Okay, I'll admit it: during the summer holidays in my high school days in the late '90s, I got hooked on NBC's Days Of Our Lives. A big reason was Eileen Davidson's deliciously cruel portrayal of Kristen Blake, who had locked Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) in a basement so that she could steal her husband John Black (Drake Hogestyn). Amidst this, Davidson also occasionally played Kristen's buck-toothed lookalike Susan Banks as well as Susan's three siblings, one of which was a man. Please don't ask me to explain.
Anyway, after fourteen years of playing Ashley Abbott on CBS's The Young And The Restless—with a short stint on The Bold And The Beautiful—Davidson will be returning to the venerable NBC daytime soap on October 11 in the role she originated. Recently, TV Guide Magazine sat down with the 53-year-old actress about her controversial exit from Y&R and how she feels about heading back to Days. Here are some highlights from that interview.
TV Guide Magazine: The last time we saw Kristen, wasn't she trapped on a remote island somewhere?
Davidson: Yes. She was in a dungeon having been sold into slavery, which seems a little harsh now that I think about it, but at the time it was sort of goofy and crazy and the kind of stuff [the late Days head writer] Jim Reilly was creating for me. Days is a whole different kind of animal now. It's going to be interesting to walk that fine line between what we did back then with Jim and what we do now.
TV Guide Magazine: You made suds history during your previous Days run when you juggled five roles at once — Kristen, her goofball lookalike Susan, and Susan's three sibs, one of them a man! Will you resurrect any of that? Or would it be a mistake to try to recapture all that Jimmy Reilly insanity now that he's no longer with us?
Davidson: At this point, the only one even mentioned in the dialogue so far is Susan. I guess it would be fun to revisit some of that. Yeah! [Laughs] What can I say? I'm kind of a masochist. And I still have Susan's teeth. I took them with me when I left the show. I pull them out every once in a while to keep my husband in line.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's clarify what went down between you and Sony and Y&R. Word on the street is that you weren't happy about the way you were treated, even though you ultimately did stay employed.
Davidson: It was a really weird time, what with Maria Bell being let go shortly after I was. I was led to believe that I was fired, though it was a bad news-good news thing — the bad news is Y&R is firing you, the good news is Days wants you. But then there was no actual confirmation that the Days thing was happening. Maria was in Europe at the time, so that made it even more confusing. But then the Days offer finally did come in, and here I am.
TV Guide Magazine: We know actors are at the mercy of networks and production companies no matter what those contracts say, but I've never heard of a case quite like this.
Davidson: What happened to me at Y&R was shocking — I've been in this business a very long time and have never seen anything like it — but it's not like I haven't been fired before. And with everything going on in daytime right now, it was not completely surprising because everybody seems to be scrambling. Apparently, there was a lot of infighting going on behind the scenes at Y&R. We obviously know that now, considering what ultimately happened to Maria. At the time it felt like I was being ripped from my mother's arms but, in the bigger picture, I'm really happy to be at Days. It was always a place of great creativity for me. I should also say that a couple of months before I was let go at Y&R, Sony, which owns both soaps, did put out feelers as to whether or not I'd be interested in doing both shows and I said yes. That, of course, didn't happen, but it wasn't like I was completely blindsided. At least they did ask how I'd feel about going back to Days. But it was so strange being fired twice from the same show. I was, like, "Seriously? Really, people? Again?"
For more, including plans for Kristen and whether she will be up to her old tricks, check out the full interview at TV Guide Magazine.
If you were a Days fan back in the day, does this news inspire you to return to Salem to see how Kristen shakes things up?