Week” honors on my site for some of them, too.

WALLY:  I do try to put together a little story in my submissions for Emmys.  I think that’s kind of important because if you’re asking someone to watch 8 or 9 minutes of just you… I didn’t want to just (not that I had this material) but bludgeon them with one sad, sobbing scene after another.  I wanted to give them a whole range of Justin and a little story.  So, I did start off where Justin was asking Adrienne to marry him, and Justin is very happy, and it’s all good, and he gets down on his knee, and you see her, and it’s like, “This is something really good,” and I also wanted to include a scene with Judi Evans in my reel.  Then, I cut to where it’s a year later, and Justin is with Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) in their apartment. They are already living together, and they are discussing the anniversary of their marriages, and about the sadness of Adrienne, and she’s talking about Steve (Stephen Nichols), and then she brings up having to tell me that Adrienne died.  So, that was obviously in a flashback that happened six months earlier; where Justin is obviously very upset, and scared, and doesn’t want to hear it, and breaks down, and Kayla comforts him. Then, I did the continuation where Justin tells Kayla how much she has meant to him, and how he felt like he wasn’t going to survive, and how she came to his aid in a way to make him feel like he really has something to live for.   Then, at the very end, I did two scenes with Will (Chandler Massey) in the jail which is where Justin confronts Will, who obviously Justin thought was responsible for killing Adrienne.  It was a really lovely, really well-written scene where Justin tells him, “You’re a son to me, and you can be disappointed with a son, and you can be hurt by a son, but you never stop loving him.” I think it showed a nice range of the anger, the hurt, the happiness (because Justin tells him about Kayla), so you get an idea of what happened to Justin last year.  I thought it was a good collection of scenes that told a little story, and you could see the range of what Justin went though.  Evidently, it worked on some level because I got nominated.

Courtesy/NBC

In the scene with Will, doesn’t Justin also tell him, “Don’t give up on life?” in a very hankie-inducing moment?

WALLY:  Yes.  “Don’t give up.  Don’t give up on life,” which is really positive… even though he started the scene like, “I don’t even want to talk to this guy.”  Justin is there talking to Ben (Rob Scott Wilson), and Will kind of surprises him. So for Justin it;’ like, “Now I guess I’ve got to talk to Will about this,” and so he is still angry, he is still hurt, and you’re right, at the end, the scene has sort of transformed him in a way.  So, all of that stuff was just really nice, really nice scenes to get to play and very emotional.

I’ve watched most everything on the soaps from the performances to the storylines, and that one scene with the two of you was one of the best scenes I have seen in long time.  It was just so good from the writing to the execution of it. 

WALLY:  Oh yeah, I can’t even imagine a scene that was as good. Thank God that scene aired in December.  My story really didn’t get started until October/November, and all of those scenes that I included were from October, November, and December.

So, what did you think then when you found out that Chandler, along with you, and Paul Telfer (Xander) are all in the Supporting Actor category together?

WALLY:  I love it.  How great is that?  I love both of those guys.  I mean, I am such a fan of both of them.  Chandler kind of gets nominated every year, so I wasn’t surprised there.

Photo: JPI

Well, he had one year, as he pointed out to me (laughs), that he didn’t get a nomination. But, Chandler has been pretty much a perennial nominee every time he submits!

WALLY:  Yeah, Chandler just delivers.  He is a really an outstanding actor Paul, I think is great.  I love the character.  I was kind of surprised and happy for him because sometimes his character gets overlooked; just like the bad guy with the smarmy smirk and the great English accent.  So, there you go.  It’s terrific.  I think people saw more to his performance, and they should.  He works on a lot of different levels, and Paul brings a lot to the game.

And obviously, you know James Patrick Stuart (Valentin, General Hospital), since you work on that show too, and he is also nominated in your category. 

WALLY:  Yeah, and I have been a big fan of his too.  So, I was really delighted.  I called him up and left a message.  I love James.  We did a thing last year together where we went back east and played some music in some clubs,   I always think that James should be nominated.  He does such an exceptional job at bringing that character to life.  That’s not an easy thing to do either.  It’s kind of like a Xander character, and so, it is nice to see my fellow actors see the complexity in their performances and appreciate it.

Photo: JPI

Last week’s DAYS airshows contained scenes where Justin confronts Orpheus (George Delhoyo), over killing Adrienne, and Justin also goes to visit Adrienne’s grave.  I think you have another run of shows next year to submit for the Emmys (Laughs)

WALLY:  I do like to include the big four emotions that an actor has to play:  happy, sad, angry, and fear.  That is a scene where you get to see Justin really angry.  So, I will probably look to that as you get to see the anger part of the character, which I think is important.  You don’t get to see Justin very angry and lose it like that.

No, and that’s what was so great about it.  George was a great scene partner, though.

WALLY:  Oh, he was great.  George and I had a great time.  It was really awesome.  I mean, it was a challenge because it was very tricky, especially when Steve (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) came in because you know; there is a part of the character that is just like, “Please, just let me shoot.  Just let me fire a bullet and just put it over his head or something, or maybe his hands are shaking so much that he misses the target!”  I don’t know, but you do just want to let him shoot, just one bullet.  (Laughs) Another moment that I really, really loved – and I’ll probably include it next year in my submission -was that scene with Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) at the hospital.  They gave me a beautiful speech to tell her that she should be her judge and jury and sentence herself to death, a beautiful speech about how she reminded me of Adrienne.  It brought out a different side of Justin that you don’t usually see.

Photo: JPI

When I spoke to Chandler about this nomination he related to me, “I am so happy for Wally because I feel like he is often underrated.” You have always been the guy on soaps who is always delivering consistent work, but now you’ve been given a story.  So now everyone can see what you can do or are reminded of it.  It’s hard without a story on the soaps; especially playing the Emmy game.

WALLY:  It’s true.  What did Maurice Benard (Sonny, General Hospital) say?  “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.”  It’s really true.  Let’s face it, you can only do so much, and that’s why I don’t get too competitive.  If I lose, that’s totally fine.  I feel like I’ve already won.  Being recognized by my peers, that’s it.  Being nominated is awesome, and honestly, after this, so much of it is the material and what the actors got to do.  It’s sort of out of your control, you know.   I am happy for all of my fellow nominees.  It’s all good at this point.  I’m really, really happy.

Photo: ABC

You’ve been nominated once before, right?

WALLY:  Yes. I’ve been nominated once before, two years ago on General Hospital.  It was the year that Jane Elliot (Tracy) left.  In story, Tracy leaves, so there was all of that emotional stuff to play.  That was the year I also submitted myself for Days of Our Lives too, and I was really proud of that work.  That year saw Adrienne having to choose between Justin and Lucas (Bryan Dattilo), and she chose Lucas.  There were just some really nice scenes there that they wrote for Justin and Adrienne, and she was dealing with cancer.  Anyway, I got nominated for General Hospital, and I learned from that year that I am never going to nominate myself in the same category for both shows.  That’s just stupid.

Well, you’re everywhere.  You’re on the Nurses’ Ball encore episodes right now on GH,  

WALLY:  Oh, isn’t that funny?  All of these Nurses’ Balls, it’s hilarious.

Courtesy/ABC

Are you watching them?

WALLY:  Yes!  I watched parts of them the other night, especially my performances. It looked good; actually, they were really good.  I’m always kind of surprised like, “Wow! The dances … the singing … the production!”  I always feel like there should be more people at the Nurses’ Ball.  Shouldn’t there be more people in the seats? (Laughs)  But other than that, good stuff, good story.  It was fun to see the beginning of Ned and Olivia (Lisa LoCicero) as well, you know that first year where she and Sonny were just breaking up on the red carpet at the ball, and the next year, Ned and Olivia are already together.  This week they aired where I sing with sweet little Brooklyn Rae Silzer (Emma), the Elton John and Kiki Dee duet, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”

Photo: ABC

Do you have one favorite Nurses’ Ball number you performed of all-time?

WALLY:  You know, someone has been posting old Nurses’ Balls from the 90s, and I forgot that I sang “Forever Young” with Amber Tamblyn (Ex-Emily), and that was so sweet.  I also loved singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” in the very first one or the second year, we did it. Some of my other favorites include: “I Feel Good,” with the Quartermaine boys, and Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” – that was fun because I got to put my own vocal stamp on it, and I remember performing George Michael’s “Faith.  It was fun singing that with Lisa.

Courtesy/NBC

So, we know that this year will be a virtual Daytime Emmy ceremony, and we don’t know what that will look like yet.  So, how would you dress for it, if they had a shot of you from home during the broadcast on CBS?

WALLY:  I definitely am going to wear a suit and a tie.  I think that’s important to try to give the Emmys the dignity that it deserves.

So, thrilled that Wally received a Daytime Emmy nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series? What were your favorite moments of his last year? Are you enjoying seeing his performances on the encore GH Nurses’ Ball episodes? Comment below.

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Paige
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Paige

Wally is a nice guy..but, I have to say honestly his acting at times is spotty. He was like a boy among men in those scenes at the hospital leading up to the Orpheus scenes at the jail and then in those scenes. The actors that play Steve and Orpheus are just so much more well rounded and their acting is natural. It’s a shame Emmy’s only look at a snapshot. I’m tired of hearing him relive Adrienne’s death over and over again. He nor she were relevant for years. Good luck to Paul and Bryton from Young and the… Read more »

Momo
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Momo

Congratulations!

Phil
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Phil

I am actually rooting for Wally to win this! I didn’t realize he was only nominated once before and for GH! Personally, I prefer him on DAYS. I like Justin way more than I like Ned. I miss Adrienne though!

Jimh
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Jimh

he will get another emotional scene months from now when Judi Evans shows up in Salem as Bonnie Lockhart and its later revealed Bonnie died thinking she was Adrienne and Adrienne is alive thinking she is Bonnie(yep, more mind switching-UGH!)

Satan
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Satan

Hell forbid… the last thing we need is to see any member of the Lockhart family ever again. Even if it’s a brainwashed Adrienne just acting like Bonnie. Bring back Adrienne in the same state that her brother Jack or her son in law Will were in. Amnesia from Rolf’s drug? Sure. Dopplegangers? Hell no. So done with that dragonshit.

Maggie
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Maggie

Great article Michael! Wally is a nice guy and glad to see him nominated. However, I’m over the continuous reliving of Adrienne’s death, etc this time jump has been a flop. Judi Evans is one of the best actresses in daytime and it’s a shame her character’s death is giving him this vehicle. They should keep Chandler (OUTSTANDING ACTOR) and Freddie then send Justin/Kayla off to Port Charles, if they keep the borings together. There is no chemistry between Justin/Kayla and others could use the valuable screen time. Wally is a supporting actor for a reason.

Angela
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Angela

I love Wally as a person and especially enjoy his character Ned on General Hospital; for some reason to me that role suits him better. Days writers gave him some good material for sure, however as much as I love him, I don’t find him to be a well rounded actor. Maybe it’s his dimples, but I couldn’t take his Orpheus scenes seriously and laughed. Reading comments on the latest daytime ratings, I’m not the only one. But in fairness to him, his acting wasn’t the only one canned. Wish him luck with his nomination.

Kenny
Guest
Kenny

Michael I enjoy your interviews!! Hope to see one of Paul Telfor and Bryton James; these two are so good not sure why they didn’t submit for leading men!! One thing Wally’s interview has pointed out inadvertently, is the lack of credibility with the Emmy’s. An actor gets judged on a 7-9 minute submission when overall quality of work for their entire year maybe less than stellar. Wish the people that voted on these nominations took into consideration more. It’s really an unfair award.

Freddie
Guest
Freddie

Oh, my just watched today’s episode please do not put Rafe and Justin in the same scenes again..painful to watch.

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