Iowa native Carson Boatman has a lot to celebrate these days. Not only did he just tie the knot with wife Julana Dizon, he also made his debut as DAYS’s Johnny. The road to Salem, however, was paved with some drama.
“This is kind of a funny story,” Boatman begins. “I had actually just moved with Julana because things in L.A. just weren’t working out. We moved to Nashville and I thought maybe I’d work on some music, try to get a job there and pay a little less for rent. In February, I was on my bachelor party in Colorado and I got a request from my agent to do a self-tape for DAYS. I thought, ‘Man, I’m on my bachelor party and may or may not have been drinking already [laughs]. I don’t know.’ But I was like, ‘It’s DAYS. I have a relationship over there. I love Marnie [Saitta], the casting director. I’m obviously going to do this audition.’ So I did it. The whole bottom of my face was red from wearing goggles and skiing all day, so I looked ridiculous.”
A couple of weeks passed before he heard he got a callback. “I Zoomed with Marnie because she likes to prep everyone because she’s an incredible human and casting director,” he shares. “She was like, ‘Hey, that audition that you sent was the worst audition I’ve ever seen in my life.’ I was like, ‘Oh, no, that’s not good.’ But fortunately, I’ve been in to DAYS for a lot. I screen-tested for other roles over the years, so they kind of knew me over there and were willing to give me a second try. But she was like, ‘Do better, please, on this next one.’ Fast-forward to the callback, which was a Zoom. I was still in Nashville and sick as a dog with Covid. I faked it as hard as I could for 10-to-15 minutes. Felt good about it. Didn’t hear anything again for a couple of weeks and thought, ‘I blew it again.’ ”
That was not the case, and Boatman was soon summoned to the West Coast. “I went to the doctor and was Covid negative, thankfully, and flew out to Los Angeles to do a screen test,” he relays. “I got back to Nashville and got a call that I booked the role. I’m not embarrassed to say I broke down crying on the phone with Marnie. It’s such a life-changing thing.”
Learning about the soap wasn’t hard; the actor was already very familiar with it. “I know I wasn’t supposed to be doing it, but I was communicating with my mom as the process was ongoing because she is a giant DAYS OF OUR LIVES fan,” he reports. “She’s been watching since 1982, probably, and so she was like, ‘What’s your character?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. They’re being kind of coy about it because they don’t want people to find out.’ I would give her tidbits of information and she’d be like, ‘You’re either going to be a Kiriakis or a DiMera,’ trying to speculate. And then I told her I was going to be Johnny DiMera and she freaked out because, obviously, everybody loves the EJ and Sami love story, so she was super-excited about it. And I’ll call her every once in awhile when I’m in my dressing room or whatever and she’ll be like, ‘What did you do today?’ And one day, I said, ‘I was filming with my grandma and grandpa, John Black and Marlena Evans,’ and she said, ‘That is so crazy. I had the biggest crush on John Black all through growing up. It’s so weird now to have my son as his grandson in the show I watched him in.’ So it’s a really cool experience for both of us.”
Boatman admits he didn’t know what to expect in the beginning. “On the first day, I was really nervous because you go in on a show that has been filming for 56 years with characters who have been on the show for forever, and you’re the new guy, nobody knows you,” he explains. “A lot of people on that show have every right to be arrogant or not super-helpful to the new guy, but I was so happy and relieved to find the exact opposite. My first scene was with Dan Feuerriegel [EJ], who I knew from SPARTACUS — I used to watch it when I was probably too young to be watching SPARTACUS — and he’s a super-good guy, super-humble, very welcoming and helpful. Same thing with Lindsay Arnold [Allie] — we just had an instant connection. She’s a very kind, warm, gentle soul. Everyone was just so welcoming and helpful in any way that I needed so it was really touching to me.”
And now that he has a few months under his belt, “I’m loving every second of it,” Boatman declares. “I loved every second of it day one and I’m loving every second of it today. I will say that the first couple of weeks, it can be a grueling schedule on a soap opera. A lot of lines, a lot of pages, a lot of episodes. It was definitely a shock to my system. There were days in my first couple of weeks where I just would be feeling so down because I was like, ‘Man, I can’t remember my lines, I’m not doing a good job,’ just kind of in my head. But now it’s good. I feel like I’ve conquered through. I’m starting to pick up the lines and play a little more and grow more. Johnny is starting to become a little more multifaceted as I’ve been able to sink into the character and get more comfortable with the pace of things. So I’m really excited about what’s to come after this point as I become more and more interconnected with Johnny.”