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Exclusive: DAYS OF OUR LIVES's Arianne Zucker On Nicole's Baby Heartbreak

Arianne Zucker


When this baby switch story came up in the script, did it evoke memories of the Nicole/Sami one, where Nicole were the perpetrator? And did you ever think, 15 years later, you’d be playing one again as the victim? “I never thought Nicole would be a goody two-shoes. I never thought they’d go there, but I’m finding my way. I’ve talked about [the Nicole/Sami baby switch] story being one of my favorites, along with my hilarious relationship with John Aniston [ex-Victor] years ago. Those were my two favorites. Storylines get recycled no matter what. It’s kind of hard not to; there are only so many to tell. When I realized [this was happening], I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m actually the heroine in this situation!’ But I also felt that Nicole was a heroine in the other situation, too.”

How so? “Because of the way Nicole was able to finesse [the whole plot] out of her need for love so many years ago. Even though it was wrong, I felt I was able to pull that off, in a way. She did it all postpartum and kind of nutty. She did it all for EJ, so he could have his own child. The intentions were pure for Nicole. She thought she was doing the right thing. Now there’s the flip. It’s such a good twist, because of the karma.”

Were you excited to tackle this story? “I was interested to see where it was going to go. I loved the original [baby switch] story. It lasted two years and so many people were involved, which I thought was really cool. I was looking forward to seeing how many people this story would affect and how many people it would touch. I was like, ‘Okay. Let’s see how they do this. There are different writers and different everything now.’ So I was curious.”

Have there been any challenges with this story? “It’s going back to my roots of what I feel I’m really good at, which are these emotional, tragic scenes. It’s something I’ve practiced for a long time, understanding my body and how it reacts to tragic situations. I enjoy it, because I know how to turn it on and turn it off…. A lot of tears. It’s an ability to never take that stuff home. It does exhaust my body to a certain degree, but I know where it comes from. I cried when Nicole lost the second baby, and it was stillborn. For that story I cried for like 30 episodes in a row. It was heavy. I feel like the only challenge is to keep it different than what it was the last time.”

Arianne Zuker, Dan Feuerreigel


Tragedy Strikes: EJ (Dan Feuerriegel) and Nicole are mourning their son.

How do you let all that emotion go after playing such heavy scenes? “Well, my body is spent, because your body doesn’t know the difference. But there are times in between scenes where I’ll have to laugh it off or make a joke. As soon as I cross that fourth wall, I’m done. I don’t hang onto [the emotion], because I know from all my studying and all the things I’ve done in my life what it does to your mindset if you do. So you literally can switch [it off]. I’m an empath naturally. I was born that way. If I, personally, am not careful, I take on everyone’s emotions. I’ve done a lot of studying and a lot of homework on how to draw that line. When actors get deep into story like that, they do have to learn to draw the line. Many may not agree with me; many studying Method acting, where you dive into the character and remain that character throughout the entire movie or whatever. I don’t think it’s safe or healthy. Knowing how to shut it off is super-important.”

What about playing pregnant? Did you think you’d get a shot to do that again? “I know, right? It’s like, ‘How many babies do I have to lose?’ Carrying a baby wasn’t my first thought. It was surprise. Going into this as a character I personally thought, ‘What if I got pregnant now?’ I put myself in that scenario, and it was really interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean, not coming from a 30-year-old getting pregnant, but from a 40-something getting pregnant. It’s a totally different world. There was a lot of Ari thinking, ‘What would I do if I was in this place?’ That’s how I’ve been playing it.”

And, of course, it started out differently than most soap pregnancies. “When it first started and it was like, ‘Oh, it’s menopause,’ some people can be offended by that, right? But I was like, ‘Why? It’s natural.’ It’s good to talk about these things and kind of relate. Menopause doesn’t have to be [taboo]. Menopause can still be sexy. I’m somebody who’s going through perimenopause in real life. Why not be the person who takes it on and goes, ‘No. There are so many things at that this time of your life that are still beautiful and gorgeous and awesome. You can make it fun.’ Because that’s me. I try to be annoyingly positive all the time.”

What are your thoughts on how the story has played out? Is it everything you thought and hoped it would be? “Well, I can’t tell you that. I’m being very vague for a reason. I want to be cryptic and not give too much away. It’s been very interesting.”