Even if you aren't familiar with Deidre Hall's work as Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives, you probably know her. Her face has been around TV for forever.
She left Days of Our Lives in 2009, but is scheduled to reprise her role as Marlena in September as DooL is re-inventing itself with a return to its more familiar story lines about family, lots of kissing, and drama.
Amazingly, she agreed to a phone interview this morning with me from her home in California.
"How hot is it there?" she asked.
"About 115 degrees," I said.
"I just walked down to the pier here in Santa Monica where it was about 70, so it was wonderful," was her response.
She was painfully polite and sweet in her conversation with me.
The Big Mac Blog: How often do people call you Marlena?
Deidre Hall: It happens enough but not as much as you might think because I have done so many things outside of this character.
The Big Mac Blog: Why come back to Days of our Lives?
Deidre Hall: It was really made easy; I had written a book, and on the tour I was doing with (Days of our Lives producer) Greg Meng, who had also done a book on the show. On the tour we really developed a wonderful relationship. People would come up to the table during the signing and ask, 'When are you coming back?' I said that I have no plans to come back. At one point, someone asked me, 'What would it take for you to come back?' I looked at Greg and said, 'Well, I would need to be invited?" Greg said, 'You have been invited.'
I thought, "Yeah, yeah, yeah - that's show business. No one ever follows up.' He did. He put it in place, and he got this going. But the reason I returning is the no-nonsense story lines. Real relationships about people. Real romance. He hired a whole new set of writers. They have this thing really covered and I said, 'That's a thing I want to be a part.'"
The Big Mac Blog: Do you find it ironic all of these reality TV shows, which feels about as real as a soap, can’t find equal footing?
Deidre Hall: There is so much reality on TV that the viewer has become adjusted to it. The market is saturated now. And Days of our Lives has been a part of people's families for 45 years, and it kept us rich in terms of where we are in our economic time in this country because we're all so scared. We're scared for our kid's educations. We're scared for our retirement funds. We're longing for some sense of safety and family, and Days of Our Lives provides some of that.
The Big Mac Blog: In Hollywood, are soap actors slighted or disrespected because it's not prime time TV or the big screen?
Deidre Hall: That's a good and fair question. Of course there is that. It comes from this stigma that was generated from the early days of melodrama. Someone looked off camera at the point of high drama, and the oregon plays and the housewife standing behind the ironing board is crying while she watches. The stigma comes from the lack of time that we have. We don't have a full day to run a page of scripts. We do 100 pages a day. Sometimes there is a mistake, and sometimes there is a mic in the scene, or the lines aren't quite right. The lighting isn't perfect. The sound isn't quite as good; that's the speed at which we travel, but we still manage to put out a good product.
The Big Mac Blog: How do you get used to have a romantic love scene in front of a full production crew watching?
Deidre Hall: I think it's like all scenes. It's a camera shot. There is kiss left, and kiss right, which is not a normal part of your sex life. I would like to say it's sexy and fun, but it's doing another scene. Now, the first time you do have a love scene you are incredibly self conscious and self aware, but then it gets to be any other scene. Like, I hadn't kissed Drake Hogestyn for two-and-a-half years until we recently shot this scene, and it was like nothing had ever changed. It was actors doing their job. It all comes back fairly quickly.
The Big Mac Blog: Of all the story lines Marlena has been exposed to, my favorite was when she was possessed by the devil.
Deidre Hall: Oh yes (laughing) I remember that one.
The Big Mac Blog: But of all those story lines which is the one that is most memorable?
Deidre Hall: I do actually have a twin sister, and she joined the show for a little while. She played Samantha Evans, and she became addicted to high drama. Well, she was written off the show until she was brought back. They brought her back as this overweight, snaggle-tooth woman. She got to transform into an almost-Marlena. It was hilarious, and great fun to be able to work with her.
The Big Mac Blog: Do you ever read some of the plot lines and wonder where some of this stuff comes from; do you ever chuckle at some of it?
Deidre Hall: I do both. I do sometimes have a difficult time reading it, but then you say, 'OK, you're paying us to read these words."
The Big Mac Blog: Soaps have taken a beating in recent years with some long-time shows getting cut; will Days of Our Lives be around in 20 years?
Deidre Hall: I have a belief that we will be around. We provide what the audience really wants. This show is what people want. Greg has learned how to produce an excellent show on a very tight budget.
Be on the look for Marlena's return to Salem in September.
Here is a link to her new book as well.
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