Wednesday, September 28, 2011

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sarah Brown on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Eric Martsolf, Madison & the Giant Pink Elephant

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with three-time Emmy winner Sarah Brown, who will be debuting on DAYS OF OUR LIVES next week as as Madison James, "a powerful CEO who takes on Sami as a protege." Glamorous, cerebral, and full of laughter, Sarah guided me through the creation of her new character and shared her vision of the "new DAYS." She even revealed details of Madison's challenging, upcoming romance.

We probably know Sarah best from her daytime "hat trick," scoring roles in three different soaps before joining DAYS. In 1996, she originated the role of Carly on GENERAL HOSPITAL, and then made a mildly controversial return to GH years later as a different character, Claudia. In between, she appeared, for a time, as Julia in AS THE WORLD TURNS.   Most recently, she portrayed the tragic Aggie on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

Sarah's first big break came in 1994 when she landed the lead role in the international children's TV series V.R. TROOPERS. And yes, that was her in Big Momma's House 2!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I'm excited to hear all about this new Madison character.
Sarah Brown: Excellent! Madison is really fun to play, I'm having a great time, first of all. I'm really enjoying my job right now. Madison is a wealthy, successful, no-nonsense CEO of the cosmetics firm, “Mad World Cosmetics,” which she started out of the trunk of her car, and built into a global name. She's tough, and soft, and feminine, and yet, all business. She comes into town to speak with Titan about merging the companies, in a sense; potentially, they have an offer for her. So it goes from there. Oh, and she's sassy!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I understand you participated in the creation of Madison, along with the writers. What was that like?
Sarah Brown: They created the character before I came onto the campus, and from that point we all have done a pow-wow on a regular basis. Just to make sure we're all on the same page. There's so many writers, sometimes the initial conversation gets lost somewhere down the trail, and suddenly the character will veer off in some other direction that was not necessarily ever intended by the head writers, even.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It seems like a very organic process?
Sarah Brown: It has been. It's been really fabulous being able to speak with them, and brainstorm, and so forth. But again, they already had the character created before I came onto the campus. So we're just fine tuning it here and there.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Is there anything you can preview for us about Madison's storyline? I hear there's a little work, and a little play?
Sarah Brown: There's a lot of play! [She laughs] A lot of work... and let's say, in the beginning, the work and play meld together really naturally and perfectly. As time goes on, things begin to get a little more complicated in the working environment because of the attraction between Madison and Brady. At first, it's just something nobody talks about. It then becomes a giant, pink elephant in the room that we have to talk about. And it causes some friction between them...and some good friction.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How has the DAYS OF OUR LIVES experience, so far, compared with your runs on other soaps, such as AS THE WORLD TURNS, GENERAL HOSPITAL, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL...
Sarah Brown: Each soap is its own entity, you know, the cast and all the working parts, but there is that common thread where so many of us know each other, and/or each other's friends, that it's sort of like a giant family. In spite of what show you might actually be on, I don't think we always view it as, “that's our competition,” you know? It's more like we're all just one big family trying to stay... alive. [she laughs]

So, I think they're all similar, in a lot of ways, in the ways the genre runs, at least at all the one-hours I've done. B&B was incredibly different in that it was a half-hour show, so that was an entity all unto itself. Being a half-hour, we had a tremendous amount of time off.

So far on DAYS I've had a fantastic experience, I really enjoy the people I'm working with, I look forward to seeing them every day, it's a happy set—everybody there is happy to be there, is happy to have a job, and is excited about these changes, because they're great changes.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Yes, already, it's been only 2 days, and it's amazing!
Sarah Brown: It's hard not to get excited about them! Everybody wants to have that pride in what they're doing, to be able to run out and tell your friends, “No, please, watch! It's going to be great! It's going to be fun!” It's really great to be a part of it.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:On a more somber note, would you like to share any of your thoughts on the end of one of your sister soaps, ALL MY CHILDREN?
Sarah Brown: I'm sad for my friends who have been working there for so many years, and have loved having that job, and bringing those characters to life. Also, the crew, and everyone involved.

And I'm also hopeful, because maybe if [the reboot] works with DAYS OF OUR LIVES, the “powers that be” that are running the content on the networks will see that there's a way to not just keep daytime on the air, but for it to be lucrative for their sponsors and their advertisers. Make them want to bring daytime back to its rightful place: on network television, during the daytime. So I'm hopeful, that maybe, that they'll see this is working, and we're picking up viewers, not dropping viewers, and that that will spread.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: That's a nice thought. You have a positive way of thinking about it.
Sarah Brown: Well you know, Kevin, people come back from the dead in soaps all the time, I don't see why soaps can't come back from the dead! [she laughs]

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: We're looking forward to seeing more of you and Eric Martsolf together. What can you tell us about working with him?
Sarah Brown: He's wonderful, he's fabulous. He's a great costar to have because, from my very first day, he took me under his wing, and showed me the ropes, and introduced me to everyone. He never gets annoyed at me for, say, not knowing what time lunch is, or what time we walk. He indulges that, and he's always available to run lines. I feel we have a very honest, open, and trusting relationship. He makes me laugh, and that's always good when you're in a storyline that involves chemistry between two people.

When you have a costar who makes you laugh and giggle all the time, it just rolls right into the work! I think he's just a wonderful actor and a great person, really fun to be around. I'm always happy to see him, and I'm always happy to see that we have scenes together.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I can hear your enthusiasm, I can tell that you're genuinely having a good time.
Sarah Brown: I think when you're having fun with your costar, it transfers, and it shows up on screen. Especially in daytime, where you're doing so much every day, covering so much material every day, that helps. It doesn't hurt, for sure! [she laughs]

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Let's end our time together with your vision of what you hope the coming year will be like for you, for Madison, and for DAYS OF OUR LIVES?
Sarah Brown: I'm hoping to bring something to the show that they couldn't have gotten anywhere else. That's what I hope my name means when a show picks me up—that they're going to get something from me, as an actor, that they're not going to get anywhere else. And that I'm going to bring my A-game every day. I feel incredibly blessed, and lucky, to have the opportunity that they gave me, and I want to do everything I can to make it worth their while.

I hope that in the next year, as we move forward together, we will be able to watch daytime in general pick up its fan base again. And I hope that we continually are amused by each other, excited by each other, and all bring something to the table. For myself, personally, I want to be challenged creatively. And right now, I do feel like I'm in the right place to be challenged on a daily basis.

There's nothing worse than going to work and feeling like it's pulling teeth to say the lines that you've been given for that day—but I have yet to have that. And I really have all the faith in the world in the new team, and that that won't ever happen. It's not the “same old.” It's nothing like any show I've ever been on. I just hope that, moving forward, it stays that way, and we don't move out of our romance period! We're having a love affair right now, if you'll indulge that theory. [she laughs]

EDITOR'S NOTE: DAYS OF OUR LIVES airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. on NBC and 8:00 p.m. on SOAPnet.

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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