If there’s one thing Charles Shaughnessy has learned during his years on DAYS, spanning from his debut as Shane Donovan in 1984 to subsequent returns as the superspy and his eccentric twin, Drew, it’s the more things change, the more things stay the same. Take, for instance, the actor’s last visit back to the soap earlier this year.
“You know how soaps work, how the stories work: There’s never that much new going on,” begins Shaughnessy with a chuckle. “It was the same actors, playing the same characters and, basically, saying the same lines. I mean, there are always ne’er-do-wells running around and we’re chasing after them. This time, it was Patch and Shane saying, ‘Leave it to us. We’re going to save Hope.’ ”
This mission, however, meant a lengthier, meatier stay for Shaughnessy, a move he set in motion. “I used to go back for a couple of days or a week, and it never felt very satisfying,” confesses the actor. “It was a bit like visiting old friends who are busy doing their thing. You pop in and say hi, but you’re not reconnecting. I’d finish it and think that it was like leaving a meal before it was done. So I said, ‘If you’ve got a real storyline, I would love to do it.’ [The producers] came back and said, ‘We do. Would a couple of months count?’ I said, ‘Yes. That feels like it would be enough time to get my feet sunk into it.’ Indeed it was.”
Plus, Shaughnessy was given the opportunity to play both Shane and Drew. “Shane got to lead the investigation into Stefano’s [death] and actually pretend to be Stefano,” recounts Shaughnessy. “And with Drew, who’s a bit of a loose cannon, I had permission to be more wacky. There was also substantial material to play rather than just coming in with some information or saying, ‘Be careful, Theresa.’ It was just so much fun. I got to become part of the gang again. It was as if I’d never left.”
That gang includes yesteryear cast members like Mary Beth Evans (Kayla), Stephen Nichols (Steve) and Kristian Alfonso (Hope), as well as newer additions like Galen Gering (Rafe). “Then, there were sort of the new kids that I hadn’t met,” adds the actor. “I was sort of the old grandpa guy that they’d heard about. It was all really enjoyable.”
Being on set with old friends and vets occasionally inspired chats about DAYS gone by. “Sometimes it’s a mixture of that and what’s going on now, especially if the scene you’re doing is very reminiscent of something from the past,” he notes. “And Mary Beth and I giggle. She’s the easiest giggler in the world. The trouble is if you talk about something in between scenes that you find very funny about the scene you’re doing, because it reminds you of the moment someone got stuck in the elevator shaft or whatever it was, then when you’re doing the scene, you can’t help but think of that. So you have to be careful.”
Shaughnessy doesn’t have a clue when he’ll pop back up in Salem again, and since he’s “so busy with other things at the moment,” that’s fine with him. “It’s always the case of finding the time, because DAYS isn’t my main job and it has to fit around a schedule. So we have to take it on a case by case basis.”
As for those “other things,” Shaughnessy humbly sums them up as “odds and ends.” There are three movies: A MIDSUMMER’S HAWAIIAN DREAM, which is streaming on Amazon; Moontrap: Target Earth, which was released on DVD; and Danger One, which has yet to come out. “It’s a thriller with a wonderful actor named Denis O’Hare in the lead,” notes Shaughnessy about the latter. “I also did a couple of episodes of MASTERS OF SEX and a NCIS that have aired.”
Shaughnessy also has some nonacting projects brewing. “My brother David and I are working on a project that we’ve been dealing with on and off for years. It’s an Internet tech/content business, which is looking like it may have some kind of future now. That’s certainly interesting and exciting. And I’m producing a couple of projects with a friend in Canada.”
One endeavor that’s fallen by the wayside, however, is a blog Shaughnessy launched in 2015. “I’ve got to get back to it,” he says. “It was linked to an online radio show called Here’s A Thought, which I really enjoyed doing. But they closed down the studio in Santa Monica and moved it to Silver Lake, which is a long way for me to go every week. And what happened, to be quite honest, is the stuff that I was thinking about and wanted to talk about got so political and so intense, that I just felt I needed to take a little break. I think the audience needed to take a little break, too, but it’s something I would love to get back to.”
On the family front, Shaughnessy reports that “everyone is doing well,” referring to his wife, Susan, and their daughters, Jenny and Madelyn. “Maddie is [studying] psychology and finishing up her last month of college. She’s a part-time student at one of the Claremont colleges and is also working two days a week at Paramount Pictures in the television division as a paid intern. She’s continuing with dance, too. So she’s got a lot of different irons in the fire.
“My eldest, Jenny, is a production coordinator at Fox,” Shaughnessy continues. “So both of them are in production behind the camera. Jenny has been doing this for years. She’s now in charge of about five different movies on the Fox lot and she’s enjoying it.”
With their two girls now fully grown, “Susie and I are sort of empty-nesters most of the time,” notes Shaughnessy. “They’re both close though, so we see them. They drop in every now and again for a brunch or a dinner or to stay the night. But we’re sort of enjoying having some time and space to ourselves.”
Just The Facts
- Birthday: February 9
- Hails From: London, England
- The Family Way: Married Susan Fallender on May 21, 1983. They have two daughters, Jenny and Maddie.
- Donovan Doings: Shaughnessy played Shane in 1984-92, 2002, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016-17. He recently reprised the role of Shane’s twin, Drew, who he first portrayed in 1988.
- In The Beginning: Shaughnessy made his daytime debut on GH in 1983 as Holly’s cousin, Alistair.
- BAY Breeze: Played the role of Capt. Elliot Sanders on THE BAY.
Did You Know?
- Shaughnessy won a Daytime Emmy in 2002 for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for STANLEY.
- In the United Kingdom, he holds the title of Baron.
- His brother, David Shaughnessy, is the former executive producer of Y&R.
Do It Again?
With all the TV reboots of late, eternally popular sitcom THE NANNY seems like it would be a natural to resurrect in some capacity. “There’s always talk about it,” says Shaughnessy, who played Mr. Sheffield to Fran Drescher’s Nanny Fine. “There are a number of possibilities. There’s been talk about a stage musical. There’s been talk about a revival series. There’s been talk about a one-off limited show, like a GILMORE GIRLS-type thing.” Shaughnessy, however, has his doubts. “I’m not sure how it would work,” he admits. “The whole concept of THE NANNY is a nanny to these three kids. When those three kids are all grown up, there is no need for a nanny. Other than getting a bunch of the same actors 20 years later and 20 years older together again, I don’t know how it would work. You could do we all get together and go on a holiday together, but it’s not going to be THE NANNY.” Shaughnessy adds that he’s “not a great believer” in reboots. “Nostalgia is remembering things as they were. You can’t re-create it. It doesn’t work like that,” he points out. “I loved the GILMORE GIRLS series, but, personally, I thought the reboot was rather sad because it wasn’t them. Rory wasn’t a young girl going through college. It wasn’t about a young mother dealing with her daughter and going through her leaving home. I don’t understand how these things work unless you really reboot it. You have to have a really good idea to move the story 20 years later, and it’s very rare that that happens.”