DAYS’s Melissa Reeves (Jennifer) was a guest on Digest’s podcast, Dishing With Digest, and discussed Jennifer’s recent storyline, the upcoming return of Matthew Ashford (Jack) and so much more.
Soap Opera Digest: Let’s start with Jennifer and her recent story. What was it like to finally film the [Nicole] reveal and also have this beat for Jennifer to play?
Melissa Reeves: You know what? I think it was finally time, and even I was feeling the angst of not telling him. I’m like, “Oh, my goodness, when am I ever gonna tell him?” ’Cause you just have to keep playing sort of that guilt every day: “Is it the right thing? Is it the wrong thing?”, getting advice from everybody. So, finally I was glad the day when I read it in the script. I was like, “Oh, finally I’m gonna tell him!” But then that just spins you off into a whole other story and emotion.
Digest: You also had some really great scenes with Kassie DePaiva [Eve] throughout. I know you two are close off camera, so what was it like to play that dynamic on camera that you have?
Reeves: We just love each other so much. We love working together. We just feel like we are the complete opposite [of] our characters, which makes it even more fun. And we just have a great time. We’re just like, “This is so fun!” Like we are just old girls in this business and we’re just gonna go out there and have a good old time! And we just do. We have a ball.
Digest: Obviously it’s a rocky time for Jen and Eric, but in general, tell us about getting to work as closely as you have with Greg Vaughan [Eric].
Reeves: It’s so fun. You know, we have such a great cast and I feel like we have all worked with everybody at some point. Greg and I were just really good friends and then they started having us work together and we were like, “Oh, this is kind of fun!” And then it brought me into a whole set of characters that I rarely worked with. So now all of a sudden, I’m working with a whole different set of cast members, which made it really fun. And Greg is great! He’s so easy. He looks you in the eye. You can really make a connection. We’ve had a great time. I haven’t ever worked with anyone I didn’t really love working with. We always have a great cast.
Digest: We were just talking about that. There have been so many on-screen couples over the years who you find out didn’t really like each other in real life. We were saying, “Oh, my God, could you imagine if Matt [Ashford] and Missy didn’t like each other, how different that would have made that?” At least we know you for sure haven’t had that experience!
Reeves: Matt and I have worked together for so many years now we are like an old married couple. He’ll be talking my ear off and I’m like, “Matt, I’m done. I can’t talk anymore.” He’s like, “Oh yeah, go do your thing. Yeah, yeah go ahead.” We know each other that well. And then it’s really fun. You’re like, “This is like family now!”
Digest: What was your reaction when you found out that he would be coming back, and what was it like to reunite with him at work?
Reeves: You know what? I was like, “Oh, I’d love to work Matt again, but they’ve killed him so many times. I mean how could they possibly pull that off if they ever brought him back?” I didn’t really know if it was in the mix to bring him back and all of a sudden I heard a rumor he was coming back and I was like, “What? It’s really happening? But how are they gonna do it? Is it gonna be cheesy? I mean, how are they gonna bring him back? Like how is it gonna be good?” And then I read the idea, I read the first script and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s incredible.” It’s really clever. It’s perfect. And you won’t believe it! It’s so devastating and great and you just can’t believe it. It’s good. And I think it’s New Year’s Eve.
Digest: Oh great! So we don’t have that much to wait, only a few more months.
Reeves: It’s around the corner.
Digest: Tell us about seeing him again.
Reeves: We always pick up right where we left off. Every time. I mean, we’re so close. He was driving cross-country to move his family back East and they were like mid[way] on their road trip and he was like, “Hey, we’re 40 miles out of Nashville. We need a place to stay.” I’m like, “Come on!” That’s how close we all are. And then you start working together again and we just start laughing. We’re like, “How crazy is it that they can give us a script and we walk on set and we’re like, ‘Whoa, we snapped right back in.’ ” It’s so fun. And then you add Kassie to the mix, so it’s like the three of us, and we’re like, “Please don’t let this end, please don’t let this end!” ’Cause we’re just laughing and having a ball every day.
Digest: What does it mean to you that you have fans that are so invested still in the Jack and Jennifer pairing? Could you even have predicted it back when you first started working together?
Reeves: Never. I never predicted that it would be this long-lasting, and that you can go on YouTube and see the hours of work that people must have put in to make these incredible videos. Just because I enjoy doing the storylines so much, sometimes I’ll just go on and watch them. I’m like, “Oh wow, that was really fun! I forgot that story.” And the best part is, it’s so like THIS IS US sort of, because he comes back and they just show crazy flashbacks and it’s really us 25 years old, which is scary at the same time. We’re like, “Yeah this is really us!” But it’s really sweet. ’Cause you know that’s sort of how the newer viewers will be, like, “Who are Jack and Jennifer?” And then they’ll be able to show these flashbacks so they’ll get a little catch-up on the characters. And it’ll be super-fun for people who have been watching all these years.
Digest: Well when you look back on just the history of Jack and Jennifer without having seen the YouTube videos, what stands out for you? Any storylines or any moments?
Reeves: I always say that I feel like Matt Ashford brought something to daytime that was so different because it was always about the “soap hunk” and Matt is so great-looking and wonderful, but he kind of brought this very human, funny side to people. He wasn’t trying to be cool and he wasn’t trying to be sexy and he wasn’t trying to be macho, and women really loved that! They were like, “Oh, we like this guy! He’s like my husband!” He’s a really great, normal, sweet guy, but really funny and not afraid to laugh at himself, and I think that’s what made our storyline so fun. I learned so much from him. It’s okay to be funny and it’s okay to act dumb because isn’t that really who we are? It’s so much better if we can laugh at ourselves. I just think that aspect is what brought our storyline to just something different that wasn’t like all of the other supercouples. And that’s what I love. Matt is so funny. I was like, “Oh, this is kind of fun. I wanna be funny!”
Digest: Did he make you funny?
Reeves: Oh, for sure!
Digest: You played Jade on SANTA BARBARA [before you got to DAYS]. What stands out to you about that role and that job?
Reeves: Oh, my goodness I barely had my driver’s license, I didn’t even finish high school and I didn’t even think about actually getting this job. I was just taking my dance classes and I was trying to pay for those. I was doing commercials in New York and they were like, “Well, they’re casting for this show in California,” and I was like, “All right, I’ll go on it, but that’s ridiculous.” I mean, I’d never even been out of New Jersey. They were like, “Well, they wanna fly you to California to test for it,” and I didn’t even know what that meant, but I was just a junior in high school and I ended up getting it and I was like, “What?” So I took my GED and just started working. I was 17. They were like, “You gotta get rid of that accent.” It was kind of an overwhelming time and I was so young. I didn’t have my parents here, I got emancipated, I had just learned to drive, [was] learning to pay bills, be on a soap opera… It was so overwhelming. And then after a year, they were getting rid of our whole family and I was gonna move back to New Jersey and then the audition for DAYS OF OUR LIVES came up. That started the whole rest of my life pretty much. How crazy is that?
Digest: What was the DAYS experience like when you started?
Reeves: You know what was so great? I immediately started working with Michael Weiss [ex-Mike], who was just so incredible and so kind. After I tested, he was like, “You’re gonna get it. You’re gonna be playing my sister,” and I was like, “Really? That’s awesome!” I instantly started working with him and Frances Reid [ex-Alice] and Macdonald Carey [ex-Tom], so right there I got like a full life of acting training. I mean it was incredible. I didn’t realize the blessing in that until I looked back and went, “Oh, my gosh, I was working with Mac and Frances really as my amazing second job?” … They give you the standard three-year contract, but they have the option to drop you every 12 weeks or something. I was like, “Okay, well I have a job for like, three months, I think.” You never know if you’re gonna make it to the next cycle. But it was just the greatest experience.
Digest: You’ve been in Salem for over 30 years.
Digest: Thirty-three years. Tell us what keeps you there these days.
Reeves: It is your family and it becomes your family. Every year you go, “I just don’t feel done yet.” I always go, “Okay, if I don’t [instinctively] feel like I’m done, then I don’t wanna be done — unless they feel I’m done!” They’re so great to give us breaks when we need them because sometimes you just go, “Wow I need a break. I can’t learn another script.” But now with all these dark weeks that we have, it’s so much easier to do it. If it’s going to be an end of an era, I wanna be a part of it. I don’t wanna miss the end if there is going to be one.
Digest: We’re into this whole Jennifer thing!
Reeves: Well, thank you. I hope they always feel the same way, too. We’re having fun now, especially with Matt back.
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