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Kristian Alfonso opens up about her decision to leave DAYS

Today marks the end of Kristian Alfonso’s run as Hope. Here’s what she said about her exit in our August 3, 2020 issue.

Soap Opera Digest: First of all, tell me how you’ve been doing in the past few months.

Kristian Alfonso: I must say, I have been doing amazingly well. It’s the first time in my life that through this horrible situation that I’ve actually been able to exhale. None of my family has been affected by COVID, but a lot of friends of family have had situations with COVID, and a lot of them recovered and some have not. It’s a very difficult time in the world and the United States. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined this, which is why every healthy day is a blessing.

Digest: DAYS announced it was coming back to work on September 1 but then you announced that you would not be coming with them. What factored into your decision not to return to the show?

Alfonso: Well, our executive producer, Ken Corday, and I had a conversation prior to my announcement. During the conversation, Ken told me that Ron Carlivati, our head writer, and Albert Alarr, our co-executive producer, wanted to take me off the canvas for four to five months then bring me back for a storyline involving a Navy SEAL, who would be a new love interest for Hope. I said to Ken, “Oh, this is the storyline that you mentioned to me a while ago.” I know Ken was really looking forward to telling this story. When he originally told me about it, I got chills. I thought, “You know what, this could be a great story. This could be so fun.” And during our conversation, he reiterated that they felt like I needed to be off canvas for four to five months. In that moment, I thought to myself, “I think it’s time to leave.” I’ve been there for an incredibly long time and am hugely grateful that I was able to be a part of the DAYS OF OUR LIVES family for as long as I was. But in the last few years, DAYS OF OUR LIVES is not the DAYS OF OUR LIVES as I know it.

Digest: Prior to this, had you ever considered leaving?

Alfonso: I first thought about leaving the show in 2016 for reasons I’d rather not specify. It was around the time I lost my dad. That’s the first time I really thought, “You know what? It’s time for me to go.”

Digest: What ultimately made you stay?

Alfonso: Ken Corday made me stay. I stayed for him. He had me promise in past meetings that I would never leave the show until the last episode was shot.

Digest: What was the decision like for you emotionally to cut ties with the show?

Alfonso: I’d had a lot of time to really think and mull things over. I mean, I’ve had so many incredibly wonderful moments there but I’ve been really enjoying my time home with my family and catching up with my friends. It just gave me time to really reflect. I’ve been taking walks and reading scripts that were given to me that I never had the opportunity to read because I was involved in DAYS and the jewelry line at the time, and my real estate ventures and traveling to promote the show. It’s been an insanely busy life and I’m grateful for every second of it. I’ve learned a lot from the moments that were very gray.

Digest: When you did make the decision, did you feel a sense of peace?

Alfonso: I felt a sense of relief. It’s been a roller coaster, for sure.

Digest: Prior to these four years, could you ever have imagined a time when DAYS really wouldn’t be in your life? Had you planned to stay till the end?

Alfonso: You know, I really didn’t plan anything, I just said yes. Ken had always been so wonderful. I love his family. I love [his wife] Sherry, the kids. Sherry Corday threw both of my baby showers with [former Producer/ Director] Shelley Curtis. I was at their wedding. There’s a lot of history. I don’t know, I just took one day at a time always.

Digest: When you look back from when you started 37 years ago, what stands out when you reflect now about your DAYS experience?

Alfonso: Honestly, I have no regrets, of course. I’m so grateful. Going back to the beginning, when the kid from Boston got hired and the writers adjusted and recognized that I had a Boston accent so they had her coming from boarding school in Boston to explain my New England accent. [Then-Executive Producer] Betty Corday and NBC gave me that opportunity. And Shelley Curtis really is responsible for the success of Bo and Hope and so many, as they call them, “supercouples” because she knew how to build a story and produce it and make people feel and get chills and sweep them away for that one hour a day. That’s why people watch DAYS OF OUR LIVES, so that they can forget work or forget their problems, forget the news of what was happening in the world, just to escape. She was an incredible storyteller.

Digest: You became one of the biggest stars in daytime ever. What does that mean to you now as you look back?

Alfonso: Honestly, I never looked at anything or thought anything. I mean, when you say that to me, it’s not clicking in my head. It just never has. I don’t even know how to respond. Nobody can do anything alone. That’s how I look at it. I had a great partner. I had Peter Reckell [ex-Bo]. I had Shelley Curtis producing. We had writers during that time that did an incredible job. As did Richard Bloore [costume designer]. I mean, there’s so many moving parts. They opened the door and I flew over that threshold, like, “Okay, yes. Whatever you need me to do.” Oh, my gosh, Frances Reid [ex-Alice] and Susan [Seaforth Hayes, Julie] and Bill [Hayes, Doug] were all so patient. I was the new kid on the block. I mean, I don’t even know how to answer that question because it just never has hit me.

Digest: Do you think the show had trouble finding a pairing for Hope after Bo?

Alfonso: I thought Aiden and Hope worked really well together. I think the audience enjoyed the coupling. But then they turned him to the dark side and they made him a dirty character. I mean, even when they brought him back, how could Hope once again be with him? And then they had him trying to kill her. The pairing with Galen [Gering, Rafe] worked but the minute they had him sleep with Sami, I mean, game over, basically. They didn’t let his character have a moment before jumping into bed with Sami. Not even 12 hours! You blinked and he was in bed with Sami. It was bizarre. [Laughs] I don’t think Hope and Rafe ever even went out on a date.

Digest: You indicated in your statement that you have already filmed your final episode.

Alfonso: I did film my final episode. Because this was only just decided, nothing was planned in terms of story. My last episode will air, as of right now, October 15.

Digest: How do you feel about the fact that you haven’t gotten a proper send-off? Would you have wanted to have a bigger good-bye?

Alfonso: I would have liked to have given the fans that have been so devoted to DAYS OF OUR LIVES all of these years a final good-bye, and not, “Oh, she’s out looking for someone,” or “She’s upstairs cleaning her room,” or “She’s taken a trip.”

Digest: What will you miss the most about the show?

Alfonso: I think probably the saddest part about leaving DAYS is the fans have been the most loyal fans in the entire universe. I mean, they have stuck with me through storylines, and I thank them so much for being so loyal and incredibly patient. I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful people. Since I began there in 1983, so many life events have happened, so many milestones, and those are the things I get choked up about because DAYS was part of my family. I shared a lot of those moments with people that are still there, like Ali [Sweeney, Sami], Missy [Reeves, Jennifer], Lauren [Koslow, Kate], Drake [Hogestyn, John], James Reynolds [Abe], Suzanne [Rogers, Maggie], Greg Vaughan [Eric], Judi Evans [Bonnie], Galen Gering [Rafe], Mary Beth [Evans, Kayla] and Stephen [Nichols, Steve] — I can’t even list them all. I still see and have relationships with them, but working with them? I will miss that. I loved working with Millicent Martin [ex-Lili] years ago. And Julianne Polaha [ex- Greta]! Loved working with her. I love working with Robert Scott Wilson [Ben]. I could go on and on: Victoria [Konefal, Ciara], Olivia [Rose Keegan, Claire], Danny Cosgrove [ex-Aiden]…. And the DAYS crew. The hardest-working crew in daytime. I love them. We were all in it together and I appreciate them. But I have to say there’s been such an outpouring of love from our cast and from the fans. Hearing things that I never knew, how they felt about something that I did or would say to them, it’s just really, truly incredible. There are no words. Going to work every day for me was a blessing and I loved what I did. Some days were easier than others but not all days were alike and that’s what keeps life interesting.

Digest: Did you even think so many people would be affected by your decision?

Alfonso: Never in a million years. I was completely knocked over. I teared up as I would read some of their comments. I didn’t realize that the character meant so much to so many. Their words were absolutely beautiful and so touching. And from my castmates, too, just really very sweet. And emails I’ve received. I was reading one of them to my husband and I got emotional, like, I started to cry because I didn’t realize that they recognized that I only wanted the best for the show. I wanted it to be the best that it could be every single day.

Digest: The show had a story for you that they were planning to do months from now. Will we ever see you back on DAYS again?

Alfonso: No, I’m not coming back. I’ve had a great run and so many wonderful moments on the show and worked with so many wonderful people, met so many wonderful people. It’s time for me to start a new chapter professionally. The time has come.

Digest: We did mention the fans. Do you have any parting message for them?

Alfonso: As I said on my Instagram, I never ever could have done it without all of you, each and every one of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done for me and all of the love and all of the support and patience you have given me.