Jack is back! Finally, one of the most beloved characters in the history of Days of our Lives is coming home to Salem! And that means, the fabulous Matthew Ashford will be back on screen full-time when the NBC soap opera does it’s highly anticipated reset of the show on the September 26th episode.
On-Air On-Soaps spoke to Matt this morning to get his thoughts on his return, what we can look forward to, how are they going to explain why Jack has been away from his loved ones for so long, and how is Jack going to deal with the fact that his beloved Jennifer (played by Melissa Reeves) has fallen head over heels for Dr. Daniel Jonas (played by Shawn Christian)? Here’s our “quickie” chat with Matt!
What happened that finally brought you back to DAYS? Did someone say, “Now with the reboot…. let’s bring him back?”
MATT: I guess so. I am not a party to conversations of what is going on in the bigger picture. But, I got a call one day asking what would be my interest level in coming back to Days of our Lives and if I was available to come back. I figured if they asked there was something substantial for me there. And they told me, “Yes, we have some ideas and some story,” and that is obviously good news for an actor to hear that. So that is what I heard and I then said I was interested. We began this odyssey, and very soon the viewers will see the first results and fruits from it.
What we saw in the fall promo released by NBC was Jack falling into a cake and there was Jennifer and Dr. Daniel in an embrace of some sort!
MATT: Yeah, this guy and this girl! (Laughs) It just kind of starts from there and it does not stop. It was an intense and crazy first week of work for me, as it was for everybody. The character of Jack is suddenly there and then things go nuts!
Well there is a big misunderstanding, right? Jennifer believes he left her, but he was kidnapped… or something?
MATT: I had been hearing things for quite some time – that he was in some ashram in India and then I heard he was running around the Outback. But I believe the Outback of Australia is where they send many soap opera characters! So I think they must all be running around together there! (Laughs) My character has been out there a number of times!
Whenever you left the show or they wrote Jack off the canvas, the writers had to construct some reason behind it. Much of that upset the audience. Why else would this wonderful guy who loves Jennifer so much, disappear on her time and time again?
MATT: Yeah, I think in the last go round that was part of the Jim Reilly (DAYS ex- head writer) years. I never quite understood it. Now you get into conversations with people who will ask me, “Is your character dead or alive?” And I realize to even have this conversation is in itself a tremendous challenge. I had to go back and say, “No. The character of Jack has never been really dead, but he has been written right off the page a number of times! (Laughs) I think we are dealing now in story with the reality of him not being there in Salem for quite some time, and that is what he has to now overcome.
I would think he would have to deal with Jennifer’s and Abigail’s trust issues with him. That is what I would assume. He will have these big hurdles to overcome to get back in the good graces of his family. And on top of that, Jennifer has moved on with another man in Dr. Daniel! And… Oh. My. God. Jack! Now what is he going to do?
MATT: That is what I wonder! And that is the $64,000, or whatever your percentages are, question of, “What is he going to do now?”
Are you having fun being back at DAYS?
MATT: Oh yes. But it is a lot of work. The pace at which we work at now is that you have got to know your material and kind of just go with it. But it is also very challenging, because our new creative team is asking for more. They are asking, let’s just not just have a funny moment or strange or goofy moment, but they are asking, what is this all about? And they are asking a lot more of us as actors. That has not been asked of us for awhile. So now the creative team is asking things like: “What makes this person tick?” and, “Why are they doing that?” So we are getting a chance to dig into that, and that is exciting. And like I said, those first airdates are just the beginning of peeling back these layers of all these characters.
I think Jack is in for a real shock, because Dr. Daniel is a real threat to his relationship with Jennifer! I think Jenn really loves Daniel.
MATT: Yes very much. I think Daniel is a real guy. I am not saying the other guys in Jennifer’s life were fly-by-night, but Daniel wants to be happy and happy with Jennifer! So it will be a real challenge for Jack.
Do you think Jack would resort to some of his infamous “Jack machinations” to try to win her back?
MATT: Um, he could. There is always the risk then of being set up as the “machinator”. It is tempting, but I think even that in itself is a story. When your first tendency is to try and figure away around this, that might get you something in the short term, but in the long term it is not so good.
I am feeling Jack and Jennifer are going to have to get together and solve some mystery like they were doing back at the old newspaper days! I predict that they will end up in close proximity and maybe, just maybe, mend some fences.
MATT: I think there is a whole new generation of people watching. They can look at things and see who this character is and what he has done, and what Jack and Jennifer over the years have meant to each other. I am more than open to everyone’s interest on different levels.
What do you think fans should look forward to with Jack falling in to the cake (laughs) and then the aftermath, and the future of his story?
MATT: A lot of turnarounds and quick changes, because that is what I experienced. I thought it was going this one way, and then quickly it changes and turned into something else. I think it is to the credit of the creative team: the writers, producer and directors. They wanted to dig in. I thought, “Wow. I sort of came in her hoping for some good times,” and they wanted to dig in!” But it’s been very challenging and exciting.
I am worried Jack may have been tortured or abused while on assignment, or something like that while he was away! Something had to have happened. How else can he have any credibility in the storyline?
MATT: There could be some sadder moments, I really don’t know. You know some people like that stuff, you never know. (Laughs) It is going to be different. Our new writers are very interested at looking at the story that has been created and looking back at what happened 10, 15, or 20 years ago, and they are looking at a very interesting situation. Greg Meng (DAYS co-executive producer) told me that they are really going to be listening to the audience, and being flexible and seeing how things go.
How is working with Kate Mansi as your daughter, Abigail?
MATT: She is wonderful. Kate is Italian, and actually Melissa’s family is Italian, too. She is from the Jersey shore. I have these powerful woman and actresses with me. Kate brings a lot of focus and passion to her role and what we are doing. I am very excited to be working with her, and Missy and Shawn Christian, who is really fun to work with as well, and he is not giving an inch either!
It is so great that Jack is back! Now we will have to sit back and see where it all goes.
MATT: Absolutely! I ask that people come along for the ride, because it only gets better!