Kate Mansi is back on DAYS as Abigail and talks about her return in the current issue of Digest.
Soap Opera Digest: Welcome back! When did they first approach you about returning and what was your reaction?
Kate Mansi: When Marci [Miller, ex-Abigail] didn’t renew her contract, I was asked to come back and it worked out with my schedule.
Digest: How would you describe your first day back on set?
Mansi: It was familiar and comfortable but also surreal because it’s like I was returning to an old friend and we could pick back up where we left off, especially with the nature of the storyline. I was picking up where Marci left off, but also picking up where I left off as Abigail, in a way. It was in the mental institution and that worked to my advantage for obvious reasons. I felt like no time had passed, especially because I was literally stepping in on my first day in the first scene with the same wardrobe I left in — minus the mask! It felt like I was the only one going, “Whoa, this is so trippy,” and everybody else was kind of accustomed to it. For me, it felt bizarre. I was in the same place physically, as in on that set in the hospital, but everything inside me as a person had changed in the last two years, and for Abigail, too.
Digest: How did you get up to speed as Abigail?
Mansi: As we know, the show works very quickly and by the time I had agreed to come back, they already had an idea of where the arc would go. I had a conversation with Ron [Carlivati, head writer], I had a conversation with Albert [Alarr, co-executive producer], and a very close family friend of mine, who we’ll call Aunt Janet, is a huge longtime fan of the show, so I went to her house for tea for like four hours for her to explain every single thing to me of what I missed to catch me up.
Digest: Were you surprised to hear about Gabby/Abby and Dr. Laura?
Mansi: People were tweeting me things, “Have you heard this is happening?” but I didn’t know too much. I didn’t watch any of that. It was an extremely complicated story to dive into. I didn’t anticipate to jump into that part of the story, the Gabby part. I actually assumed it would be wiping the slate clean and starting after that had finished up. It was a challenge for me that I accepted because there was a lot to dive into and a lot of complexities to figure out where the pieces fit together, but because I played Abigail for five years and because my connection to her was so strong, I felt like the underpinning of all of it was the same and that’s why I could access her so easily again.
Digest: What was it like for you to get back into character?
Mansi: I think the answer is simple: In some ways I don’t have to work too hard because it’s just naturally there and it’s a part of me that’s never left, but just like true to life, we change and grow and there’s more depth as time goes on. So with Abigail, when I got back, I had to reacquaint myself with everything that I already knew, plus my perspective on how the circumstances in her storyline would play out for her in her psychology and how that would affect her decisions. For example, Marci Miller’s version of Abigail was quite softer than mine. Before I started, people were informing me about the real differences between Gabby and Abigail and it came down to Gabby acted more from her emotions and Abigail is more rational and that Gabby was a little more brave and self-assured. That was the most difficult thing for me to adjust to because all of the qualities they were telling me of Gabby were qualities that I strongly connected to and enhanced with Abigail. When I got back to being Abigail, I had to work harder to access that part of me than I did to create Gabby because that was actually more familiar to me.
Digest: Who were you excited to see when you went back?
Mansi: Missy [Reeves, Jennifer], Lauren [Koslow, Kate], Kristian [Alfonso, Hope], Mary Beth [Evans, Kayla], Eric Martsolf [Brady], the people I really spent time with when I was there. And also I was so excited to see Greg Vaughan [Eric]; we’re very close. I was excited to see Thomas, my son, again. My sister had identical twin boys and I wanted to have them play Thomas, but I didn’t realize he’s been aged so much, so I was excited to meet my children.
Digest: What have you been doing since you left?
Mansi: I’ve been with my family a lot. I have done a couple of films, one with Kelly McGillis in Bermuda, which was really fun. Immediately after leaving DAYS the first time, my first and foremost focus was to spend some real time on self-care because I had a difficult time portraying such a dark story for so long and it coincided with a time I was having some tricky health issues. It was really nice for me right afterward to have some time to recalibrate and have some time that was my own and I could process everything that happened and be ready for what was next.
Digest: Did you ever have regrets about leaving?
Mansi: I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying, “The right job goes to the right person at the right time,” and although the thought never crossed my mind to return to DAYS, the opportunity presented itself at a time that made sense to me in my life and piqued my interest. I don’t have any regrets because when you take that leap of faith and you show up for yourself in a way that is so whole-hearted and committed, even though you don’t know what you’re saying yes to or there’s a lot of unknown out there, it’s always been an incredibly rewarding experience and something that I feel like was supposed to happen. I don’t have any regrets for leaving and I think that at the time, going back to DAYS was the next natural step, and who knows where the future will be?
Digest: How did you feel about the outpouring of fan support that you got when it was announced you’d be back?
Mansi: Just so grateful and comforted and excited that they were ready to go on this journey with me.
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