Hot Scoop on Eileen Davidson's Return to Days of Our Lives
You can fire her. But you can't stop her. Soap superstar Eileen Davidson, who returns to Days of Our Lives on Thursday, Oct. 11 as nutty hell-raiser Kristen Blake, hasn't been on the NBC serial in 14 years. And she wouldn't be on it now if she hadn't been unceremoniously dumped from her long-running role as heroine Ashley Abbott on CBS's The Young and the Restless. Sony, which oversees both soaps, pulled the puppet strings on the deal, axing Davidson fromY&R mid-contract and basically trading her without permission, like she's with the NFL. Yet things worked out pretty damn well — for her and us! Who doesn't want to see Kristen back in Salem ruining lives and driving Dr. Marlena Evans bat-crap crazy? TV Guide Magazine talked with Davidson about her roller-coaster suds career and, of course, we hit her with the big question: Will she once again don those fake buck teeth and play Kristen's dippy doppelganger Susan?
TV Guide Magazine: The last time we saw Kristen, wasn't she trapped on a remote island somewhere?
Davidson: Yes. She was in a dungeon having been sold into slavery, which seems a little harsh now that I think about it, but at the time is was sort of goofy and crazy and the kind of stuff [the late Days head writer] Jim Reilly was creating for me. Days is a whole different kind of animal now. It's going to be interesting to walk that fine line between what we did back then with Jim and what we do now.
TV Guide Magazine: Not to mention the fact that newer viewers won't know any of that wackadoo '90s stuff. Fourteen years is a hell of a long time.
Davidson: Tell me about it! [Laughs] I'm the one who has to live with all the flashbacks we're showing! Flashbacks are so unbelievably mean to actors! In practically every other episode we've got some old scene that explains who Kristen is, especially when it comes to the dynamic between her and John [Drake Hogestyn] and Marlena [Deidre Hall]. It's been so much fun being back with Drake and Dee and diving back into that murky pool!
TV Guide Magazine: The Days PR peeps tell me there are scenes coming up in November where Marlena catches Kristen and John in a compromising position. Give us the dish.
Davidson: Both John and Kristen turn up at the Horton cabin on Smith Island at the same time. It's really just a coincidence but that's where a lot of history happened between them. When Marlena shows up and finds them together, she's sure Kristen set it up and it turns into quite a mess.
TV Guide Magazine: Shouldn't John be wary of Kristen, too? She ruined the guy's life! Several times, actually.
Davidson: [Laughs] Oh, he's very on guard! He's not going to trust her at all. Just the fact that she's there at the cabin says a lot, right? Kristen does try to make some inroads with John, assuring him she has changed and that she's trying to be a better person. She wants to be his friend. She really has changed a lot from the old days.
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah, right.
Davidson: Really! Everyone in Salem is horrified to see Kristen back in town and they should be. She was vile! You couldn't get much more evil than she was, right? So people are really hateful towards her. But she's had tons of therapy in the years she's been away. She's trying to be very sincere in reaching out to people. She even goes to work at the church.
TV Guide Magazine: The same one where she was found naked and handcuffed to the altar? That should be fun! Let's back up. We first see Kristen again when her father, Stefano, tracks her down in Europe?
Davidson: Yeah. He's very upset about the DiMera family being in splinters and he's reaching out to her to try to put it back together. He needs her help rounding up Chad and EJ, especially now that Lexie's dead. At first Kristen doesn't want any part of it but she acquiesces. Apparently, Stefano has been taking care of her and supporting her all these years.
TV Guide Magazine: You made suds history during your previous Days run when you juggled five roles at once — Kristen, her goofball lookalike Susan, and Susan's three sibs, one of them a man! Will you resurrect any of that? Or would it be a mistake to try to recapture all that Jimmy Reilly insanity now that he's no longer with us?
Davidson: At this point, the only one even mentioned in the dialogue so far is Susan. I guess it would be fun to revisit some of that. Yeah! [Laughs] What can I say? I'm kind of a masochist. And I still have Susan's teeth. I took them with me when I left the show. I pull them out every once in a while to keep my husband in line.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's clarify what went down between you and Sony and Y&R. Word on the street is that you weren't happy about the way you were treated, even though you ultimately did stay employed.
Davidson: It was a really weird time, what with Maria Bell being let go shortly after I was. I was led to believe that I was fired, though it was a bad news-good news thing — the bad news is Y&R is firing you, the good news is Days wants you. But then there was no actual confirmation that the Days thing was happening. Maria was in Europe at the time, so that made it even more confusing. But then the Days offer finally did come in, and here I am.
TV Guide Magazine: We know actors are at the mercy of networks and production companies no matter what those contracts say, but I've never heard of a case quite like this.
Davidson: What happened to me at Y&R was shocking — I've been in this business a very long time and have never seen anything like it — but it's not like I haven't been fired before. And with everything going on in daytime right now, it was not completely surprising because everybody seems to be scrambling. Apparently, there was a lot of infighting going on behind the scenes at Y&R. We obviously know that now, considering what ultimately happened to Maria. At the time it felt like I was being ripped from my mother's arms but, in the bigger picture, I'm really happy to be at Days. It was always a place of great creativity for me. I should also say that a couple of months before I was let go at Y&R, Sony, which owns both soaps, did put out feelers as to whether or not I'd be interested in doing both shows and I said yes. That, of course, didn't happen, but it wasn't like I was completely blindsided. At least they did ask how I'd feel about going back to Days. But it was so strange being fired twice from the same show. I was, like, "Seriously? Really, people? Again?"
TV Guide Magazine: Well, for what it's worth. I interviewed Josh Griffith a couple of weeks ago, now that he's back as head writer at Y&R, and he hates it that you're not on the show anymore. He wants you back. Bad! He told me he was the one who brought you from The Bold and the Beautiful back to Y&R during the writers strike.
Davidson: I talked to Peter Bergman [Jack] the other day and he told me the same thing. That's very interesting, because I'd always been led to believe it was Maria Bell who brought me back.
TV Guide Magazine: Why doesn't that surprise me?
Davidson: If Josh said it, I'm sure it's true. [Laughs] You know what? Even though I keep getting fired from that show things worked out to my advantage. The first time I wound up taking my character over to B&B where Brad Bell wrote really well for Ashley. It was a breath of fresh air. And, now, to be able to come back to Days and do Kristen 2012 is just a gift. Sometimes things happen out of your control and it ends up being for the best. I mean that in all sincerity.
TV Guide Magazine: Even though this situation was essentially forced on you, did you still get wooed by Days? Did they sit you down and try to dazzle you with their grand plans?
Davidson: I wasn't sure what I was going to do for a little while there. Days had some great story plans for me and I did hear all that before I said yes. Of course, even if a story outline sounds good you never really know until you get those scripts. But the writing has been terrific — very intelligent and witty and wonderful to play. Very different from what I was doing on Y&R, which was straight drama. So, yeah, it all worked out really, really well. My contract with Days is kind of fluid. It's not what you might think. I have leeway. And it wasn't like they were horrible to me and I was made to do this. I could have said no. I was given a lot of options. Ultimately, it felt mutually beneficial and I am very happy here. [Laughs] And I gotta tell you, some things never change! I just love it when Kristen tortures Marlena! Driving that woman crazy is the most fun ever!
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