If DAYS’s Eric Brady seems more brazen than usual, part of the blame goes to Greg Vaughan. After being summoned back to the soap to save Marlena from her second dance with the devil in 2022, the actor realized he wanted something more, something different. So he lobbied for a change.
“I had a great conversation with Ron [Carlivati, head writer]. I was like, ‘I want to be a staple on the show. I want to be a leading man and have a story,’ ” explains Vaughan, who was ready to return to DAYS full-time, and, more importantly, portray a revamped Eric. “He’d been holier-than-thou for so long. That’s really how I felt, and the state of mind I was at with Ron, having the conversation, ‘I’m bored. I’m tired of being the good guy. I don’t want to be that guy anymore.’ ”
The message was received loud and clear. “Ron and I really saw eye-to-eye,” adds Vaughan. “He got where I was coming from and put it into the character and the story, [making Eric] more carefree and free-spirited and not so by the book. He really gave me the opportunity to flip-flop.”
The pronounced turnaround has not only stunned the audience, but Vaughan, as well. “To go from the priesthood to being the American Gigolo was not what I expected,” he admits with a laugh. “Eric’s never been in and out of the bedroom so much with so many different women. He had always been a very monogamous individual. I was like, ‘Ron, wow. This is way far left. Okay. That’s our guy.’ Now it’s just trying to [play him] with the right motivation and intention, not making excuses, and being accountable for his actions.”
It’s led Vaughan down a path that’s included three leading ladies in the past six months: his longtime DAYS partner, Arianne Zucker (Nicole), and newbies Elia Cantu (Jada) and Jessica Serfaty (Sloan). Eric’s fling with Jada, along with an unexpected pregnancy and abortion, caught Vaughan off guard. “It’s a very sensitive subject to a lot of people,” he notes. And then, with Jada behind him, Eric moved on to Sloan. “I didn’t see that coming,” concedes Vaughan. “Eric was in serious trouble and going down the rabbit hole, and Sloan’s a little vixen. She kind of weaved her web around him, and Eric found himself in a moment where there was nothing but benefits.” The twist has opened the door for a new DAYS rivalry, Nicole versus Sloan. “The two of them are like Sami and Nicole, fighting all the time,” points out the actor. “A good catfight is always fun, and being in the center of it is even more fun.”
While there’s lots of bickering and refereeing on-screen, it’s a completely different story behind the scenes for Vaughan and his leading ladies. “I’ve known Ari since she joined the show in ’98,” relays Vaughan. “We love each other so much that we take care of each other on and off the show, professionally and personally. When we put it together [on screen], it’s magical. It’s a very well-oiled machine. Ari is very diversified in her craft. She’s funny. She has incredible timing. She can be the vixen. She can be a bitch. She can turn it on and be a powerhouse. She’s a combination of many wonderful things, a Cate Blanchett-like kind of actress.”
With Serfaty, “it’s different. [We’re] definitely more in sync than I would have expected,” assesses Vaughan. “Jessica is very new to the daytime realm. She’s definitely making her presence known. She’s eager and wants to be at her best. She plays her part very well and has blossomed into a really beautiful flower.”
Despite the romantic drama, Vaughan has been enjoying his daytime walk on the wild side. “Man, it’s definitely been a journey,” he assesses, adding that the crazy capers Eric has gotten into with Brady, Rolf and brainwashing guinea pig, Stefan, have been a hoot, too. “Those are all the things that made DAYS. I had never gotten to do that stuff before. Now being a part of it — the contraptions and the MacGyver-isms — has been fun.”
It’s all affirmed Vaughan’s decision to return to the soap, despite the fact that it means commuting from Texas for the job. The Lone Star State is the place he currently calls home, and where the divorced dad is raising his three sons: Jathan, 15, Cavan, 13, and Landan, 11.
“It’s a dream to be able to live where I choose to live and do what I love to do,” asserts Vaughan. “It’s the best of both worlds. I provide the best for my boys with education, opportunities, sports.… It’s a very communal environment. It’s organizations, functions and gatherings from Halloween parties to park parties. It’s going to football games. There are, like, 15,000 people at a football game on a Friday night. It’s a beautiful place. My children can walk or ride their razors and bicycles with friends. I’m setting them up more so for success in my eyes than failure, giving them the best of everything I can.
Also residing with Vaughan and his sons is his mother, Barbara. “Unfortunately, she has a medical condition; she had a stroke a couple of years ago,” he explains. “When I bought a house in Texas and relocated, I moved her in. Now I have not just three boys, but also my mother to care for and a puppy [Koda]. So it’s kind of like having five kids.” And doing ti without a nanny or a housekeeper to assist with the day-to-day work. “I’m wearing 10 hats,” he says. “I like to do it myself, because I feel guilty that I spend extra money with travel. So I don’t want to hire help, although I probably should.”
But, truth be told, Vaughan actually enjoys household chores. “I find it therapeutic,” he insists, citing “housekeeping, laundry, taking out the trash … all the things that keep things running. I put an hour into the house in the morning. That’s one floor, my cave downstairs. Everything else I’m like, ‘That’s y’all’s upstairs, so keep it nice.’ ”
The kids do pitch in, he clarifies. “They bring their [laundry] baskets down,” shares Vaughan. “I say, ‘If you want to wear clothes, you have to wash them.’ They’re pretty helpful in getting their laundry started. It’s just the finishing part… They know how to cook. The fridge is full. I help where I need to, but I’m raising boys to men. I want to make sure they have structure.”
Vaughan’s able to provide that by being home as much as possible. “When I came back, I opted just to work Tuesday through Thursday, so I could be more physically present for my children with their sports and athletics at school,” he notes. “I want to be there. I want to be a present dad. They were accommodating me, but once the storyline picked up, it kind of shifted. It went from three days to four days, and sometimes it goes to five. So it can be little chaotic and hectic.”
Yet, Vaughan’s acclimated to the routine, because the setup “meets all my kids’ needs,” he points out. “Their happiness is my happiness. I never thought that I’d end up raising my kids back home, but it has been a godsend. I’m doing more with my mom, and my kids get to be with their grandmother.
They’re seeing her every day. And my sons’ schoolwork, their growth and maturity… They’re all A-students, and I’m honored to say they’re loving their sports. They’re committed. They’re thriving. You just see them levitating how happy they are.”
Vaughan’s feeling much the same way regarding the status of his own life and at DAYS. “I’m putting everything I’ve got into this right now,” he says. “I’m so invested exploring the opportunities they’ve given me. It’s foot on the gas. I’m going after this with everything I’ve got, and I love it. It meets what I want and what I need right now. There’s nothing more I love than work, and I need it mentally. After that Covid period, I realized that I need my job. I look forward to playing with this character and broadening him a little bit more. I like having the ability to let off some steam. Eric’s saying what he feels versus compressing his emotions and taking the turn-the-other-cheek approach. It’s been nice.”
Before he was cast as Eric, Vaughan took over another popular daytime role, Lucky Spencer on GH, the soap that celebrates its 60th anniversary on April 1. It was an experience Vaughan, who was there from 2003-09, looks back on fondly. “Working with the likes of Tony Geary [ex-Luke], Maurice Benard [Sonny] and Jane Elliot [Tracy] was memorable, and with Genie Francis [Laura] for a minute, when she returned to the show,” he reflects. “I have the utmost love and respect for them and hold them near and dear forever.”
Vaughan was on hand when Luke and Laura rewed in Lila Quartermaine’s rose garden on their 25th wedding anniversary in 2006. “It was filmed out in a park and was a big production,” he says. “To be a part of that was historical. It was a really spectacular experience in my early years.”
And it helped inform who Vaughan ultimately became as an actor. “That really helped build a solid foundation for me,” he says. “It’s definitely helped evolve my work today — the professionalism that I was exposed to, the work ethic, the commitment to the craft itself, I am a reflection of that wherever I go. I loved being a part of GENERAL HOSPITAL. I’m humbled by the fact that I got to contribute a small portion to that show.”
Just the Facts:
Birthday: July 15
Hails From: Dallas, TX; he was raised there and in Fredericksburg, TX
Name Game: He was born James Gregory Vaughan Jr.
Also Known As: Diego Guittierez on Y&R from 2002-03 and Lucky Spencer on GH from 2003-09
Let’s Eat: “I love sushi, but Tex-Mex is kind of my jam.”
On the Web: The website Vaughan frequents most is Amazon. “It just makes my life [easier].”
An App for That: “Instacart is probably my favorite app. When I’m out of town, I’ll call my kids and ask, ‘What are you eating?’ If they say, ‘Dad, we’re out of everything,’ I’m like, ‘Instacart. Boom. Got it. Delivered. It’s on its way.’ ”
Father Earth: “I compost with a Lomi machine. I love it. I compost everything. People think I’m crazy. I also do Sea Breeze for my laundry. They’re disposable sheets, like fabric softener [dryer sheets], but they’re detergent. Recycling is a very big thing for me. We recycle cans and bottles and plastic. I also use Hold On compostable trash bags.”
Mr. Clean: Vaughan prides himself on keeping an immaculate home. “I am OCD. I don’t like walking into a house and seeing dirt on wood floors. I love clean kitchen counters in the morning. I like structure and organization. It goes a long way.”