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INTERVIEW: Eileen Davidson On DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Enjoying The Ride, And Jeanne Cooper

Eileen Davidson - Photo: NBC
Throughout her career Eileen Davidson has starred in daytime and primetime television as well as in films. She is best known for soap roles in THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, SANTA BARBARA and DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Davidson joined the cast of DAYS as Kristen Blake in 1993 and eventually played several other roles (Susan, Sister Mary Moira, Thomas, and Penelope) before leaving the show in 1998. She returned to DAYS last year as Kristen, reuniting with former co-stars Drake Hogestyn (John) and Deidre Hall (Marlena) and developing instant chemistry with a new scene partner, Eric Martsolf (Brady). We Love Soaps spoke with Davidson about her career and playing the always entertaining Kristen. Read our interview below:

WE LOVE SOAPS: You have been earning rave reviews on our social networks for your return as Kristen on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. I hope you are seeing and hearing all the great feedback.
EILEEN DAVIDSON: Yes. It has been nice. I'm seeing it on Twitter and just in general from people, like through my family. My family will tell me that people are telling them how much people like it so that's great.

WE LOVE SOAPS: There is so much history there with the character of Kristen. But if someone was a brand new viewer of DAYS and knew nothing about Kristen, how would you describe the character for them?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: Oh my goodness. First of all, I would say she probably had a pretty bizarre childhood with a lot of Stefano's influence. When she first came to Salem she was really into children and wanted to have children of her own. She fell in love with John, and then lost a baby. She knew that by losing the baby she was going to lose him. He ended up turning his back on her, and at that point Marlena kind of exposed her and destroyed her, and she was never really the same. So for 15 years she's kind of been stewing and came back for revenge. But then she fell in love with John's son, and once again Marlena exposed her manipulations. She's basically just kind of a bitter and broken woman.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Do you actually watch the episodes or watch your scenes?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: It really depends. I don't watch them religiously every day. I knew the stuff was airing this week (EDITOR'S NOTE: We spoke last Friday) and when I was taping it I was working every day with a lot of material, reams of material, and I remember making a mental note of wanting to watch these scenes because they were the culmination of the story.

WE LOVE SOAPS: I know you can't give away story, but can you preview anything that might be ahead for Kristen?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: The only thing I can say is that Kristen is down but she's not out. She doesn't know the meaning of giving up. She is back at it and she's more hellbent than ever to get back at Marlena.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What is the biggest difference in the production process from when you started working on soaps (in 1982) and now?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: It seemed like we had a lot of time back in the day. A lot of times we would go until midnight and we could pretty much do several takes. The scenes were longer. It wasn't unusual to have 6, 7, 8 page scenes. Now we're in and we're out. We have to be done by 6 p.m. and we're doing several shows in a day. There's tons of material now and they are hoping you'll get it done in 1 or 2 takes.

WE LOVE SOAPS: How is that on your brain? Do you just get used to doing more?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: You do. One of the crew guys' father said, "Today's setting the bar is tomorrow's expectation." It's my mantra because we are expected to do something now we never thought we could do. The fact that we do it, it seems like the next day there is just a little bit more put on the pile. If you can do that, maybe you can do this. You get used to it. The scenes coming up over the next few days were at the tail end of what just aired, and by then my brain was just fried. I had so much material, dialogue and emotional stuff, and I went up to do one scene and my brain just couldn't hold on to the thought. Your brain can only do so much. I had been working at a pretty strong pace for months and my brain just didn't want any more. Sometimes that happens and you can't remember anything.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You've done a lot outside of daytime and acting including writing novels. Might we see another novel in the future?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: I was talking about that with a girlfriend yesterday. I'm thinking about it. I kind of need to be inspired by something to be able to push it out while working a lot. If I feel that in the next couple of months I probably will start writing something again.

WE LOVE SOAPS: We recently lost daytime legend Jeanne Cooper. Could you share some thoughts on what it was like to work with her?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: She was really an amazing person...never complained...had the same call times and working just as much as we all were. I remember I was working with her in a storyline just a couple of years ago and we were in a hospital scene at 9 o'clock at night. She had a big monologue and somebody mentioned she had just turned 80. I knew she had just had a birthday but I thought she turned 70. I was like, "You've got to be kidding me." I will never complain about anything again. She was just that good, and that humble about everything. She was also a stinker, very funny, very raunchy woman, and really just a joy to work with.

WE LOVE SOAPS: If you could go back to the beginning of your career and give yourself a piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger yourself?
EILEEN DAVIDSON: To not get so caught up in everything. As an actress you're always told you only have a certain amount of time to make it or forget it. That's simply not true. Hanging in there, my work is probably better than it ever has been. Just enjoy the ride more.

Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He appeared in FRANCOPRHENIA and the documentary SOAP LIFE in 2012.

3 comments:

  1. I just love her, Days need to give her a raise for saving DOOL.

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  2. Agreed. Every scene with her is worth watching. I wish I could say the same for some of her co-stars.

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  3. Very true! I'm usually so busy HATING Kristen and praying she gets caught for all of her misdeeds, I haven't taken the time to absorb the fact that she is a phenomenal actress. She really is VERY good at playing evil Kristen. I love it when she gets sarcastic sweet and lays that sweet smile on people she is really gonna roll over.

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