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ICYMI Steve Burton Interview

After a brief stint on DAYS OF OUR LIVES: BEYOND SALEM 2, Steve Burton is back on the main soap as Harris Michaels, a character he initially portrayed on DAYS in 1988.

“Even if I thought [returning to DAYS] would happen at some point, I sure didn’t think it would happen this way, starting from the streaming standpoint,” reflects Burton. “Then how it all went down and got me to this path here … It’s pretty cool. It’s been a blast being back.”

After filming the original Peacock special, Burton notes that there had been talk about a possible BEYOND SALEM 3. But when DAYS segued to the streamer from NBC, plans shifted. “It was kind of like, ‘We already have an idea for 3. Could you come back to DAYS and maybe finish that arc?’ ” he recounts. “That’s how it led into the story coming to DAYS. It’s a continuation of BEYOND SALEM.”

Without much ado, Burton agreed to a one-year contract with the soap. “I don’t want to say it was an easy decision,” he begins, referring to the extended commitment. “With BEYOND SALEM it was an easy decision, because it was a limited run. And I had such a great experience there with the people I worked with and the producers. When they brought [returning] up, I was way more open to it than I probably would have been prior, because I have businesses I’m growing that are doing well. I’m doing what I love to do, coaching people. And I’ve got my kids. So my life was great; I have all this stuff going on. But I do love to act and how this came about was great. So I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. I’ll come back.’ When you’re in the business 36 years and people are still calling? I’m super-grateful.”

So far, Burton hasn’t been disappointed. “It’s a great environment to work in, and I feel like I’m getting a real run at things,” he says. “On the Peacock special, I really had no idea what I was doing, just because we shot everything out of order. It was really difficult to get a throughline. That was kind of a challenge. Now I’m back and able to feel my way through this. We’re able to take a little time to tell the story, and I’m able to figure out more as an actor.”
It’s also given Burton the chance to flesh out and learn more about the character viewers re-met in BEYOND SALEM. “What I like is that there is an internal battle going on with Harris,” the actor explains. “Being a Navy SEAL, I feel that he probably has high standards and high expectations for himself, and he’s fallen way short of those expectations. When you let yourself down, it’s tough. Forgiving yourself is tough. So he’s coming to grips with that, and, at the same time, making amends. He’s trying to do the right thing, knowing he did the wrong thing. He’s accepting responsibility for those things, even though it wasn’t his fault, and working his way back after hurting so many people.”

Along the way, Burton has been sharing the screen with some DAYS heavyweights. Namely, Peter Reckell (Bo) and Kristian Alfonso (Hope). “In the beginning there was a lot with Kristian,” notes Burton. “Peter was there, for sure, and we did have scenes. It was awesome to work with him. He was super-cool, but mainly it was Kristian. She’s my person, for sure. It was a huge blessing to walk in there and work with her first. She was awesome, and we already had this relationship from BEYOND SALEM, so we just dove right into my entrance and hers back onto DAYS.”

Despite his many years in the business, Burton has never played the man in the middle between a soap supercouple before; particularly one of this magnitude. “This is my first time, and it’s Bo and Hope, too. Who has a fighting chance there?” he cracks. “I never saw Bo and Hope [on-screen], but obviously they were gigantic.”

The prospect of possibly being loathed by fans doesn’t faze Burton. “I’m not worried about the haters,” he insists. “I’ve had haters before.”

Besides, Burton’s whole daytime experience has been so grand. “I was on set sitting with Stephen Nichols [Steve] and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve been able to work with all these legendary people from GH, Y&R and DAYS,’ ” reflects Burton. “It kind of dawned on me: What a career it’s been to be able to work with these types of people, the people I saw on the cover of Soap Opera Digest my whole life.”