It’s been several years since fan favorite Bryan Dattilo (Lucas Horton) has been on-screen on Days of our Lives mixing it up with the characters of Salem. Well, that’s all about to change in a few weeks when Lucas returns on-air and gets swept up, and is placed smack dab in the middle, of all the family drama surrounding Will’s coming out story, Sami’s secret romp with EJ, and his mother Kate’s business dealings, and that’s just for starters!
In this revealing interview with On-Air On-Soaps, the once rowdy bad-boy of the Salem scene discusses how time away has changed his perspective on the soap opera working environment. Plus, how Lucas will deal with Will’s struggles, and what it has been like for Bryan to work side by side again with his co-stars: James Scott (EJ), Alison Sweeney (Sami), Chandler Massey (Will) and Lauren Koslow (Kate). In addition, the actor chats openly about how being a father in real life means being supportive of your child’s struggles whatever they may be.
Here’s our chat with Mr. Dattilo and we want to add, a big “Welcome Home!”
Bryan, your fans have missed you so much. They are a very devoted and loyal group, always coming to this website, and on my Twitter page, wanting to know when you will return, and now you’re back! How are things this time so far for you at DAYS? Are you coming in with a fresh perspective?
BRYAN: That is awesome to know about the fans! I feel a lot different. I think before I was always into having a good time and just doing the work, but mostly having a good time. That was my priority. But now that I am back, I am just trying to sink into the work as much as I can, and make it as good as I can. I want to go home at the end of the day and feel proud of what I’ve done and not thinking that there was something I should’ve done. I don’t like to go home feeling regretful about my job. It’s hard because it’s every day on a soap opera. You can’t do great every day but I am trying, as opposed to before when I would just laugh off a bad day. I am trying to take the job more seriously and make it about the work and not be the “comic relief” so much because people then tend to have you fall into that role everyday. But the people at DAYS are great. I am working with a lot of familiar faces and since I was gone, a lot of people came back to the show as well. It’s cool to see everyone, and you don’t realize how much you miss certain people until you go away for a couple of years. Everyone from the people who run the show, to the Associate Directors, to the cameramen, to the sound people, to hair and make-up; they really become your family when you are here. It’s great to be back and to figure out where I fit in the best and where I can plug myself in the best.
How do you think you have changed the most during your time away from soaps?
BRYAN: I have changed a little in a couple of years. I got married and settled down. I don’t run around with the crazy guys anymore. I am like an old man overnight now! I try not to do anything crazy. (Laughs) My goal is to stay out of trouble and I am trying to apply that to being on the set, too.
What most people are excited to see is how Lucas will react and be a part of his son, Will’s coming story. How is working with Chandler Massey?
BRYAN: I did not really work with Chandler but for a couple of times before I left the show last time. He was just starting at that time, and now I see how much he has grown and how he has gotten comfortable. I think he was a great actor then, but he is exceptional now. It helps to have someone to play off of that gives you that kind of interaction. Chandler is a really good listener, and he is really good at adapting to a scene. So if something comes up unexpectedly, he is not thrown by it. Chandler kind of adapts with it and that is when he really turns it up. I am kind of the same way whereas I want things to happen that aren’t predicted in the rehearsals, or are in the blocking.
How do you feel they are writing Lucas’s reaction to Will’s sexuality?
BRYAN: I have got to give the writers a hand (clapping-hands), because they totally had my character understanding and accepting of what this kid is going through. I think the love of your child is the thing that overrides anything that comes between the two of you or anything that comes up in the future … knowing you always have that relationship to fall back on. I honor the writers for it.
People were very concerned that they could possibly make Lucas the homophobe of the Horton family where he would shun his son. If that were to have happened, I think fans would have been very upset!
BRYAN: I would have been disturbed by that as an actor, too. In real life, I have a son and he is twelve, and he is getting to the point where he is interested in “things” and how “things” work and curious. If he came to me and said his sexuality was a thing he was struggling with, I would handle it the exact same way Lucas did, and that was supportive and loving. I would say something along the lines of, “I care about you. I honor your way of living your life and I love you anyway. In fact, I love you more, because you have the guts to talk to me about it, or not.” For my kid, whatever happens in his life, it’s important for kids to know that their parents are always there for them. So I was happy Lucas was supportive, but I think Lucas’s fear was more about how other people were going to treat Will once they found out.
That is very common that parents have a deep concern of how society will view their child if they know they are gay, and that is because no parent ultimately wants to see their child hurt by people’s perceptions!
BRYAN: Right! I think that Chandler brings so many levels to it that there is so much to have going on between the two of them outside of whatever he is struggling with and his identity. I respected the writing and storyline, because it is written how you would want your parents to take the news.
It will be interesting to see how Sami and Lucas come together for Will, or are different sides of the fence with it. Can you preview any part of that leg of the story beat?
BRYAN: It’s interesting. They have not brought that up yet as far as Lucas and Sami dealing with that because Will is still denying his preference, and Sami knows that something is going on with him, but does not know what. I do anticipate having these scenes in the future with Alison about it. It will be interesting to see Sami’s reaction to it. I think she would probably react similar to Lucas, but Sami is a little more affected by what people think. So it might force her into some sort of frenzy! I can’t wait to play those scenes out with Alison to see where the writing goes with that.
Hopefully, there will be a new woman for Lucas? Or, will it be Sami, Sami, Sami?
BRYAN: Well, he has got this fiancé in Hong Kong! I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s a speed bump between Lucas and Sami, or Lucas and anybody. I have been playing it that Lucas is very concerned about Sami which he always has been and wanting to be there for his kids, and the fact that they share two kids together, and the fact that they have this history. I think Lucas is coming back with some sort of agenda to make sure he is supposed to be engaged, and to make sure that his chapter with Sami is closed.
Can we expect Lucas to give EJ a piece of his mind for how he had used his control to really implode his family?
BRYAN: We have had some scenes where we have locked horns. Lucas’s beef with EJ is how Will is working for him and he is subjected to all these things that Lucas finds inappropriate. Most of the confrontations scenes I have had with EJ are about Will, but Lucas had also threatened EJ to stay away from Sami, but he has always done that and that never goes anywhere! (Laughs) EJ is kind of in the same boat as Lucas with Sami, in that they have the history and they have kids. And like it or not, they are always going to be a part of each others lives. Lucas is very suspicious of EJ’s motives and he can’t believe he wants to be Mayor! It’s like “WHAT?” But James Scott brings a lot of levels to his performance, so it’s kinda cool to play ram against ram.
Why is working with James Scott so cool?
BRYAN: He is a good actor, and he always knows where he is going with a scene, and again, when something comes up in a scene that is not planned, he always is willing to roll with it. I think that is a big quality in an actor. Working with James is always a challenge and making sure I am not the one in the scene just whining to him to leave Sami or Will alone. I kind of have to pick my moments to challenge him, because the more you challenge a character like that, the more they revel that they are getting to you. As an actor, I get notes from the producers or the directors to really turn it up on James, but there are moments that I think are more effective, to hit him with what I feel, rather than play the anger and the argument, because that just shows the other person that you are truly affected. If you show that, then EJ automatically wins that confrontation.
How long have you actually been back at the studio now?
BRYAN: I have been back taping for a month. It’s been a challenge getting used to work load again, but hopefully I am cutting it!
It’s so good to have you back Bryan! You were always my bud on the red carpet at all the award shows, like the Emmys!
BRYAN: And we will do it again someday!
If you were to preview for the fans what to expect from Lucas, what would you say?
BRYAN: I would say he is more present and accounted for. He is more involved with a variety of people in the way that he can be, because he has so much history with so many of the characters on the canvas. Lucas is one of those characters that can tap into any storyline.
How is working with the amazing Lauren Koslow again? Lucas and his on-screen mom always had such an interesting relationship?
BRYAN: Oh, we have had great scenes! Lauren has always been, and is the best person to work with. I have such a great dynamic with her. I love Lauren’s pace and delivery. We are very similar in real life in a lot of ways. So, we get to play that out in a lot of our scenes as mother and son, which is kind of interesting. It’s an older and more refined relationship, too.
And then you have all of your other on-screen half-brothers, sisters, etc, too?
BRYAN: That goes to Austin, to Billie, to Carrie, and then that gets me into the Rafe thing, and then the Sami/Rafe thing, and then the Sami/EJ thing, and the Will thing, and then the mother, and then the mother having trouble with her relationships and how he affects those, and the business that they are all kind of involved with together. I don’t know what the show did without me … to tell you the truth! (Laughs)