Interview

ICYMI: James Reynolds (Abe) Recalls His Favorite DAYS Moments

Favorite Thing About Playing Abe? “He’s relatable to people in an interesting way. They see him as their ideal person in a lot of ways — either their ideal husband, their ideal boyfriend, their ideal brother…. Women see him, basically, as a man they want to be close to. And with men, he’s got all those qualities that they admire. They would like to be as good a friend as Abe is to people. They would like to be as courageous as he is in the midst of danger. He’s got all those admirable qualities that people look for, but don’t always find in people.”

Favorite Storyline? “How can I say anything else but the storyline about Theo’s shooting that I won an Emmy for? That was a wonderful story because it involved so many of the cast, so many of the citizens of the city of Salem. I always like stories like that and think those are the best as a show. It was first-class drama at its best, and it was also real drama. It wasn’t necessarily soapy drama. It was dealing with a real-life issue, the shooting of an unarmed young black man. It dealt with real issues and everybody on the cast who was involved in it bought into it. I think that’s what made it work so well, and the performances were wonderful. I remember two or three times during that story the crew applauding after scenes.”

Most Memorable Scene? “There are a couple of them, and they’re both dealing with similar tragedies. One is Lexie dying, which was a scene that was very real to me for a lot of reasons. It meant Renee [Jones] was leaving the show and that our partnership, a very strong partnership, would no longer exist. So that was a very difficult scene to do. There was a gentleness there. It was a sweet good-bye to someone Abe had loved deeply and probably more than he would ever love anyone else. Then, of course, the scene with Theo, where Abe thought his son was going to die. Abe felt he wasn’t going to have his son any longer. He had already lost his wife a few years earlier and felt he was going to have to face the rest of his life alone. There was a desperation and an anger at the situation, this careless shooting that had put Theo [at death’s door].”

Best Memory Of Renee Jones (ex-Lexie)? “There are a lot of them. We had a lot on stage because we had a great time together, a great run together. One of the great blessings of my life was that I got to partner with Renee for so many years as Abe and Lexie. But one memory that sticks with me was not on stage. I was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by a group called Heroes And Legends. It’s made up of mostly Motown alumni, and they provide scholarships for inner city youth. They have a banquet every year, and it’s something I look forward to going to ever since they gave me that award. When I was going to be presented with the award, I didn’t really think anybody [at DAYS] knew about it. I hadn’t told many people about it. Obviously, I must have told Renee because she, unbeknownst to me, got a number of folks from DAYS — Ken [Corday, executive producer], Greg [Meng, co-executive producer] and some cast members — to attend this. Josh Taylor [Roman] presented the award to me. That was all due to Renee behind the scenes without me knowing about it and being a friend. It meant a lot to me.”

Best Police Case Abe’s Ever Worked? “The Salem Strangler is probably the most memorable to me because it was the first one. There have been several cases. We actually got Stefano a couple of times, when he was guilty. The most self-satisfying, tragically and maybe guiltily for Abe, was when he killed the police chief [Richard Cates], who had kidnapped Marlena. Abe and his brother, Theo, tracked Cates to his hideout, and Cates killed Theo. Cates still had Marlena captive, and Abe killed him to bring the case to a final resolution.”

Best Memory From Your 2018 Emmy Win For Lead Actor? “That was pretty extraordinary for me. I’d been nominated for an Emmy before, and I had always said that the first cut was the hardest. If it gets down to five names, you’ve done okay. It’s a great acknowledgment of your work, but to win was … This is what we think about throughout our lives, when you’re little kids. Whether you know you’re going to go into entertainment or not, you think of the Emmys, Oscars, Grammys and Tonys. So to be at the Emmys and think that I might be on the cusp of winning one was pretty astounding. Then, hearing my name…. You’ve had all these years of thinking, ‘What am I going to do? What am I going to say?’ And then it happens. There are a few seconds when you’re outside looking down at yourself. That’s how I felt, outside of myself for a little bit. But my best moment of all was looking out [from the stage] and seeing everyone standing from all the shows. That was pretty extraordinary.”

Best Memory Of Kyler Pettis (ex-Theo)? “Kyler was very special. I often said when he was playing Theo that he had the most difficult job on the show, which was playing someone who was on the spectrum, but playing him in such a way that everyone could access the character and knew who he was outside of being on the spectrum. Very hard to do. Very tough line to walk. He walked it with a sense of humanity that allowed everybody to access his struggles. Kyler also wrote me this lovely note. He wrote it as Theo to his father, Abe. The undercurrent was Kyler to Jim. I’ve never shared the entire contents of it, but it essentially thanked me for being there for him and for being his ‘father’. He felt that father/son connection when he was on stage and off stage, when he was at work. It was one of the most lovely gestures that I had ever received, and so thoughtful of him. It was an affirmation that what I wanted to do, the way I wanted to reach out to him, was the right thing to do.”

Best Thing About Working With Sal Stowers (Lani)? “Sal has quickly become one of my favorite people. One of the things that I love about her is that she’s very joyful. I really enjoy people who love life. Sal embraces the moment. Each day is a new experience to her, and I love that about her. I also love how she’s embraced being an actor. She’s gotten some lovely story that she understood was special and had to be played to its fullest. There was depth to each story that she’s been asked to do, like suffering the death of a child and the potential death of a brother, the difficulty of relationship breakups…. She’s had some really interesting stuff to play and she’s approached it all not just with a joy, but also a deep understanding of the emotional content that she’s had to bring to it.”

Best Memory Of Terrell Ransom Jr. (ex-Theo)? “What a great, talented kid he is. I knew that when he was 4 years old. You talk about playing the spectrum, he would just slip into it. He knew how to play this child that had autism and where the moments and beats were. I would marvel at that sometimes. My best memory of Terrell is when he called me ‘Dad’ on set. He was 6 or 7 at the time. He and I and his mother were in a casual conversation in between scenes. Then, just casually, he said, ‘And Dad,’ pointing to me in the conversation and not even meaning to. He just said it. I thought, ‘Wow that’s great. I’ve actually established something with him that allows him to make that reference without even thinking about it.’ It was such an organic, natural moment.”

Favorite On-Screen Foe? “That has to be Stefano and Joe Mascolo, who was also pretty special. Who else could it be? Joe and I realized right away that we had the ability to challenge one another on screen. I think that came across. Whenever we engaged one another on screen, it was like a duel. We had a wonderful off-screen relationship, too. I think part of it was because we both loved that duel. We loved fencing with each other so much. When we got a script that we knew would require us to face off, it was high noon in the middle of the street. We loved that.”

Best Caught-You-Off-Guard Story? “Abe and Sheila took everybody by surprise, including me. It came totally out of the blue. When I was first told about it, I thought, ‘Well, this will be great. We’ll see the contrast between Abe and this woman who has had a different life experience.’ I thought it would be good for the show and fun for me as an actor. Tionne [Watkins] had been on for a while, and I knew that everybody loved working with her. We’d certainly had characters [involved] with an age difference before, and I thought it might be a little bit of an issue, but it wasn’t at all. People really liked that pairing. It was a great deal of fun for me, and the fans embraced it.”

Best On-Screen Friendship? “I’m going to give you two, who have at times been the same person. That’s Roman and John. When I was originally cast on the show, Abe showed up about six weeks earlier than Roman [Wayne Northrop]. That’s the way it was designed to be. Roman and Abe were also designed to be these friends who had grown up together and known each other all their lives. They both joined the police department and had risen through the ranks together. Their relationship was always so strong. When Drake [Hogestyn], who was the second Roman, became John, that friendship remained. It didn’t shift from Roman to John. When Josh Taylor became Roman, Roman and John became two equal friends. There was a shared history between these three characters. I think it’s one of the strongest friendships in daytime, and one of the longest lasting.”

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