September 19th, 2008  |  Leave a comment

THE JAMES REYNOLDS INTERVIEW – DAYS OF OUR LIVES

james-head.jpg

MICHAEL:

It’s so nice to have your very accomplished acting chops involved in a heavyweight storyline. What’s next for the Autism storyline? Will we continue to see Theo, Abe and Lexie front and center? What are your feelings on getting the opportunity to play out such an important social issue on “DAYS” where the focus is not usually socially conscious storylines?

JAMES:

It is going to continue on through the fall, and be front and center. Renee Jones (Lexie) and I really feel good about this story, and feel strongly about it. It’s wonderful to do a story that helps a lot of people, and helps them understand something that is quite misunderstood for a number of reasons that are valid, and a number of reasons that aren’t valid. To be asked to do this story, Renee and I have been excited. We have done a lot of research and did a lot of reading.

MICHAEL:

It’s very interesting that several daytime soaps have tackled autism recently. “AMC” did so with the character of Lily, and “GH: NightShift” is doing it with Jagger’s son, Stone this season.

JAMES:

Oh really, I did not know that. That’s wonderful to know.

MICHAEL:

“DAYS”, head writer Dena Higley reached from her personal real-life, and past experience with autism to create the story for Theo and the Carvers.

JAMES:

Yes, exactly. That is where she is drawing her inspiration, and for her, it’s something she has lived with. Her son is now 19, and is doing very well. He is off to college in the fall and he played football and drives his own car. We have played and will play some moments from Dena Higley’s life. She was mentioning to me an argument she had with her husband years ago, as she was writing the dialog for one of our scenes. Dena said it just came to her so naturally.

Abe-lex-theo.jpgMICHAEL:

How did they find out he is autistic?

JAMES:

Theo is three years old and he had been having problems on “DAYS”, and was not as verbal as he should be at his age. Theo had 30 or 40 words in his vocabulary, where a child at that age should have 500 words or so. Abe and Lexie noticed he did not make eye contact with them. That he did not interact with other kids, as he should. He didn’t play in the way that he should, and take a lot of joy in his playing. Theo would align his toys up, instead of play with trucks. These are the kind of signs, and there are others, that you see in autistic kids. It is staggering. One in a one hundred and fifty kids now have autism, and that number will rise in a very few years. It will soon be one in a hundred. It’s going up.

MICHAEL:

What do you think is the most common misconception of autism?

JAMES:

You have various levels of people who don’t understand. You have parents whose child may or may not be autistic. They just see these different forms of behavior, and are not sure what is going on, and often the behavior is similar to what any child might due, throwing a tantrum for instance. But with autistic children, it happens very frequently, where you can’t use a different type of logic that you might use on children that aren’t autistic with kids that are. So the symptoms mask themselves as the same type of behavior with some children. With the general public, autism is misunderstood in a number of ways. They may see a child misbehaving and think the parents are not disciplining their child well, and it’s misunderstood. The public misreads autism as another mental or emotional disability. Autism cannot be cured, but can be treated. The treatment is not really with drugs. It really takes patience, and therapy, and extraordinary patience by the therapist, friends and family. It takes a lot of endurance and you have to stick to it.

MICHAEL:

Do you think it’s truly a genetic issue?

jimblue.jpgJAMES:

No one is sure. We can’t really point to a reason for autism. It’s difficult to talk about from genetics to early childhood vaccination to environmental causes. There is no one who will say they know for sure.

MICHAEL:

With all the ups and downs and upheaval in recent months with DAYS from the writing of the show to the shuffle in executive producers, do you as a veteran of the show see a distinct difference in scripts with new writing regimes?

JAMES:

I will say, we certainly have had writing that has not tracked properly over the years or extraordinary well structured, and at the same time, we have had writers who dialogue is quite crisp and quite nice. The argument I make with daytime television, is that our writing is as good as or better than anyone else is in television. We put together 200 shows a year and some of it has been downright brilliant. I think Dena Higley has done a wonderful job with the autism storyline.

MICHAEL:

How does Abe get past all the trust issues with Lexie? She has strayed and cheated on Abe several times in the past!

JAMES:

You will have had some answers to that in some upcoming shows. It’s hard for Abe to stay mad at anyone for too long that he loves. He also is very loyal to people in a different way that he does love. If you are in his good side, he is very reluctant to let you leave. I think you will see things to begin to understand why Abe stays with Lexie and what motivates that relationship. He does love her immensely and that is the bottom line. He loves her and admires her for many, many things.

MICHAEL:

How does Abe get past Lexie being the daughter of his nemesis, Stefano Dimera?

JAMES:

Not easily, and that has been an issue in the past. You do it by actions. How many people are not real happy with the family they are married into? There are many, and yet they learn how to deal with that. They learn how to deal with that in their own way. Abe has yet to spend Thanksgiving at the Dimera house. I don’t know if that’s every going to happen! (He laughs)

MICHAEL:

God forbid!

lexie-abe.jpgJAMES:

It would be funny to see. I think one of the ways Abe deals with it is Lexie does not expect a relationship with Lexie and her father.

MICHAEL:

What about the blossoming friendship of Dr. Lexie Carver with heartthrob, Dr. Daniel Jonas? Isn’t it possible Lexie might fall into her medical partner’s arms?

JAMES:

I think Lexie has strayed enough.

MICHAEL:

I am worried about her.

JAMES:

I get a lot of comments from fans, that they want Abe to stray now.

MICHAEL:

I do! I want Abe to stray now!

JAMES:

Its time for Abe to be the one to stray and look around, and even Abe can only be stretched too much. I would think another affair by Lexie would not be one he could get beyond.

MICHAEL:

Of your time on “DAYS”, what do you consider your greatest scenes?

JAMES:

It’s interesting. You do have to develop a sense that you did it wrong or right. I have been highly critical of myself much more when I started out on “DAYS”. You do develop a critical eye. I think the scenes I used when I last was nominating for a Daytime Emmy with Matt Cedeno’s character of Brandon, were among those. There are scenes recently with Lexie that I am proud of, and scenes with Abe and Marlena a number of years ago, when Marlena and Abe seemed to be involved in a more emotional context. I think those scenes went extremely well. Over the years, there have been a number of scenes that Abe has been involved in and I have been proud of.

commish.jpgMICHAEL:

How is it working with Joe Mascolo (Stefano)?

JAMES:

He is doing very well, and Joe has never been constantly on the show which adds to Joe’s mystique. When Joe started on the show, at the beginning, he would come on for six month periods. In the late 80s, he would show up for six months and then leave a little bit. I think that adds to the mystique of Stefano. The audience and Salemites are never sure where he is, or what is going on. His return always brings intrigue to the people of Salem, and that small group of which Abe and the Brady’s and Marlena are a part of. It is that core group that Stefano has devoted his life to destroying!

MICHAEL:

Don’t you ever, “crack-up” on set with Joe and his Stefano accent?

JAMES:

Oh yes. It’s well documented, that Joe is in that dialect all day. We have all gotten to know each other so well. One of things that marks “DAYS” is that we have so many veteran actors who have been on the canvas for so long, and continue to be. These are characters the audience has been allowed to grow up with and grow old with. I think a very important thing that there is that there are 10 of us who have been around a long time. I think that s a large number and I think it’s to “DAYS” credit that it has kept its character consistency throughout the years, Stefano is one of them.

MICHAEL:

I am going to mention a few performers names that you work with consistently with on “DAYS” Please say the first few things that come to mind… here goes…Peter Reckell (Bo)?

JAMES:

Peter is extremely aware as an actor, and aware of his environment of what is going on around him.

MICHAEL

Renee Jones?

JAMES:

Extraordinary gifted actress…. and she is so attractive, and has great personality and a very girlish personality. People overlook that she has this great focus as an actress.

MICHAEL:

Deidre Hall (Marlena)?

JAMES:

She is a veteran and professional and is always there. Deidre has a great feeling for her character.

Jim-Josh.jpgMICHAEL:

Josh Taylor (Roman)?

JAMES:

Josh Taylor is quite often the football player, and he like the detail of what he has does and he loves what he does.

MICHAEL:

Kristian Alfonso (Hope)?

JAMES:

She has that real professional focus, and she knows how to lock down and zero in on her performance.

MICHAEL:

What do you think the hardest and easiest thing is about doing a daytime soap?

JAMES:

It’s interesting. As an actor keeping consistency when you are in frequently and the hours are long, and making sure you keep that character fresh and vital, and not letting anything else seep into your performance. As for example: you don’t let the fact that someone just almost ran you off the freeway to enter into that performance or a temperature of 101 degrees that day seep into the performance. That’s the most difficult and that’s the one we succeed at most of the time. The easiest part is doing something you love everyday… even though sometimes there are tremendous challenges in doing it. If you remind yourself, you are doing exactly what you want to do with your life, it becomes easy.

MICHAEL:

Because you are well-known and beloved as Abe Carver, do people often call you that when you are out in public?

JAMES:

It depends. I hear Abe pretty much daily. I get fans coming up to me pretty constantly. Sometimes it’s, “James” and sometimes it’s, “Abe”, and the fans are quite gracious wherever I am. It’s a constant part of my life. People are very nice.

b-ball.jpgMICHAEL:

Speaking of the fans, The Jim Reynolds Celebrity Basketball game has become a “DAYS” staple event every summer! You just held your 18th annual event!

JAMES:

It changes every year, and what I have been doing for the last several years is I have divided the cast, and augmented it with a women’s basketball team that I coach every week. For my game, I divide the cast that wants to play, and augment the numbers with the players on the women’s team in the town that I live in. My wife, Lissa is also on the team.

MICHAEL:

The Jim Reynolds Celebrity Basketball game always raises money for charity, correct?

JAMES:

In The Jim Reynolds Celebrity Basketball game, the charity always changes. We always have a non-profit we raise money for, and this year we raised money for the Fremont Center Theatre. The Ronald McDonald house, the YMCA, and other we have raised money for in the past, plus a number of other special groups.

SChristian.jpgMICHAEL:

It’s usually a summertime classic!

JAMES:

And usually it’s the first week in June. This year it was the last week in May,

MICHAEL:

Who played well from “DAYS”? Since Shawn Christian (Daniel) was the newest addition to the team how did he fair?

JAMES:

Shawn is wonderful, and is really quite a basketball player, as is Kyle Lowder (Rick, “B&B”) and Kyle Brandt (Ex-Phillip, “DAYS”). Kyle Brandt is extremely competitive and my son Jed is probably the best player out there, and Rhassan Orange (Ex-Tek, “DAYS”) who used to be on the show is really good. If the “DAYS” team were a competitive team we would be pretty good.

MICHAEL:

In closing, what can fans look forward to from Abe Carver in the coming months on “DAYS”?

Abe-lex-theo2.jpgJAMES:

I think Abe and Lexie dealing with Theo and his autism, and some interesting things happening with Abe as the commissioner as well. You will see several sides of Abe in the coming months.

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