It was a befitting end to a reprehensible run as TR Coates on DAYS. The abusive, murdering drug addict met his demise courtesy of a gunshot fired by his own daughter. “Did he deserve it?” ponders portrayer William Christian. “Well, nobody deserves to die, but as far as a storyline, sure. He met with a justifiable ending.”
And one that didn’t come as a shock to Christian. “The way it was explained to me is he was going to go down a dark hole,” notes the actor, admitting he was left with questions about the character. “Why is somebody a drug addict? I would have loved to explore that a little bit more, because it’s self-destructive. You have everything, then you’re sabotaging yourself? I would have liked to investigate a little more of that. Why was the guy doing this stuff? Who did he owe money to? Did the drugs have something to do with that? That’s all.
“But, don’t get me wrong,” Christian quickly adds. “That wasn’t the story. TR was a guy who came in and was affecting Paulina’s life and things between Paulina and Abe. That’s really what the job was and what I was there to do. That job was complete. I did that job, and it was written well. I just wanted to be there a little bit longer.”
Christian, who originally inked a 13-week deal with the soap, actually stuck around past his initially perceived end date. “One of my [acting] partners had to have surgery, so that pushed things back a little bit,” he explains. “Sometimes we had to close the set down, because someone would test positive [for Covid]. So it got dragged out a bit.”
All of which was fine with Christian. “It was juicy. I wish TR had gone even further,” he says of his diabolical character’s misdeeds. “I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it. First of all, it’s a privilege to be a paid actor. It doesn’t come around all the time. It’s fun to go to work. It’s fun to tell the story. It’s fun to get notes from the producers and the directors. I had a great time, and I will miss everybody. Jackée [Harry, Paulina] is a star. It was great to be on with her and Sal [Stowers, Lani]. Marla Gibbs [ex-Olivia] was there. She’s Black television royalty. I’ll miss everybody.
“I had a lot of fun in a scene I had with Leann Hunley [Anna] early on,” Christian continues. “I was looking at her on the monitor one day and thought, ‘She’s great.’ And then we had a scene together out of the blue, and it was great. I had a great time with Donielle Artese [Beth], too. She and I clicked in a lot of different ways. We talked about characters and stuff like that. She was amazing. Susan [Seaforth Hayes, Julie] is a powerhouse. I love her. We talked about old Hollywood and her growing up in this business. Also, Jim [Reynolds, Abe] has been around there for 100 years, and I’ve been on [DAYS] with him before [in 2018 as a minion]. He always makes you feel comfortable on set. I just enjoyed everybody. My friend Albert [Alarr, co-executive producer], who pitched this thing to me … He’s such a good director. I loved getting his notes and Janet’s [Spellman-Drucker, producer] notes. And Sonia Blangiardo, who used to be a director on ALL MY CHILDREN, was so great to work with there. And the crew people and the people in hair and makeup…. I had a great time.”
Among his favorite on-screen moments, Christian recalls the shoot-out in the park that left Eli near death. “That was fun and did stand out,” he says. “I had a great time with Lamon [Archey, Eli]. I particularly liked the scenes when there were confrontations, when Eli was confronting TR about the drugs in his pocket. I also liked the scenes I did with Donielle. They were fraught. I like scenes that are fraught.”
As for the moment he read his script and learned TR was going to be killed off — shot dead by his daughter — it didn’t come as a shock to Christian. “Well, I expected it,” he admits. “It wasn’t so much when TR shot Eli. It was when he gave the drug dealer the needle. He killed a person. The writing was on the wall from there. I was talking to Judi Evans [Bonnie] and Patrika Darbo [Nancy] and said, ‘You can’t come back from something like that.’ Judi said, ‘You never know. I’ve killed a bunch of people on this show.’ I don’t know if she was joking or not.”
She wasn’t. DAYS has a habit of bringing characters back, especially villains for special episodes like Halloween. Christian would be game when and if the opportunity arises to resurrect TR. “Oh, great. If they can figure out a way for that to happen, sure,” he delivers with a smile. “I can’t even describe how much fun I had. I don’t usually get to play this kind of character. I mean, maybe when I was younger a little bit on stage, but not usually in other media. So it’s fun to play the villain, if you will. The only downside was that I live in Boston, so I missed my family. But the work part was great, and I was in California. I love California.”