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ICYMI Dan Feuerriegel Interview

After nine months on the job at DAYS, Dan Feuerriegel is finally putting his best face — and physique — forward as EJ DiMera. His hair is longer, his body’s leaner and he’s donning some facial scruff. “My look in my original audition was quite similar to how I look now,” reveals Feuerriegel. “I think they wanted to push me back to how James [Scott, ex-EJ] looked — clean-cut and short, back-on-the-sides kind of hair. That’s what they [wanted] in the beginning. So they did that, but it didn’t feel natural to me.”

Over time, Feuerriegel’s on-screen appearance “slowly evolved” to looser and laid-back, a transformation he’s welcomed. “I personally feel that I look my best like this,” he relays. “I was a little self-conscious about myself in the beginning because I had a little bit of Covid weight on me. I was not in any condition to be ‘hot guy on a soap’. ” And without the benefit of some stubble, “I couldn’t cover up the baby fat on my face,” concedes Feuerriegel with a laugh. “This is how I look naturally, so it feels more me. Then we just slap on a nice suit and the whole [EJ] thing is complete.”

Add a little sarcasm and a dose of nastiness to the mix, and the actor has begun feeling very comfortable in his character’s designer threads. “I love his dark tendencies and playing the antagonist,” he enthuses. “That was a natural evolution, as well, because EJ was coming back into Salem after a long period of time away, and he was trying to be a better person. Then, slowly, his true personality came out, when he screwed over Chad and got rid of Jake and Gabi … all those little EJ DiMera things. His true colors came out, and it’s been fun.”

For Feuerriegel, the road to daytime drama in the United States started in his native Australia. After attending Queensland University of Technology’s acting school in Brisbane, he “moved to Sydney and booked commercials, TV movies,” Feuerriegel recounts. “I was on MCLEOD’S DAUGHTERS, which was a big show in Australia for a while. I did HOME AND AWAY, which is a teenager kind of soap, for a little bit.”

However, it was his run as a big, buff gladiator named Agron on the Starz series SPARTACUS that got him international notice. “There were some seasons where I was huge,” recalls the actor, who shot three seasons of the series in New Zealand over a four-year period. “After that, I flew over to America, got an agent and a manager, and played the game in L.A. I’ve done AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., NCIS: L.A., CHICAGO FIRE. I also did the movie Cryptic in London and Pacific Rim Uprising in Australia, and now I’m on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. So it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of all these different types of [projects]. That’s the beauty of acting. You get to do so many different cool roles.”

And “little bits and pieces” of a couple of them have made their way into Feuerriegel’s portrayal of EJ. “I took what I did in an episode of NCIS: L.A., where I played this British drug dealer who was very cold and calculated, and put a little bit of that in EJ,” he notes. “I also took a little bit of Agron — his aggressiveness and his quick temper, and put that into him, too.”

Yet Feuerriegel points out that the real “figuring out” of the DiMera scion didn’t happen until after several months on the job. “One day, you go, ‘Ahhhh. That’s him,’ ” he shares. “That’s when the real exploration starts. That’s when you get to go, ‘Maybe I’ll try this,’ or, ‘I’ll try that.’ I can look back now and see the evolution.”

As Feuerriegel has acclimated to EJ, so too have the show’s fans acclimated to him. “There have been a lot of comments like, ‘I didn’t really like him at first,’ or, ‘I wasn’t really willing to give him a chance at first,’ ” he recounts of the social media fodder. “But then they changed their minds. That’s probably where a large percentage of the people were, because people don’t like change. They get used to what has come before, and James did a phenomenal job for however long he was on the show. I had big shoes to fill, so it’s understandable. I’m not James. I’ll never be James. I’m just doing my version of EJ. I think people have warmed to that because, well, they have no choice,” he adds with a chuckle. “I’m doing the role, you know?”

Along the way, Feuerriegel has been grateful for the support and friendship of his castmates. At the top of the list are Alison Sweeney, who plays his estranged wife, Sami, and Arianne Zucker, who’s re-entered EJ’s romantic orbit as Nicole. “Ali is such a lovely person,” says Feuerriegel. “In between takes, we’ll sit down and chat. I’ve become so comfortable with her. There’s no more trying to figure each other out. We know exactly what we need to do and how we’re going to play [our scenes]. Ari is amazing, too. We get along so well. We both have a really silly sense of humor. So that’s always fun.”

Feuerriegel has also easily connected with his DiMera “brothers” — Billy Flynn (Chad) and Thaao Penghlis (Tony). “Thaao and I are both Australian, so we chat about home, which is cool,” he shares. “Billy’s a good human, a good person. I got to hang out with him when we went up to Canada for this convention. It was really good to just hang out with the boys and bond.”

Living in Los Angeles, Feuerriegel is thousands of miles away from his real-life family — his parents, Kim and Greg; two younger brothers, Justin and Nathan; and younger sister Kristen. “They’re all back in Australia,” he notes, having last visited the clan during the onset of Covid. “Everything was shut down in L.A., so I was like, ‘Well, I can sit here by myself and do nothing, and maybe the occasional audition will come through, or I can go home, be with my family, and be in the sun,’ because it was summer there. So I decided to do that. I was there for about two or three months when I got the call from DAYS to put an audition tape together.”

Here in the States, “I’ve got my L.A. family,” says Feuerriegel. “My friends and the people that I work with.” However, there’s no significant other in the actor’s life at the moment. “I’m not married. I’m single right now and just enjoying life,” he shares. Nor does he have any children. “Not that I’m aware of,” he replies with a smile.

Feuerriegel is quite content with every aspect of his life at the moment. “I’m having an absolute ball on DAYS,” he declares. “Everyone is super-nice, and the fans have been really sweet and generous. I’m glad that they are warming up to me, and I will continue to entertain them.”


Birthday: October 29

Hails From: Sydney, Australia

Name Game: His last name is pronounced “FYUR-a-gill”. “I don’t think I’ve met anyone in my entire life who has ever pronounced it correctly the first time,” he says. “At least the way I pronounce it. It is a German last name, or Prussian, shall we say.”

Plant Based: Feuerriegel is a vegan. “About four years ago, I was having a few health issues, and this is the thing that worked out best for me,” he explains, noting that he had spent his entire life eating meat. “My grandfather and uncle were butchers. I grew up with the best meat in Australia. I remember going [to the butcher shop]. I worked there for a bit. It was good meat.”

What to Watch: “There’s this program that I watch a lot on YouTube called BREAKING POINTS, which I really like. I get a lot of my news from them.”

Kitty Corner: Cats are Feuerriegel’s Achilles’ heel. “I had two cats growing up, one after the other. And the people I was living with for a number of years here in L.A. had two cats, too. So I got my fill.”

The Sports Game: “I’m a bit of a sports nut. I get sports updates from my local newspaper back in Australia and from Fox Sports and things like that here. My favorite sport is Rugby League back in Australia, but I find myself enjoying any sport.”

Special Collections: “I do a lot of online therapy, like shopping for clothes. I also have a lot of fan clothes and memorabilia from my favorite Rugby League team, the Brisbane Broncos, that I’ve followed since 1988. It’s ridiculous. I just keep buying shirts and jerseys and shorts and socks from them. I’ve probably got like 10 years of stuff from them.”

Did You Know?
• Feuerriegel’s graphic novel, Fractured Shards, is due out by the end of 2021. It’s a longer, grittier, cinematic version of a comic book, and is his first foray into the comic world.
• He once co-hosted Romy and Dan’s High School Reunion podcast with his friend Romy Park. It featured interviews with people the pair find inspirational across various industries.
• He has amassed over 66,600 followers on Instagram @thedanfeuerriegel.


Some of Feuerriegel’s favorite DAYS moments involve sharing scenes with Bryan R. Dattilo (Lucas) and Galen Gering (Rafe), whose Salem characters all have one big thing in common — they’ve all been married to Alison Sweeney’s Sami. And, of course, Lucas and Rafe both loathe EJ. “I love doing scenes with those two guys,” smiles Feuerriegel. “I remember when I first started working with them. They were so comfortable and were just chitchatting, basically having fun in between takes. Then they would just go into it when we started shooting. But I was trying to be very professional because I was still trying to figure out stuff.” As time has passed, and Feuerriegel has found his footing and learned the history between the three men, he’s embraced becoming part of their bickering and bantering boys’ club. “Now, when we have scenes together, we all get to play — Bryan, Galen and me,” he notes. “We’re like, ‘Okay, let’s be [jerks] to each other. Let’s have fun with it. Let’s do this.’ We have fun [exchanging] barbs and giving each other s**t. Because they’ve both been on the show for such a long time, they will do something irreverent based on their character, and now I just go along with it. They know what to do and are comfortable with it, so I’ll be like, ‘Okay, we’ll go this way then.’ I go along and it’s fun.”

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