Interview

ICYMI: Robert Scott Wilson Interview

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Credit: JPI

How Robert Scott Wilson became DAYS’s unlikeliest leading man

 

To the holdouts among DAYS fans who refuse to see Ben Weston as a romantic leading man, let alone root for his pairing with Victoria Konefal’s Ciara, actor Robert Scott Wilson has a message for you. “I get it, man,” he says. “Ben’s done some terrible s**t. He’s a multiple murderer. He was on this streak of terror that made me bristle.”

Yet the man behind the reformed Necktie Killer also wants to point something out. “The group of people that are the naysayers, the ones who won’t buy redeeming a serial killer, is getting smaller and smaller,” announces Wilson with a smile. That, coupled with the support of legions of Ciara and Ben fans — “We have an army behind us,” notes the actor — has been a driving force behind his reinvention of Ben.

“There’s nobody like him,” contends Wilson. “Ben’s a loner … this antihero. My favorite characters ever are the antiheroes; these unconventional guys who do good things but are bad dudes. One of my favorite actors, Leo DiCaprio, plays a lot of them, like Billy in The Departed and Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Don Draper is another one, and so is Tony Soprano. He does awful things but loves his family. There’s something cool about those characters and I’ve always been drawn to them. The fact that this role has turned into that is just awesome.”

Wilson admits that during his first go-round at DAYS, when Ben went from bland good guy to maniacal murderer, a switch flipped inside him. “It allowed me to look at Ben from a different perspective and was really my opportunity to show my range. And, sure, there was this ‘throw caution to the wind’ [attitude],” he nods. “Obviously, I thought it could be the door shutting on the story of Ben. I could either look at it as that, or me being given the chance to add as much color to the story as I could. So I was like, ‘If you’re going to shut the door, you’re never going to forget who you closed it on.’ ”

It made the show’s powers-that-be sit up and take notice. “As we were shooting the stuff, I saw a change in everybody around me,” recounts Wilson. “The first ones, because they were so hands-on, were our producers. I saw the care Albert [Alarr, co-executive producer] took with every scene, and I noticed his eyes go wide with some of it. Then I saw the directors handling things differently. There was a shift with the dynamics.”

Although Ben was eventually carted off to a mental hospital, Wilson suspected he’d be back because of phone calls he received thanking him for a job well done. “Albert, for a long time, was like, ‘We’re going to figure something out,’ ” reveals Wilson. “But here’s the thing, I thought it was probably just to come back as the Ben Weston that we knew — the villain that tosses gas on a fire.”

After a couple of those opportunities — to help usher out Kate Mansi’s Abigail in 2016 and interrupt the Chad/Abigail/Sonny/Paul double wedding the following year — the actor was surprised when he was approached about signing a new contract with the soap. “It was the end of December [2017]/early January [2018],” he recalls. “Pilot season was about to start and it was a very hard-core time for me. I had been working and doing these films. I had just tested for a big show on Freeform and had all these fires going on. I was like, ‘Man, now they’re offering me a contract?’ ”

Still, he couldn’t help but be intrigued. “I love Ben and felt like there was so much more I wanted to tell and explore about him,” confides Wilson, noting that he and his agents “were kind of dragging our feet,” while he remained on a recurring basis with the soap. “After going back and forth we agreed in March to begin a contract.”

What’s transpired since can be summed up in two words: “Just wild!” proclaims Wilson, who was adamant about not coming back as a twin or a different character. “It’s Ben living in the bed that he made. I’m just executing the stuff to the best of my ability, but [Head Writer] Ron Carlivati is the mad scientist genius that did this. Honestly, without him, I’m useless.”

Viewers might disagree after watching him strike a delicate balance between repentant new man — courtesy of some wonder drugs — and the seething killer that still resides inside Ben. “No matter what, I was never going to let this guy be vanilla,” he insists. “I always want to keep Ben a little threatening. It adds another layer.”

So, too, does remembering Ben’s troubled childhood. “He’s gone through traumatic things and is a damaged person,” notes Wilson. “It helps the audience see him as something more than just a killer.” Like, say, a potential boyfriend for Ciara. It’s a twist he never imagined. “When they started writing it, I was like, ‘Ciara!?’ ” Wilson recalls. “Last I knew she was a little girl, and I’d never had any scenes with her.

“I remember the very first day Victoria and I worked together,” he continues. “It was just her and me shooting. We didn’t know anything about each other. I noticed things about her right away and thought she was really talented. That was it. We didn’t try to force a romance or try to make it something it wasn’t. We didn’t ask a lot of questions. We showed up prepared and did the work.”

As a spark quickly ignited between the two actors, and setsiders started saying, “We’re rooting for you guys,” Wilson realized a romantic coupling was in the making. “It was just something that happened and I’m super-grateful.”

Wilson’s also totally on board with the “Cin” nickname that’s been bestowed upon Ciara and Ben by fans. “I’m not one to be hashtagging anything with any of my shows,” says Wilson. “I’ve never been into grouping a couple’s name together. But when this started and I saw it, I was like, ‘Dude, this is so damned cool. I’ve got to get behind it.’ And [the moniker] works. It’s more than just the blending of two names.”

Wilson admits he’s shocked by the number of “Cinners” who support the duo. “Every day we get more people reaching out and getting behind us. And when we’re not airing, it’s more so than the times we are. The whole thing has happened so quickly. Ben and Ciara haven’t even made love, yet they have so much support. It’s awesome, man. It’s just a slow burn.”

Wilson’s off-screen love life, on the other hand, has been forging ahead with a strong, steady burn for seven years. That’s how long he’s been dating celebrity makeup artist Janelle Faretra. “Janelle and I have been together a long time,” he notes. “Through tragedy and triumph, we’ve been there for each other. She has been my rock though the good times and bad. She’s very much a huge part of my life. She’s also from Boston, so we have that.”

The couple met at the end of 2011 when Faretra was moving to Los Angeles, and she and Wilson just happened to be on the same flight. “All my friends were telling me about this girl who was moving to L.A. and how I should talk to her,” recounts Wilson. “Then I go to the airport and, man, that’s her. I knew she was moving in with my friend, so I thought, ‘Let me be nice and introduce myself.’ She was actually kind of cold to me and standoffish. I didn’t know why and was kind of put off.

“Then we land and I get a couple of messages online,” he continues. “She was like, ‘Oh, my God! I’m so embarrassed. I didn’t have any makeup on. I know who you are and I’d love to meet with you.’ Fast-forward and look at where we are now.”

Happily together, yet extremely quiet about their relationship. “We keep our private lives really private,” says Wilson. “We post to each other sometimes, but I don’t like to put out a lot about it. I think it’s better that way.”

With the nonstop support and messaging from Salem’s “Cinners” team, there’s no room for much else anyway.

JUST THE FACTS

Birthday: November 9

Hails From: Grafton, MA

Food For Thought: “I’m a big food guy. Italian and seafood are No. 1 when I go back home. That’s when I get my fix — my pizzas, my pastas and my lobsters. I love that. Out here in L.A., I’m a big sushi fan. L.A. does sushi really well.”

Must-See TV: “I’m excited for the next GAME OF THRONES season to come out, for sure.”

Sports Centered: “I’m a huge East Coast, New England sports fan. I’m always watching my Celtics, my Patriots, and keeping up-to-date with the Red Sox.”

The Biz Buzz: “I like to know what’s going on in our business, so I’m always peeking at IMDb.com and Deadline.com to see what new shows are coming out, stay aware of pilot season and things like that. What new shows are about to start casting, what shows are being picked up.”

Waze To Go: “I’m on Waze every day because I live in L.A. and I’m in traffic a lot. So I follow Waze. I live and die by it to beat the traffic.”

Dream Job: “A goal of mine is to work on a project, whether I create it on my own or I join somebody else’s, that is shooting in Boston. I’m always keeping my eye out for projects there. I want to shoot a show or a film in Boston. I want to do something in my neck of the woods, in an authentic life that I know.”

 

Benny And The Vets

When he’s not sharing the screen with Victoria Konefal, Wilson spends a good chunk of time going head-to-head with two of the show’s most popular vets, Kristian Alfonso (Hope) and Deidre Hall (Marlena). “I love working with both of them,” says Wilson. “My first scene ever, when I first started on the show back in 2014, was with Kristian. We’ve got the Boston thing [in common]. So she’s my girl.”

Although at the moment, their characters are at serious odds. “Right now, we’ve got this dynamic going with Ben being this awful choice for her daughter,” notes Wilson. “I get it. It’s necessary. It’s the truth. As much as fans are like, ‘Give him a chance,’ if that’s your daughter, you’re not giving anybody a chance. A mama bear has to protect.”

Meanwhile, the actor describes Hall, who plays Ben’s trusted psychiatrist, as “a legend. She’s the queen over there. Every time I came back to the show and we had a scene together, she’d be sitting across from me ramping me up,” recounts Wilson. “When it was over, she’d be like, ‘Yeah, baby!’ She was funny and always had my back. When Deidre and I work together, no matter what, I know it’s going to be all right. It’s all about being open and available. We just trust each other and you need that, especially in a therapy scene.”

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