Two weeks ago, Days of our Lives viewers watched in shock as their beloved anti-hero, Bo Brady (Peter Reckell) suddenly died as he was recalling his iconic love story with the love of his life Hope (Kristian Alfonso). In an episode which contained touching writing harkening back to the history of Bo and Hope, historical clips, and beautiful performances, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Bo collapses in Hope’s arms. And with that, fans of Peter Reckell and Bo Brady learned that indeed the actor’s highly touted return to the NBC soap, which just turned 50-years-old in November, was short-lived. But during his recent run, it provided emotional material for Reckell, and his long time castmates. For it had been over three years since Peter left the legendary soap opera, and with a feeling that the manner in which Bo was written out left much to be desired, and much unresolved.
While Reckell’s visit was not long in 2015, he still delivered what he is known to portray better than anyone else: deep emotions, heart, passion, and the guy you just want to give a big hug to! In part two of our interview with Peter, we discuss his thoughts now on the show losing Bo, as well as him having to say farewell to this character he embodied over decades. Peter also shares if he would ever entertain the notion of returning to DAYS, since the mantra is usually “never, say never” in soapland, when characters die. When you think about the scenes fans recently witnessed between his DAYS co-stars: Mary Beth Evans (Kayla), Stephen Nichols (Patch), Galen Gering (Rafe), Kristian Alfonso, Peggy McCay (Caroline) and more, it’s hard to imagine that long-time viewers weren’t touched by all of it, and Peter weighs-in.
As it’s truly an end of an era, Peter reveals the emotions he felt filming his final scenes, and the emotions he felt watching the fans’ response, and his co-stars reactions to Bo’s untimely death. He also addresses the reported decision making process to kill off Bo, what would he like to change if he could from Bo’s final story beats, and more. Here’s our very special chat with an actor whose performances will always remain in our hearts, and will always be unforgettable.
DAYS fans, and in particular those of Bo and Hope, witnessed an emotional hankie-filled episode that was devoted to the super couple, with a look back at their enduring love story with retrospective clips. This was happening right as Bo was dying in front of his beloved “Fancy face”. It was a beautiful episode. Did you watch it?
PETER: Yes, mostly because my wife Kelly’s song played in that episode. But then I watched it. As I have told you before, I usually don’t watch myself. I think mostly what affected people were the memories. Most of those scenes were 30, 25, or 20 years old, and so that sort of tells you the landscape of who has been most affected by this. It’s those people who were changing their high school and college schedules so they could watch the show, pre-DVD and DVR, and back when we were putting DAYS on our VCR’s. (Laughs)
For that retrospective episode, and the moments within it where Bo brings the oak tree, and the carnival tickets out of his pocket (all relating to key moments in Bo and Hope’s past), did you have a hand in saying to the writers and producers, “This is how I would like that show to be created, and for Bo to die?”
PETER: No. I was just there for the ride, and doing what they asked me to do. I have said all along, I was really proud of the writers, and how they did this, as it’s a difficult thing. People are both cranky and pissed that Bo is not going to be there, and also thankful that they finally had some definition of what happens in the relationships and with the character. It was a double-edged sword that the writers were able to navigate pretty well.
After Bo dies, he is lying on the ground and Kristian Alfonso, Mary Beth Evans, and Stephen Nichols, your long-time acting partners. are pouring their hearts out above you grieving over the sudden death of Bo. Was that moment surreal for you? How were you just able to lie there while they were acting circles above you?
PETER: The difficult part was not having tears streaming down my face. It was like I wanted to say, “Hey, let me reach up and hug you while you are crying!” It was that kind of moment for me. Actors are put in difficult situations, and that was one of my most difficult situations to just try to be convincingly dead, because there were so many emotions going on inside my body at that time.
Overall, what can you say about filming your final scenes? The moments where Kayla tells Bo that he is dying was exceptional, the moment between Patch and Bo after Patch finds out Bo hasn’t long to live … there were some very powerful nuggets within the story.
PETER: It was difficult and rewarding work, and to be able to have the kind of material you can sink your teeth into. That scene with Stephen Nicholas (Patch) and myself in the park … I get all choked up again just talking about it.
Following Bo’s death, and over the last week and a half of airshows, fans have been watching what seems to be a “Ghost Bo” propelling and egging Hope on to find answers to who kidnapped him, and ultimately was responsible for his life being cut short. How do you explain her visions of Bo?
PETER: It took me awhile to get it when reading the scripts. Finally, the writers told me it’s Hope’s subconscious, and her feelings of not only guilt, but love. And because Bo’s death came so quickly, and with the closure, I think it needed some padding for people’s hearts to land on, so they can see Bo a little bit again. I wasn’t Bo anymore, but a manifestation of Hope’s interior world.
Looking back on it, it seemed like an interesting choice by DAYS to not have Bo have many goodbyes with people; whether that was for the impact of him dying all of a sudden and the shock of it all, or whether it was for lack of time to execute those scenes. Would you have preferred to have farewell scenes with long-time castmates: Peggy McCay, John Aniston (Victor), Jason Cook (Shawn-Douglas), and Josh Taylor (Roman)?
PETER: I think being back in Salem for another week would have been nice. I kind of agree with that, and to be able to see Bo, and these iconic relationships that Bo had with his brother, his mom, etc. There were some relationships there that were skipped over, which would have been nice to play. They did what they could, and you can’t drag something out like that for too long. Bo was crying quite a bit as it was. If he has too many of those scenes it would get too repetitive, and then the audience would get too tired of it.
You did play some scenes with the new Ciara, Vivian Jovanni. What do you think will happen to her now that the father she missed so much … is dead?
PETER: The thing that occurred to me afterwards is that Ciara is sort of carrying the mantle of Bo Brady. She’s obviously Bo’s daughter. She is a rebel, hardheaded, but with a heart of gold. You don’t have to hire a new Bo, because she is the new Bo!
In the recent issue of Soap Opera Digest, which included an interview with you, DAYS executive producer Ken Corday noted that once the show knew that you were only coming back for a limited time, a decision was made to kill the character off, as it was best to have closure in the relationship of Bo and Hope. He said it was also a painful decision to make. But would you say it was made by mutual decision?
PETER: The decision was basically made three years ago, and even longer than that. In the climate that I left the show previously, I did not have a storyline. So the decision was not made this year. My decision was: “If I’m not going to be utilized, then I am not going to be part of mainstreams storylines. I would much rather not miss out on my daughter’s life. Not miss out on her discoveries of her life, and not be an impact on her, and not share her life with her.” Having left the show, and having made my choices from then on, it was making my daughter my first priority. There was no decision made when Ken Corday called me this time. It had been in the works for several years. The fact that people are going back and forth with, “Well, Peter decided to be there a short time,” or “Ken decided Peter would be there a short time” … that decision was made many years ago.
It was amazing to watch how you were helping your passionate fans who were mourning Bo, and bridging the gap between you and them, with your responses via social media, the day Bo died, and in the days following. Were you overwhelmed by the response you received?
PETER: I have been overwhelmed since the audience knew I was coming back, because the response has been so amazing. I have been overwhelmed for many months now, and then this last few weeks even more so. When I came back to the show 20 years ago, Ken Corday said to me, “You know, Robert Kelker-Kelly (Ex-Bo) people really, really liked him. I hope this works out.” Ken was concerned that people wouldn’t respond to me being back. I was not at all prepared for the response this time in 2015. When Bo was in prison this time for so long, people were going, “C’mon! Get him out of prison. I’m tired of seeing him in there!” (Laughs) They wanted to see their hero being a hero, instead of lying around moaning and groaning in a prison cell.
In addition, what was so heartwarming was seeing your co-stars on the day Bo passed, and the next day posting on social media their thoughts, “thank you’s”, admiration, and paying a tribute to you for your years of collaboration together. I’m speaking in particular of the posts and sentiments shared by Mary Beth, Stephen and Kristian. What did you think when you saw they shared about you?
PETER: I poured my heart and soul into Bo, and when you are passionate in your work, passionate people respond. When you look at Mary Beth Evans, you can see our relationship. You look at Peggy McCay, you see it there. Even the short scenes I had with Drake Hogestyn (John Black), you could see our relationship. And even though Galen Gering and I didn’t know each other that long, nor did we have any real powerful scenes before I came back, there is a respect and a camaraderie that comes when you are pouring yourself into these scenes. What we do for a living is all-emotional, and when you allow yourself to delve deep into those emotions, you have a connection. Like Galen Gering said, “He was just going along for the ride,” because I was so committed to those scenes (where Bo tells Rafe to look after Hope). Then, you see it in his eyes when we are performing that scene. He was just as committed, and going along for the ride. I even got a call from Ken Corday thanking me and saying, “Whenever you want to come back….” And I said, “Huh?” (Laughs).
So after all that has happened on-air now, and on social media, would you want to go back to DAYS?
PETER: The difficult part is: I don’t want to raise my daughter in Los Angeles. Our lifestyle and the energy in the air is so different where I am in Nashville. I don’t see myself and my family living in LA again. The shooting schedule for DAYS was perfect. I had to be there off and on for a few weeks. I was in studio a few days a week, and then I would come home. I was very fortunate that when I came to work, Louden was off of school. So my family moved to LA for a month. Kelly was able to do a lot of stuff while we were there. Louden was able to hang with her best friend for a month. But I don’t see us living there, and being there on a permanent basis.
Did you feel then the way the story was told, and what seemed like a finite way to kill Bo was the best resolution for you, and the audience?
PETER: Yes, so people don’t have the same reaction and feelings they did before. I know the audience was upset and wanted to throw things at the TV, and went through some of things I did, but there was an end. They aren’t left hanging wondering what the hell happened.
How was it filming those final scenes with Kristian? What are your thoughts on how the relationship with Bo and Hope was left?
PETER: Kristian and I had such a connection over so many decades. You look at some of the stuff from the beginning: we were just two kids flying by the seat of our pants (Laughs) and doing whatever we were asked to. Our relationship sort of reflected what Bo and Hope were going through. It was difficult this time, because Bo and Hope didn’t really connect until the last two shows of mine. Hope was wondering, “What is going on with him?” Meanwhile, Bo had the tumor that was affecting him, and the headaches going on that he was trying to keep from Hope. Bo felt that Hope wouldn’t be able to handle his dying on top of everything else she was dealing with, and just went through with Aiden (Daniel Cosgrove). So as characters, we didn’t really connect for a whole lot of time. I think the writers saw that. Bo and Hope finally connected, and then Bo was gone. Even though the audience got a chance to say goodbye to Bo, Hope and Bo didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, and to say goodbye to the relationship. There wasn’t anything for Hope to be able to move on with her life, basically. I’m not sure, and this is just a feeling that I have, that they might come up with something to have me back to sort of help resolve that relationship. The writers came up with a pretty cool storyline when I was back, and I trust that they will come up with something good … if they even decide to do that. I would think from the audience reaction, they would have to figure out something.
This week, viewers watched Bo’s funeral! Was it hard for you to imagine that they were even having a funeral for your character?
PETER: Yeah! It’s kind of strange (Laughs). I was getting people sending out comments like, “Oh, the Thanksgiving show touched me so much.” And I didn’t read those scripts because I wasn’t in them (Laughs), so I did not know what happened in them. Again, the response to all of these moments has been overwhelming in how much the audience cares about Bo.
How is it for you now dealing with, and mourning the loss of Bo?
PETER: Bo passed away, and they did it in a manner that was powerful. If that is then end of Bo, that’s the end of Bo, but I am not one to burn bridges. It was goodbye for me, and it was traumatic, and still is. It’s always difficult to say goodbye. You put so much emotion and time into it. You recall the little things: There was a scene on location where Bo was in a fight. I got an elbow that landed in my mouth. I am standing there bleeding, and then I get 8 to 10 stitches in my mouth, and in my lips. I go on working for the next two days, because we have a whole production team out there. A movie star would go into his trailer, and go, “OK, I will see you guys later.” I remember one day I woke up and had a black eye from playing on Ken Corday’s softball team. I am lying in bed with my eyes completely closed thinking I don’t know if I can come into work. I remember then I got a call from Ken asking me to come in to work! I go, “I can’t see!” But Ken says, he will send a car for me. So, I have put a lot into this, and I am very lucky, too! I am not saying that anybody took advantage of me, they didn’t. It’s just something that I was very passionate about, and that the show was very passionate about, for a long time. So that makes it difficult to leave and go on to the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be. And if I had this kind of story when I left three years ago, I might not have left. But now I have experienced being a father, and the elation and rewards of being a dad. In the past, I missed my daughter’s first steps, and first words. I would get calls from my wife about it, but now I get to experience all of those things. Being a dad is very rewarding, and I am enjoying it.
So now that you got back in step with acting again during your stint at DAYS, do you want to do primetime, and film roles? I am sure your fans will follow you anywhere!
PETER: Right now, I would like to do something every now and then, which going back and doing DAYS brought back to me. Prior to going back, I was fine just being a dad. But going back, it sort of made me realize that I miss this environment where you get to have huge emotions. Out there in the real world, you get pissed off at somebody and they really don’t like it much, and you’re not supposed to have big emotions. I’m a kid at heart, and a little kid can stomp their feet, and cry, and get away with it. However, adults aren’t supposed to do that. (Laughs) But this audience has been so incredibly supportive of me, and is so special to me, that I don’t intend on losing our connection. I am looking forward to the future, for sure.
So, what did you think about the thoughts shared by Peter’s on his DAYS exit, and Bo’s death? What did you think about his final scenes with his longtime co-stars? Do you hope the writers try to bring bo back again? What did you think about his performances during what seems to be his final DAYS story arc? Post your thoughts on the emotional sentiments discussed with Peter in our interview in the comment section below!