Grab a hanky, or 12. Soap superstar Alison Sweeney checks out of NBC's Days of Our Livesnext week, nearly 22 years after she joined the show as stormy conniver Sami Brady. Sami leaves Salem a widow, thanks to the recent presumed death of her hubby EJ. But there's good news: After a series of deeply emotional farewells with friends and family, she will head to L.A. where studio execs — who have read that horrid Sami expose written by her son — are eager to put her story on screen. Of course, TV Guide Magazine had to get Sweeney's take on all this!
TV Guide Magazine: 'Fess up! Was there any real acting required to play all your goodbye scenes? |
Sweeney: [Laughs] Hardly! We shot those scenes more than four months ago and it still hurts. But everybody needed closure — including the fans. Counting down the final months and weeks and days was so hard. I was, like, "This is Sami's last disagreement with her mother!" "This is her last catfight with Nicole!" "This is the last time she'll say 'I do'!" No matter where I go in my acting career, I'm sure I will never play a schemer who's had 15 weddings and kept all her dresses.
TV Guide Magazine: Breaking up is hard to do.
Sweeney: Man, is it! A while back Sami had a scene with Will and one of Guy Wilson's lines reminded me exactly of something Sami said when Will was a baby and the emotions really got to me. I had to choke my way through that scene. I barely made it.
TV Guide Magazine: Who's going to miss Sami the most?
TV Guide Magazine: Besides you! I'd bet my money on Kate.
Sweeney: I think you're right. It's going to be a big loss for Kate. [Laughs] At least, that's what Lauren Koslow tells me all the time. Kate and Sami were at odds all those years and then it turned out that they're practically the same person. Their bond was just getting started. Then there's Sami's final scene with Nicole, which is fabulous and a hell of a lot of fun. It's really going to catch the viewers off guard.
TV Guide Magazine: Word is, we'll get loads of cool flashbacks with all these bye-byes. How is it to see yourself as young Sami?
Sweeney: I love flashbacks. I flinch and roll my eyes at my old self, for sure, but I'm also such a sap. I love, love, love looking back, remembering the old stuff. I don't know which ones will end up on the show but, in a few instances, I pitched ideas for flashbacks that were my favorites, hoping to give the fans some closure on certain things. I'm looking at you, Lumi fans!
TV Guide Magazine: Now that some time has passed, has it finally sunk in that you're no longer on Days? Or is it still a little weird?
Sweeney: I still can't talk about it in the past tense. I drive past NBC and have to force myself to say, "I used to work there." It was really strange at first. I'd wake up in the morning going, "Why didn't my alarm go off? I'm gonna be late! Oh, wait, no I won't. I don't have anywhere to go today." But, trust me, I do not miss memorizing all those lines. That part has been a vacation.
TV Guide Magazine: How'd you feel about the choice to kill off EJ, rather than sending him and Sami off into the sunset together?
Sweeney: When I first heard that was the plan I was disappointed. Look, I'm a romantic at heart. As you can tell from my novels I'm definitely into "happily ever afters," so it bummed me out when I heard EJ was going to get shot and be "mostly dead" or whatever you call it in the soap world. That classic DiMera taking away of the body leaves us with a mystery, I guess. But it's not a mystery for Sami. She has to honestly deal with losing EJ, so I sunk my teeth into all those grief and mourning scenes. When will I ever get a chance to act out scenes as wonderfully painful as the ones in the morgue? I relished the opportunity and wanted to do them justice — not just for me but for all of the EJami fans I knew would be feeling the same way. I had such butterflies over those scenes! I really hope I lived up to the phenomenal writing.
TV Guide Magazine: What do you want to say to the Ejami fans who didn't get their "happily ever after"?
Sweeney: With some time and perspective, I now see that lots of great romances end in tragedy. Perhaps, EJami fans will eventually see it as an appropriate end for the characters. They etched their place in love-story history by ending with tears. And for all those who were opposed to the EJ-Sami pairing, there's a poetic justice there, if you choose to look at it that way. Or maybe I'm just trying to find a silver lining. I've made my peace with it.
TV Guide Magazine: It's hilariously perfect — and so Sami — that she's running off to be in showbiz, don't you think?
Sweeney: It gives me such a giggle. The idea that Hollywood execs read Will's article and want to be in "the Sami Brady business" was a sweet send-off that I felt to the bone. For all of Sami's trials and tribulations, Days was sending her — and me — off with love and appreciation, and that means more to me than I can possibly say.
TV Guide Magazine: And Hollywood ain't that far from Salem.
Sweeney: Sami desperately needs something to look forward to so she's taking the kids off on a new adventure but the writers made sure it's not anything permanent and that Sami can come back to Salem any time she wants. Are you kidding? Days celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. No way am I missing that!