After an exhaustive search, Days of our Lives finally found their gal to take over the coveted role of Abigail Deveraux, vacated by the talented Kate Mansi in soap newcomer, Marci Miller. After a six month time-out, Abigail finally returned to the Salem canvas last month sending shockwaves through the Deveraux family, and viewers of the NBC soap, when they learned that this formerly mentally unbalanced young woman had a major hand in faking her own death when she slipped out of town leaving behind a young son, and a grieving husband.
Now with Miller springing into action, Abigail’s journey back to reclaiming her life, and her family has begun, and already Marci has received rave reviews for her compelling performances from both critics and fans alike. And as soap watchers know, there is nothing more daunting than stepping into a role as a recast, especially taking over for someone so identified with the part. However, Miller is more than up to the challenge, and is already crafting an Abigail that is uniquely and dramatically her own.
So, what about DAYS now long-suffering duo, Chabby? Will Chad (Billy Flynn) be thrilled to learn that the woman he loves so dearly … and the mother of his child is actually alive and well? Well, if Abigail doesn’t get out of that attic she is hiding in at her mother Jennifer’s (Melissa Reeves) house, she is going to be on the losing end of the stick, as Chad and Gabi (Camila Banus) are moving very close to a hot-blooded romance! Thus, setting the stage for one of the most highly-anticipated love triangles of 2017.
On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Marci in her dressing room to talk about: Abigail’s current motivations, a preview of what it is to come, how it has been for her taking on this important and key role on the show, and working with her co-stars, in particular: Billy Flynn, Camila Banus, and Melissa Reeves. So, get ready DAYS fans, because Abby’s storyline is about to get juicier in the weeks, and months ahead. Here now is our first interview with a new heroine in soapland, Marci Miller.
It has been months in the making that people were waiting for your debut as Abigail. When that time arrived a few weeks back, and your first episodes aired, were you finally relieved to have that out of the way, or were you trepidacious about your debut?
MARCI: It was a little bit of both, because I hadn’t seen anything, nor had I seen anything edited together. I didn’t know what to expect. Your brain keeps going to the worst-case scenario, so I kept being worried that things weren’t going to look good, and I was going to look uncomfortable. But, I have to say they have the most incredible editing team at DAYS, and on-screen I worked with Melissa Reeves (Jennifer), and Thaao Penghlis (Andre), at the beginning who were wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the work finally air. It got a really great response, and so that felt, really, really good.
It’s the waiting that is the hardest part, I think for the actors and the audience, because Days of our Lives tapes six months ahead in story. With that being said, you know the trajectory of Abigail. Would you say it’s going to be an exciting ride?
MARCI: Oh, yes. I am always excited to come in here, and to work and play the story. People are excited to watch the show and the episodes that are coming out, in the same way I am excited getting these new scripts that I am getting on my couch in my dressing room, everyday. It’s always fun to see where these characters are going to go, and while we know for a while what’s coming up, it’s hard not to let things leak, because people are having reactions to what is airing currently. I am out there saying, “Hang on”, or “This might not work out the way you think”. Whatever the case, it’s all very exciting.
Chabby is poised to be DAYS next super couple. They are an end game. Now, just because they are the end game, doesn’t mean they are together. Look at Sharon (Sharon Case) and Nick (Joshua Morrow) on Y&R. They get together; they come apart for years, marry other people, yet they are all-time star-crossed lovers. I see that all of that in Chad and Abby‘s future. Would you agree?
MARCI: I think so. Granted right now I only know six months ahead, so I don’t know the over-arching plan. In what I have seen, or played, there are going to be ups, and there are going to be downs. That is why people are going to enjoy it so much. There is a period of waiting, or anticipating something in a story that culminates in a great moment. I feel like the writers are consistently providing opportunities for fans to be a part of this journey, where we are building up to Chad and Abby, and there will be the heartbreaks in whatever form. Then, hopefully they will continue to find each other again.
Let’s talk about your very first scene, where you, as Abigail, were lurking in the dark watching Chad and Gabi while holding that stuffed doll! What did you think of that? (Laughs)
MARCI: It was hilarious! I couldn’t see exactly what was going on, either! It was my first week here so I didn’t want to ask too many questions: “You want me to squeeze the doll? OK, I will squeeze the doll!” (Laughs)
Were you saying to the producers, “Why am I squeezing this doll?” (Laughs)
MARCI: For a minute there, totally! I received so many screenshots from my friends going, “OK. What is going on here? Why do you have this weird puppy doll, and you look mysterious, and are squeezing it? ” (Laughs)
And … what about that rather large hat Abby disguised herself in?
MARCI: On one hand it was super fun and silly, and there is me playing this mysterious woman, but at the same time I was kind of grateful being integrated into the story in that way. My face didn’t matter at the time. All I had to do was stand there and hold the puppy doll in the right place. It was nice way to get the opening day jitters out of the way before I had to put things into action.
Then your first scenes with another actor were with Melissa Reeves. What was Abigail thinking in revealing herself to her mother first, and not her husband, Chad?
MARCI: She was worried how her mother was after finding out about JJ (Casey Moss). Her mother has been so much loss with losing Jack, then Abigail, and now JJ had been shot. I think Abigail knew that it was a lot for her mother to cope with, but I don’t think she was planning on revealing herself to Jennifer, initially. She was just lurking, and trying to pay attention to see what was going on with her. Then even in the exact moment when Jennifer opens the door to her house and sees Abigail for the first time, Abigail didn’t knock on the door and say to herself, “OK. I’m going to do this.” She was still standing outside the door trying to decide what exactly she was going to do. In the scene, Jennifer opens the door and catches Abigail off-guard, and at that point she is forced to say, “Hey, mom. I’m alive.” These were big first moments to shoot. I am Marci, and there is Missy, and I met her for the first time a few days earlier. We play mother and daughter, and now we are going to play out this hugely dynamic moment of a mother seeing a daughter for the first time, after really believing she was dead. If you really stop to think about that it’s hard to fathom. I can’t imagine losing my mother or a loved one.
And speaking of your real-life mother, I understand she looks similar to Melissa Reeves?
MARCI: She kind of does. They are similar in that they are petite blonde women, who are very sweet. They both have those big beautiful blue eyes. My mother watched Days of our Lives before all of this. She has always loved Missy Reeves as Jennifer! She really likes her, and to top it off, my mother lives in Tennessee where Missy lives. The hope is that we are going to hang out with Missy over Christmas.
What happened at your screen-test for the role of Abigail with Billy Flynn? What did you think when you met this guy?
MARCI: I didn’t have a ton of interaction with him before I auditioned. I walked in, and we introduced ourselves to each other, and that was really it. I remember being kind of nervous, and trying to be as professional as possible. We had a rehearsal the day before the screen-test. After the rehearsal with Billy, I felt so much more at peace. I thought this guy is going to listen to what I have to say, and we are going to have some real genuine moments here. I was thinking; they may not pick me to play this character, but I know I am going to have fun with Billy in this moment. Billy is the kind of actor I really like to work with, because he is really good at listening. He follows anything you throw out there, or don’t throw out there, and he provides you with material to work with, He is a very smart guy. Don’t tell him I said that! (Laughs)
So fans are bracing themselves for a heavy duty triangle between Abigail/Chad/Gabi. How can she move her life forward if she just keeps lurking or hiding?
MARCI: She plans to stay hidden, right now. So viewers have been seeing Jennifer hiding her in her attic. It’s kind of interesting. Abigail is in the attic, but people are coming to the house, and she is hearing and witnessing all of these things going on without all these people knowing about the interactions she is overhearing, and without knowing she is alive. Abigail hangs out in that attic for a while! (Laughs)
Recently, JJ found out his sister Abigail is alive. What did you think of those scenes?
MARCI: JJ loves Abigail. I adore Casey Moss! I wish he was my own brother. I love working with Casey no matter what the scenes are about. He cares about the work he is doing. There is something about him that cares so deep. He is a very intuitive old soul type of people. I love old soul-type of people. I don’t know what makes a person that way – whether it’s life experience, or an essence of someone – but I feel really safe in scenes with him. When JJ finds out Abigail is alive, she was not planning on revealing herself to him, either. It’s like the universe is making these things happen, and she is not able to plan everything. It’s like she goes, “Oh, shoot! I wasn’t expecting you to see me. Don’t tell anybody, don’t tell anybody, don’t tell anybody!” So then of course, the circle of the people who are in the know about her gets larger and larger until everybody knows. As for JJ seeing his sister, he was thrilled and shocked! It’s all such complex moments for her, though.
Is Abigail mentally stable at this point, as you are playing her?
MARCI: I initially played her a little bit scattered and fragile. But the reality is she is getting better than when she was staying with Andre. I love working with Thaao, by the way.
Why did she trust, of all people Andre, to help her concoct a scheme to make everyone believe she died?
MARCI: She was desperate. The flashback scene that aired had Andre saying to her, “Chad is never going to stop looking for you.” So she thinks, “Who can help me disappear? Who has a dark enough history, and has connections to sneaky people?” She just wanted to disappear, because she thought it was best for everyone else, and her baby. Abigail doesn’t trust herself and her intuition, because she has not been mentally well for a long time. So therefore, she is concerned that she might hurt somebody. What if she is taking care of Thomas and she goes crazy? She doesn’t trust what she may, or may not do.
It’s a horrible thing she did though, to make her family believe that she was dead!
MARCI: It was horrible, but in her craziness she thought it was best to let people believe she was dead. But now she is more mentally healthy, she knows it would have been better to let her family know she was alive. However at that time, she was in a place that did not allow her to see things as clearly as she should have.
What is she going to do about being a mother to her baby boy, Thomas? We just saw Jennifer bring Thomas to her in the attic without Chad knowing what is going on.
MARCI: Her maternal extincts are going off like crazy, and she loves Thomas so much. However, it’s a mother’s sacrificial love at play by allowing her son to be raised by someone who is stable. Even though she feels well at the moment with Jennifer, and she sees JJ, and she realizes she is getting stronger and more and more stable, there is still the risk that she could revert back to old patterns, or she succumbs to thoughts, or instincts that are not healthy. She does not want her son to be impacted by that. I think there is such a relief when Jennifer brings him to her, and she’s sees Thomas is alive and healthy. She still thinks he may be better off without her, but it’s just such so hard for her.
So, does Abigail think Chad and Gabi would be right for each other?
MARCI: Right now while it’s hard for her, she thinks Chad is better off with Gabi. She loves Gabi, and she loves Chad. She thinks Gabi is a wonderful woman and could be a great match for Chad. It’s obviously hurtful that he is moving on. I think she feels that it’s an easier road for him. It’s a lighter path, and a lighter weight for both of them to carry.
But … Gabi is a murderer! (Laughs)
MARCI: I know she is a murderer! (Laughs) But in this town, people have done horrible things and been redeemed. I think Abigail believes people can change. Gabi is her best friend, and she knows that Gabi’s heart is good.
There are big moments yet to air with Billy Flynn, when Chad and Abigail eventually come face-to-face with each other for the first time. Viewers have been waiting for this for months. When you shot those moments, looking back on it, how did you think they turned out?
MARCI: I will tell you one thing, I almost never shoot a scene without thinking, “Man, I wish I could do that again!” You can’t do it again, because we have no time. Some days are better than others. First of all, I always trust Billy. Even if we are just standing across the room looking at each other, something good is going to come out of it. I feel we have that kind of acting relationship. I know when the scene airs it will be great. But me, being my own worst critic, I wish I could do that again, because of all the moments I have shot so far, that is the biggest moment that has been handed to me, in my opinion.
You are a recast. Billy Flynn was recast. Peter Bergman (Jack) of Y&R always says, and I am paraphrasing: “He is right there for anyone who is a recast on a show; because he was when he came to Y&R and he knows it’s a difficult position for someone to walk in to.” How has it been for you being the recast for the very popular Kate Mansi?
MARCI: I tried not to think about it too much, but it crosses my mind a lot, like every day! I talked a little bit to Billy about the recasting, and to our casting director Marnie Saitta. She gave me the advice to not to read anything about what people are saying for at least six months from my debut.
How is that going? (Laughs) Do you check out what people are saying about you?
MARCI: To an extent, I don’t try to go online and see what people’s opinions of me are. But inevitably, people comment on my photographs, or on social media, or on my articles, and the response has been positive and the fans have been so incredible, and so sweet. They have made me feel really good and supported. It’s amazing how just seeing a few simple kind things someone posts on a photo makes me go, “Oh, thank goodness!” I will also say Billy has been so generous in saying very kind things about me on his posts on Twitter.
You came from a motion picture background. I can only assume it was overwhelming coming on to a soap, and then playing a character that is so major in story with the pace of performing scenes on a daytime drama.
MARCI: I leave crying from the studio many times. I ride my bike home and I think, “Am I supposed to be here? Am I supposed to be doing this with my life?” That is something that never goes away with the creative process, but it is daunting. The reason we shoot so quickly is that the higher-ups are making the conscious loving choice for all of us actors and employees of the show. They want us all to have a job. I have to remember that when sometimes I get frustrated with the pace of the show. If the show wasn’t taping this fast, I wouldn’t be here.
Do you think at some point, Abby’s crazy will come back in full bloom?
MARCI: I would love to get to toy around with that. For awhile she had anxiety, PTSD and panic attack-type episodes, so who knows what could happen down the line.
What has been the best part of playing this character so far?
MARCI: There is so much to work with, so much life-experience, so many stories with specific relationships. Then she came back from the dead. There is so much, rich complex stuff. Abigail has so much going on. She is so loving. The conflicts are so great within her. I love her too, because she is smart, savvy, and a little bit sassy.
Don’t forget. She has men problems! She has slept with several of them in Salem. (Laughs)
MARCI: Of course, who doesn’t on this show! (Laughs)
What do you find the most difficult or challenging part of playing Abigail?
MARCI: I don’t think I am that much like Abby in my real life, so it can be somewhat challenging to be overtly romantic, or things that aren’t true for me. So for the character it’s great, but since we work so fast I have to remember: “Hey! You are not playing Marci. You are playing Abigail.”
Is there one scene you have taped, and don’t tell me what it’s about in case it has not aired, that when you finished taping it you went, “I am proud of the work I just did in that moment.”
MARCI: Yes. It’s a scene with Billy, and we were both good in it. There was a truth in the scene that as individuals we were both sensitive to. It was heartbreaking, and simple. We are just sitting sit still and talking, and not getting caught up in the theatricality of it all. It’s a scene that I can’t wait to see, or for the audience to see.
Did you understand coming into this that Abigail is really a leading character on DAYS? Would you say it has been life-changing for you?
MARCI: I kinda of did know, but not fully until I started the job. My mom called when I got the part and said, “This is kind of a big deal.” I think this has been life-changing in the fact that I am not working in a restaurant. I worked in restaurants in what felt like forever. I am getting to do and act every day, and so that is life-changing. I am making a living doing the one thing that I love.
Do you believe that hard work pays off? For some, including myself, it takes longer to accomplish our goals and dreams, and for others it’s an easier path and happens more effortlessly.
MARCI: Yes, I do. I have always been a little bit of late bloomer. There is something about working hard, and consistency is the main thing. You fail, you wake-up, and you try again. There is no moment more important than this moment right here. No matter how many times you get told “no’, right now you have the choice to make your reality, whatever you want to make it. Staying on the horse, and working hard, is a big part of it.
So I will leave you with this last question: are we, the viewers, going to cry a lot with Abigail, as we watch you become more entwined in her story?
MARCI: I think so. I do cry a lot on the show. It’s a difficult place to come back from; she is an empathetic and loving person. Abigail is a great character. I feel I hit the jackpot! I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I am so grateful.
So, what have you thought of the performances of Marci Miller thus far? What do you think of Abigail hiding in the attic at her mother’s house? Are you rooting for Abby to reveal herself to Chad and Chabby reunites? Do you hope instead Chad and Gabi can have a chance at love despite Abigail being “back from the dead”? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!