Alison Sweeney Comes Roaring Back to Salem as Sami Brady on ‘Days of Our Lives’
Alison Sweeney "Days of our Lives" Set NBC Studios, Burbank, CA
It’s just not possible! Days of Our Lives fan favorite Alison Sweeney is returning October 13 for a two-month stint as hellcat Sami Brady. And she’s back for the soapiest of reasons: Sami has heard reports that her beloved son Will (Chandler Massey), who was killed in 2015 by a serial strangler, isn’t so dead after all. But she’s not buying it! Sweeney gave us a preview.
Sami hits Salem on Friday, the 13th. How totally perfect.
I know, right? [Laughs]. It could not be better timing!
Why is she so reluctant to believe Will’s alive? After all, this is Salem, where the nuttiest things happen.
Because she’s been living in Europe and the gossip coming to her about Will is all third-party—and it’s coming from Ben [Will’s killer, played by Robert Scott Wilson] of all people! Plus, Sami doesn’t dare let herself believe Will is alive. To have that hope and then have it shattered would be a horrible thing. It would be like living his death all over again.
But half the town has died and come back, including Sami’s own parents.
Yeah, true, but usually the corpse mysteriously disappears from the grave or they can’t find it in the burning wreckage of the plane crash. This is different: Sami cried her heart out over Will’s cold, dead body as it lay on a slab in the Salem morgue. So you bet she’s suspicious.
You really hated the decision to kill Will, and went public with it. Safe to say you’re doing backflips now that he’s alive?
For sure. And I still stand by my opinion. That was the only complaint about Days I’ve ever made out loud. It’s not my place and it’s not my way to do that sort of thing, but it had to be said.
They really can’t do this plot without you. Did you feel any pressure to say yes?
Not from the show, but I did feel pressure to do right by the audience. It’s important that Sami blows back into town for this story—as important to all the Sami haters as it is to the Sami lovers. There’s so much history there that has to be honored. Hey, I know what it means to be a fan who’s insanely invested in a TV show. [Laughs] Nobody hates Sami Brady as much as I hate Cersei Lannister!
Some strange Sami things happened while you were away.
I heard! People on the set were explaining to me that whole situation with the money Sami got from the DiMeras and how she gave it to Belle, and I’m like, “She did what with the money? No way!” [Laughs] That was so not Sami.
Did you have input this time around?
I spoke with [new head writer] Ron Carlivati and gave him a little fast-track trip down memory lane–who I think Sami is and the events and storylines that shaped her. The Sami you saw during my last couple of years on the show had grown and changed but, to me, she’ll always be the Sami that [former head writer] Jim Reilly developed in 1993. [Laughs] Uh, maybe we don’t have to say the year. It sounds like so long ago!
Was Carlivati responsive?
Very much so. He brings Sami back to the scene at full throttle. Hurricane Sami! You get a little hint of what she’s been up to while she’s been off the show but that’s not what’s important right now. For almost my entire run on Days, Sami’s overarching story was all about Will. She would lie for him, kill for him. Her fights over that kid were huge! She was always Mama Bear so when he died it was horrible. Even the guys on the crew were crying when we shot those scenes! It was a very big deal. I think the audience connected with Will in a much deeper way than they do with most soap kids because he pretty much grew up on camera. He wasn’t just trotted out at holidays and then aged 10 years overnight. There’s a real investment there.
Is Sami still hanging on to her old grudges?
Trust me, she’s there to get to the bottom of this Will thing but she’s also taking in the lay of the land and scoping out what’s going on. She gets into a lot of lively conversations with various characters—most of them about Sami. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Sami is very into Sami. [Laughs]
But she must be concerned about Lucas and his boozing, right?
Yeah, and Ron really hit the nail on the head with the Lucas-Sami material. In fact, my scenes coming up with Bryan Dattilo are some of my most favorite I’ve ever done. The crew people were giving us the thumbs up, like “That’s our Lumi!” It really put a smile on their faces to see that old chemistry come back. Lucas and Sami have such an incredible friendship, and Bryan and I fell right back into it as if no time has passed. And his performance has been so compelling! Really great work.
So you sense a big difference in the show now that Carlivati’s here?
It feels so much more like the Days I loved as a kid, the Days I fondly remember. Ron has brought back that same spirit. He brings a lighter touch in comparison to all that death and destruction and rape after rape. There’s more romance, more fun, more fantasy, which is what makes people want to tune in. And it’s what we do best in daytime. We don’t need to push envelopes and go for zombie gore and violence and nudity. Ron gave me some real meat in my scenes, but with subtlety and substance instead of hammering you over the head the way some writers do. It’s just my opinion. IMHO! [Laughs] You can see my interview style has changed a lot.
Hey, you’re a Hallmark Channel superstar now. You can finally tell the truth! I love that you still say “we” when discussing soaps.
I can’t help it. I can just imagine people reading this going, “We? What’s this ‘we’ crap?”
Are you kidding? The fans will love hearing that. Do you have any idea how many stars who started out in soaps try to hide their daytime credits?
That’ll never be me. I was thrilled to hear Chandler Massey was coming back and to get that call from [Days executive producers] Ken Corday and Greg Meng and hear them say, “You’re wanted.” When I left the show I said to Ken, “I want to come back for weddings. Please don’t forget about me.” Because, when I used to watch Days before I was on the show, I would always notice who was missing at the big events like weddings and funerals. Nothing gets past the fans. These things matter—a lot! And I will always want to honor that.
Days of Our Lives, Weekdays, NBC
This article also appeared in the Oct. 1-15 issue of TV Guide Magazine.