Soap Opera Digest: What set your return to DAYS in motion?
Eileen Davidson: It was actually kind of a weird thing. I called Marnie [Saitta, casting director] because I knew her when she was casting at Y&R, and I asked if she could read my stepson, Duke, because he’s been studying acting and had just moved back here from New York. So I asked her, “Do you mind calling him in?”, and she said, “This is so weird. We were just talking about you. Ron [Carlivati, head writer] was thinking about doing a story arc for you, and they wanted me to call.” Marnie said, “I can’t call her, she’s under contract [at Y&R as Ashley]. I don’t feel comfortable.” So I told Marnie, “Well, I’m on the phone now, so you didn’t call me,” and that’s how it happened! At first, they didn’t think it could happen, and I said, “I know. It probably won’t work out.” But then I said, “You know, Y&R is dark on Mondays.” After that, a week or two went by and I got a call that they wanted me to start.
Digest: Was it ever in the back of your mind that you could come back to DAYS?
Davidson: Oh, yeah! Absolutely. When [I came back in 2012] it wasn’t my idea in the beginning. It was DAYS and Sony’s [who produces both Y&R and DAYS]. My answer back then was, “Sure, of course,” and once that started, I realized, “Why wouldn’t I want to do this as much as I possibly could? I’ll just go back and forth between the two shows.”
Digest: What was your reaction to DAYS asking you back?
Davidson: I was excited. I mean, talking to Ron, and hearing what he had in mind, it was challenging but also very exciting to be doing something so completely different than what I’ve been doing for a while. I always like that. Ron was very open to my feedback because he knew that I understood Susan very well. So it was very much a collaboration. He didn’t know Susan, so he was relying on other people and on his staff to fill in the blanks. But who better than, you know, the person that played her?
Digest: How did it feel being back?
Davidson: It always feels great. There are people in production that I’ve known for so long, and so it’s always great. It’s like a second homecoming.
Digest: When you’re at DAYS, are you more in the present, or do memories of your earlier runs ever come up?
Davidson: You know, [the lot] was a much different place when I first started working there, so it was hard not to notice that. It is so different now. It is kind of empty, and that makes me a little sad because it’s an amazing production facility. The commissary is tremendous, such great food. I remember when THE TONIGHT SHOW was there, and ACCESS HOLLYWOOD and SUNSET BEACH. It was a bustling facility. So, it’s different. But it is beautiful now, just definitely different.
Digest: What do you remember about your first day back?
Davidson: I think I did, like, three [episodes]. You don’t have much time to really think about anything but getting the job done. You’re in early and you just have to make sure the wardrobe’s right. So, there is a lot of hustling. Of course, there’s no time because you’re doing back-to-back scenes and a lot of dialogue, running lines as much as possible, and changing [clothes] and doing the next show. It’s a busy time.
Digest: Did you have time to catch up with former co-stars?
Davidson: I did. I ran into Kristian Alfonso [Hope] in the hair and makeup room, and I got to talk with her. I hung out with Ali [Sweeney, Sami], just because we were working together a lot. I knew Chandler [Massey, Will] socially, so it was good to see him and catch up. I ran into [Eric] Martsolf [Brady] in the commissary once, and we had a quick catch-up, but there’s not, like, tons of time. I also got to catch up with Judi Evans [Adrienne], too. I love Judi.
Digest: How was it seeing Drake Hogestyn (John) again?
Davidson: Oh, it was fun. He looks great. The last time I’d seen him, he had been in a lot of pain, so it was nice to see that he was feeling better.
Digest: What dressing room were you assigned this time?
Davidson: I was in the hallway, close to wardrobe and everything, probably because I had so many changes. It was only one day a week, so I was in Suzanne’s [Rogers, Maggie] room, close to everybody.
Digest: During your time away, are there any DAYS actors that you stayed in touch with?
Davidson: You know, Kris [Alfonso] and I keep saying that we want to get together, and we try when she’s on a break, but then I’m not on a break, and she’s traveling or I’m traveling. But I’m bound and determined. I love that girl. I’m glad you brought that up. I’m going to put it on my to-do list so that I make sure it happens.
Digest: When you returned to DAYS in 2012, you talked about how the show had changed, and that some of the characters you played wouldn’t fit into the tone of the show at that time. How would you describe DAYS’s style today, and what do you think about it?
Davidson: Well, it’s hard for me to say because I haven’t seen tons and tons of scripts. I think today it leans a bit more toward the [former Head Writer James E.] Reilly-esque type DAYS, not tons, but it definitely leans more toward it than it did when I went back in 2012.
Digest: The first person we see you play is Susan. What was it like stepping into her skin again?
Davidson: It’s always tricky just because, I don’t even know how she came to be when I first started playing her in the ’90s. I don’t even know what the hell happened and how she came about. I can’t really understand it, except to say it was Jim Reilly’s creation. The fact that she’s back, it’s always very tricky because Susan looks different than the other characters. It’s challenging trying to have her grounded in some kind of a reality and play the fact that she is definitely different.
Digest: How was it working with Alison Sweeney?
Davidson: I really loved working with Ali. I’d never really worked with her a lot. We had done a little bit before but I really just appreciated her whole approach, and being in the trenches with her was pretty cool.
Digest: You mentioned knowing Chandler socially. Was it fun to have the opportunity to work with him?
Davidson: Yes. But I think for actors who haven’t worked with me playing Susan, it is definitely a singular experience [laughs]. I mean, it’s unique, you know? Whether you want to say it’s good or it’s bad, it’s unique, just because the character is so different. So, in the midst of what I considered to be kind of a very tragic storyline, Chandler and I had a lot of laughs. All of us had a lot of laughs.
Digest: Do you feel Ron was able to capture the character well?
Davidson: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, he was very open to hearing my input, and when I thought that it was maybe too broad, he would let me change it or cut it or whatever I needed to do. It’s easy to write Susan broad, and it’s easy to play her broad. So it’s always, like, trying to pull it back, but also showing the flavor of her personality.
Digest: Susan runs into several people from Salem in Memphis. What is Susan’s reaction to seeing them suddenly show up?
Davidson: She sees them as a threat.
Digest: Does Susan still have a crush on John, or have her feelings changed over the years?
Davidson: No, that ship has sailed.
Digest: Will we see anything about her marriage to Edmund Crumb?
Davidson: Well, that’s kind of part of the story a little bit.
Digest: What was it like switching between Y&R and DAYS?
Davidson: It’s really not a problem at all.
Digest: Was it fun to take a break from Ashley’s drama to do something more comedic?
Davidson: Well, there is a lot of drama in the story. There were a lot of words. It was hard. It was definitely not a walk in the park doing this storyline.
Digest: Would you be open to another DAYS return?
Davidson: Like I said, I’m always open to anything. Why wouldn’t I be? I hope it doesn’t disappoint. You know, it’s just a few shows, but we tried to pack in what we could. w