Rafe is back in Salem, which marks the return of his portrayer, Galen Gering. The actor, who last filmed in February after an 11-year run, says he was happy to get the call to reprise the role.
“So the day I left was my birthday — February 13th — and I had very mixed feelings about the whole thing,” Gering recalls. “I was excited for what the future would hold without DAYS OF OUR LIVES in it, and bittersweet in that I was obviously leaving behind a lot of people I care for, and the whole experience. My overwhelming feeling was that I wanted to go with a real feeling of excitement about the unknown, and that’s how I’ve led my whole life, so why stop now? I don’t know what the future’s going to hold, what life has in store, and I’ve been very fortunate in the past, so that was really the spirit that I carried. It was definitely funny being that it was my birthday; I actually saw that as a big gift, and everyone at work was so lovely and excited for me and happy. It was cool. There was just a lot of love there.”
After leaving the soap, Gering put his focus on moving forward. “There wasn’t this crazy, radical, massive adjustment,” he shrugs. “There were a couple of other projects that I got involved in and we were doing preproduction on, and friends of mine were like, ‘I can put you in this movie,’ and, ‘There’s this other movie,’ and there were a couple of projects that came about, so I was excited about other things that were brewing.”
And then the pandemic hit, which sidelined everything. “On the personal side, it was actually kind of cool because as a family, we were spending way more time together,” he notes of wife Jenna and sons Dillon, 14, and Jensen, 12. “It wasn’t just the lack of school. It was the lack of organized sports, music lessons or acting lessons that everybody was now not going to, so there was just a lot more time that we spent together. I think a lot of people could attest to that ultimately being a positive thing for the families. That said, there were ups and downs in between, but at the same time, you’re like, ‘Wow, we’re really hanging and communicating and spending more time together.’ So I think that’s a really potential silver lining of this whole pandemic. I mean, there has to be something positive about it, right? And we were fortunate in that we’re fortunate. We’re in a position where we’re not living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve been good financially, in terms of saving money and investing well, so we could survive it. Our financial advisor has always been like, ‘Make sure you have money socked away for the thing,’ and I’m like, ‘This is that thing that they always talked about.’ ”
DAYS came calling about a comeback while Gering was sheltering in place. “It wasn’t long after I left that they shut the show down so I guess, all in all, I was probably only two months off canvas,” he notes. “There were a few months — December, January and February — that I didn’t know if there would ever be DAYS OF OUR LIVES in my future again, and so that last day was the last day as I saw it in my mind. I was certainly happy and excited to hear that they wanted me to come back to DAYS, and that there were going to be changes afoot with regard to my storyline, so here we are.”
Despite the fact that he’s a seasoned pro, Gering wasn’t sure how he would be after such a long break. “Everyone had basically been off for the most part anyway, but they were back maybe four weeks before I went back, so everyone was sort of getting used to the new system and how that worked,” he explains. “I was wondering if I was going to be nervous and how I was going to feel, and I think I just felt comfortable and excited and rusty as far as being able to remember a lot of dialogue. I was just saying the other day that it’s taken a month of doing it to get back to where I felt like I was in terms of that muscle being strong and being able to remember a lot of stuff in a short amount of time and be comfortable. Between cast and crew, there was just an overwhelming feeling that I had of welcoming and support and love and all that, and that really goes a long way coming back to a place you’ve left. And I think that they’ve done a mind-blowingly incredible job of not only keeping us safe, but also innovating and making the show look great.”
Gering says that he’s looking forward to his new chapter in Salem. “I’m excited. Grateful. Happy,” he enthuses. “Happy not only for myself, but for all the other people that love the show and rely on the show to keep the lights on and put food on the table, and excited about the direction the show is going in. I was talking to [Senior Producer] Janet [Spellman-Drucker] and she said, ‘I feel Ron [Carlivati, head writer] is just crushing it. All the stuff that I’m reading right now, I’m so excited about. I’m loving everything,’ and I said, ‘Well, you probably have a good indicator. You’re able to tell when you’re reading it if story is going to jump.’ There’s a palpable feeling on set that what people are doing and taping is good and they’re excited about it. As an actor, that’s fun to be part of.”