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Paul Telfer dishes about his fictional prison life

Xander’s been in jail multiple times. Was there ever a prison sentence you felt was particularly harsh? “The first time, I was really panicked about it. It was when they put me in jail in Greece. I was like, ‘Wow. I’m not just in jail, I’m in jail in another country.’ But even then they managed to break me out, so I could come over and do something mischievous [in Salem], and then go back to prison over there. I’m the opposite — I’m always amazed that Xander’s sentences are so lenient. Nothing ever seems to stick for that long.”

What’s your take on how easily people get sprung from prison on DAYS? “I’m not complaining, because that tends to work out well for Xander. I imagine if you’re one of the cop characters, like Galen [Gering, Rafe] or Elia [Cantu, Jada], it must be really frustrating, because they finally catch somebody, then two weeks later they’re back out again, whereas if you’re a criminal like Xander or Kristen or any of the other baddies, long may it continue.”

Did you ever worry about how you would get out of jail or how the show would redeem you? “I used to really worry about those things. It’s not that I’m more confident or secure now; I still stress about unemployment. It used to be when I was sent off to prison I’d be like, ‘Woe is me. That’s it for a few months.’ But now I’m just as likely to have more work from in jail than when I’m out free and loose, so it doesn’t bother me any more. I actually enjoy prison stuff. They’re fun scenes to play. They make me tough again. When I’m out in the world, most times I’m trying to pretend to be nice. In prison I can just be nasty again.”
Do you remember what Xander’s harshest sentence was? “The worst time was when he was sent away for something he didn’t do. It was when Theresa lied that he had sexually assaulted her. That was when I first left the show. They had locked him up and thrown away the key for a bit. But, luckily, he escaped with Clyde and Orpheus, the other big baddie. That was my first [realization] like, ‘Okay, they’ll fix this really quick.’ ”

How do you feel about the lax security at Statesville Prison? “I hope they never shore up the security. The stories wouldn’t work if we had real security at the prison.”

Did you ever have to wear an orange jumpsuit during your prison stints? “I only had to wear that once, and I remember it was kind of a miserable experience. It was right at the beginning of my run on DAYS. There were scenes with myself and Melissa Archer [ex-Serena]. I’m not sure if they even aired. It was a dream sequence that Nicole or one of the other characters had, envisioning us in jumpsuits cleaning up Horton Town Square. They put me in this orange jumpsuit, and they’re like onesies, right? All one piece. If you’re tall and it doesn’t fit just right, it can be really uncomfortable, especially on a man. The pictures are on the Internet somewhere. You’ll see that I’m hunched over, because I’m trying not to castrate myself.”
On a scale of 1-10, how uncomfortable was the thin mattress you had to sit on in your cell? “I like the mattress, personally. I like a futon. So that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s more comfortable than the couch in the Horton house, I’ll tell you that. I’m not huge, but I’m not small either. It was very small for me to sleeping on for weeks on the show.”

Was it frustrating to have to do all your scenes on the same set? “That doesn’t bother me so much. We’re all inside all the time here. It’s not like you’re really out in a wide open space when you’re at the park with the fake trees. If we did actual location shoots, then maybe I’d have pangs for that.”
Is it strange at all when you have to work with all new people in prison, as opposed to your usual scene partners? “There’s always this moment of feeling each other out whenever you’re working with a new cast member, or a veteran cast member who you hadn’t worked with before, but there’s also some fun that can come from that, because you can be surprised and find some unexpected stuff. I like getting to build a rapport quickly with people and trying to find angles that you can poke at and get something out of somebody. I always enjoy that.”

Does anything else stand out about your prison experiences? “There was one time I got to work with Drake [Hogestyn, John], when Christopher Sean [ex-Paul] was on the show. They came all the way over to Greece to visit Xander in this Greek prison to get some information from him. They were trying to intimidate Xander, but that was back when he was just a tough guy, just a thug. There was this great moment where Christopher Sean, in rehearsal, lunged in towards me, and I didn’t react at all. As soon as we broke from rehearsal, before we shot it, he was like, ‘You’re not going to give me anything there, huh?’ I said, ‘Nah, Xander’s a tough guy. He doesn’t scare easily.’ We both giggled at each other, and he was like, ‘Okay, fine.’ He took it in good humor.”

Do you miss anything about prison when Xander isn’t behind bars? “No [laughs]. There’s no aspect of the soap prison life that I miss. I’m looking forward to Xander staying out of it for a while, hopefully.”