Canada is about to get a much-needed beef injection of soap hunkdom.
On May 31, daytime superstar James Scott, who was just named soaps’ Sexiest Man Alive, will lather up with fans north of the U.S. border – along with co-stars Galen Gering, Greg Vaughan, Ari Zucker, Eric Martsolf and Shawn Christian – at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel for a photo shoot with the stars, a Q+A, and a cocktail party.
The event will benefit the Canadian charity "Three To Be."
HuffPost Canada TV sat down with Scott, Martsolf and Galen Gering to dish about their upcoming Toronto adventure and the latest hot topics in Salem, USA – including Alison Sweeney and Scott’s shocking “Days” exits.
HuffPost Canada TV: Galen, you were just in Canada … and you’re headed back! You’re an honourary Canuck at this point.
Galen Gering: Yeah, I know! We [just promoted the show’s book, "Days of our Lives Better Living: Cast Secrets for a Healthier, Balanced Life" in Toronto and Vancouver. And then I shot up to Whistler for a minute. It was a great trip. Sometimes when you do these promotional trips, you don’t get a lot of press, but our Canadian visits are very responsive. We did a lot of [TV] appearances as well as [print and online]. Canada loves "Days," that’s for sure.
"Y&R" is the most popular but "Days" is probably number two. I’m surprised you guys haven’t come up here more often. Have you figured out why "Days" is so beloved up here? Actually, "Passions" was pretty popular, too.
GG: Yeah! We vacationed outside of Banff and people were always, "'Passions!' Luis Lopez Fitzgerald!" The funny thing about "Passions" is, a lot of shows get cancelled and are forgotten, but people still remember, mainly because it was pretty ridiculous. If you liked it, you’ll never forget it. I have no idea why soaps are more popular in Canada. Maybe because we’re bigger fish in a smaller pond? It’s nice to get that recognition, regardless.
James, you’re leaving daytime! Say it ain’t so! But I think the show is star-proof, so I’m not worried. The writing is the star of the show these days.
James Scott: I agree. Yes, as you know by now, I announced I'm leaving the show. It was a hard decision, and one I made almost a year ago. I have nothing but fond memories of my time with "Days," and would like to reinforce that my decision was personal and had nothing to do with the direction of the show or my storyline. I just felt, and have for some time, that I needed a break. Ken Corday graciously said that the door would always be open for me to return, and if that were to happen in the future, I would be very happy to return to a place that will always be very close to my heart.
Eric Martsolf: While there are huge losses, it’s an opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves. I agree with you: the sum is stronger than its parts these days. The collective cast is really shining; the characters are three-dimensional. They’re not just evil or good anymore; they’re human beings. We’re not a cartoon. And, in soaps, we know better to never say never. Everyone comes back at some point, so who knows? We may see Ali and James back in the future. When we say goodbye to people we work with, it’s with a very loose handshake.
GG: I’m surprised Ali [Sweeney] hadn't left sooner.
Also, congrats on your Supporting Actor Emmy nomination, Eric! Were you surprised? I mean, it’s hard to break into the system.
EM: Thank you. There’s politics surrounding any award show … and it is a game. Honestly, the game I’ve been playing the last eight years is the role of father, so I haven’t been able to hit the red carpet and parties and rub elbows [with voters]. Because of that, I counted myself out of the race. I didn’t expect it at all. The nom came out of nowhere. But I knew I had a fighting chance when [my co-stars] Crystal Chappell and Judi Evans both told me my reel was ridiculously good. I learned I was nominated on Twitter. I was getting all these congratulations and didn’t know why at first. I was like, "Did I have another baby?!" [Laughs]
We’re not in Harmony anymore, folks! Why is it important to connect with the fans?
JS: The relationship with the audience is of paramount importance, we live and die by their support and it’s hard to underestimate how valuable that relationship is.
EM: I’ve noticed an increased effort by NBC Publicity to get us out there more with the fans, especially after we won the Best Drama Series last year at the Emmys. We need to shake hands and kiss some babies because that cements the loyalty that these shows are based on.
What a difference a year makes! Your show’s ratings are up, the critics love the show, you won the Emmy Award, NBC renewed "Days" until its 50th anniversary, and you’re promoting the show across North America like rock stars. Are you pinching yourselves?
GG: To be honest, I had faith the show would go until 50. Did I foresee that all of daytime TV would experience this resurgence across the board? No, but it’s great! As to why, I’m not sure if it’s because other shows have been cancelled or fans are tired of cooking shows, etc. I think with the genre’s impending doom written on the wall, the writer’s really started taking chances and it’s paying off. I hope we’ll continue to thrive for a while. Knock on wood.
EM: I’ve heard rumours that executives are considering developing new daytime soap operas. I was worried there for a while, but I’m happy we’ve all made a comeback.
"Days" is daytime's best soap. Did you ever think Salem would be the critic's darling?
JS: Right now, I feel that this is "Days" moment to shine. [Showrunners] Ken Corday and Greg Meng have worked tirelessly with a great vision to bring together some of the most talented people in the daytime world in front and behind the camera; and it’s rewarding to see it all paying off so well.
Why do you think your characters still resonate so profoundly with fans?
JS: I'm not sure why, but I'm certainly grateful for all the support my character has had over the years. He has been very hard to love at times, and yet the fans have always kept a place for him in their hearts for which I am most grateful.
Thoughts on Ali Sweeney leaving "Days"?
JS: I'm excited for her to walk into this next chapter of her life, she is an amazingly talented actress. And I'm sure that we will all be seeing her again soon on new projects.
GG: She was my first co-star. She gave me great storyline. I really enjoyed working with her. We have some really fun stuff we’re taping right now. It’s nice the writers haven’t forgotten Rafe and Sami, especially since Ali’s leaving because we haven’t had a lot of scenes together. So that’s good. I mean ... it sucks! She’s such a big part of the show. I’m surprised she’s stuck around as long as she did but we had talks years ago, and I could tell other people were trying to convince her to leave. But she loves the show … she grew up on the show … and she didn’t want to leave at that point. It’s pretty unique in the business to have played a popular character for 20 years and to leave it while it’s on top. I’m proud of her. We’ve always had a great friendship. She deserves all the success she’s had. She’s a tireless worker. She’ll be missed.
For more with James Scott, check out his Sexiest Man Alive interview in Soap Opera Uncensored.
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