DAYS’s Eric Martsolf (Brady) Opens Up About Parenting Twin Sons Chase And Mason
Soap Opera Digest: Your twins, Chase and Mason, just turned 13 on April 7. Is being a father to teenagers different from being a father to preteens?
Eric Martsolf: This is a rough time, period. They are too cool for school. You have to ask them for hugs now, and public hugs are no longer [acceptable]. You can’t do that. And we’re a very affectionate family. We always have our hands on one another. That’s the way my wife [Lisa] and I have always been with each other, and we’re trying to let our boys know that touch is good. Looking someone in the eye and holding them is important, because it is so difficult to compete with technology these days. I have a lot of stupid human tricks. I can tell some pretty good jokes. I’m pretty crazy and loony that way. I sing songs off the top of my head. But it’s really hard to compete with the entertainment value of these screens. It’s made parenting very hard in 2019.
Digest: How do you combat that as a
Martsolf: We have an app called Circle that literally shuts down Wi-Fi on their particular devices at a certain time. When that Wi-Fi goes off, you can hear the frustration coming from the bedroom. They cannot believe that they’ve only been on for two hours. Of course, they’ll scream, “Dad, I just got on.” And I’m like, “No, you’ve been on for two hours.” Then they realize themselves how much time has gone by. The beautiful thing is once you get them outside and they start running around, their whole mood changes. They become much more alive, much more easy to talk to.
Digest: Would it be safe to assume they wanted some type of technology for their birthday?
Martsolf: We got them iPhones. They have nicer phones than their parents do. We held off for a while. My circle of friends did not believe we held out until they were 13. Most kids are getting them at the age of 7, 8, 9 … It’s insane. It is all they wanted, and it is all they got. We said, “Enjoy these, but there will be heavy restrictions.” Then we got the debate of, “What do you mean, ‘heavy’?” Because when your kids do well in school, which mine do, and they’re very good athletes and they work very hard to succeed, you want to reward them with what they want. The problem is what they want is not exactly the most beneficial thing for their minds, especially at this time in their lives when they’re growing. You don’t want to pollute it with too much technology.
Digest: Do you ever find yourself saying things to your sons that your parents said to you growing up?
Martsolf: I have barrels and barrels of those moments. We basically become our parents, whether we want to or not. We can definitely break bad habits that were seeded but, in essence, I think personality is just handed down through the genes. I have a perfect experiment of that living at my house. I have two boys, two fraternal twins that were born at almost precisely the same minute, but they couldn’t be more different as individuals. I am such a believer that you are predisposed to being what you’re going to be. I’ve fed them the same cereal, I’ve given them the same moral code, and yet they’re just two different human beings. How do you explain that? They just have a propensity to be who they’re going to be, and you have to accept it.
Digest: Can you cite anything specific that’s come from your mother or father?
Martsolf: Yes. To find the funny in situations when there isn’t seemingly anything funny about the scenario. My father always magically used humor to put a Band-Aid on situations. He would always stress to me that it’s never as bad as you think it is, to hang in there and you’ll come out on the other side and be fine. I always got a constant blanket of comfort coming from my mother and my father. Another thing that my father always stressed to my brother and me is that we were always going to be stronger together than apart. My boys are on the same water polo team now, and they’re in a constant state of competitiveness. They constantly want to outdo one another. I hear my father’s words in me. I even told them the other night, “You’re going to be better as a team than you are as two strong individuals. You’ll always be stronger together.” I’m trying to get that to click in. Then again, with the twin dynamic it’s just natural competitiveness.
Digest: You said your sons are different. How?
Martsolf: I have one, Chase, who just gets school. He gets very good grades. He is a jock. He is full-on. He loves soccer. He loves any sport. My other boy, Mason, is my artist. He’s my little creative man who is in the garage 24/7 building Iron Man suits. He’s also extremely sensitive. He’s my butterfly catcher. That’s what my wife calls him. You have to tell him 12 times to do something. He’s just wandering around the Earth, checking it out. He is a free spirit. He is my little Woodstock boy. And Chase is the complete opposite.
Digest: Has dating entered the picture yet for your sons?
Martsolf: Interestingly enough, not dating, so to speak, as I’ve been told by them. It’s, “Dad, no, they are not girlfriends. They are just friends who like us and we have told them we like them.” They’re just discovering the world of girls. The subject has come up. My wife is freaking out.
Digest: Usually, one parent tends to be more of the disciplinarian. Is that the case at your house?
Martsolf: My wife would argue that she’s more of the disciplinarian, and I would tend to agree with that. We always try to make a point of supporting one another, whether we agree with each other or not. It’s not easy at times, because my wife is pretty stubborn and I’m stubborn myself. We both like to believe we’re right. That’s just our personalities. But you’ve got to be a united front in front of your kids, because if you’re not, they will smell that and use it against you.
Digest: Was there a point in time when you felt you’d gotten the hang of fatherhood; when you thought to yourself, “I know what I’m doing now?”
Martsolf: I love this question, because I’m going to say no. Absolutely not. The reason being is that once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it changes. They’re growing as people and the seasons just change. There are different time frames and the difficulties are different. They’re not worse or easier. They turn into different people and it requires a different skill set to deal with them.
Digest: How do you usually celebrate Father’s Day?
Martsolf: I’ve always said that every Father’s Day I want nothing but to get to do what I want to do and not have to parent. That’s our deal. On Mother’s Day, Lisa doesn’t have to parent. On Father’s Day, if there is any issue whatsoever, I don’t have to take care of it.
Digest: Is there something you like to do on the day, since you’re not parenting?
Martsolf: I usually do a little golf and then come home. I like to spend Father’s Day with my family in the evening. My boys have always been so good about either making a card or some kind of gift. Like I said, Mason is very creative. He makes me jewelry, and I don’t usually wear a lot of jewelry. He will make these interesting iron bracelets for me to wear, and he takes such pride in them. I kind of look forward to receiving those things. I look forward to Chase just looking me in the face and thanking me for being a dad. Like I said earlier, it’s hard to get their eyeballs in these technological days. So that one day when I can open that card and see Chase looking at me smiling, because he realizes what he’s written is moving me, is the best.
Digest: Let’s switch gears to Brady and the show. What’s it been like working with Arianne Zucker as Kristen pretending to be Nicole?
Martsolf: It’s been really fun to watch. I’ve enjoyed Ari’s performances in this storyline, being someone else and playing someone else’s mannerisms. She really did her homework as far as Stacy Haiduk and her mannerisms, speech patterns and such. She really worked hard to emulate a lot of that, and it was interesting to watch.
Digest: Were you happy to have Ari back to work with?
Martsolf: Absolutely. Ari and I have always gotten along ridiculously well.
Digest: What are your thoughts about Stacy coming back as the real Kristen?
Martsolf: You know things are always going to blow up when Kristen rolls into town. Stacy has taken over the role in every sense of the word. She’s proud to be Kristen DiMera and she takes it very seriously. She’s a big breath of fresh air around these hallways. She’s smiling all the time and very happy to be at work.
Digest: Were you concerned when you first learned the show was recasting Kristen? Because that could have gone either way and you had such a great rapport with Eileen Davidson (ex-Kristen).
Martsolf: Oh, God, yeah. I was very protective of that. That was one of my favorite times here at DAYS, working with Eileen. I thought we had something special that really clicked. I enjoyed her so much. Her performances were always so layered and filled with such quirkiness and interest. I didn’t think there was anybody else on this planet that could bring that kind of interest. Stacy’s performance is different, but I’ll tell you what. It’s just as interesting to watch in a different way. She’s very dynamic and she has those steel blue eyes that just radiate soap villain sometimes. But then, at the same time, she’s a very beautiful woman and all of a sudden you don’t see the evil. You just see the blue-eyed girl next door who wants to be loved. It’s an interesting dichotomy.
Digest: Do you think the key to Brady’s success as a character is the fact that he’s so unlucky at love and has suffered so much heartbreak, which is relatable to people?
Martsolf: When I first joined PASSIONS [as Ethan], all I wanted to be was that hero who would carry the damsel in distress out of the burning building. I wanted to be that guy. But as I’ve matured and grown in this genre, I’ve realized that’s not where the meat and potatoes are. It’s in the flawed characters, the characters who are struggling to be heroic, and sometimes faltering and failing. At the end of the day, that’s a much more interesting character to watch. That’s someone everyone can relate to. No one’s perfect and Brady is far from it. I think that’s why he’s still on the canvas and will continue to be.