DAYS’s Victoria Konefal (Ciara) and Robert Scott Wilson (Ben) guested on Digest’s podcast, Dishing With Digest, and opened up about their alter egos’ sudden popularity
Soap Opera Digest: First of all, were you surprised by the reaction to Ben and Ciara?
Victoria Konefal: I was. I wasn’t expecting as big of an uproar as we got. I knew that the fans would like it because it’s soapy drama and it’s dangerous, but I had no idea that “Cin” would take off this much.
Robert Scott Wilson: Yeah, likewise. I mean it’s just crazy. And I’ve been trying to be active as I possibly can, like, you know, writing back to some of the fans and just knowing that I see their reaction—
Konefal: Yeah, you’re really good at that!
Wilson: I see their reaction. In the past, I never really did that. And I was, like, you know what? This time around especially with the way this caught fire, I want to be more active with the fans and I want to kind of just see that I notice them noticing us and I appreciate that. It’s crazy. I didn’t expect that at all. We had such a great response, like, as we were filming it, people who kind of … You know they see the show being filmed every day, they watch 100 pages of soap work every single day, and to see some of the staff and the crew comment on it, it was just really awesome. It was really a breath of fresh air. Just grateful.
Digest: When you got the scripts or knew that you would be working together and this pairing was a possibility, what were your reactions as the portrayers?
Konefal: Well, initially I wasn’t aware of Ben’s history, so once I learned about it I got really excited because it’s a really fun storyline to be a part of and it’s a great relationship to be portraying. It’s the story of the good girl turns the bad guy into a knight in shining armor, and I think it’s really well-written. Ron [Carlivati, head writer] did a great job strategically writing in the cabin scene and the fire, and he did a great job in tying it back to how it relates to Abigail. I’m really proud of what Ron has written for us.
Wilson: Yeah, for sure. I agree. I mean, it was kind of seamless, like the whole process of it didn’t really hit me as soon as I picked up the scripts. I was just reading it and was like, “Oh, interesting. This is very unexpected, but I’m sure they have an idea in the back of their head.” If he had plotted it to do all this, then man, even more bravo to that guy and the producers and writers. This thing, like, took off. I’ve been doing this back and forth for a few years and, like, I’ve just never been a part or seen anything like that. Me and [Kate] Mansi [Abigail] had a good little run that kind of caught a little bit of fire as well, but not like this. This is pretty impressive. They did a really nice job of piecing it all together. We’re watching it unfold, too. Every time we get new scripts, and I’m sure V can agree, every time I read it I’m like, “What’s happening?”
Wilson: It’s great. We’re along for the ride, too.
Konefal: And then when they don’t give us scripts, I get filled with anxiety because I’m just itching to know what happens!
Digest: Rob, you talked about coming back and forth. Back when your character was strangling people with ties, could you ever have imagined you’d be back?
Wilson: Damn, you just hit it on the head, huh?
Digest: Just gonna say it like it is!
Wilson: Well, I mean I know between the producers reaching out and Ken [Corday, executive producer], it was very complimentary, and I was really grateful because what was seemingly a door closing the story of Ben Weston, we kicked the hole through the wall and kept him alive, and I just thank them because I know they were really complimentary of the work and I think that’s kind of what changed it. But, to think of him coming back and kind of having like this whole romantic lead-type thing was definitely not what I thought. I thought they’d have me come back, cause up a stir, kind of do what Ben first got signed on to do, which was all that bad stuff. You don’t have to have these booming, loud angry scenes to have an impact and to be intriguing. The quietest scenes really with no words at all is really the best kind of acting, I believe. If they give us the opportunity to do that then I’m just grateful. If he’s on [a path to] redemption or whatever happens to him, it’s fulfilling to play stuff like that rather than just come in and do this mundane storyline. They’ve given us the ball and I appreciate it.
While You Were Sleeping: “Fans started going crazy when Ciara was still unconscious!” notes Konefal.
Digest: Looking back on the early days of what the audience has embraced as “Cin,” did you guys feel that it was working? Did you have a sense the two of you together had the kind of potential that the writers seem to have anticipated?
Wilson: I was just gonna say right off the rib, it was one of those things where we kind of grabbed it and just went into it and it just felt comfortable. I think we kind of just “got” each other. Victoria came correct and I try to hold up my end of the bargain, as well. It kind of balanced right away. But, I didn’t think it was gonna be anything like that. I knew we were doing our work. I know if we treat our work with the care and the respect and the time that it needs, which you don’t always get in this genre, I mean it’s bound to be good, but it definitely took off in more than I expected. What it came down to for us that kind of shined the light on it was people like Fran [Bellini de Simone], one of our stage managers that has been there forever, and one of our prop guys who watches every scene and is part of everything, and our producers, they come up to us and I just saw their reaction and them saying they were rooting for us, and I remember me and Victoria looking at each other like, “Damn, what’s happening?” We’re here working, we’re doing our thing and enjoying the moment, but people that don’t necessarily comment on everything were commenting on our work. I don’t know, I think that might have been the first inclination. What do you think, V?
Konefal: Yeah, I mean, when I first started working with Rob, I had no idea that our storyline was gonna have that kind of impact, and truthfully I don’t think that the writers knew where Ciara and Ben were going until they saw us acting together. I remember the first day on set, I got really excited working with Rob because I noticed that he’s the kind of actor that really dives into his work, and that’s something that I grew up around doing theater in New York for so long. When you start doing TV and film, I feel like sometimes the key elements of really connecting to your work can get lost in the big machine of things, you know? Sometimes you get disconnected from your work.
Konefal: With Rob, I felt like I’m always so there and so connected when we’re acting and I feel like that definitely has an influence in where the storyline is going and where Rob went in developing our characters.
Digest: Do you feel like it was easy for you to find a groove in working together?
Konefal: Definitely! He made it very easy for Ciara’s character to forgive him because Rob did a great job in bringing Ben’s humanity back, and that was the most important part of Ben returning to Salem, is him genuinely convincing someone that he is a reformed man. I think that was really important in developing the relationship.
Wilson: Yeah. I appreciate it. I got nothing but love for the girl. Like I said, she came correct, so it’s like one of those things where if it didn’t come across whatever I was doing in my head and my thoughts, if it didn’t come across off of her then it wouldn’t have worked for me. If I’m seeing her going through something or I’m seeing her cry, I’m done! You know? I’m toast. It’s a hard thing. This guy did so many bad things and I knew my work was cut out for me trying to get these fans back on my side. I knew they loved what I did as this like roaring bad guy, but to be on the opposite side of the spectrum, I think it needed to be kind of a combination as far as the lining between Ron and the team writing it and our work in the actual scene. I didn’t know! I didn’t know how it was gonna come across. I knew there was going to be some naysayers obviously — this guy did awful things — but I thought if we can make him human again and make him feel again and just note as much as we can I think that’s all we can do. That’s all I can do at my end anyway.
Get Together: “I think we kind of just ‘got’ each other,” says Wilson of their connection on-screen and off.
Digest: At this point in the story it’s still relatively new. I’ll start with you, Victoria. What about Ben is compelling Ciara in his direction?
Konefal: The fact that he’s broken just like her. Granted, he’s a little more broken than she is, he’s on the higher end of the spectrum, but the fact that there’s two hurting souls finding peace in each other is really beautiful.
Digest: How do you see it, Rob, in terms of his connection to Ciara?
Wilson: This whole thing with it, like, kind of taking off with the fans, I believe it’s because of just the dynamic, which means, like, kind of what she said, like damaged souls. It’s the backstory of each of them crashing together in this place. And I think the reason why it caught fire is because it’s like an energy between them that there doesn’t need to be any words spoken; the fire kind of started before any scenes took place where we said anything to each other. People already kind of understood the dynamic between the two, and I think that’s, like, the strongest part of the whole thing. It doesn’t always have to be all this dialogue and all this backstory and this and everything because they understand the backstory and they know what’s going on. That’s the only thing I can think of with this whole thing. We just started. This just started!
Konefal: Yeah, fans started going crazy when Ciara was still unconscious!
Wilson: Yeah, the girl was asleep! The girl was knocked out sleeping and like all of a sudden, it was this wave and then it just grew into like this … It’s crazy. Like, I woke up again this morning and I saw it again. I literally let my Twitter die until I came back to the show because these fans have been so, like, on top of it, I’m like, “Let me just give them the courtesy a bit more than what I did in the past because I am grateful.” I’m grateful for the story. It’s cool. It’s dope that we’re even talking about this right now because speaking on my behalf, my story had come to a close so to speak, so to have to come back breathing deeper than ever is pretty nice. It’s great.
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