As Days of our Lives turns 50 years young this Sunday on November 8th (and on Monday’s episode), a huge part of what has made it a success as a classic daytime drama series, has been their spot-on casting decisions, and beloved performers and characters. When you say the name “Bo Brady”, who doesn’t have a reaction, and a feeling of recognition? The anti-hero, the romantic, that heart of gold, that love of family … these qualities were brought to life by Peter Reckell (Bo) in his inspired performances for decades.
After departing the series back in 2012, Peter is back in the saddle at DAYS on-air. And in true Bo fashion, he fights his way back to Salem against all odds to try to reunite with his “Fancy Face”, who is marrying another man who wants to murder her for her money! What will happen when Bo and Hope (Kristian Alfonso) finally have a chance to talk? Will they ever have the opportunity to do so?
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with legendary series star, Peter Reckell in a candid, sincere, and emotional interview about what led him to return to DAYS after making the decision to leave, what viewers can expect when Bo is back in Salem, if fans will see some classic Bo and Hope scenes, and what being part of the history of Days of our Lives has meant to him, as well as his thoughts on the fans support throughout his daytime career. Here now is what Peter shared as we mark the golden anniversary of the long-running NBC soap opera, and as we get set to watch Bo arrive on the scene in Salem.
Everyone is glad you were able to return for the 50th anniversary of Days of our Lives. We all followed your tweets during your time away from the show. There were times you posted that things were trying to be worked out for your return, but they didn’t work out. But this time they did! Was there a time and place in your heart that you wanted to make it work and come back, no matter what? What transpired that you are here now for the big 5-0?
PETER: When you get disappointed about something you sort of push it away, and store it some place. I really didn’t think about the show much after I left, and after they made the decision to have Bo kind of just disappear with no real good explanation. The audience didn’t deserve that, and I didn’t deserve that, and there was nothing I could do about it. Then, Ken Corday (executive producer, DAYS) called me up. I was really surprised myself at the emotion that came up for me, and to really do something that would help, not only myself, but all the people who put so much passion into not only Bo, but Bo and Hope (Kristian Alfonso) over the 30 years I had been there. So it kind of opened this iron case that I put around my emotions, and they came flooding out. I was crying and laughing, and was so glad that there was a finally an opportunity for the audience to see Bo again!
You are a major part of soap history, and are an icon of Days of our Lives. How was it finally coming home? Would you say it was perhaps … weird, strange, or emotional?
PETER: It was rather strange, because I expected it to be different, or something. You know, those first scenes for my return the audience sees Bo is lying in the dirt. So there I was lying on the floor of the set, and the crew was working on the lighting. I thought, “Wow, this is like I never left!” A lot of the same crew were still here since the time I left. We were joking and laughing. It did feel like I was riding a bike, and that I got back on it the minute I was in the studio.
Do you feel you missed the day-to-day acting on a daytime drama while you were away?
PETER: Kelly (Moneymaker), my wife, had watched a couple of the episodes that aired recently, and said, “You know, I’m a little pissed. You went back in there and you couldn’t even tell that you left!” (Laughs)
There was a recently aired scene where Bo is locked up, and hallucinating about Hope. I thought the performance was so terrific. I was so caught up in it, and moved by it, and thinking to myself, “There’s Bo! The Bo that I loved!”
PETER: It was just that way! I jumped into it with both feet, and it all came back to me. All of my concerns, as soon as I walked through the studio door, and as soon as they counted down “five, four, three, two, one”, just melted away. It was like I never left. And even more than that probably, because I had all that emotion pent up all of these years that needed a place to vent. The show did a perfect job of giving me a place to vent. I like big emotions, and that was what I got paid for in the past, and that is what happened.
And that is what everyone loved over the years about your performances as Bo … that even though he was this anti-hero, he had an emotional heart to him. You saw everything in his eyes. So, how was it playing in scenes again with your partner-in -crime Stephen Nichols (Patch), again? I got a kick out of the first scenes we saw them together, where Bo is like, “Hey, what took you so long?” Of course, that exchange occurred while they are both chained to a wall! (Laughs)
PETER: Well, once again I was really surprised, because for the two of us to get thrown together, as you said it was like, “Bam!” Stephen and I just picked up where we left off, and just ran with the ball. I was really, really happy to be able to work with him again, because it has been quite sometime.
Will we learn what happened to Bo, exactly? He is desperately trying to get back to Salem to save the day and stop Hope from marrying Aiden, but it looks as if he is too late!
PETER: At first, the reason Bo stayed away was to find a cure for his mother, Caroline, but then he was kidnapped. So from that point he had no way to get home to Salem, which is where he has been all of this time. Bo will explain what happened, and where he has been, and the audience has been filled in for the most part. The whole circumstance with Hope is major. She has a lot to deal with, because Bo is coming back, and her wedding to Aiden (Daniel Cosgrove) is happening, and so it’s kind of an explosion for her, and a whole lot of things happen at the same time.
On his attempts to get back to Hope in typical soap fashion, there have been many roadblocks along the way including: a plane crash, finding himself in Kansas, and in iconic Bo fashion finding a motorcycle to ride it back to Salem with Patch in tow! Bo even made contact with his mother Caroline! How was it to work with your on-screen mom, Peggy McCay (Caroline) again?
PETER: Peggy and I have always had a great relationship, and respect for each other. It’s sort of the same thing … you immediately see the spark in both of our eyes. When Bo does get to Salem, she is one of the first people Bo sees. It’s pretty powerful stuff.
Hope is marrying Aiden … and then all hell is about to break loose! Does Bo have any idea that Aiden is about to kill her?
PETER: Steve has told Bo that Hope is getting ready to marry Aiden. Bo is running like hell to get to Salem to stop her, but both Steve and Bo are unaware that Aiden is dangerous, or anything. That’s the whole soap opera thing: where you feel in your gut something is not right and she is in danger. So there is that, and then there is the connection that Bo and Hope have, so that is not surprising he would feel that something is amiss.
How was it working again with your beloved on-screen romantic partner, Kristian Alfonso. Will fans get to see a lot of Bo and Hope scenes … finally?
PETER: There are some pretty powerful scenes with Kristian coming up. But they will take a little time to get to, because obviously Hope is going through the wedding and marrying a mad man. With Bo coming back, there is getting the information to her about where he has been at a time that is not the best. It is a perfect daytime story, where there are so many different emotions going on that make this so compelling.
I was looking through classic Bo and Hope footage over the years, culling through the material while I was producing the DAYS 50th anniversary tribute package for the Daytime Emmys back in April. There was just so much good stuff to choose from! It’s hard to believe how long that love story has lasted, and the amazing places and locations you and Kristian went to, and story you got to play. It’s such a part of pop culture, actually.
PETER: I kind of feel the same way. You were sent all of that material, and fans have been putting their favorite scenes on Twitter. I am looking at some of the stuff going, “I don’t remember that!” (Laughs). There was so much material; I couldn’t remember all of it. However, in regards to Bo and Hope, I was most proud of the producers when we first came on the show. They took a big chance putting those characters on the canvas. It was Shelly Curtis (former producer and director, DAYS) who was really behind those characters. To have the guy who didn’t look like any other daytime person come in, and turn them into another Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis), they took a chance and gave us a lot of material, and it paid off for them. Actually, Al Rabin (Former executive producer and director) called me into his office once. He said to me, “You have worked more than any other daytime actor has worked in these last few years. You have done more shows.” I said, “Oh, OK.” And he goes, “And…. we’re going to work you some more!” (Laughs)
Last week you were in Atlanta, Georgia and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on the Days of our Lives 50 Years book tour and met so many fans. What was that like being amongst them after several years away?
PETER: This past week appearing on the book tour, and the audience coming in and meeting us, and saying how much they appreciate you, really was emotional for me. We were at this church on the Atlanta book tour stop. It was packed with people. They are introducing a couple of the actors, including the incomparable Bill (Doug) and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie), and they were all so appreciative. They introduced me and everything stopped. The audience gave me this standing ovation. I was speechless, and had tears coming down my face. It’s such a powerful thing.
Clearly, you are excited and invested in this story, that viewers are about to see play out, but this must feel so different then what was happening on-screen when you decided to leave three years ago. You were not driving story at that time.
PETER: I had been a supporting actor at that time, and that is expected. When I came on to the show, Wayne Northrup (Ex-Roman) and Deidre Hall (Marlena) where the stars, and then after that they became support for the Bo and Hope storyline. That kind of became the natural way things go on daytime. Wayne became support, and then after a couple of years he thought he would leave and go off to become a rancher. I sort of did the same things after 4 or 5 years of being supporting. I thought I would go off and be a dad to my beautiful daughter.
Do you regret your decision to have left the show a few years ago?
PETER: No, not at all.
What do you think your dear friend, the late, great Frances Reid (Alice Horton) would say about the show turning 50?
PETER: That’s a good one! (Laughs) She would just take it in stride, and would say something goofy. Frances was such a realist, and so down to earth. Frances would probably say, “I don’t know if I have enough air in my lungs to blow out all of those candles.” (Laughs) Frances is just such a character that I love, and miss so much. I think the reason I love her so much is because we had the same work ethic. The show is a priority, and the story we are trying to tell is priority. I don’t care about lights, and I don’t care if someone had a bad night the night before. Get in here to the studio, do your work, and do it to the best of your ability, and if we can stick some humor in there, even better.
Your fans have loved your work, and wished for your on-screen return for so long. They have constantly supported your career and life’s goals, and have loved you and your character, no matter if you were on-screen, or not. What are your thoughts on their unwavering devotion?
PETER: It’s overwhelming to have that kind of support. During the time I left the show I felt the passion of the audience, and not really wanting to let go of that. You don’t have a more powerful audience than a daytime audience. You don’t only see that with Days of our Lives, but the other daytime soaps, as well.
Bo also has some children back in Salem when he returns! Did you get to work with Jason Cook (Shawn-Douglas), who also came back for the 50th run?
PETER: We did work together a little bit, and we had some great scenes. I also got to work with the new Ciara (Vivian Jovanni), and she is really good.
When you saw Vivian for the first time, were you like, “WHAT? This is my daughter? What happened to the little one?” (Laughs)
PETER: Yeah, exactly! Bo is kind of blown away that his daughter is a grown up woman now! (Laughs)
How do you feel playing a dad to a grown up woman? That’s what I want to know! (Laughs)
PETER: My younger brother just became a grandfather, so I’m OK!
Was your wife Kelly all for you going back to DAYS?
PETER: Oh, yeah! She was all for it, and behind it. Kelly knew how upset I was when I left the show before. She was very strong in helping me get through this. It was not easy, because of all the emotions I had tied up with Days of our Lives, and Bo Brady. She has been a real rock for me.
When you look back at the material (over decades as Bo), and think of some of the work you are most proud of, or scenes that stick in your mind, what stands out for you?
PETER: I think when people see what’s coming up in the next few weeks, there is just one powerful scene after another, and that is how I felt when I did them. Hopefully, they will come across that way. In the past, I have been very disappointed in some things where you feel great when you performed them, but when you see them on-screen you’re like, “Well, that’s not what I thought it was going to be.” (Laughs) I am not one for watching my own work, but I think now I have to do it because of the Emmys, and trying to figure out what to submit for contention. I think the problem is that you can only submit four minutes for the pre-nomination round, and I think I would need like 40 minutes of material! (Laughs).
In closing, what would you say to Days of our Lives on their incredible milestone … their 50th anniversary?
PETER: It’s just been an honor to have been part of such an institution, and it surprises me that I have been a part of it for more than half of it … 30 years … it went by so quickly, and its been a pleasure. I have been a very, very lucky man to have an experience like this with Al Rabin and Shelly Curtis, and the whole team of Days of our Lives. If I could put my finger on what separated DAYS fans from the rest of the daytime world … and I have heard this from other actors on other shows … they would go, “Wow, your fans are so passionate.” I just want to thank the fans, for their passion, their time, their input all these years. Now that we have Twitter, it’s so amazing how quickly they respond and to be able to communicate with them. Here’s to 50 years of DAYS!
So, are you thrilled to have Peter back just in time for DAYS 50th on-air? Do you think Bo and Hope will get a chance to talk and even reconcile? Will Bo save Hope from Aiden’s clutches? What did you think of the sentiments Peter shared about his emotional return to the daytime drama series, after exiting a few years back? Share your thoughts on our chat below, and look forward to part two of our interview in the days ahead.