“Days of Our Lives” is pulling out all the stops for its September revamp. This week, the show held a press junket featuring many of the actors who will be returning to Salem next month, as well as Emmy-winning newcomer, Sarah Brown. Everyone seemed excited about the show’s new storylines and leadership team. Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn, Patrick Muldoon and Brown spoke to me about why they decided to come back, their future storylines and why, this fall, “Days’ will be must-see television.
Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn (Marlena Brady and John Black)
When you got the call from “Days of Our Lives” that they felt it was time for John and Marlena to come home, was there any hesitation?
Hall: It had sort of been in the wings for me for a while. I was traveling with [executive producer] Greg Meng and he suggested that maybe it’s time to have me come back and put a number of things into place that made it really very tempting to come back.
John and Marlena’s exit was rushed. John was paralyzed when they left town. Has he been cured in the interim?
Hogestyn: They’re going to come back and revisit that a little. That’s where the audience was left, where Marlena was taking John to Switzerland, and had 24 hours to try and save the guy’s life. It’s going to be touch and go if it happens. So they’ll reintroduce what that was in Switzerland when we come back on the show – the tail end of the procedure and the recovery. Then we’re off and running, right at that point. It’s a whole new story.
What sort of story are the two of you going to have?
Hogestyn: I would say mystery, intrigue, a topical storyline that people are reading about on the front page of their paper every day, that they can relate to right now. I think if two people meet this head on, holding their hands, and have love for each other against all odds, we’re going to send a message to a lot of families that are going through a marital situation right now because of economic conditions.
Both of Marlena’s daughters are back in Salem. What sort of a relationship is she going to have with Carrie and Sami?
Hall: We’ve already had scenes with Christie Clark, which has been delicious. A lot of our [story] is based on working with her.
Hogestyn: There is an event that unfolds. It’s a nice umbrella that has core characters underneath it. The core characters may not see eye to eye on that event, so it creates conflict.
Are you enjoying the scripts penned by the new headwriters?
Hogestyn: They are new headwriters but they’ve been with us before. They know the characters. They know what the audience wants. They know how to write a character-driven story. So everything in the scripts, we know where the story’s going, but yes, the character would respond that way.
Hall: Their storylines are reality based. They’re not silly. They’re not ridiculous. They’re the kind of things that people are living with every day and surviving every day. It’s more relatable, I think, to our audience.
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Patrick Muldoon (Austin Reed)
Why did you decide to return to “Days” after all these years?
This whole thing happened by divine providence. It was just the right time, the right place. I didn’t even know when I signed on to do this that there was going to be this whole revamping and this special thing, because when has this ever happened with a soap opera? It’s not a reinventing, but a revitalizing, kind of a celebration. It just kind of happened magically. Christie [Clark], who plays Carrie, lives up in San Francisco. She was doing a day spot, just one day. I was going to see her the night before. Something happened. I couldn’t do it. I was going to see her the next night. Her plane was rescheduled to another time. [Without that], I might not be there. Ali [Sweeney] was there, grabbed the casting director, Marnie [Saitta]. That was how it began, anyway. All the other stuff, you know how it happens on soap operas.
What is Carrie and Austin’s return storyline going to be?
All I can tell you is that we come back, we’re married, we were in Switzerland. We come back to see family, and then Salem happens. Great things happen, challenging things.
Does Sami still have any lingering feelings for Austin?
I don’t know if she’s got feelings. She’s married to Rafe. What’s going to happen, I don’t know. She’s the same character, but totally new circumstances. Those people are those people. They have the feelings that they feel for other characters.
What was it like going back to fifty pages of dialogue a day after all these years?
I just landed on my feet today. Today is where I finally figured it out. In a movie you do eight to twelve pages a day. There’s a re-acclimating for sure. It was a little worrisome. I’ll be honest.
What was it like working with Christie Clark again for the first time after all these years?
She’s the one person that I have been really close to for all of this time. But I still haven’t seen her for maybe a year. We had spent time with each other, but it really was like no time left. It was kind of a timeless thing. We picked up right where we left off.
How do you like your new Mom, Lauren Koslow?
She’s awesome. She’s beautiful. She’s got this rock and roll vibe to her. Lauren’s got this rock and roll vibe. It’s funny because I’m a rocker at heart. So is she. She’s really into David Bowie. I’m really into the Rolling Stones. So we argue about that. She’s so unpredictable, not as a person, but as a character. It’s great.
Is Austin going to be mixing it up with the DiMeras?
They’re definitely in his vicinity. The fact that I come back and she’s married to Stefano DiMera is a little unsettling.
Sarah Brown (Madison James)
Can you tell me about your character?
Madison James is my character’s name. She is CEO/CFO and president of Mad World cosmetics, a giant conglomerate, a very large cosmetics company that’s an international company. She is a sexy woman. She is a beautiful woman. She dresses herself up and puts on a fantasy for everyone who buys her products. She has a weakness for men, for very handsome men. That’s maybe sometimes her downfall. She has a backstory. There’s a bit of a history that you’re going to discover rather quickly. She’s just a lot of fun. And she’s very smart.
I understand she hires Sami.
There’s definitely interaction between Sami and I for sure. She’s my best friend from when I was a kid.
Are there any men in Salem who catch Madison’s eye?
She gets her eye caught by Brady (Eric Marstolf) very soon after she arrives in Salem. There’s a bit of mistaken identity. I won’t say she falls for him. But I will say very soon after she arrives, you start to see what her type is.
You have been on quite a few soaps. What is it about Days that appeals to you?
It really came down to meeting with the new Executive Producer and the writers and their ideas for the show going forward and what they believe can be done to revitalize daytime and to bring the show even higher. It’s getting more viewers. It’s freeing a new audience all the time but we need more and more and more. They have great ideas. So it just really came down to the ideas that they gave me and I thought, “Yeah, those will work. I’m behind that.”