Soap Opera Digest: How did you get the news that you were being written out?
Jordi Vilasuso: They called me and said, “Unfortunately, Dario is going to leave Salem.” My cycle was up and that’s what happened.
Digest: Was it unexpected?
Vilasuso: It was, but this is my third [soap] and [on GUIDING LIGHT and ALL MY CHILDREN], I had always been written in a way that they really were pushing my storyline. In this instance, I felt that I was serving another storyline. But I tried to do what I could with what I was given, and not look at it as sour grapes, but instead as, “Okay, this is what it is. I’m working with great people. Let’s make the most of this.” So that’s what I did. I always try to do it that way because, who knows? Dario could come back to Salem. You never know. And I heard repeatedly from people that the show was known for doing that. I’ll be direct with you. Is it a letdown for me? Yeah, somewhat, of course. This was a gig I was planning on doing. When Josh [Griffith, former co-head writer] was there, he brought on A [Martinez, ex-Eduardo], and from my understanding, he wanted to create this Hernandez family dynamic. I was surprised that Josh left. But he did, and then Dena [Higley, former co-head writer] came on and it was a completely different dynamic for me, from the writing and all that. But it is the nature of the beast, as they say. I think I should have seen the signs coming from early on because of the way Dario was being written. I would ask myself, “Why is Dario doing this?” But that’s not my department. I don’t have control over that.
Digest: Did you go to the producers and say, “Can I talk about the direction in which Dario is going?”
Vilasuso: I had a talk with Dena early on, because I had a question about Dario all of a sudden saying that he was in love with Abigail. He is an adult. I was like, “Why would he suddenly come out of the blue and say he’s in love with her?” She kind of said, “Okay.” I even asked her, “Is Dario dying anytime soon?” and she said no. I guess she didn’t see a path really for me to stay. That’s all I can assume. I don’t want to point fingers. I am completely empathetic toward what the show deals with. They have 20 to 30 actors working, so they’re juggling a lot of storyline, which I completely understand. It’s a really heavy task and there are people who are written certain ways. The one wish that I did have, and I’m probably not in the minority when it comes to actors on shows like this, I wish I had been written in a way that was either one or the other. I feel they tried to keep the character of Dario in a place where he is a good guy, but he’s doing something bad, pining after this girl who clearly doesn’t reciprocate the feeling. That was frustrating because she’s not the only girl that made Dario feel that way. Nicole also felt that way. He chose these girls who were unavailable. So that was a hard thing to wrap my head around.
Digest: When you realized that Dario was being written out, did you share the news with your castmates right away?
Vilasuso: It was a hard thing. These people are not just people I work with. You get close to them. You develop a bond. I’d have to say I got really close to Marci [Miller, Abigail]. She’s such a professional, but also a really cool person. I know the difficulties of coming on to a show, and I was able to hopefully share some of my experiences, because when you come into a new work environment, it can be stressful. And she worked so hard just to put her best foot forward in every single scene. She was really taken by the fact that I was leaving. I take my hat off to her. And also to Galen [Gering, Rafe] and Camila [Banus, Gabi] — everybody at the end of the day was just so there for me. It was really quite nice to have that, and call them not just people I work with, but friends. I feel that way about everybody. I think that was a mutual feeling that we shared across the board. There wasn’t any ill regard toward anyone there. It’s just, that’s the way the chips fall.
Digest: What do you remember about your last day at DAYS?
Vilasuso: It was pretty funny, man. My last day, everybody was there. Bruce Evans [SVP, Current & Daytime Programming: NBC Entertainment], Ken [Corday, executive producer] came, maybe some people from Sony were there, as well. Everybody came because they were announcing that the show was getting picked up for another year. I was literally in the midst of shooting my last scene, like this emotional thing, and everybody showed up. I was like, “Wow, what are the chances?” Everybody was there celebrating that they got picked up for another year. It was a weird sensation because I was really happy that these people all had jobs, but at the same time, it was like, “Oh, this kind of sucks because I’m leaving.” So it was almost comical leaving like that, in a way. I’m shaking everybody’s hand, and they’re all saying, “You’ve done such a great job. We’re so grateful to have had you here.” But it was all beautiful, and I hope that the show stays on forever.
Digest: What are you up to now?
Vilasuso: I was very fortunate that I booked two jobs, two movies, right after this. So it’s all good.