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19 December 7th, 2017 Eileen Davidson Talks On The Rebirth Of Y&R’s Ashley, And Those Heartbreaking Scenes As DAYS Susan!

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

On CBS’ The Young and the Restless, Eileen Davidson’s Ashley Abbott is back in the thick of things, and all the juicy drama, now that the citizens of Genoa City have learned she is not the bio-daughter of the respected and beloved, late John Abbott.

Ashley is now trying to reconcile her feelings for her once MIA mother, Dina Mergeron (Marla Adams), who has come back to town, and in the process caused all sorts of havoc for her daughter’s life.  However, what Ashley, and her brother, Jack (Peter Bergman) and the rest of the family soon found out is that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as the top-rated series explores the harrowing effects of this condition not only on the person going through it, but their loved ones.

To say 2017 has been a banner year for Davidson on the daytime soaps is an understatement. Not only has she been turning in powerful performances as Y&R’s Ashley, but soap fans just saw her wild and successful return on Days of our Lives as Susan Banks – the one of a kind character she first portrayed back in the late 1990’s on the NBC daytime drama series.  Only this time, viewers got to see all the colors of the character from hilarious, to sad, tragic, and deeply tormented. While Eileen has been uber-busy on the soaps this year, she also made the decision to discontinue appearing as part of the cast of the hit reality series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Davidson to get her thoughts on: all those high stakes scenes of Ashley and Susan’s, what viewers can expect as Ashley’s conflicts and empowerment continues on Y&R moving through December into 2018, and much more.  Here’s what this all-star had to say about it all!

A few months back while Ashley was being honored with the Innovator of the Year Award in the cosmetics world, her long held secret became public.  She is the biological daughter of Brent Davis, and not John Abbott.  Ashley also figured out that Graham (Max Shippee) had an agenda in all of this to bring her and her family down.  This secret was held on to for so long on Y&R.  Did you remember who knew the secret, and who didn’t?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  Yes.  I remember Victor (Eric Braeden) knew, and Jack (Peter Bergman) had found out, and that was it.

Those scenes where Ashley confronted Graham at the awards dinner were so intense, and then later how devastated she was after her mother blurted out the truth that Brent Davis was her real father.  What did you think of how the drama played out after so many years had passed?

EILEEN:  I thought it was great.  I wanted to play that beat through the years, and it was never fully fleshed out.  Whenever a new writer would come on-board, I would say, “By the way, this is kind of just laying there for all of these years, and I think it is a really important part of the family dynamic, and could be used in such a stellar way.” I was really happy they decided to go with it.  Sally Sussman (Ex-head writer, Y&R) started it, and then Mal Young (Current head writer and EP, Y&R) took it over.

At the end of the debacle, Ashley was alone with Jack at the Abbott home.  A sad Ashley said, “One good thing is that daddy died believing I was his daughter.”  That said in deference to the man that she loved and raised her as her father, the late John Abbott.

EILEEN:  She holds John in her heart forever as her father, and she never wanted to hurt him.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

How has it been having Marla Adams back on the canvas, and working with her again?

EILEEN:  It has been really fun to sort of mine this whole story, and then to go forward with the Alzheimer’s storyline. I think that is very timely and very reminiscent of what Y&R has been about in terms of doing topical stories through the years.

How does Ashley feel about this whole situation now?  Does she still loathe her mother?

EILEEN:  I think it’s easier to have feelings of not hatred, but certainly a betrayal.  Dina made a promise to Ashley that the secret would never come out, but it’s easier to have those feelings and to hold on to them when you don’t have a parent that is struggling with Alzheimer’s.  You can’t really blame them when you have all the information.  I guess that changes the dynamic now that Ashley knows her mother has Alzheimer’s.

Ashley seems to have many opposing views with Jack on just about everything at this point!

EILEEN:  Yes, and coming up there is going to be a lot more of that.  It’s a very multi-layered story.  It’s not just Dina’s Alzheimer’s, but what is does to the family members.  In the case of the Abbott family, it affects the business dynamic, as well.

We are seeing Ashley now exerting her power again.  It’s nice to see her in the driver’s seat.  She recently let Gloria (Judith Chapman) have it that she is back in charge at the office, and Ash is having sex with Ravi (Abhi Sinha).

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  I think this whole situation with Dina’s Alzheimer’s has made her look at her own life and kind of made it about showing how to seize the day, and how to kind of do all the things she has kind of rationalized not to do, or taken the time to do.  Maybe, she is not thinking that Ravi is going to be her husband, but she sees this person who cares about her and who she cares about, and it’s like, “Why not?”  It’s the same thing for her in business. For a very long time she has always questioned Jack’s judgment, and him stepping away from the business.  Although it’s a compassionate choice, it’s not necessarily the smartest choice.  So again, Ashley sees it as bad decision-making on his part.

The holidays are going to be a struggle for the Abbotts. After all, Dina did abandon all of the children and the family when she left Genoa City many years ago.  I would think those are complicated feelings for Ashley, Jack, and Traci (Beth Maitland) to deal with?

EILEEN:  Well it is, but again, you have the Alzheimer’s component to this now, so you can’t really judge Dina on things that happened years, and years, and years ago.  In this situation, if you are trying to get retribution and trying to make her pay, there is just not that much in that kind of reward.  What joy do you get out of that?  You feel like you are torturing a sick woman.

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Where does Ashley stand with her daughter, Abby’s (Melissa Ordway) recent choices, and what has happened to her with Zack (Ryan Ashton) and now Scott (Daniel Hall) romantically? Wasn’t Ashley always meddling into her daughter’s personal life? (Laughs) Remember Ben?! (Sean Carrigan).

EILEEN:  She used to meddle, but now Ashley is really trying not to do that. (Laughs)

With Mal Young now head writer at Y&R, how do you like the scripts and what you are seeing?  You are such an iconic part of Y&R, and have been through many writing regime changes over the years, so I think you would have an interesting perspective.

EILEEN:  I think the Abbotts are now front and center.  I know Mal writes quite a few of the scripts himself, because of how personal this Alzheimer’s story is to him. When he does that, he kind of wants to shine a spotlight on that character of Dina and that storyline. We’re seeing a lot of standalone episodes that are quite dramatic, and even though they are integrated into the storyline, they have that standalone quality to them.  So that’s nice, because a lot of the actors are feeling that they are getting to show their talent.  I certainly feel that way

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Which is great, because you and I have talked over the years about how your ardent, loyal, and passionate fans, who love Ashley, are always saying, “Yeah we love her, but where is her story?”  What I have liked on Y&R over the last half of the year is they showcased you.  It’s hard when you are there and they are not utilizing you, from the audience vantage point, and I can imagine from your point of view, too. This feels really good now, would you agree?

EILEEN:  Yes, I would absolutely agree!

Days of our Lives viewers just witnessed a few weeks ago your performance as Susan Banks, which was absolutely a brilliant piece of work.  It was just beyond thrilling to see you inhabit that character once again with the complexity of the humor, and the absolute devastating torment and sadness that is running through her, when she was revealed to be the one who kidnapped Will Horton (Chandler Massey).

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN: Thank you!  I have to say it was one of the most intense things for me, because from the minute I first spoke to Ron Carlivati (head writer, DAYS), I said, “I wish she had gotten to be grounded in reality. You can’t play this character just for laughs.  It’s a very tragic situation.”  It was a very fine line and challenging, and a large part of the reason I wanted to do it was to kind of show different notes I wanted to play as an actress that I don’t get to play that often.  That is this kind of surreal humor, and then just gut-wrenching tragedy.  Susan has had a very tragic life.  So, to be able to play both those things in the scenes was pretty amazing – the humor and the tragedy. I thought it made it very compelling for me.

When Susan had her breakdown, I literally watched that episode and wept my eyes out.  At the recent Days of Days event at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, NBC premiered their November sneak preview for DAYS up on the Jumbotron in front of the fans in attendance. Being there in real-time, while everyone watched it on the big screen, it was revealed that you were going to be playing, for a beat, Kristen DiMera, when Kristen lets out this diabolical laugh.  Seeing the audiences’ reaction, and how they react to you and the characters you portray on DAYS was an unbelievable experience.  There were just audible gasps and excitement when they saw those characters come to life.  It was a real rock-star moment, Eileen!

EILEEN:  Wow!  That is so nice to hear.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

You had a very tight time constraint to film your return as Susan on DAYS, correct?

EILEEN:  I would shoot at DAYS on Mondays, while doing Y&R the rest of the week, because we are dark on Mondays here.

During the time you were taping DAYS and Y&R at the same time, what was that like for you going home at night and bouncing from learning Ashley’s lines to Susan’s lines, and keeping everything straight in your head, when things were so hectic in your shooting schedule?

EILEEN:  It is not any problem at all to go from one character to the next.  The writing is completely different, and the characters are completely different.  I am actress, and so it’s a gift to be able to do and play different things.

When you got to play Susan’s sis, Sister Mary Moira again for a small beat, what did you think of that opportunity, let alone playing Susan again for that very important arc?

EILEEN:  I was thrilled!  I was so excited.  With Susan, I think a lot of people don’t like it and they are going, “What. Is. This?” (Laughs)  They don’t get it, and I have always known that, and it just doesn’t matter to me.  People love Susan, or they hate her.  They may not get it, and that’s fine.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now back full-time at Y&R, what are your hopes’s for Ashley moving forward?  Do you want her to finally find the man of her dreams? Do you care at this point? (Laughs)

EILEEN:  I think that would be something she has obviously not had in a very long time. (Laughs)  And again, depending on how it’s approached, it could be awesome.  It would be nice for her to find love again, whatever that looks like and at this point in her life, and with her trust issues with that.  In addition to seeing her struggle with it being her age, and not having found true love yet.  It’s another one of those things with the history of the character that provides a rich mining opportunity for the show.  But right now, Ashley has got her hands so full that it would just depend on how it’s integrated into the story.

What have you thought about Max Shippee’s portrayal of Graham, and the dynamic between the two of you?

EILEEN: Obviously, that is now her great nemesis, and that has been another layer that has been fun to play.

Many are talking about you being a major contender this year for Lead Actress for the Daytime Emmys.  You have had strong material on both Days of our Lives, and The Young and the Restless.  Any thoughts of what you will submit?  Will you throw your name in the hat?  You should!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  I am really bad at this whole Emmy submission thing.  I feel like I am running for President, or something, or Queen of the Prom. (Laughs)  I feel really weird about it.  I am not good at picking material. I then might end up probably not picking my best work, because I would get so frustrated and go, “Oh, God. Whatever! (Laughs) I will pick this.”

But wait a minute … you won Lead Actress before.  Therefore, you must be doing something right!

EILEEN:  That was an easy submission that year.  I was only on DAYS that year, and I knew I had two specific shows that I knew would be great submissions, and they were chronological in their order.  I knew it was either going to be the ones with Deidre Hall (Marlena, DAYS) in them, or the ones with Eric Martsolf (Brady, DAYS).

2017 also saw you make the decision to depart the cast of the hit reality show franchise, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  How did that decision come about for you?

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

EILEEN:  At the end of the day, I was shooting my husband’s movie, working at Y&R, and taping DAYS on Mondays. It was pretty untenable to think about trying to get out to shoot ‘Housewives’ after work, and it was never super easy. I had to ask a lot of favors of Y&R, and it was just really, really tricky.  But now that Mal Young took over, I am actually spending a lot more time at work, and so it really would have been impossible to do ‘Housewives’ at the same time.  A lot about my decision was the scheduling, and ‘Housewives’ being a stressful gig.  I don’t know if I could have handled that stress with all I have to do now.

In closing, what can you tease for Y&R viewers to look for in the coming weeks with what is going on in the life of Ashley Abbott?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  You will see more Ashley in the business world, and more on the Alzheimer’s storyline. Ashley is definitely going to fight for her mother, and she is definitely going to fight for what she thinks is best.

So, what are your hopes for Ashley as we move into the New Year? Do you think Ashley will be there 100% for her mother throughout her ordeal? Which man on the canvas would you like to see her become romantically link, if not Ravi?

What did you think of Eileen’s performance as Susan on DAYS and Ashley on Y&R? Would you say she is a frontrunner for a Lead Actress nomination in the upcoming 45th Annual Daytime Emmys race? Comment below.

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  1. Kim says:

    Correction: Victor, Katherine, Dina, Jack and Jill all knew the secret that Brent was Ashley’s father.

    Reply

    Fox replied

    True, and they’ve probably forgotten this, but Victor actually told Nikki in confidence when he had Ashley move to The Ranch for awhile after her nervous breakdown over her paternity. And later, Kay told Brock, because she asked him to counsel Ashley about making amends with Brent before he died, which she ended up doing on his death bed at the hospital. And finally, Ashley’s step-brother, Rafael Delgado, and husband, Cole Howard, knew. Brent had told Rafael, and Cole found out during the 1998-99 art forgery storyline involving Rafael and Ashley.

    Reply

  2. Iakovos says:

    I heart Ms. Davidson! Am so glad to have Ashley Abbott more prominent on Y&R. I have enjoyed this actor and this series for 30-plus years now, through thick and thin. It is because of the people.

    Reply

  3. Ray says:

    People will always remember Elizabeth Hubbard, Susan Lucci, Erica Slezak and Kim Zimmer as the top actresses in daytime history. After watching Eileen on DOOL as Susan Banks, her name should be included in that list. I was not excited to hear she would be playing Susan again. In the past, I thought it was too one-dimensional and played for laughs. But the storyline with Will was AMAZING.

    I do not know which category she should submit, but her work should be rewarded. I am not sure the show will ever be as good as it has been with the return of Sami and Will. I hope to see Alison Sweeney and Chandler Massey’s name in the Emmy nominations.

    Now, let’s bring back EJ, either with James Scott or as a recast. Looking forward to seeing more of Ciara, Vivien and Tyler Christopher.

    Reply

    Jake replied

    Beverlee Mckinsey needs to be on this list; there www no one better

    Reply

    Michael (not Fairman) replied

    As does Susan Flannery.

    Ray replied

    Great call, Jake. I loved BK as Iris on “Another World” and “Texas” and also as Alexandra. Who could forget her scenes with Mac Cory and also when she found out about Roger’s affair with Mindy? I would also add Julia Barr and Colleen Zenk to the list.

  4. su0000 says:

    Michael Fairman—
    You are the best of the best of interviewers !!! two thumbs up!

    That’s all I have to say as I’m not an Ashely fan ..

    Reply

  5. Terry Wright says:

    I think Eileen is great on Y&R over the years but I think she shines on Days of our Lives. On Days she really shows her acting talents. If it was my decision I would rather see her on Days than Y&R. Eileen will do fantastic at whatever she decides to do.

    Reply

  6. Bradley says:

    Eileen Davidson has always been a wonderful actress. Her work recently on Y&R has been stellar, outstanding. Ms. Davidson has always and continues to be one of the most beautiful women on daytime TV. Thank you for the outstanding article!

    Reply

  7. Freeman Griffin says:

    Eileen Davidson is absolutely one of my five nominees for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, along with Deidre Hall and Arianne Zucker for Days, Rena Sofer for B&B, and Maura West for GH. I would be very happy for any of those five actresses to win the Emmy this year. My pick would be Deidre Hall for her work as Marlena and Hattie, but any of those five would be deserving. I loved her work as Susan but there are five other actress who I feel are more deserving: Marla Adams and Camryn Grimes for Y&R, Judi Evans, Lauren Koslow and Alison Sweeney for Days, with Judi Evans as Adrienne and Bonnie my #1 choice; however, I would be ecstatic if any of those five actresses were to win, and Eileen would be my #6 choice for her terrific work as Susan Banks.

    Reply

  8. Timmm says:

    Well, Eileen didnt really share any inside scope to what lies ahead on Y&R. One thing I find interesting is she was asked a question about Max Shippee’s portrayal of Graham and she totally avoided the question! Wow, maybe she was less than impressed with him like several viewers were?

    Reply

  9. Gia says:

    Excellent performances by Eileen Davidson and Peter Bergman!!! Wow!

    Jack apparently has been holding the Ashley issue for awhile when he blurted out that she was not John Abbotts child! That tea kettle apparently has been simmering regarding Ashley way too long. I like that Ashley is stepping out from shadows. Now if she can only resolve the problem with Ravi, which may be too late. She seems to take Ravi out of the box when needed and puts him back into the box and on the shelf when she is done.

    Reply

  10. Phil says:

    Love, love, love Eileen Davidson! Kristen is my favorite character she plays! I wish she were on my screen full-time! Hope she returns again soon!

    Reply

  11. Dinah Anderson says:

    Wow great interview with Eileen Michael

    Reply

  12. ALEXA says:

    I would love for Simon Neville to return to GC and sweep Ashley off her feet! They had fantastic chemistry on Y&R and it was so ridiculous for him to have been sidelined! He was a wonderful character and he was immediately accepted as a “keeper” by most of the fans… Ashley deserves to be in love AND loved and I truly think that Neville is the man for the job!! The actor was terrific, very handsome and he had great hair! What is the show waiting for- he and Ashlry were magic together

    Reply

  13. Fanny says:

    What a lovely woman, inside and out.

    Reply

  14. blake says:

    I love Eileen when she’s on Days of Our Lives. I don’t care who she is playing, but I would really love for Kristen to come back for stints. I believe the only Emmy she has won has been for playing Kristen on DOOL a few years ago, thank goodness!

    Reply

  15. Harry says:

    Thank you for this lovely interview. Mr Fairman always delivers the best interviews because he has a genuine love for the subject matter.
    Eileen Davidson is a gem of an actress. I don’t always like Ashley but perhaps that only highlights just how talented of an actress she is. Because, see? In real life one seldom likes a person all of the time even if they love that person.
    The Dina Alzheimer’s story is being delivered tenderly and carefully while adhering to Abbott family history. Jack was really touching trying to deck the halls with boughs of holly while his mother wavered in and out remembrance of things past. And just when I thought it was safe to put away my hankie, Ashley comes in and talks to her mother about her own memories of her mother. I absolutely love Dina–her story resonates with me for personal reasons.
    I loved Gloria being combative with Dina because Dina loved it. Dina hates being pitied and her face just lit up when Gloria called her an “old bitch.” Dina laughed and said,”Now you’re talking.” HA!! What a couple of great dames. More please!
    Ashely needs a romantic partner and sorry, Ravi isn’t it. As someone else suggested, bring Back Dr Simone Neville. Michael E Knight is a treasure and his character seemed like he was on equal footing with Ashely.
    I say recast Summer, make her an interesting young woman with a European education and pair her up with Ravi. I really like Ravi but think he is too good to be treated like Ashley’s boy toy-lap-dog. Give Ravi the respect he deserves.
    On another note, please send that slime-dog Scott packing. Sharon was finally becoming self-confident and self-evolved with her college studies and volunteer work, and this bozo comes to town to take advantage of her trusting nature? The hell with him! I want Sharon to kick his free loading arse! I have no respect for that creep.
    And Abby? Stop sleeping with other women’s men! She slept with her niece’s husband, her sister’s live in boyfriend and now with Sharon’s boy live in boyfriend.
    Send Abby off to live in a nunnery or something. I have had it with that mouth breathing, vacuous, little fool.
    But I regress. Y&R has been really good as of late and I am happy Ashely is getting front burner stories.

    Reply

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