Alison Sweeney Says ‘A Very Salem Christmas’ Is ‘Fan Fiction Come to Life’
Alison Sweeney is back as the irrepressible Sami Brady, not only on Days of our Lives but she’s also popping up as Marlena (Deidre Hall) and Roman’s (Josh Taylor) daughter on the Peacock Premium stand-alone movie Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas. The premise of the film is that it’s a story within the story, so expect to see Sami and other DAYS favorites in alternate (but familiar) realities.
Along with seeing holiday movie tropes in the film, viewers will also see a very different Sami, who’s working alongside her widowed mother in the Brady Pub. And in this particular universe, Sami has no idea that Sydney (Evelyn Stephenson) is her daughter with E.J. (Dan Feuerriegel). Will that be revealed in A Very Salem Christmas as it was on DAYS years ago? Viewers will have to tune in to find out!
TV Insider chatted with Sweeney about the holiday DAYS movie, streaming, and soaps, and why some outlets report the actress/producer/director has been with the NBC soap since 1987. (It’s really 1993!)
This movie is so fun on so many different levels — many things are the same, some are not.
Alison Sweeney: Ron [Carlivati, DAYS’ head writer] told me the basic idea he was going for and I really loved it. He came up with a clever way to put some Christmas sparkle into the movie by taking us out of [regular continuity]. You can watch this anytime. You don’t have to time it with stories that are airing on the broadcast show. You can enjoy watching the movie again and again.
Sami and Marlena have a different relationship in this movie than we’ve seen on DAYS.
Yes. We both really jumped into that alternate storyline, this universe. If things had gone a different way, this would be what their relationship is. That was fun for both of us to embrace. I loved that part of it. Sami and Marlena have had such a contentious relationship. There’s so much water under the bridge and yes, they’ve moved on, but what we got to play in this movie was a delight. We had so much fun with the idea.
I was a little late to the whole streaming thing but it’s nice to see that DAYS has not been left behind in the TV world we’re in now.
I was a little late to the streaming game, too…but I’ve embraced the idea of streaming services. You can watch whatever you want whenever you want. I think it ups the stakes for content producers. You need to compete and do what you do best. I think the mistake some people made is to weave out of their lane. Soap operas know their audiences. They know what people want to watch so the feeling is let’s give it to them. Soaps can give an hour’s worth of entertainment a day with characters viewers care about and give them love, romance, drama, intrigue, and villains. I’m glad that the Peacock has been such a hit with DAYS fans. It’s smart that executives have caught onto that and they’re not only embracing the DAYS fans who want to watch [additional] content. They’re so smart to give it to them. It’s like fan fiction come to life.
Let’s go deep here…do you believe in alternate realities?
You can get really lost [watching] the Discovery Channel and shows [they have] about time travel and alternate realities. I do find that stuff fascinating. When you have to make big decisions in your life, you realize at times that this is the fork in the road. I recall clearly moments in my life where I chose to take a chance or a risk and those decisions got me to where I am [now]. When people ask me, ‘How are you producing movies for Hallmark?’ I tell them that that didn’t just happen. It wasn’t one choice I made. It was a series of decisions that I made in life along the way that got me here. Any one of them [going a different way] could have resulted in a different plan.
I think ‘deep dive’ DAYS fans are going to see that this movie really honors and gives shoutouts to those big changes that characters have made over the years. If they’d ‘zigged’ instead of ‘zagged’ they would have ended up in a totally different place.
Viewers who love Sami and Nicole (Arianne Zucker) showdowns will not be disappointed in this movie.
Yes. Fans recall the “Syd-napping” [the kidnapping of Sami’s daughter Sydney]. That was such a huge part of Sami’s life. The death of Grace [the daughter Sami thought was hers] changed her for a long time. Ari and I were explaining the Sydney backstory to Dan. He was like, ‘Whoa! What?’ If that had gone differently [and Sami never learned Sydney was hers], then her interactions with E.J. would be different.
Dan’s stepped into the role of E.J. nicely. He brings the necessary gravitas to the character that viewers expect E.J. to have. What’s it like working with him?
I agree with everything you’re saying. It’s certainly huge shoes to fill. [E.J.’s return] has had such an impact on the audience and the “Ejami” fans. Dan has done a fantastic job and has made the role his own. He’s brought such different things to the role. He sees E.J. a little differently and has done a great job. It’s been fun to watch his progress.
In announcing your return, at least one media outlet initially had you as having played Sami since 1987.
Well, you weren’t Sami then but you did play in 1987 a Young Adrienne (Judi Evans’s character) for one day. Do you have memories of that gig?
I remember that vividly. My cousin Natalie is a huge DAYS fan. When I got the job, the show shot at a different studio. I remember there was this common area [or] rehearsal area. I asked Macdonald Carey [ex-Tom] to autograph my script for my cousin. I can picture the moment. I recall the stage managers and I remember the pressure of having to learn the dialogue!
Do you think that Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas might lure back lapsed viewers to the broadcast series?
I think so. I meet people every day who tell me they watched DAYS in the past with their mom and they’ve since tuned out for whatever reason. [This movie] can help welcome you right back if you’re either a past viewer or a longtime one. There’s really something for everyone.
Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas, Movie Premiere, Thursday, December 16, Peacock