Interviews Soaps

One on One With Judi Evans

One on One with Judi Evans

Our exclusive interview with Judi Evans discussing her return to ‘Days of Our Lives’ and offers insight into her storylines.

 

Days of Our Lives fans were excited to see fan favorite Judi Evans make a return to Salem as Adrienne Kiriakis earlier this year. Her return sparked speculation that the long running soap would finally address the issues her and Justin. While the couple is having difficulty adjusting to their relationship post-divorce, the love these two characters share is evident and many are holding out hope of a reconciliation. However the big obstacle in the way is Justin’s feelings for Hope.

Judi began her daytime career on the long running CBS soap Guiding Light as Beth Raines in 1983. Her portrayal earned her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1984. After departing GL in 1986, Evans joined the cast of NBC’s Days of Our Lives originating the role of Adrienne Johnson, sister of Steve ‘Patch’ Johnson played by Stephen Nichols. Adrienne became involved with a young, rich boy named Justin Kiriakis (Wally Kurth), nephew of business tycoon, Victor Kiriakis (John Aniston). Justin and Adrienne quickly became a fan favorite and garnered the label of supercouple.

TVSource Magazine Managing Editor Jennifer Snyder had the opportunity to speak with Mrs. Evans about her return to DAYS and discuss her thoughts on daytime.

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Soap Opera Source: Can you describe your typical workday at DAYS?

JUDI EVANS: They are so wonderful here! It’s very well organized and quick. You show up early, around 6:00-6:30 in the morning, go to hair and makeup and around 8:15AM we dry block whether your finished with hair and makeup or not. You’ll go on to the set and the director will tell you what your moves are for the scenes, then you’ll go back to hair and makeup, go to wardrobe, and start taping at 8:45AM. Of all the days that I work here, I don’t recall a single day that I worked past noon. Sometimes I am out by 9:00AM which is amazing! They are very quick and expect you to be professional and well prepared. They like to take one take, so you have to do it right. It makes it very fun and on your toes, but also very quick.

TVS: What are some of the differences production wise between now and the last time you were on the show?

JUDI: First of all, our Executive Producer, Gary Tomlin, is on set the whole time. If there is something that needs to be tweaked, you don’t go through anyone else; you get it right from Gary. He understands and you have sort of a shorthand language with him, so it’s great to have him right there on set – it makes it much more organized. We used to dress rehearse each scene then tape it, but we’d go through the whole day and it would be very drawn out. Because of budgets, you have to do it quickly now, which is great. All along I thought we could have done it this quickly, it’s much more organized. I love it a lot. No matter what, everyone comes to work prepared because you don’t have time to be unprepared. It’s really nice.

TVS: What was it that enticed you to return as Adrienne?

JUDI: I knew that Wally was back. We hadn’t had the chance to work together in a long time and I thought “wow.” The last time I played Adrienne, I came back from playing Bonnie and it was a really quick turn around. I had drastically changed my hair color and length to make the separation from Bonnie to Adrienne.

Wally wasn’t there so I felt like I really wasn’t playing Adrienne without Wally. Coming back this time, I felt enough time had passed. I get to work with Wally again so I could really explore where the character and their relationship had grown. When I was back the last time, I was like “where is Wally?”

TVS: Wally had very high praise for you and your couple of Justin and Adrienne. When we knew Wally was going back as Justin, we were hoping you wouldn’t be so far behind. Did you approach the show about returning?

JUDI: No, I have a full time job. I work at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary, and was happily going along and doing my job. My manager called me and said I got this phone call. I said sure; let’s see if we can work it out. Luckily, I can do both jobs, so it works out perfectly!

But going back to Wally…I really missed working with him. He’s a constant professional. He’s so hard on the eyes [laughs], what a rough job I have; I wish everyone had the job I have. [laughs]

He really is the best. The most genuine, sweetest, most caring person, he’s a great father and just an amazing person.

My husband was watching the show the other day. When I saw him later on in the evening he told me “I could totally picture you guys [Wally & I] as a couple.” I said, “Well, our characters are a couple…” and he said, “No I could really see you guys as a couple.” I told him, “Okay honey you’re really freaking me out…” [laughs]

TVS: How did it feel coming back and working with Wally after so many years? Was it difficult to step back into your character, who’s behaving as though she may not be in love with Justin, although it’s clear to the audience that she is?

JUDI: You know it’s so funny, I was a little worried about that because we weren’t together for so long. We didn’t talk on the phone before we worked together, saw each other in makeup that morning, out for rehearsal, back to makeup, and out for taping, so I didn’t know. But the minute my character turned around and looked at Wally, it was like yesterday that we worked together. It was like stepping into your favorite pair of shoes or putting on your favorite robe. It was so comfortable and just, I could see everything in his eyes. He gives so much, I was like okay I’m going come along for the ride.

TVS: The love and the chemistry comes across on screen, it’s frustrating for the fan in me. You guys are doing such a wonderful job. You are so comfortable working together.

JUDI: They are really trying to be grown up, no matter what they feel underneath.

TVS: Was there ever a time in your career on DAYS, that you had a difficult time portraying a certain aspect of your storyline?

JUDI: I’ve been so grateful for all the stories I’ve had. Sometimes they are emotionally heart wrenching, but difficult? No. I think of difficult as something as an obstacle. No, I’ve always enjoyed working with Days. They focus on character driven stories as opposed to object driven stories. I really love being here and I’ve enjoyed it. Of course it’s been hard work, but it’s been enjoyable.

TVS: Do you feel the era of the “supercouple” is gone? What do you think are the differences between supercouples then, and supercouples now.

JUDI: No, not at all. Visually, they can’t do the big sweeping romances, remotes, weddings and everything because they can’t afford to financially. When you boil it down, those were the culmination of many scenes that were much simpler than just two actors together. So no, I don’t think the era of the super couple is gone.

If you have great writing and you are working with someone really great, it happens. Chemistry and magic, that you cannot make. It’s either there or it isn’t. If it’s there and the writers are writing for it, it comes alive.

TVS: Adrienne was very angry with Hope for luring her to Salem under false pretenses, even though Hope had the best of intentions. Why do you think she was so upset with her?

JUDI: Well, I think they’re very good friends. And by the way, Hope said “Justin’s in trouble, come help him.” I thinks she felt “Oh my gosh he needs me, I can be there for him.” I think she immediately jumped to “he still loves me” and of course “I still love him, let me go come in and save the day.”

Of course then he told her I don’t need it, it’s kind of like what the heck? I think she was so humiliated, I don’t think she was that mad at Hope. The humiliation of “oh my god he doesn’t feel the same way I’m so embarrassed.” It went on for a couple days, she was still angry with her and then every time she saw Hope it brought it all up again. So though she wasn’t really mad at Hope, she was taking it out on her.

TVS: Would you like to see Justin & Adrienne will reunite? How would you lead them on the road to reconciliation?

JUDI: I don’t know, I hope so. I love working with him. I love their whole life story. I’ve been married for 17 years and it’s nice to know couples really can go through marriage.

TVS: What factor, if any, would Hope be if Adrienne decided she wanted Justin back?

JUDI: Oh definitely, I’m hoping Adrienne likes Hope [laughs]. I’m kidding. I think so, I think it should even if they were to get back together I would hope it would take a long time. It would be nice for him to have a little different relationship with someone else too. Sometimes when you have a relationship with someone else, it kind makes you realize what you had wasn’t so bad.

TVS: Can we look forward to a new love for Adrienne?

JUDI: Oh, I don’t know. That would be interesting; I don’t know she if could do that. I guess she would give it her best shot. If she has no hope, and he’s with someone else, a surprise happens someone wakes you up a little bit. I certainly wouldn’t say no.

TVS: Is there anyone on the show you’d like to work more with?

JUDI: I never got to work with Bryan Dattilo, I love him. I just saw him today and I love him to pieces. I only got to work with Jay Johnson, he cracks me up.

TVS: How long can the fans expect you to stick around? We certainly do not want you leaving anytime soon.

JUDI: I have no idea. I hope it’s for a long time. It’s written so well. I love the dialogue they have given us. It’s true to character, except the characters have matured and the dialogue reflects that. It’s really been wonderful.

TVS: Daytime lost a legend in February when Francis Reid passed away. What are some of your fondest memories of Francis? What are your thoughts on DAYS’ memorial for Alice?

JUDI: She was such a spitfire. She cracked me up all the time. When I had left the show in 1990, and came back as Bonnie in 2003, she was walking down the hall and she kinda poked at me and said “oh I remember you,” and I said “Hi Francis,” and she replied “My you’ve aged a bit.”

I just broke up, she had this little twinkle in her eye, and I just broke up. She was so smart and well traveled. She was her own woman and a great woman to admire. She always had this little cuteness about her, but it was like this tiny little devil laughing, it was adorable. She was the most adorable woman and a great actress.

I thought they did a really great job the way they told the story. Because the show is so far in advance they couldn’t tell it sooner because everything had already been filmed. But they had brought people back, I love that they brought back Bill Horton, Melissa, and all these characters to say goodbye to her. I think that’s wonderful and they brought them back to say goodbye to her off camera but before she passes. It includes a lot of deep rich history of the show and mixes it with the characters that are on the show. It was a beautiful blend and a beautiful tribute to her.

TVS: In a time when soaps are experiencing a loss of their audience, DAYS is the only one who has found a way to not only stop losing viewers, but gain the ones who left as well as some new ones. What is it that DAYS is doing differently than some of the other shows?

JUDI: I think they give everybody something. There are teen stories, early 20 stories, 30’s and 40s. There is something for everyone on this show. Plus it’s written about character driven stories, not object driven but two people talking and if you watch some old clips of Mac and Frances, it was fascinating you couldn’t stop watching and they were just talking about the kids moving out. It was funny and it was touching and beautiful.

Our writers do that right. Characters talk to each other, relationships are blossoming. It’s not just who – well you get a little of who’s sleeping with who, I mean who doesn’t like a little gossip – but it’s about who people are, how they are growing, and how they are growing together. I think that’s what appeals to people, that’s what soaps, the heart of soaps are. People that are in your house every day, you are a part of their family, so you’re watching them grow.

TVS: What does “Days of Our Lives” represent to you?

JUDI: Home. It’s felt like home to me for a long time. The crew and the people who work here, it’s just a happy place to go to work. Not that other shows aren’t happy, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just a happy place and it’s in L.A. and I love being in L.A.


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