INTERVIEW

DAYS’s Eric Martsolf (Brady) Looks Back On His Salem Stories

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BRADY AND KRISTEN’S ROMANCE AND INTERRUPTED WEDDING, 2012-13

What was your reaction when you learned DAYS was going down the Brady/Kristen road? “Never saw it coming. They’d never even hinted to me that there was going to be any kind of a liaison between Brady and Kristen. I had known in the past that Kristen was his father’s ex. She was the third wheel in that Marlena and John triangle. I had never in any way assumed that they would put these two together. It wasn’t until I was actually sitting down at a table in the Horton Square with Eileen Davidson [ex-Kristen] that we realized, mutually, that this may be something that was going to happen. We were both kind of taken aback for a second.”

What stands out the most about that story as a whole? “That awful wedding when Brady had to watch his brother the priest having sex with his fiancée, when it was supposed to be a montage of Brady and Kristen’s love. I’ve been involved in a few soap opera weddings, but that was definitely one of the best as far as the culmination of events leading to this awful cynical [climax]. There was so much hope in Brady’s heart for a beautiful, perfect day, and in true soap opera style it turned out to be an awful nightmare for him and everyone around him. He and Eric beat each other up on the pulpit an hour later in the church. It was great, pure soap fun.”

Which scenes were the hardest and most emotional to play? “The scenes that took place right afterward at the DiMera mansion, when Brady confronted Kristen. I had never seen her in a more vulnerable state. Her guard was down. She had shed that DiMera lining. She was just this woman trying to say sorry, and Brady wasn’t having it. It was very heartfelt and interesting to see a so-called villain cower and show true vulnerability. Not many actors can pull that off. I remember really appreciating Eileen going to that place.”

How did you feel when things wrapped, and Brady and Kristen were over? “I was a huge fan of the storyline, so I didn’t like it at all. I never want to break up the band, when they’re at the height of their tour. I can’t even remember how it ended, to be honest. I must have blocked it out of my mind. I believe Eileen left the show for one reason or another. There was no other conceivable reason to take the train off the tracks. It was a popular pairing.”

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BRADY FALLS OFF THE WAGON, 2013-14

Kristen’s exit, following the wedding debacle, kicked off Brady’s drug addiction. Was that a turn you embraced? “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Brady’s sobriety was concerned. It was the thing that threw him off the rails. I had just come off of PASSIONS playing Ethan Winthrop, who was totally vanilla in the sense that he tried to do the right thing all the time. I really wanted Brady to have an edge. I wasn’t sure he had one. I wasn’t sure there was anything to him other than [being] a romantic guy who’d had this lovely relationship with Chloe. When I was told that he was an ex-addict, that he had gone on a cocaine binge while in Italy, it was appealing to me. It was very exciting to be able to play someone with issues and deep-rooted problems that could resurface at any time. When Brady started drinking and abusing drugs, I was excited. Playing an addict allows you to do anything. You can make no wrong choices, because your behavior is erratic and unpredictable.”

Was there a powerful moment that stood out for you? “The intervention, when Brady was finally confronted by Eric, Daniel and Nicole about his addiction. I threw everything I had into that. I knew it was a special moment; the way it was written, the way it was constructed. It was the most explosive I’d ever seen Brady Black be. I was so excited to perform those scenes. Thank God they came off well. I was proud of them.”

Were there any standout emotional moments? “The scenes I did with Suzanne Rogers. Maggie was Brady’s sponsor, having been an alcoholic herself. He tried to hide his addiction from her and lied straight to her face. Similar to John Aniston [Victor], it is not easy to go hard at Suzanne, because she is the most tender woman in the world. There were moments during that storyline where Brady was fiery and lit into her a lot. Those scenes were very sincere, because just when you think he was going to get help, he shut her out. It was heartbreaking to see somebody who cared so much about Brady and have him ignore her and walk away. It was tough to play, too.”

Was there a sense of relief when it was over, because it must have been draining and taken a toll? “The storyline was really ripping me apart, because you really have to dive in. You can’t fake that. If you do, it comes across as insincere. You have to commit to it. I was exhausted at the time. So, yes, I was happy that it was over, but at the same time I couldn’t wait for him to fall off the wagon again.”

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BLACKMAILING NICOLE INTO DUMPING ERIC, 2017

What did you think about that dastardly turn? “That was a total Christmas present from the writers. Ari [Zucker, Nicole] and I enjoy our screen time together tremendously. That was a bad confrontation and probably Brady at his most evil, vengeful self. It was written with no regard for her happiness or her future. It was just a guy who had gone off the edge and pure wicked witch [from] The Wizard of Oz. He just wanted to make misery for her. That was quite a departure from Brady as any kind of golden hero. He went straight down into vengeance.”

Were you worried about fans’ reaction? “Oh yeah. You knew it was going to drive fans nuts, make them detest Brady, and say, ‘Why is he being such an a-hole? What is wrong with him? I thought he cared about this woman.’ In reality, in life sometimes we do get tunnel vision. We get pigeonholed in our emotions and make wrong decisions based on the fire we have in our head. That needs to be portrayed sometimes. What Brady did to Nicole was just terrible.”

Was there a pinnacle moment that you’ll never forget from this story? “There was a pinnacle moment, and I included it on my Emmy reel that year. During the course of [Brady’s confrontation scenes with Nicole] it was all very aggressive on Brady’s part. At one point, Brady makes Nicole call Eric, and she plans to meet with him. While Brady was watching Nicole talk to Eric, he went into another place with her. It was, ‘You used to use that tone of voice with me. That was the way you used to talk to me.’ There were pangs of jealousy and resentment that come out of nowhere. Then he went back into violent rage again. But, for a moment, there was a peek of, ‘Why not me? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t you love me the way you love him?’ I remember reading that and thinking, ‘Oh God. This poor guy. Keep it inside. Don’t do it.’ ”

When the story was over, did you wonder how you’d get fans back on board the Brady train and liking him again? “There does come a point where you can’t let this character become totally inhumane and fall down the mountain into some dismal abyss. You have to bring him back up. I was very curious as to how the writers were going to do that. But they always seem to find a way to bring the character back up, shine the armor off, and present them in a better light.”

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KRISTEN MASQUERADING AS NICOLE, LEADING TO RACHEL’S BIRTH, “DEATH” AND BABY SWITCH, 2019/20

How did you find out Kristen was going to masquerade as Nicole? “There was this funny moment. I remember walking into the makeup room and seeing this prosthetic mask on one of those Styrofoam white dummy heads. I was like, ‘That’s interesting. It kind of looks like Ari.’ Then I passed by Wardrobe and saw doubles of all these dresses. They were all long, so it meant Ari or Stacy [Haiduk, Kristen]. They’re both tall. I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ Only in rare instances are you given a giant warning about what’s coming up. I kind of put the pieces together and realized this might be a doppelgänger thing.” What was your initial reaction? “When I realized I was going to be making love to a woman wearing a mask and not be able to tell that she was wearing a mask, I had to take myself to one of those disbelief moments and just embrace the nuttiness of it. That was hard to embrace, and I came from PASSIONS, where anything goes. So my skin was pretty tough in that depart- ment. I was like, ‘Okay. Let’s do it. Let’s make it work.’ It was far-fetched, but, God, it was fun.”

What was the hardest thing about the dopplegänger part? “Trying to contain composure during the lunacy of it with Ari. For the two of us to take each other seriously is quite a task. We both knew that every time I touched her face in a scene, I’d think, ‘Can’t I tell that this is latex? Maybe I shouldn’t touch her face.’ That was probably the hardest part of it, that suspension of disbelief.”

What stands out from the scenes when Brady found out he’d been duped by Kristen and, then, that she was pregnant? “Those scenes were fun. I was waiting for the moment when Brady woke up and smelled the coffee, realized what was really going on. It was pure soap opera. [The pregnancy part] was a tough sell for me, mentally. It was difficult to realize that this was going to be a baby that was brought into the world by a deceitful act. How do you justify that? But, at the same time, this was something Kristen never thought she would have.”

How emotional were the scenes revolving around learning Rachel had died and actually saying good-bye to the dead infant? “That was the worst. That was so horrible and extremely emotional. I remember reading that in the script and then seeing Stacy in the makeup room and saying, ‘Do you believe what we have to do today?’ And Stacy was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can get through this.’ We knew it was going to be hard, because she’s a mom and I’m a dad. That was another night when I came home, sat at the dinner table and was thinking, ‘Oh, God.’ ”

Were you stunned by the payoff: a reunion with Rachel and a moment of bliss before Kristen took off with the baby? “Talk about having a short-lived moment of happiness. What was that, five minutes? Brady letting Kristen go with their daughter was the culmination of his understanding how important it was for her to come full circle and be a mom, and not just be a villainess. That was a heartbreaking scene, as well. They were so close to having that dream.”

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