ICYMI: Olivia Rose Keegan Interview

Olivia

Credit: JPI

Up In Smoke 

Olivia Rose Keegan (Claire) opens up about her fiery exit from DAYS

Saying good-bye to Claire and DAYS “was difficult,” admits her portrayer, Olivia Rose Keegan. “I started when I had just turned 15 and was just a child. I grew up with the people there. They’re my family. I have so much love for everyone working at DAYS and for Claire. It was the greatest three-and-a-half years ever.”

Among the things Keegan loved most about her run on the soap was her “crazy journey” from flower child to pyromaniac. “Claire started out as this really sweet, innocent, guitar-playing girl who was so happy,” points out Keegan, calling her alter ego’s eventual unraveling “an actor’s dream. I got to play a thousand characters in one. I am so grateful for my last storyline and last six months on the show. It was so challenging. I’m so glad that they trusted me with that material and gave me something I could really dig my nails into. My exit storyline was the most fun I had on the show the whole time I was there.”

In fact, Keegan cites her last couple of days on the show — “taking Ciara to the cabin and trying to set her on fire, again” — as her top Salem highlight. “That was really special,” she notes. “Obviously, it was sad to shoot. And it was emotionally demanding and bittersweet because Victoria [Konefal, Ciara] and I are best friends. I’m glad we got to spend the last couple of days filming together. That sad, bittersweet energy of my leaving the show definitely had a positive effect on the emotional demands of those scenes.”

As for what she’ll miss most about DAYS, Keegan doesn’t hesitate. “The people and the conversations we had every day. I’ll miss absolutely everyone,” she says. “And getting to work with Victoria … getting paid to work with my best friend was a literal dream. I didn’t ever think that that could be called a job because it didn’t feel like a job.

“I’m also going to miss, even though it sounds really weird and nobody believes me, driving to the set at 5 in the morning,” continues Keegan. “I loved driving when it was dark out and there was no one else on the road. It was peaceful and therapeutic.”

The actress was thrilled to have her TV parents, Brandon Beemer (Shawn) and Martha Madison (Belle), back for her Salem send-off. “That was so fun,” she enthuses. “Brandon and Martha were there at the very beginning for my first couple of days on the show. And they were there for my last couple of days, too. So it was full circle.”

And during that full circle, Keegan learned a lot. “Everything I know [about acting] I’ve learned from DAYS,” insists Keegan. “People say this all the time and it’s true. [Soap operas are] an acting boot camp. You get to do so much. One day you’re getting kidnapped. One day you’re setting someone on fire. One day you’re crying because you had a miscarriage. The opportunities you get are endless, and it’s such great practice. You have to learn how to memorize a lot of lines very fast, and turn your emotions on and off like a switch because you only get one take. You’re working off an adrenaline rush a lot of the time, which helps you. And it’s also so fun.”

When viewers last see Claire, she’ll be heading off to a mental hospital, which means the door will be open for her to return at some point. And that makes Keegan quite happy. “Of course,” she smiles. “I’m also glad that Claire is getting the treatment she needs. Like her family tells her, there is hope. There’s always hope because she has a mental illness. I’m so glad it ended that way because I think she will get better.”

Things ended on a much better note behind the scenes for Keegan, who refers to her final day at the show’s Burbank studio as “amazing. It was a celebration all day … a celebration of life,” she chuckles. “Victoria and a lot of other people surprised me in my dressing room and threw glitter everywhere in the morning. We all just hung out all day and cherished our last moments together on set. It was perfect. Afterward, a few of us went to Morton’s steakhouse, which is next to the studio. It was me, Victoria, Thia [Megia, Haley], Matthew Ashford [Jack], my hairstylist, Marisa [Ramirez], and her husband. It was kind of a small group because a lot of people couldn’t make it. We had lots of fun.”

Since that last day, Keegan has been focusing on her music. “I’d wanted to do that for a while,” she shares. “I’m in the studio writing and creating music every day that I can be. I’ve also been auditioning. I’m honestly falling back in love with acting in so many ways. I’m getting the chance to play new characters and read new scripts, and I love it so much.” But that doesn’t mean she’s been a stranger in Salem. “I miss the show and I visit the set often,” confides Keegan, adding, “I’m sure I’ll be back.”

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