Salem’s resident mad scientist has a new face. Actor Richard Wharton has stepped into the role of Dr. Wilhelm Rolf, taking over for actor Will Utay.
“He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades genius,” assesses Wharton, noting that the intriguing character needed to be recast when Utay was unavailable to return. “So they put on an audition, I auditioned, and the next thing I knew I was walking in. I had no idea I was replacing someone. I just thought it was a scientist’s role.”
Albeit one with a very distinct German accent. “That was part of the audition requirement,” reveals Wharton. “And it’s something I keep working on. I have done accents in the past. Russian is one I’ve done a lot. So keeping that separate from German has been a little bit of a
Upon landing the gig, Wharton was given the 411 on his alter ego. “I got the basics, that the character had been around for a while,” he shares. “Of course I looked up the role and watched the few episodes that I could find online. I looked up William and saw that he’d done 850 episodes. So there’s quite a bit of history there that I’m not clued in on. I learn a little bit more every day — basically that he’s brought a lot of characters back to life, that he was devoted to and really idolized Stefano, and would do anything to preserve his legacy.”
Much of the information has come from cast members. “When I met Drake Hogestyn [John] he was telling me all these things, interactions that Rolf had had with him,” recounts Wharton. “He’s like the encyclopedia of DAYS OF OUR LIVES. So that’s where I’m learning a lot of it, from the other actors.”
The fact that there are no boundaries with Rolf “is extremely fun,” says the actor. “I’ve done a lot of kind of wild characters, so this fits right up my alley. Also, it’s great to work on a show with such history that is so well run and to have that freedom.”
Wharton has enjoyed sharing the screen with his new co-stars. “Stacy [Haiduk, Kristen] has been great,” enthuses Wharton of his first scene partner. “I really love her. Every time I work with her I’m just happy. She feeds you so much and is a pro. It’s a joy to work with her.”
Despite a resumé filled with prime-time and film work, Wharton has no reservations about committing to daytime. “It did not take coaxing,” he insists. “As an actor, I’m pretty easy in terms of the mediums that I work in. I love doing theater. I did theater for 20 years in Chicago before I moved to L.A. When I got to L.A., I really focused on film and TV. I’ve been lucky enough to do a little bit of everything. I worked on a film for three weeks in Bulgaria [DRAGON STORM]. I’ve worked on bit parts in different TV shows, and now a longer-term bit on a soap is really a great asset to me and a great challenge. It’s a welcome addition to my repertoire.”