On-Air On-Soaps recently caught up with two of the most recognizable and beloved characters in Days of our Lives history at the debut of the Horton Town Square set. We can only be talking about Salem’s Bo and Hope, Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso. Having been on the longest running scripted series in NBC television history for decades, this duo’s popularity, no matter where the show is at creatively, seems to never wane. And no matter what the writers throw at them, somehow Reckell and Alfonso have managed to make it work … sometimes, as they admit, it has been more trying than others.
Now as DAYS is about to re-boot itself with the highly anticipated September 26th episode, what better spokespeople for the series than Kristian and Peter. Show cheerleaders on one front, top level actors who deliver memorable performances on the other, but these two consistently illustrate their love, care, and commitment to the 45-year-old soap to their fans, each other, and throughout our conversation. So here is what Kristian and Peter had to say about all the changes in Salem and what fans can expect, plus a little extra!
So when they told the two of you they were resetting the show and going to revitalize DAYS, did the two of you go, “Yippee”? What were your thoughts having seen were the show had been headed over the last few years?
KRISTIAN: My initial thought was: we were going to back to the show we know and the audience loved. And that has what has kept Days of our Lives on the air for 45 years.
Did you go to the powers-that-be and address your concerns over the last year or two to discuss what was happening to your characters? At times, they seemed unrecognizable!
KRISTIAN: I was baffled and did not recognize my character, and I can speak for Peter that he did not recognize his character, either.
I am always concerned in daytime about the integrity of flagship and legacy characters in the soaps that get tossed around through various writing and producing regimes. The actors are often struggling to try to hold on and maintain the core of the character, while they are doing things in the scripts that are so out of character!
KRISTIAN: There was a lot of discussion. I thought it was all going to end up making sense as to why it was going in a certain direction. I am a glass half full kind of person and so I kept waiting and waiting and waiting and still looking at it as glass half full. I am a very optimistic person.
PETER: We always feel that we have some kind of pull here and it always proves more often than not, that we don’t. (Laughs)
KRISTIAN: Look, when things weren’t quite written for Bo and Hope, Peter would come to my dressing room and say, “Kristian, look we have to work this out. Let’s see if we can find this moment and find that moment, and bring the audience around, so hopefully they will start writing in that direction.”
Now let’s turn the page and talk about DAYS as we head into September! Obviously you tape a few months ahead, so you have a grasp on what is going on here. How is the overall morale?
PETER: We have this nucleus here. On the set while we are in the trenches working, we are all so excited! The actors, the directors, the crew and now with this kind of stuff coming in, such as the new Horton Town Square set and all the great returns of fan favorites, we see the excitement of NBC, Sony, and Ken Corday because they are pouring money into the show. And on Twitter it is has been amazing!
KRISTIAN: Yes. People tweeted that they saw the promo for September and they had not seen the show in years, but they were going to come back because they were excited again, interested again, and fascinated to see where this was going to go.
PETER: That is what we want – people who know this show and know our characters. That is what is happening come September with bringing the characters back that people are familiar with. That is what we need right now, that comfort. We know people are experiencing many difficult things due to the terrible economy. But take a moment or a break from it all with us and experience romance…
KRISTIAN: … And this is what our show is … escape, fantasy, and mystery … lots of mystery!
Will Bo and Hope be deeply ensconced and involved in the “mystery”?
KRISTIAN: Oh yes! We are detectives and we get to work together again. I have said before in many interviews, I am a huge fan of Days of our Lives; I am just excited as the audience. Now, Peter and I are turning the pages of our scripts quicker than ever before!
PETER: People who have been fans in the past of the 80’s and the 90’s, when they come back to the show, they will see what they always loved.
KRISTIAN: There is something that has always described this show, and something that I was also so proud of, and that is that Days of our Lives is a show for everyone. There is something on this show that sparks an interest for every audience view, and it is coming back and people will be talking about the show again. I am so happy to be a part of that.
It’s good to hear the two of you are happy!
PETER: There is still a great place for soap opera in our lives!
KRISTIAN: And why does it have to even be called, “Soap Opera”? Primetime shows are “soap operas”. Episodic nighttime series are soap operas. Whatever the case, I am proud to be on one!
How are having Greg Meng and Noel Maxam serving as the new co-executive producers at DAYS? These two gentlemen really have so much experience with the show from different angles that fans are hoping this will be a match made in heaven that works for the DAYS daily machine of churning out exciting character-driven new episodes with a revived feel to them!
PETER: These are two people that are tearing their hearts out to make sure that Days of our Lives will see a 50th anniversary.
KRISTIAN: I am clapping and I am smiling! Can you imagine? 50 years would be amazing.
PETER: If we get there, it will be like getting over a hump and we will still be around! That would be incredible to have been a part of that.
Still to this day Peter, what would you tell me it is like working with Kristian?
PETER: I would say it is her commitment and respect, and her determination to work hard, that is something I appreciate from her to this day. We bounce off of each other, and that in turn I think is fun to watch for the viewers.
Kristian, your turn. What it is like working with Peter after all these years?
KRISTIAN: Peter and I are still as passionate as the first day we were on the show. As an example, Peter and I were doing a scene today and he said, “Let’s do something.” He is always trying to improve a scene and think of something that is not there, and bring even more colors to it. Peter will push me and I will push him. It is OK, and there is no ego here between us. I tell him the way it is. He tells me the way it is, but you know what? It works! Apparently, it works on camera.
With the rate in which you tape so many episodes per week (which is so intense), has that put you more on your toes than in previous times at DAYS?
PETER: I was talking about the show we are doing tomorrow and she said, “Do you know those lines yet?” And I said, “Well, no. Not yet.” Kristian then says, “But you have worked on it?” And I go, “Yeah of course!” When we have very important material we spend a week before working on it …that is always the case with us.
KRISTIAN: We have to spend the time, and we want to be proud of our work. When we get out there we want it to be the best it can be. Sometimes, I still get nervous and get butterflies and I have been here how many years now?
PETER: One of the biggest compliments we have ever received was when we were working with a cast member who is no longer on the show. They worked with us a couple of months ago. We were all sitting together in Kristian’s dressing room and this cast member said, “I just want to tell you guys, it’s so much fun working with you.” And I said, “Why?” And they said that we are always committed and trying to pull everything out of these scenes that we can. It was an important moment for me to know that people that I respect, respect us.
KRISTIAN: We are just trying to make it enjoyable, unpredictable, and colorful for the audience, but also for us. It keeps that fire lit inside of us.
PETER: And that is what daytime is about. It is a close-up medium and it is all about what is going on behind somebody’s eyes.
Lastly, Kristian and Peter sum it up for me. If we tune in to the reset DAYS starting on September 26th, what would you say viewers should expect the most?
KRISTIAN: Lots of mystery! Everyone thinks they saw a lot on that promo… Ok, they did see a lot … but this is something we never even thought of!
PETER: I just want to say that I am proud of our new head writers, Marlene and Darrell. They have come up with some mystery that even I have not seen in a while. So that is something! (Laughs) It’s going to be great.