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ICYMI: Alison Sweeney Interview

Alison Sweeney comes roaring back to DAYS as Sami on Nicole and Eric’s wedding day

SOAP OPERA DIGEST: When did DAYS approach you about coming back? How did you react?

ALISON SWEENEY: I’m always in conversation with Ken [Corday, executive producer] and Ron [Carlivati, head writer] about possible fun opportunities to come back and visit Salem. I guess Greg [Meng, co-executive producer] always sort of initiates, like, “Hey, we have an idea. Would you want to talk to Ron?” or “When can you talk to Ron?” and then I talk to Ron and he tells me some fun, outrageous, amazing story and I love it, and we see if we can make it work.

DIGEST: How did you react when you learned that Allie has been aged?

SWEENEY: I thought it was a great idea. I loved it. That’s the tradition of soaps. It’s the next generation of troublemakers coming to Salem. It’s fun. I love it.

DIGEST: Tell me about reporting back to work. What did it feel like?

SWEENEY: It’s funny because I came back after doing a Christmas movie for Hallmark and so I was feeling kind of in shape as an actor, I guess, but it had been a while since I had been at DAYS. It’s just hard. It’s a lot more dialogue to memorize and all of that. I get butterflies in my stomach now when I know I have to work. I try to do a lot of prep work, like making sure I’m ready. I feel like a kid on their first day of school. And then you walk through those doors and it feels as if I was there yesterday. Everything feels like home to me. I get right back into the swing of things quickly. But leading up to that point I was very nervous.

DIGEST: This is the second time Sami has crashed a wedding, this time Eric and Nicole’s. How does she come in and what is her state of mind?

SWEENEY: Well, this one was really fun because I loved Ron’s setup for it. I think he gave everyone such a great point of view in this situation. Eric and Nicole just want to have a nice wedding. Eric did want to invite Sami but Allie convinced him not to, and Allie has such a good reason for not wanting Sami there, to see her pregnant. Sami is searching for Allie, worried, so of course, she’s going to leave no stone unturned to try to find her daughter. But then how hurtful would that be, to find out your twin brother is getting married? I don’t know which is worse, that he told you but didn’t invite you or didn’t invite you and didn’t even tell you it was happening. It’s just so heartbreaking for Sami to just happen to find out. Everyone comes into those scenes with such loaded feelings. Certainly when Sami gets on that train, there’s no stopping it.

DIGEST: What were your first impressions of Lindsay Arnold (Allie)?

SWEENEY: Oh, my gosh. I love Lindsay Arnold. She is adorable and fantastic. Such a good actress. So kind. A good person to have on set. I think she is such a hard worker and talented. It was really fun to get to know her. I feel she does remind me of my kids; she looks like Ben and Megan. The casting was really great. She’s great. I love it. I love also that they gave her the name Allie. It’s very special for me.

DIGEST: Was there any confusion being called to set?

SWEENEY: Yes, because also she got used to being there without me there. When they say Allie, they always meant her and then all of a sudden I show up and she’s like, “Wait, what?” And the same for me. Now, when the director calls out a change in the blocking, you’re like, “Me Ali or her Allie?” Ari [Zucker, Nicole] is in those scenes, too, and we already have that problem with Ali and Ari. Ari and I used to jokingly want to charge people five bucks for the mistake because it happens so often.

DIGEST: Did you offer Lindsay any backstory or context to Sami?

SWEENEY: Well, she had already sort of been layering in those scenes, so I think that she probably already had a lot, but we talked a lot. Sometimes there would be references in the scene about something that had happened a long time ago. The answer is yes. I tried to fill in as many blanks as I could. It all makes sense about what Ron wrote about her having these feelings about Sami, but I wanted to also sort of offer like, “But it’s also that they love each other,” trying to find all the depths of that. We had lots of good talks about all the complicated emotional relationships with all these characters.

DIGEST: How does Sami feel when she learns Allie is pregnant and Will and Sonny want to adopt the baby?

SWEENEY: Well, even just finding out that Allie is pregnant is such a game-changer for Sami. Obviously, that’s Sami’s story. Sami had Will when she was so young. It was such a fascinating, complex thing to play but I think it’s a struggle that moms have all the time. Of course, Will is the best thing that ever happened to Sami and she’s so grateful and lucky to have him, but it’s hard and scary. And Allie making that choice and getting herself in that situation, like, you’re worried for your kid and it expresses itself in anger, like, “How could you let this happen?” but really you’re just worried for what this means for the future. That was really fun, and by fun I mean hard and complex, fun scenes to play. And then that she wants to give the baby away is the worst thing. Sami cannot even wrap her head around a child of hers even considering adoption after everything Sami did to hold on to her own kids because being a mother to her children was, like, literally the driving storyline [former Head Writer] Jim Reilly gave me when I was 19 years old. The No. 1 thing you can say about Sami is that far above everything else, including her obsession with Austin and everything else, is how important Will was to her and creating the perfect family for Will. So this idea that Allie wants to give the baby up, she can’t even wrap her head around it. But then that she’s thinking about giving it to Will and Sonny is so off the hook. It totally changes the dynamic. If it’s Will and Sonny, then it’s just in the family and we can figure it out from there. As long as the kid is staying within Sami’s immediate family it will all be okay is how Sami sees it.

DIGEST: How was working with Galen Gering (Rafe) again? And what does Sami think about the possibility of him adopting the baby?

SWEENEY: It’s so fun to work with Galen. I think the Sami and Rafe relationship has definitely, obviously morphed over the years but it’s still fun and interesting and complex. She has really specific goals of getting him to give up the kid. To her it seems so obvious. Why would he even consider it? She doesn’t understand why he would even think this is a good idea. She has to talk him out of it right away. And it’s fun because Rafe is immediately on to her motives and that she’s playing him, but they still have that thing where he kind of lets her keep talking because he knows she’s that way. They have these patterns that they fall into that are really cute.

DIGEST: Nicole and Eric do wind up married. How is Sami feeling now that Nicole is her sister-in-law?

SWEENEY: Oh, yeah, she’s outraged. I mean, the fact that these people just glossed over the fact that Nicole kidnapped Sydney from her is just mind-boggling to Sami. Every mistake Sami’s ever made, they hold it against her and remind her of all of the terrible things she’s done every day but somehow Nicole gets this free pass. She really did try to take Sami’s child. Sami just cannot get on board for that. And in the end, it’s really about Eric. She feels that this woman is not good enough for Eric and that she will, in the end, break his heart. She doesn’t want to see that happen.

DIGEST: Is it hard for you to find Sami again when you come back?

SWEENEY: No. It’s funny, it’s not hard at all. For some reason, stepping back into that every time, it just feels so natural. There are some things about it that are different from what I do when I film other projects that I have to remind myself to get back into. When I film the Hallmark movies, there’s a way you can pause if you mess up your lines and then you can keep going. There’s certain things like that you can’t do in daytime. Sometimes it works but often it does not. The more technical habits are hard for me because I get into a different rhythm. But playing Sami and the emotions of who she is and the history I have with this character and all of the characters? I mean, the other amazing, beautiful thing about DAYS is that all of those people that Sami interacted with are still there. It’s so much easier for me to find that emotion and find the scene the way it’s written because everyone I worked with is already there, so I have to get myself there. It’s easier because they’re so good. I think it would be a lot harder if I had some imagined off-camera storyline with someone and then came in and had a fight sequence with them. I love that the writers really acknowledge that history and play into it.

DIGEST: How long are you back for?

SWEENEY: It’s hard to tell because the holidays broke up the middle of my filming. I was there for quite a bit. I don’t know how long it will air, but I filmed for a couple of months. It’s a longer stay.

DIGEST: How did it feel to be back for a longer stay?

SWEENEY: It was so great. It was so fun. I really loved it. I loved the storyline. I loved getting to play it out. It was really fun.

DIGEST: Is there a chance you’ll be back again?

SWEENEY: Of course. There’s always a chance. In fact, I would love to do more. I don’t know how people are going to go back to filming now, but I would always want to come home to Salem. Ron certainly left things for Sami to do.

DIGEST: Anything planned for future Hallmark movies?

SWEENEY: We have lots of projects that we are ready to film as soon as we’re given the go-ahead and the opportunity. I have lots of fun mysteries lined up at Hallmark and projects ready to move forward on. We’re just trying to figure out how we can make that happen. We hope to be getting back to work soon.