January 26th, 2010  |  Leave a comment

The Stephen Nichols Interview – The Young and the Restless

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This week, daytime fans get one of their wishes, to see Stephen Nichols back on daytime. After being let-go by Days of our Lives almost a year ago, the talented and popular actor finally debuts on The Young and the Restless, Wednesday, in the role of Tucker McCall — the billionaire mogul revealed last week to be the son of the grand dame of Genoa City, Katherine Chancellor. Not only did Tucker reveal he is the son Katherine gave away, but that piece by piece he dismantled her beloved company and took it for himself! Poor Katherine is still reeling that the child she gave away was not a little girl (as she had thought) but a little boy! Let the fireworks begin! Nichols could not be coming into the role at a more exciting time.

The back-story, as had been reported…Y&R had decided to make a change in the direction of Tucker McCall after casting veteran actor William Russ in the role. After watching Russ on-screen, the powers-that-be thought it best to make a switch sooner than later, and with a phone call to soap vet Stephen Nichols, the show felt they found what they were looking for.

From his role as Stefan on GH to Patch on DAYS, you know that Stephen Nichols is going to play Tucker for all he is worth, and then some. In this exclusive online interview, Nichols talks about his first airdate, working with the legendary Jeanne Cooper, the state of the genre, and being a soap recast for the first time in his career, and finding professional happiness on the set of the number one soap!

Listen to the audio: The Stephen Nichols Interview

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MICHAEL:

How long have you been taping at Y&R as Tucker?

STEPHEN:

I started right before the holidays and it was such a nice Christmas gift.

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MICHAEL:

Your fans and I were so upset to see you let-go as the beloved Patch on DAYS….

STEPHEN:

…You weren’t the only one.

MICHAEL:

So you received a call from Maria Arena Bell (Y&R head writer and co-executive producer), saying that they would like you to take over the pivotal role of Tucker. You must have been beyond excited when you heard that?

STEPHEN:

Yes, I was happy, excited, and terrified all at the same time.

MICHAEL:

What makes this role so unique? Maria had stated that it’s so integral to the show. Did you know the set-up of the character enough before you came in here to start taping?

Yes, they described what the role would be. I think what makes it exciting is that I am connected to so much history on the show. I am the son of the matriarch on the show. And that is very exciting, number one, because it’s always good to start on a new show with a rich history, and you are not some guy from out of nowhere. It’s so great to have ties to the show and to the history of that show. The most exciting part is working with Jeanne Cooper (Katherine). She is amazing!

MICHAEL:

So, when you first premiere this Wednesday, should we grab our popcorn and sit back and enjoy a Katherine and Tucker smackdown?

STEPHEN:

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I don’t want it to be anti-climatic if things don’t work out when you are watching it. (Laughs) But I have to tell you, the first time I worked with her it was as if I had been working with her for 20 years, and Jeanne felt the same way. We had this connection, and you get that feeling once in a while, especially in daytime where it’s a daily grind and you are doing so much material. It’s rare that you have this feeling with another actor, and I had it immediately with her. On my first airdate, something happens in the realm of business between her and me. But once that is revealed we are left alone in the room, and Katherine says something to me that really hit home. So those are the first scenes we have together alone, and they are pretty exciting.

MICHAEL:

You knew of each other’s work?

STEPHEN:

I had seen Jeanne’s work over the years, and I think there is a secret that a lot of soap opera actors keep, and that is we watch each other’s work. There is a television in your dressing room. So if you are on a soap, and you have a TV in your dressing room, and you have some downtime and it’s around noon, you flip around and there you see Y&R or GH, or one of the other shows, and you watch. I am interested in seeing the work of other actors in daytime, and what the stories are, and if the writing is good and what the production values are. I have tuned in several times to Y&R, and every time I have seen Jeanne Cooper on the show, she has been amazing.

MICHAEL:

Y&R’s co-executive producers, Maria Arena Bell and Paul Rauch and I, spoke about you in an upcoming interview. They had said you bring so many complexities, a strength, sexuality, and drama to this character. Is that what we are going to see with your Tucker?

STEPHEN:

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Oh, sexuality. Did they say that? (Laughs) I am an intuitive actor. I don’t know a thing about big business, for example. Now, I have started in the morning reading the business section of the New York Times. I only used to peruse it. But now I read it cover to cover, because I don’t have a head for business. So, I have to trust the writers that they are going to give me good dialog. I see it and I go, “OK, now that sounds pretty good, but I have to understand it.” If I don’t understand it then it’s not going to come off on screen.

MICHAEL:

Are there tricky words used in your corporate scenes like, “Takeover”? (Laughs)

STEPHEN:

Oh, “Takeover” is a very tricky one, (Laughs) and “Dominant Market Share!” There is a lot of stuff I don’t have a clue about, that’s just not my thing, but the writing is very good and they make me look good and sound good.

MICHAEL:

So we can safely assume that the conflict and confrontations between Katherine Chancellor and her son, Tucker, will continue? He is out for revenge on his mother!

STEPHEN:

Yes, he is out for revenge on his mother. I mean any kid that was put in an orphanage at birth, and whose mother put him there and never looked back, would feel resentful of that. So yeah, I am going to get her.

MICHAEL:

You also get the opportunity to work with the rest of the Chancellor clan. There are so many wonderful actors for you to play with.

STEPHEN:

That is the other thing that is unique to this situation. In fact, Maria said this when I was speaking with her one time, “You know this character will be dropped right in the center of all the main characters on the show.” And I thought, “Wow! What a prospect.” It’s been amazing. I have already worked with Eric Braeden (Victor).

MICHAEL:

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How was working with Mr. Braeden, as the powerful Victor Newman? I hear things are going to get very tense between the moguls!

STEPHEN:

My first day, we hit it off great. We had some great scenes. There was a lot electricity and a lot going on. I so appreciate that, because when you prepare yourself at home and then you come into the studio, you don’t really know what’s going to happen until you get on the set and start doing the scenes with the other actors. When you get that tennis match going and people are really going and hitting the ball to you, and you have to hit it back… that is exciting! I can tell you that is what happened with Eric and that is what happened with Peter Bergman (Jack), and all the young guys I have been working with; Daniel Goddard (Cane) and Michael Muhney (Adam), and especially Jess Walton (Jill). She is amazing! We had a couple of scenes last week where right afterwards I said, “Oh, My God. It’s just amazing working with you!”

MICHAEL:

Now that Jill realized Tucker stuck it to Katherine, do you think the romance between Jill and Tucker is still going to move forward?

STEPHEN:

Well, it’s under the surface, because they had a real hot sexual relationship, and unfortunately, William Russ got to play more of that than I did. So I am looking forward to some of that for me!

MICHAEL:

Is Tucker a ‘playa’?

STEPHEN:

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Oh yes, Tucker is a player. I can give you a little tidbit. One night, Tucker gets a knock at the door and it’s Jill, and he was not expecting her. Tucker is trying to get rid of her the whole time she is standing there, and at the end of the scene, once he finally gets her out of the door, a 20-something year old comes out of his bedroom. I say, “I am sorry this took so long.” And she says, “Less talk and more action, baby.” And I say, “Oh well, I like the sound of that.” And then we get to it…. and so… he is a ‘playa’! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Tucker must be torn up inside with huge abandonment issues?

STEPHEN:

He has all that stuff, but he has found a way to create a very strong armor. He doesn’t let it break very often. He does not let anyone see his true feelings, and I think the reason he is such a player is, and it’s my take on it now, is that it’s for that very reason. He does not want to get close to anyone. He does not want to get hurt.

MICHAEL:

So as a recast, how is this going to be handled on-air? Will they make a voice-over announcement, “The part of Tucker McCall will be played by soap superstar, Stephen Nichols?” Or, are they going to have your name on screen under your entrance in typical soap replacement fashion?

STEPHEN:

There is that weirdly embarrassing thing. (Laughs) In fact, I walk out of my bedroom in a robe, and Jill is already out of bed looking out the window. I walk out to see her, and as I am walking out to see her, the director asked me to stop and take a pause at the door before I continued, and that is where they put a chyron emblazed across my robe or my chest, “I am Stephen Nichols and I am playing the part of Tucker McCall.” (Laughs) It’s embarrassing, but fun. It never happened to me before.

MICHAEL:

Is it true what I read previously, that William Russ sent you a note on your first day?

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STEPHEN:

Yes he did. On my first day in my dressing room, on top of my television, was a little piece of paper or a piece of a script, and he had written a note on the back of it and it said, “Good luck with the role, Stephen…William Russ.” It was very nice.

MICHAEL:

How is it at Y&R, compared to your time at GH and DAYS?

STEPHEN:

Things have changed so much in this medium from the time I was at GH, which was from 1996-2003. We were not working quite as fast as we are now. There was a time where it was block and tape and almost no rehearsal. Now, there is virtually no rehearsal. You are lucky if you even get a blocking session, but you get used to it. People say, “Well, how do you learn all those lines?” You just do what you have to do to learn the lines. For some people it’s easier and for some people it’s difficult, but whatever your level is, you do what it takes, because if you don’t, you can’t do the job. It’s the same thing with block and tape. If you can’t do that, then you can’t do the job. You have to find a way where you can do it.

MICHAEL:

How has it been working with Paul Rauch?

STEPHEN:

I worked with Paul on Santa Barbara. I was on the soap for the last three months of its run. We had a good time. Everybody had a good time. First of all, it was a great show with great actors, and really the highest production values of any soap ever on the air, because New World had a hell of a lot of money. We all knew at that point we were going off the air, so everyone was having a good ole’ time. Paul was a lot of fun, and here at Y&R, so far, we have a really good relationship. The thing about Paul is he has really good taste. You can tell by the way he dresses… the man’s got taste. When he gives a note, he knows exactly what he is saying. Paul is very specific and he does not do it very often, and that is a sign of a good producer. He really allows people to breathe and to be creative and to let the thing happen. If it is not quite right, he will get out there and say, “This is the note.” I mean, I have only been here at Y&R a short time, but the notes to me have made perfect sense. He is hands-on, and his eyes are always watching what is going on.

MICHAEL:

You have seen the best and the worst of the genre; budget cuts, stars being dismissed, and cancellations. Are you concerned about what is happening now?

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STEPHEN:

You know, you’ve got to roll with the punches. This is life and that is what life is about, and it’s also about change. Anyone who thinks just because they have a job today, they will have a job tomorrow…. this past year is evidence for me to the contrary. It would be a shame to see daytime go away completely, because it is such a part of American culture, and we have so many die-hard fans. How many shows can say they have an audience for 35 or 40 years? No shows except daytime shows, perhaps some of the game shows. So, it’s important to remember that soaps are part of American culture. If television executives are smart, they will find a way to continue to make daytime thrive.

MICHAEL:

Do you see Tucker as a true villain?

STEPHEN:

No. I don’t believe there is such a thing, unless it’s a cartoon. You said something about humanity before and everyone has humanity, and you aren’t human if you don’t feel things, and at some point it’s going to show. I do enjoy playing villains, but I enjoy playing complex characters more. People have so many different facets to them. These writers are very good. The thing I love about the scripts here is; there is always extra stuff between the lines about character motivation, and you don’t see that very often. I saw it the first year and half I was at GH. The ones who wrote really good dialog, like Patrick Mulcahey, that is always very helpful. So I am not in the dark. I don’t have to call up and say, “What do you mean by this or that?”

MICHAEL:

Did anyone show you around your first day?

STEPHEN:

Jess Walton took me around. She introduced me to everybody and the crew, and every single person I met here including all the actors have been so warm, and even the B&B people I see across the hall! Don Diamont (Bill, B&B) said, “Welcome to the building!” and John McCook (Eric) and Ronn Moss, (Ridge). You see these guys at all the soap events over the years, and I don’t know them well, but to have them come up to me and be so sweet made me feel warm and comfortable. I really appreciated it.

©Nancy Lee Grahn.com

MICHAEL:

You took part two weekends ago at a Haitian Relief fundraising effort that your former cast mate Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH) organized. What are your thoughts on the disaster in Haiti and what we should all being doing to help?

STEPHEN:

The Red Cross has raised something like a hundred and seventy some million dollars for Haitian Relief, mostly from this country, and that is fantastic! I think people are finally getting the message that we live in a global community with the internet and this quick connection to everybody and the sharing of information. We know what is going on in every corner of the world. We cannot close our eyes anymore and live in our little house bubble. We have to be proactive throughout the world and if someone else is in trouble, we have to do something about it.

MICHAEL:

So did Nancy just call and say…

STEPHEN:

…. Nancy called me the night before and said, “Hey it’s tomorrow at 3PM, can you do it?” My day was booked and I did not know if I could do it, but I got done what I needed to, and I got over to the Rose Bowl quick. There were a lot of young DAYS actors there, who I did not know. (Laughs) There were some GH people there, too, and some folks I knew from other shows. We stood there and collected money as people drove up and put their checks in the box. I think we raised that day something like $100,000.

MICHAEL:

So what can we expect from Tucker McCall, the Stephen Nichols version?

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STEPHEN:

He will be very, very cool, and he will be full of a lot of fire and a lot of surprises.

MICHAEL:

And finally, your avid fan base that has followed you through all of the twists and turns of your soap career must have been overjoyed to hear about your new role!

STEPHEN:

They are excited. I have been almost off DAYS a year. In February it will be a year, and they were getting really tired of not hearing from me. And, they did not see me, so I would do a couple of online chats and we would get together that way. The last chat was right before I got this gig, and I could not tell them. I had to keep it a secret. So I said, “Don’t worry. I bet something is coming down the pike. There will be some really excited news. I can just feel it.” (Laughs) They are very happy and I am happy to be back.

MICHAEL:

You were told by Y&R not to say anything to anyone?

STEPHEN:

I was not sure if I could tell my own mother! So I said to Y&R publicity, “My mother won’t tell anybody. Can I call her and tell her?” They said, “Yes, you can tell your mother.” My mother needed some good news at this point. She lives in Ohio and my grandmother just celebrated her 105th birthday. I want to say, “Happy Birthday, Maddie!”

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MICHAEL:

Does your mom watch your work?

STEPHEN:

Oh, absolutely. She is very proud.

MICHAEL:

Does she call you up and go, “Why are you kissing that woman?”

STEPHEN:

Once in awhile she will say something like that, especially if I have a love scene. She will usually say, “You are too thin!” (Laughs)

  1. mary says:

    I am so looking forward to seeing Stephen on Y & R. He is just the breath of fresh air the show needed. I loved him as Patch and I am sure he will be great as Tucker.

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  2. Kimbalee says:

    What a great interview! I am sure Stephen will be great on Y & R. I hope he stays for many years.

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  3. Doe says:

    Michael, that is a very intersting interview with Stephen.I’ve always liked him as Patch on Days, but didn’t know too much about him. So, this interview gave me a good look at his personality. I already know about his good looks. It will be be great to see his take on Tucker and what he will be bringing to this role. I am hoping for some good fights between he and Victor and Jeanne….

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  4. cindy says:

    Loved the interview.. I’ve been a fan since the early days.. and still love to rewatch the Patchman going after Bo and Hope.. Followed him to all the shows, and love meeting all the other fans. The role of Tucker is great, and I’m so happy to hear that Mr. Nichols is happy there. Have the recorders all ready.. I can’t wait to edit out the tucker scenes and be able to rewatch the MAN in action again.

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  5. Sherry says:

    Thanks for the interview Michael. Stephen will bring so much to the role of Tucker. With Stephen in the role I know we will see so many more layers to this character and the sexiness will be off the scale. I’m counting down the hours until his first show airs.

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  6. Nad says:

    Great interview, and it’s SO great to have Stephen coming back to daytime. He’s gonna ROCK the Tucker character! Good luck Stephen! You know we love ya.

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  7. Susan Nash says:

    I have never seen Stephen Nichols in any other soaps, but am looking forward to seeing him as Tucker. William Russ did a good job, but Stephen Nichols character of Tucker McCall, I feel will be more of an equal to Victor Newman. His interview gave me an idea of what he will bring to the role as an actor. What a class act! I am looking forward to his scenes.

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  8. Sandra says:

    Thank you for this wonderful interview.

    Stephen is such a terrific guy and an amazing actor. I’m thrilled that he’s back on TV again, even if it means I have to learn a whole new soap opera, LOL. I’ve no doubt it will be worth it.

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  9. Dawn says:

    I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen Nichols since I first saw him as Steve Johnson on Days back in the 1980′s. I was so happy to find out that he was going to be the new Tucker McCall. I’m happy that he has found a place where he can be happy with the way they are running the show. Congratulations to Mr. Nichols he deserves all the success.

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  10. Sherry S. says:

    This is the perfect venue for Stephen Nichols! I’m thrilled he’s on the top rated soap! Loved the interview!

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  11. Linda P says:

    Thank you for the interview. Stephen Nichols appearing on Y and R will make 2010 a terrific year to watch daytime TV. SO LOOKING FORWARD to his talents again showing up for everyone’s enjoyment.

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  12. Diane says:

    While I loved Russ in this role initially, I knew once I heard the character was changing from the original concept, that Steve was the one to play him.I have loved him since his days on DAYS and was a huge fan when he was on GH as well. Looking forward to a wild and crazy ride from this man on Y &R and I can’t wait for him to lock horns with old Vic! (Victor Newman!) Welcome and good luck.

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  13. Donna says:

    i have been a fan of Stephen Nichols forever. i remember the first time i saw him on Days and was hooked. i am so happy to know that he is back on screen. i know he will rock as Tucker. Stephen is a great guy and is very good to his fans. the interview was great. you asked some very good questions.

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  14. Rich says:

    I can’t wait to see Nichols in the role, not only because he’s a strong actor, but because William Russ was such a failure.

    There was nothing threatening, edgy, or mysterious about Russ’ Tucker — nothing. Scenes that should have been exciting weren’t, he had no chemistry with Jess Walton, and I never believed him as a business exec with an agenda. Knowing Nichols’ past work, all this will change immediately.

    Maybe William Russ is a nice guy, but that nice guy came through much too much — and the guy badly needed a haircut. Talk about a hair model.

    Thankfully, Stephen Nichols will make us forget about WR in one day.

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  15. JT says:

    Im absolutely watching Tucker for Stephen. In fact Im watching Y&R for Stephen and Tucker.

    I hope Tucker gets a long run and remains on Y&R and I hope they develop Tucker’s history and delve into what the abandonment did and led to.

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  16. Jill says:

    Loved the interview and was excited to see Stephen back on screen!!!! I saw how William Russ was playing the character and it needed the change to really fine tune the storyline…..I just didn’t quite feel it with him. The nasty was there but it was MAJOR understated and it needed to be pushed a bit more.

    I’m definitely a “McCall Girl”!!!

    Can’t wait for more tucker against Jack and Victor!

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  17. Norman Thomason says:

    I liked the other Tucker and I got used to seeing his face and I didn’t like the change in him. The other guy is not like the other Tucker and I wish you could change him back. This other guy in not as cool as Tucker.

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  18. s wainwright says:

    No offence to the new guy playing Tucker McCall but I like the old one better and think he should have stayed. He justhad the “Tucker McCall” look.

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  19. Darcy says:

    Nicely done Interview
    I really laughed at his mom commenting on his work.. I have to say I did like Russ’s Tucker McCall and will have to get use to Nichols portraying him. The character may be in for a changeover but I hope that the laid back every day kind of guy billionnaire persona that Russ portrayed so well doesn’t entirely disappear. I’ve watched Nichols work over the years so I’m familiar with him especially as I am a huge Stefan Cassadine fan…and DOL Patch fan. But I will miss William Russ. I don’t like when they do these changes its just not cool being a fan of both actors.

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  20. carol says:

    love him please keep him on for a long long time the best to come along in ages

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  21. Barbara says:

    I am so glad to see Steve here at Y &R. I loved him on Days and I believe he will do great as Tucker McCall. Glad to have him back on daytime, he was missed/

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  22. Megan says:

    Awesome interview Michael! Thanks so much. I am really excited about finally getting Stephen back on my screen on the #1 rated soap. It would be a dream come true if Mary Beth Evans would show up in Genoa City as well. I would love to see what Hogan could write for them as two totally new characters since he was never really given that chance on Days.

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  23. carol says:

    i hope they keep him on forever

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  24. Charles A Moreland says:

    I think that he will fill the role great and do a good job acting

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  25. Shell says:

    i am so thrilled to see him again on a soap, i have had a major crush on him for years (since kayla and patch days) must add y&r to my daily routine!

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  26. gloria says:

    I stopped in at my sister’s, and she had Y&R on (mute) Then I saw Stephen!! Well, I guess I am an Y&R fan now. I watched him on Days –early days, Santa Barbara, General Hospital,and then Days again. Blissful days are here again!

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  27. Amber says:

    I never saw SN till YR. I like him much better as Tucker. I gave the other guy a chance but still never liked him. What a great debut scene for SN….you’re fired! I only wish he had started in the role. Really enjoyed the interview. Wonderful job both of you. I would like to see this Tucker around for a long time.

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  28. pat says:

    Big fan of Y&R! Tucker has grown on me. He is a good actor. Sure not missing the one he replaced. Never watched Days of Our Lives or General Hospital. Just Y&R faithfully.

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  29. kathymiller says:

    i am a huge fan of stephen nichols and i wish he could be back on days playing steve(PATCH) with kayla he is a excellent actor and i wish that the producers of days could find a part for stephen nichols to remain on the show with kayla. your sincere fan kathy miller

    Reply

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