Eileen Davidson on Reprising Kristen DiMera for ‘Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem’
Get ready to stream some suds!
Peacock soap Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem will harken back to the great “caper” storylines that dominated the Days canvas in the 1980s and 90s. Several Days regular characters, as well as many returning favorites, will be involved in the hunt for some missing jewels known as the not-so-subtly named, “Alamainian Peacock.”
The “gems have fallen into the wrong hands,” previews ISA agent Shane Donovan (Charles Shaughnessy) cryptically, who returns for Beyond Salem. Count on Kristen DiMera, played once again by Eileen Davidson, to be looking out for herself – as always!
“Albert Alarr [co-executive producer, Days] reached out to me and said, ‘We’re doing this spinoff on Peacock and would you be interested in coming back for a day or two?” Davidson tells TV Insider. What sealed the deal for the actress was finding out that the project would reunite her with her former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-star Lisa Rinna, who’s reprising her Days role of ISA agent Billie Reed.
“This is so classic,” says Davidson, noting that if Rinna was doing it, “[Then] I have to do it, too.”
Davidson created the role of Kristen DiMera back in 1993. During her initial five year-run in Salem, Davidson not only took Kristen from a heroine to a grand villainess, but she also made soap opera history by taking on four additional roles – scene-stealing Susan Banks, nun Sister Mary Moira, the ill-fated Penelope, and their brother, Thomas Banks!
Davidson left Days initially in 1998 and didn’t come back to the show until 14 years later. She last reprised Kristen in 2015 and Susan in 2017. No matter how much time passes in between stints, Davidson always effortlessly glides back into her Salem alter-egos. “It’s really weird,” the actress notes of how she can step back into these roles as if no time ever passes. “I don’t do a lot of brushing up,” she adds. “I don’t think about it that much. I’m not sure if it’s because I know these characters so well and helped create them, but it is pretty effortless. I’m super grateful that I can throw on [Susan’s fake] teeth and find the character.”
In addition to being reunited with Rinna and Days veterans Deidre Hall (Marlena) and Drake Hogestyn (John), Davidson says she also got to see Leann Hunley, who plays Anna DiMera. Davidson says that the two actresses have often been up for the same part over the years – including the actress’ signature role of Ashley Abbott on Young and the Restless.
Davidson took a break from being a contract player on Y&R to spend more time with her family in 2018. She’s made sporadic appearances as Ashley over the past few years. Actress Stacy Haiduk took over the roles of Kristen and Susan in 2018 on Days and has played them on and off ever since. Davidson says that continuing to pop in and out for short-term gigs continues to suit her lifestyle. “It’s working out better than I ever could have hoped for,” she says. “I’m very grateful to Ken [Corday, executive producer], Ron [Carlivati, head writer], and Albert for inviting me to do this. I’m glad I can also pop in here and also, see the folks over at CBS. I’m glad I can do both and have balance in my life.”
Days was the first soap to get into the streaming content game a few years ago when it launched some web series on the DOOL app. Davidson is thrilled that the trend is continuing with Beyond Salem. “I told Ron I’m very grateful that he found a way for me to come back and reprise these roles that I love and that I helped create,” the actress says. “I can ‘hit and run.’ So, it’s super fun for me, and that [Days] is doing something different and that Peacock is trying to gather the daytime audience and move it towards the 21st century with streaming. Why not? You have to try new ways to get people’s interest. That’s how you survive – by changing. You have to evolve or you perish. That has to do with TV, too.”
Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem, Special Series Premiere, Monday, September 6, Peacock