‘Days of Our Lives’’ Galen Gering Dishes on His Disastrous TV Love Life

Galen Gering
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How can a soap opera character this damn handsome be such a loser at love? Galen Gering joined NBC’s Days of Our Lives in 2008 as crime stopper Rafe Hernandez and since then has had one romantic disaster after another. And the streak continues: During the May 23 episode, Rafe spotted his newest sweetheart, Hope Brady (Kristian Alfonso), sharing a kiss with her husband, Aiden (Daniel Cosgrove), who was supposedly killed on their wedding night last year. What’s Gering’s take on all this courtship interruptus?

Rafe is a hero and a heartthrob with a good, steady job and charm to spare, plus he loves his mama. Why can’t this great catch catch a break?
Life sucks for Rafe. But you gotta root for the guy, right? He keeps getting beaten down but gets back up and always tries to do the right thing. That wasn’t very interesting to me—let’s face it, it’s always more fun to play the bad guy—but lately I’m seeing how a good guy like Rafe really resonates with the audience. I kind of dig him now. I like that he’s giving Hope the space to deal with Aiden not being dead. She’s under a lot of emotional duress and he’s not about to take advantage of that. They have a friendship that happened gradually and naturally as they worked together as cops. Now they will take a bullet for each other. No matter how this turns out, I have loved working with Kristian. She has a tremendous work ethic and is the consummate pro. I don’t know that every actor is this lucky.

And you can’t buy that kind of chemistry, which makes it all the more annoying that Aiden is back on the scene. This Rafe and Hope—aka Rope—thing was going so well. The cool thing is, Hope and Rafe are always in the middle of some high-stakes epic event–a murder, a kidnapping, a rape—so they’re still in each other’s orbits. Of course, you do have to wonder: Can these two people actually get along when there’s nothing epic happening in Salem? Can they ever just be?

RELATED: Gering, Alfonso and Stephen Nichols Talk Crazy Days Plots

The Bo [Peter Reckell] and Hope romance is the stuff of soap legend. Did you worry if the fans would accept you and Kristian as a couple?
Of course. I still do. I’d love to say that the enthusiasm for Hope and Rafe is unanimous but it’s not. And it shouldn’t be. There are a few different camps going on right now. Hope and Rafe have their fans. So do Hope and Aiden. And then there are those who never want to move past Bo and Hope. And that’s all great. As an actor, you have to respect all those camps.

So what’s Rafe’s game plan to win Hope?
Now that we know Aiden didn’t die but was kidnapped by the evil DiMera family, how can Rafe not give Aiden and Hope a chance to get back together and see where things stand? That doesn’t mean his mind doesn’t automatically go to the worst place possible. When Rafe saw them kissing, it confirmed his worst fears.

So he’ll just roll over and play dead?
This is pretty messy. Rafe has never trusted Aiden, and, while Aiden was gone, his son raped Hope’s daughter, so this may not work out for them after all. We’re shooting some stuff now, which won’t air for months, where Rafe and Hope can potentially move forward together. But, for now, Rafe will stay patient. He’s like, “Do what you gotta do, Hope. I’m here. I love you.” In a way, he feels for Aiden. Don’t forget, Rafe was also tortured by the DiMeras.

Yeah, like the time they hired a hit man to cut off his tallywacker.
That was not nice. It was also pretty weird. But, hey, when I was on Passions, we had a monster that looked like a giant penis that attacked the town and squirted everybody. How they got that on the air is mind blowing. I also had a love story with an orangutan. By comparison, this stuff on Days ain’t so crazy!

One thing’s for sure. If Rafe and Hope were on Passions, they’d get a chance to play out this romance—for years!
It’s true. That show took its sweet time. One day in Harmony would play out for weeks on TV. I would literally wear out my clothes because I was in them so damn long. No exaggeration.

Hey, that crazy-ass show put you on the cover of TV Guide Magazine!
I was totally grateful for the whole experience. Now, when I do public appearances, a lot of people come up and say how much they miss Passions. And when that happens I’m always sitting next to somebody from Days who says, “Whaaat? People really liked that show?” My regret is that I never got to know [Passions creator] Jim Reilly. I was probably one of the few who got as close to him as I did—and by that I mean about 14 or 15 feet.

He was such a recluse.
You wouldn’t believe how a 400-pound man could move so stealthfully through a crowd and suddenly disappear. One second he’d be standing there, the next he was gone. It was incredible. He was like a wizard.

Have you ever wondered if the writers at Days have some sort of problem with you? Who can forget the time they put Rafe in a coma that went on for months?
I was in that coma for 75 percent of a year! Every time I’d go up to the office to try to talk about it, they’d say, “We’re working on something for you.” A month later, I’d go back and say, “So, how’s that new story coming?” And they’d say, “Great! Don’t worry!” And the coma would continue. I could just see myself rolling into the office in my wheelchair at age 92 still going, “So…anything for me yet?” But, hey, Rafe now has a whole family of his own, so things worked out.

It’s been really interesting to watch Rafe’s strained relationship with his father, Eduardo [A Martinez]. It brings out the wounded child in your character.
I’ve had a fractured relationship with my own dad, and the situation with Rafe and Eduardo is really similar to what I’ve experienced, coincidentally. Those kinds of emotional wounds, even though they’re buried very deeply, are still frickin’ there. It doesn’t matter how old you get. That kind of hurt can last a lifetime.

Let’s talk about the fact that Rafe is not always the white-hat hero. He sometimes does the wrong thing for the right reasons—like clamming up about Hope killing Stefano [Joseph Mascolo].
There are a lot of compromised characters in Salem right now. It must be something in the water. The fans are pissed that Stefano died, but Rafe has a long laundry list of horrible things done to him by that family and feels totally justified in covering up the murder. Not only that but he actually helped Hope keep her secret by taking an active part in it—including rolling up Stefano’s body in a rug so it could be destroyed in an imploding building.

I’m still not clear on what exactly happened there. The building was demolished but there was absolutely no sign of Stefano’s remains when they cleared out the rubble? Nope. Totally pulverized. [Laughs] We just didn’t have the budget to show it. The good thing in soaps is that there are usually repercussions when your character does something wrong. In fact, if you’re in a story like that, you hope for it. You can’t just get away with that kind of s–t. You have to pay sometime, somehow.

You have settled into such an intriguing place as an actor. You’ve always been a star, but now there’s great ease and subtlety and shading in your work, and a new, very appealing confidence. What’s going on here?
[Laughs] Funny you should say that. The other day I shot some scenes where I felt so free. I hadn’t worked on the material a ton and I didn’t need to because it just came so easy and effortlessly and I was able to make all the completely right choices. Our stage manager even noticed. He said, “I just want to tell you that you’re a really smart actor. And that really says a lot, because you don’t play a really smart character.” I wasn’t quite sure how to take that. [Laughs] I was, like, “Oh, wow, gee…thank you. I think.”