The Catholic church should send “Days of Our Lives” a gift basket. Handsome, ethical, kind Father Eric (Greg Vaughn) has been the best advertisement for the church in ages. While Nicole (Arianne Zucker) fell in love with him, he remained focused on his vocation, unaware that Kristen (Eileen Davidson) drugged and sexually assaulted him. The truth finally came out in the worst possible way while Eric was officiating at Kristen’s wedding. Now, Eric is suspended and Nicole, whom Eric wrongly suspected of violating him, is vindicated.
Will the duo finally find romance? Vaughn and Zucker shared their thoughts on their characters’ future at the recent Day of “Days” fan event.
Eric has been heartbreaking as he experienced such profound humiliation.
Vaughn: It’s emotional uncomfortableness. There’s a lot happening. It’s been a roller coaster ride and a journey in itself. But the payoff of where we get to that point and where we navigate from here.
You did such a great job. I felt so bad for poor Eric.
Vaughn: I was so disheveled, humiliated and wounded and broken and that’s what it felt like. It’s how to absorb when you see this thing being displayed on such a big platform in such an important time of somebody’s life and surrounded by all your peers and then all of a sudden, it’s like, is this real? Is this fake? I don’t know what to make of it. And then to do it again and again is just like “wow” and then it started to hit. Now it’s a lot of the blaming, pointing the finger and who did what the set up.
What are the consequences for Eric? How is he going to react to Kristen?
Vaughn: This is like the big atomic bomb. This is just disaster across everywhere. That hasn’t even come to play yet. And it won’t immediately yet. But I think it’s trying to come to terms in the community and embarrassment for the church. Everyone who’s appreciated what he’s done in the church and the schools and the kids. There’s going to be a big whiplash effect. He’s been seeking the truth for so long and to have it exposed in this way is a very difficult thing.
Now that Nicole has been vindicated and can prove that Eric was wrongly blaming her for what Kristen did, where does that leave her?
Zucker: It’s been an amazing year for Eric and Greg. Eric’s character has come on the show because I think the whole point was to help people turn toward a lighter side. As she’s working hard, there’s some choices she made in the year that weren’t so great – Vargas.
He was hot. You can’t really blame her.
Zucker: I know. What are you going to do?
Vaughn: I still remember that look on your face when he popped up from that heater to the desk. You were like, “Oh.”
Zucker: ‘Don’t speak honey. Just stand there.’ But I feel like one would say, yay, vindication, that she is finally right about something after being wrongly accused. But that’s not how she feels. It’s not how I’m choosing to play the character. It’s very, very painful because what happened to Eric is what happened to her when she was younger. Her father drugged her and made her do porn. So I can’t imagine her doing that to someone and the fact that he’s accusing me when he’s not even thinking of that. He’s been violated in the worst possible way and for me to be accused of that by someone I love so dearly after trying to respect a priest by not telling him I’m in love with him, there’s so many dynamics that were so painful. I don’t even know how that’s going to work out. Where do you go from there?
Vaughn: It’s a mountain to climb.
Is the bishop going to believe Eric’s story that he was a victim of being drugged?
Vaughn: The channels that he has to go through to get to that point, the highest point, cardinals and everybody, he typically goes through a lot. But I think it’s just how it comes back through all the other parishioners. The congregation and all the civilians. The pressure and failure of disappointment, that’s what’s going to happen in a lot of that and where to go from there and not only that but the one he hurt the most. Once you say something so heavy, so big, it’s like how can I make this up? How can I make this right? Is she going to hear me?
Everyone’s been hoping for some “Thornbirds” action between you two. Is there hope?
Zucker: I am really happy they’ve not written it that way. I am really happy that they went with a very traditional storyline of writing this so slowly and having this huge following just say, “Please, get them together.” If we gave you the “Thornbirds” story too early, it wouldn’t be the same. So ideally for these two characters and the length of time that they have known each other, 12 years, well probably five years in Salem since there are 52 days in Salem in a year.
Vaughn: I think the wedding has happened in the last two weeks. The dialogue has been like, “Tomorrow is this wedding.” How long is the wedding going to take? One day is spread out for two weeks.
Zucker: I love that she ran from him and her feelings to respect him. He’s not aware of it.
Does Nicole get some redemption at least in the eyes of Salem?
Zucker: Absolutely. It’s just probably refreshing in some people’s eyes. The relationship with Brady is probably just sticking the shoes in his mouth and not listening to me and the fact that I have built some friendships and Jennifer has totally forgiven me for things. It’s nice that I have him on my side for once.
Nicole and Brady have a romantic history, might he rebound with her?
Vaughn: I think we’re all in trouble. Everybody that has been in her party, they’ve all been trying to push her way. Now she’s got Daniel and we’re all like coming back, “Forgive me!”
Sami even has to be kind of sympathetic.
Zucker: Sami hates me.
Vaughn: They’ll always hate each other.
But on this one occasion she had her brother’s back. Will that temporarily bring about a cease fire between them?
Zucker: The relationship between Sami and Nicole, it’s really interesting now. Ali and I really try not to play what we used to play. We’re trying to age the characters in a way that there is a mutual respect of evil between the two. But also, you cross each other, you’re screwed. However, when we’re in the same room, we will abide by those rules of decency but don’t mess with me.