ICYMI Kristian Alfonso Interview

Soap Opera Digest: When were you first approached about returning what was your reaction?

Kristian Alfonso: I think it was toward the end of February when I was first contacted by [Executive Producer] Ken Corday. So, I received a call and then received a text the following morning, very early, and I thought, “Oh, my God, is everything okay? What’s happening?” I called him immediately and we kind of picked up where we left off in conversation a while ago. He said he was working on this project, and have I heard about it, which of course, I had. Just because I’m not on the show anymore and I left doesn’t mean that I’m not still interested in what’s happening over there. So anyway, he had asked me if I would be interested in joining the second installment of BEYOND SALEM and I said, “Honestly, what’s the story?” He said, “Well, you know what, I’m going to connect you with [Head Writer] Ron Carlivati and he can explain everything to you.” So I said, “Okay, cool. I’m always open to listening and hearing. Absolutely.” So that’s how it started, and then it evolved from there. I spoke to Ron and he was explaining the story to me, which was very exciting, I thought. It was fascinating and really piqued my interest. And I said, “You know, Ron, I’ve got to tell you, this sounds like so much fun.” I was so entrenched and had goose bumps as Ron was telling the story. I was just absorbing and really enjoying what he was telling me, what his idea was, and he shared with me that Peacock really liked it a lot and then we went from there.

Digest: When we spoke in 2020 about you leaving the show, coming back to DAYS was not on your radar. What changed?

Alfonso: Well, I mean, honestly, I don’t think of this as going back to DAYS OF OUR LIVES. This is, I feel, a branch of it. Not that there would be anything wrong if I decided … I have to tell you, many actors came to my dressing room and were like, “Oh, so you’re coming back to DAYS OF OUR LIVES?” I said, “Well, I don’t have any current plans to return, but this is a continuation of BEYOND, as it states in its title, and this story is what drew me back.” It always has to be the story and the characters and this made me excited. That’s why I decided to come on board. And, of course, it was just completely flattering, also, when Ken reached out and that Ron was excited and had written this story not knowing if I would agree to come back and join everyone. I think that me returning says a lot about the story ahead, so I was very excited. And that’s why I came back to do BEYOND SALEM, those initial phone calls.

Digest: So when you made the decision that you were going to do it, how did you feel?

Alfonso: I felt excited, and for the first time ever, once I started receiving scripts, my heart dropped. I’ve never felt such anxiety and such nerves. I became very nervous and anxiety-ridden, which I’ve never been in my life. It’s just not in my makeup. I mean, yeah, we all get a little nervous, but I could always push it away. I felt that the reason I was feeling that so much is because I wanted it to be incredible and amazing, and I wanted it to be everything that the fans have wanted, because there was no closure when I left DAYS OF OUR LIVES, and there were a lot of unanswered questions: “Why didn’t you come back for this and why didn’t Hope do this?” Well, first of all, the opportunity never came up. But this is like a love letter; this is for the fans. This is for the viewers who stuck by me, stuck by DAYS OF OUR LIVES. We talk about family. They are a part of my family. They’re a part of Hope’s family, and that is also a big reason that played a part in my decision. I believe I said this to you in our last interview, but something that I found really unsettling and sad for myself, is that I never got the opportunity to say thank you to our A-team crew, from the person who pulls the cable, to the guy who does the lights, to [Costume Designer] Richard Bloore, and hair and makeup and production and producers. I love our crew, so this really gave me the opportunity to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for all of those years of supporting one another, because they are part of the family.

Digest: Did you have to find Hope again or did she come right back to you?

Alfonso: No, Hope came right back to me, absolutely.

Digest: What feelings did you have on day one when you arrived at the studio?

Alfonso: I felt like I was going back to school for the first time. I was so nervous and so excited. Everybody was just so welcoming and very loving. Drake [Hogestyn, John] and I had an amazing exchange. He came and found me on set and said, “Come back. You gotta come back. We miss you.” His eyes kind of filled and he got emotional and I started feeling emotional. It was so nice. And seeing Lauren [Koslow, Kate] there, and Greg Vaughan [Eric] and Billy [Flynn, Chad] was just wonderful, as was working with Victoria [Konefal, Ciara] and Rob [Scott Wilson, Ben]. And, of course, Peter [Reckell, Bo]! Ari [Zucker, Nicole] came to my dressing room and I caught up with her. I have been a huge fan of Jackée [Harry, Paulina] for many years, so I was excited to meet her in the makeup room. She was so funny and lovely and I loved our time together. Martha [Madison, Belle] came to my dressing room and was so lovely. And Josh [Taylor, Roman], of course! [Co-Executive Producer] Albert Alarr was unbelievably welcoming and amazing, with arms wide open. There were a lot of people that were very welcoming. It was amazing, amazing, amazing. I start every day — the crew makes fun of me and they giggle, but now they’ve embraced it; it was so sweet — but I walk on set and I say, “Good morning, everybody!” Those were the first words out of my mouth, and they said, “Kristian, good morning!” Even though it was afternoon. I said, “I know! Some things never change.” It was great.

Digest: Okay, let’s talk a little more about Peter, who you hadn’t seen since 2016. What was that like, to see each other again and find your groove again as Bo and Hope?

Alfonso: Well, first, I was having my hair and makeup done in my dressing room and Lia [Maiuri, publicist] walked in, and we were talking and then there was another knock at my door. And I said, “Come in!” Something was going on and I said, “I’m sorry, I’ll be right there.” And then I’m looking at myself in the mirror and I said, “Peter, Petey, is that you?” I didn’t recognize him. And, of course, then I jumped out of my seat and he was like, “Yeah, it’s Pete.” He had his mask on, his hat on and his glasses, so I couldn’t tell at first. The wonderful thing about working with people that you trust, and feel comfortable with, is that Pete and I always have each other’s back. It was like getting back on the bike again. But it was wonderful. It was really great.

Digest: The fans had such a strong, positive reaction to you returning. How did that make you feel?

Alfonso: Oh, my gosh. My heart. It made me  so happy that they were happy that we were returning, and that we would be together in this because I believe that Pete and I are a complete team. Like I said, we have each other’s back. It was amazing to see how happy they were and for them to have some sort of closure of seeing Hope again. And I take my hat off to DAYS for not recasting. I was told that they wouldn’t but you never know. I appreciate that because Hope is a very special character that I hold close to my heart. I played her the longest and I fought for her on many occasions. I just can’t thank them enough for always making me feel so welcome.

Digest: You posted a picture with Rob and Victoria. Were you happy to revisit that mother-daughter energy with Hope and Ciara, since they never had a proper good-bye?

Alfonso: Absolutely. When Ron was explaining the story to me and I was getting chills, like, “Wow, this is amazing. So fun. This could be really great,” I remember saying to Ron, “How is everything you just told me going to fit into five episodes, because I have whiplash?” There was so, so much and it’s all so great. So I wish there had actually been maybe more installments to tell more, but to be able to have those scenes with Victoria, I love working with her. Love, love, love, love working with her and Rob. I had a lot of scenes with Victoria and it was the same as with Pete. It’s just picking right back up again. And she was so lovely because she could tell how nervous I was, and Pete and I did share how we were both so nervous. I said to him, “Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it; you’re going to be great, you’re going to be fine,” but I’m telling him that and I’m also quaking over here, but that’s what you do. You support each other.

Digest: Who were you most excited to catch up with?

Alfonso: We don’t have that kind of time. Everybody! The majority of the time, I had to stay in my dressing room because of [Covid] protocols. But there was a lot of hugging going on with cast and crew, a lot of hugging, and by the end of my first day, it felt like I had never left, like time just stood still. Meanwhile, two years had passed and then some. So it was wonderful. It was just wonderful being back in that studio.

Digest: Well, I can’t let you go without asking: If they asked you to come back to the mothership or to do another installment of BEYOND SALEM, would you be open to it?

Alfonso: I don’t have any current plans to return and I don’t know. I never say never; never have. It’s all about story. I have seen online where viewers have stated that I said, “Never,” regarding what you just asked me. I never said never. I said that I will not be popping in and out like other actors have done in the past. I didn’t say I’m never, ever coming back. I was not absolute. But I don’t have any current plans. w

Chapter 2 of BEYOND SALEM will drop on the Peacock streaming service on today.