Friday, September 16, 2011

Q&A: Deidre Hall On Her DAYS Return, Her Book & Playing Herself on the DROP DEAD DIVA Season Finale

Earlier this week, legendary actress Deidre Hall, who will be returning to DAYS OF OUR LIVES on September 26, met with the media and WE LOVE SOAPS TV was there. One night before her big DAYS comeback, she will be guest starring on the DROP DEAD DIVA season finale (September 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime). Find out what Hall has to say about DAYS, DIVA and much more in this new interview. Read the transcript below.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time this afternoon. You talk a lot about diet and nutrition in your book. And now that you're working full time on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, do you have any tips on how to follow that advice that you give when you have such a busy life?
Deidre Hall: I think the best guideline is to eat raw whenever you can and eat raw organic food. It's the most nutritious, it's the healthiest and depending upon where you are, it's the most readily available.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Thank you. And now taking it back to DROP DEAD DIVA. I'm curious, did you actually consult for the script or the writing process when they were putting together the lines that Deidre as Deidre was going to be saying? And what was your reaction like when you saw the script? Did you feel like it was you? Was it an accurate portrayal of Deidre Hall?
Deidre Hall: You know, it's a fun script. It's comedy. I adore comedy which I don't get to do very often. And nobody in the writing team needed my input to write a fabulous script. It's very cute and it's - I was saying the genre is so replenishing it's like the shows I watched when I was growing up. You can watch the show with your entire family.

And it's still sexy, and edgy, and funny, and adorable, and has a little twist to it. So I fit into the cast very well. But basically, it's a cute story and it revolves around one of the characters having sort of idealizing Marlena Evans. And the drama comes out of that.

Is there anything that they had you do that you yourself would never do?
Deidre Hall: How was it playing myself? The truth is it was a little unraveling.

Returning to television - primetime television, on DROP DEAD DIVA, does that make you kind of miss episodic television or having a primetime series?
Deidre Hall: You know, primetime and daytime are such different animals and I - given the choice, I prefer daytime. I prefer the pace, the amount of work we get done which is really an acting exercise in getting the best thing you can on the screen as quickly as you can.

And having said that, I loved working with the folks on DROP DEAD DIVA. And I had to keep saying to the other actors, "Do we go to our trailers now?" I never had a trailer on DAYS. "Oh you have a craft service? They feed you because they don't feed us on DAYS."

It was really a very different experience. And I had forgotten some of the ins and outs of how you do it. So I, you know, they were pulling my coat to it all day long. "No - no (Dee), we go over here now."

It was fun. They were dreamy. I loved the actors on the show and the crew was spectacular and I had a fabulous time doing it.

It was strange playing myself because I always had that Marlena character to kind of hide behind. So if don't like her, then it's her you don't like. If you like her, you like me.

But the other thing I had fun doing on my break was that I wrote two books. I wrote a book called "Deidre Hall's Kitchen Close Up" which is a fabulous sort of lifestyle book. And I - and my newest book is coming out next week which is called, "How Does She Do It," a beauty book.

So please tell your listeners, and your viewers, and your readers to look for that on either - follow me on Facebook or on Twitter or to find out how to get that.

Is that something that you find an outlet for as writing self-help books or do you want to try to do fiction or something like that?
Deidre Hall: No. No fiction for me. It's - this is, you know, I had said to people you can't do 35 years with a camera pointed every part of your body and not own a thing or two about how you look. And so it's passing on some of that wisdom.

And because, of course, I wasn't myself. I was playing myself as somebody else. This is - it's a cute story line and it goes all the way through the show but it's - I have my security team has seen on video tape someone stealing something from my apartment.

And so I'm - I've brought the woman up on charges and, of course, it - so I've come into court to play myself. And it's just adorable. It's a clever adorable script.

Does it tie in a little bit with your return to DAYS OF OUR LIVES at all?
Deidre Hall: Oh sadly it doesn't. There's no overlap there. The overlap actually is that DROP DEAD DIVA airs on Sunday night. And I start my return to the new DAYS OF OUR LIVES on Monday. So that's the overlap.

Before appearing on DROP DEAD DIVA, have you ever watched the show?
Deidre Hall: I did watch the show prior to that. And I loved it. And I - I'll be tweeting about it at some point so please have your folks follow me on Twitter on my Facebook fan page. I find that one of the lovelier whole - more wholesome shows on television. And it's just quirky enough, just sexy enough, enough pretty people, enough complicated story lines without being violent or difficult to watch or have some nature of bad influence to it.

And I love it for those reasons. It's the shows that I grew up on when I was a kid. It's wholesome - healthy - wholesome entertaining television. And it's for the whole family.

Is there any favorite program you have?
Deidre Hall: You know there are. I like THE GOOD WIFE. I like the traditional, like NCIS. I better be careful. What do I like on NBC? I'd have to think because, you know, I TiVo everything so I don't go to a channel but...

Is there any plan to do a viewing party with the cast of DAYS on the first episodes of the new writers and your return begin?
Deidre Hall: Aren't you clever to ask that. I will be in New York on the 26th and there was talk of doing a viewing party there. I don't know if that'll come together or not because I'm doing THE TODAY SHOW with Matt Lauer at 9:30 on Monday morning. They're going to really try to promote it through the Today show and so on and so forth.

I love the overlap in schedule for the Sunday - Monday part of, you know, when I'm going to be on television. And, yes, there is a screening party. I'm going on Sunday night with a - rest of the cast to the DIVA screening.

What it's been like to be back on the DAYS set and to return to your kind of like (iconic) character and get a chance to play her again?
Deidre Hall: Yes, returning to Marlena was like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes I've worn for years. I've been away from the character for 2-1/2 years but I played her so close to myself that after the first day of wondering what it was going to be like, it was exactly like it was the day that I left.

In fact, Drake and I talked about, "Were we gone? Did we - were we gone for a while?"

And when you left in 2009 it was such a controversy. Fans were so upset. Did you at that time ever think you'd be coming back or did you think that kind of chapter of your career was closed?
Deidre Hall: Well at that time I didn't think I'd be leaving the show. So that - first of all, it was quite a surprise to me. And it sort of catapulted me into a private life which was dreamy timing for me.

Because my son was applying out to colleges, my younger son was getting into high school. I had 2-1/2 years to take long walks to the ocean, to visit with my close friends, to plant a garden, to sleep in, to mediate, to exercise. It was a lovely time that I would not have given to myself.

And I didn't think about coming back. I - once I knew that door was closed, I moved forward.

And so what can you tell us any - it's so great to have you and Drake back together again as someone who watched you years ago. It's really fun for fans, I think, to have you guys reunited. Can you tease at all what we might be seeing in that first couple of weeks that you're back?
Deidre Hall: Well for John and Marlena, I will reassure you we do a strawberry scene in short order. So that is coming up. We come back to Salem in the midst of high drama. And there's a cataclysmic turn of events in which John is arrested.

And the entire town - every single citizen is affected by what happens. So it's not unlike what's happening in our culture today with people losing everything, people angry, people looking for someone to blame and some way to survive. So it's very topical timing.

ALL MY CHILDREN is ending on the 23. And here you are coming back to DAYS on the 26th. So it's kind of a - the ending of one soap opera, you know on Friday and the, you know, the re-entry of an iconic character on a Monday. So for you, can you just talk at all about what you see kind of happening on the daytime landscape and in particular, the end of some of these iconic soaps? You know, what's that like for you just as an actress and as someone who's been in the industry for so long?
Deidre Hall: Well, it's my belief that ABC had shows in the wings they wanted to try out. So I don't know that it was so much about the ratings or the budget as there were things they wanted to move on and do.

DAYS cracked the code on how to keep a show on the air and do it, you know, smartly and beautifully. And that is simply working within a budget and using every available dollar and moment of time we have to put a show on the screen.

And we're doing great over here, you know, we're going strong. We have a two year renewal. Network is very happy with us - very much in favor of keeping the show on the air as long as possible. And Greg Meng has done everything right in terms of seeing that happen.

How do you see Marlena now as opposed to when she left Salem?
Deidre Hall: When she left, she was strong, and she was a force to be reckoned with. And she is even more so now. She's spent 2-1/2 years nursing John back to health. They come back to a critical situation where they will both in danger.

And they are strengthened as a unit - strengthened as a team - more devoted - more committed to each other than ever before.

Deidre, anything else you want to say about your role on Drop Dead Diva that you think reporters should know about?
Deidre Hall: It was the first time that I had ever played myself and it was not unchallenging. And as I said to one of the reporters, just being back in the venue of, you know, single camera, left me reaching out to all my co-stars saying, "Where do go? Where do we sit? When do we eat? How do we do that?" Because I really was a fish out of water for a while.

And they are such a team of collaborative actors. They are so supportive of each other and they live in a small town that A, welcomes them but B, keeps them away from sometimes their own families for a while. So they've really made a home right there.

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television / Bob Mahoney.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The DROP DEAD DIVA season finale airs on Sunday, September 25th at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

Kevin Mulcahy Jr. is a Harvard alum who is currently working as a staff contributor at writing theater and web series reviews as well as other in-depth features. Read all his Web Series reviews here. To contact Kevin, email [email protected].

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