Eric Martsolf on Brady's battle with fatherhood and how returning vets will impact DAYS' future

Posted Friday, July 03, 2015 11:50:23 AM
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Eric Martsolf on Brady's battle with fatherhood and how returning vets will impact DAYS' future

How will Days of our Lives' Brady fare with a kid in his lap and troublemaking Theresa as his baby mama? Eric Martsolf shares the details of his alter ego's turbulent new family life and gives a few teases as to how the return of fan favorite characters like Bo, Patch, and Belle will change the course of the show's future.

Days of our Lives' Brady has never had an easy go of it in life. He's been dealt practically every horrible card there is, with the most recent doozy being that troublemaking Theresa is his baby mama. Will he be able to handle her shenanigans for the sake of their son? Is there a chance that the new parents could actually come together romantically as they deal with trying to raise Tate? Portrayer Eric Martsolf answers those questions and gives a few teases as to how big returns like Peter Reckell (Bo Brady), Stephen Nichols (Steve Johnson), and Martha Madison (Belle Black) have impacted the trajectory and future of the show. Hey, Eric. So good to talk to you, and thank you so much for chatting with me while you're away on summer break.

Eric Martsolf: I'm always happy to do it, and it's a perfect time right now because I'm actually up in northern Michigan. I surprised my parents with a visit. I was in Montreal, and I remembered from my high school geography class that Montreal is pretty close to Michigan, so I looked it up, and sure enough, it was just a little hour plane ride away. So before I head back to L.A., I thought I'd drop over here for a couple of days and surprise them. And they were completely surprised, so it was perfect. It was great. That was cool of you to do. I'm sure they loved it. Do you guys get to see each other much?

Martsolf: I saw them in November, and I usually see them maybe once or twice a year now. Those little twins of mine keep me pretty busy, so it's hard to get away. It's especially hard for just me to get away and see them, so this worked out really well. And I spend most of my summers up in northern Michigan anyway. Both of our families have cottages up here. They met up here when they were like eight years old. Seriously? You never hear stories like that.

Martsolf: It's kind of a real life Pleasantville up here, as my wife describes it. It's called Bay View, and it's a very quaint, historic community on the national register. It's very special. Is it warm in the summertime, or is it still cold there?

Martsolf: It was actually warm yesterday, but today it's pouring rain. So I'm glad to be talking to you because I'm just chilling. And you definitely deserve to chill, considering all the work you've been doing over the past few months. I mean, Brady found out he had a child with Theresa [Jen Lilley], then he found out Kristen [Eileen Davidson] had stolen the embryo and was raising the child as her own, then he experienced Kristen's death, then he lost Melanie [Molly Burnett], who left town. But I guess that's just the norm for Brady, right?

Martsolf: Can you imagine if this was actually somebody's real life? He'd be in therapy 24/7. But the wonderful thing about a soap opera is you just kind of take it in stride. You know, when we have a bad day, we drop a carton of eggs or have a fender bender. But when Brady has a bad day, he realizes that his baby is in some other woman's uterus. The poor guy.

Martsolf: Yeah, but he's doing just fine. It's a story about parenting right now. He's stuck in this place and this battle about what's best for him and what's best for his son. He didn't have a mother growing up. I had forgotten about that for a while. Isabella Black was not in his life for very long. She died when he was very young, so that plays upon his mind, not having a mother in his son's life. And the fact is, the cards have been dealt, and Theresa Donovan is the mother to his child, and whether he likes it or not, he wants to have her in Tate's life. And it is a common battle. Parents don't always get along, but they usually have common ground when it comes to kids, and they want the best for them, because the kids are innocent. It's a problem for him though; he doesn't like Theresa right now, that's for sure. Who does, really? I mean, we love her, but we hate her at the same time.

Martsolf: We all love to hate her, and that's the perfect soap opera character. Exactly. I have to say bravo to Brady for being mature enough to realize that he didn't have a mother's influence and wanting better for his own son. Honestly, people who are really messed up don't always come to that realization for their kids, so that's half the battle!

Martsolf: No, I agree with you. It's a very selfless route that he's taking, especially to offer to have Theresa move into the mansion. This is a woman who [nearly took] his father's life, this is a woman who took up drug use. She hasn't been the best influence on him in the past, that's for sure. So this a big step for him. Brady still has some growing up to do in that department, and this is a big step in him maturing and becoming an adult. Have you already noticed some big changes in him now that he's a father?

Martsolf: Yeah, absolutely. I've taped about another six months of Brady that I'm not at liberty to tell you about, but I can tell you that absolutely he has made tremendous strides as a man and as an individual in general. He has definitely matured, and his addiction doesn't come into play. He got that under wraps, and that's probably the biggest aspect. Yeah, because that's something that stays with a person forever, so if you feel like he's on solid footing when it comes to that, it's a huge step for Brady.

Martsolf: He will always be an addict, and Tate's father will always be an addict. It's a scary thing, it's a dangerous thing, and it's a very prevalent thing that is in society, as well. We have parents who are addicts all over the world, and what you try to do is take that addiction and try not to let it come into your role as a parent. It's hard to separate them sometimes. I'm glad to hear that he won't be struggling with his addiction in the near future though. It's fun to watch, and you play it so well, but it's time for Brady to tackle some new hurdles.

Martsolf: I completely agree with you on that! When it comes to Brady and Theresa and their baby, what was it like for you to know about such a tremendous storyline so far in advance? I mean, we found out about Kristen stealing Theresa's embryo months before the storyline played out, so you kind of carried the weight around for a long time, knowing you'd have to play those scenes eventually. Is that a weird feeling?

Martsolf: Yes, it is. It's kind of like being a parent at Christmastime, when you know you have that perfect gift that your child wants, and you have it hidden in the garage somewhere, and you have it wrapped, and you so much want to give it to them, but you know you're going to have to wait. You anticipate the giving of that gift so much, and especially when I run into fans and they want to know what's happening, it's very, very hard for me to withhold the information from them, because I feel the fans deserve to know, and I almost feel guilty for not giving them the information. It's heartbreaking to have to say, "I'm sorry, I just can't tell you." But then you get to make yourself feel better by saying to yourself, "They don't really want to know anyway, because that would just ruin the surprise, and the surprise is what it's all about." It's a responsibility as well, holding these secrets from the public and from fans. It's very important, and it's getting harder to do these days, I tell you. Especially because of the time lapse we have from taping to airing. But I consider that part of the job as well now. We have to be very conscientious about preserving these stories and making sure that the payoffs come in the way in which the writers intend them to. But I love the big reveal. That's the payoff. That's the birthday cake. That's what you want. I'm wondering what you think about Brady and Theresa as a couple. They have their problems, but do you think they could work it out and actually be good together if they could just get their shit together?

Martsolf: What shit are you talking about? They're totally functional! [laughs] But no, I always thought to myself, I don't know if in real life whether I would want to go out to dinner with Brady and Theresa, because I feel like it would be extremely awkward. But at the same time, you love to have them on your television screen, because, my God, you have these two just troubled people trying to get through life together and creating a life together and have a sense of normalcy. And both of them come from such troubled pasts, you want to root for them. I find myself wanting to root for Theresa and Brady and to have them figure it out. They're like a Rubik's Cube: it's really fun to have it all messed up, but you really want the colors to come together. You really want to figure the puzzle out in the end. But I love dysfunctional couples on soaps. I think that's where the magic really lies. I mean, let's face it. Why do people tune in? Is it to see the perfect couple strolling down the lane, holding hands? I don't think so. I think they want to see people work out difficult scenarios and situations, because that's what real life is. It's not always bubblegum and rainbows. It really can be a rough rollercoaster, and that's exactly what Brady and Theresa really are. They're a freaking rollercoaster. And it's fun to ride. Dysfunction totally makes famous couples. Look at the show's most recent supercouple, Sami (Alison Sweeney) and E.J. (James Scott). You could never call them normal, not even by a long shot.

Marsolf: And wasn't their relationship predicated on a rape? Jeez, it seems all of them were. General Hospital's Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) in addition to E.J. and Sami. It's crazy how many started that way in soap opera land.

Martsolf: I know, right? There has been so much excitement about DAYS' 50th anniversary. Several of your costars have said the material is some of the best they've seen for the show, and Kassie DePaiva (Eve Donovan) even said it's some of the most challenging and exciting material she's had in her entire career. Are you getting the same feeling about the material headed fans' way?

Martsolf: I think [head writers] Dena Higley and Josh Griffith definitely took some time to craft some serious storylines with some serious characters, and yes, I'm anticipating the airing of the shows ... we've been taping lately. The fans are going to be knocked off their socks. We have some crazy returns coming. We have Stephen Nichols (Steve Johnson), we have Peter Reckell (Bo Brady), we have Martha Madison (Belle Black), we have Jason Cook (Shawn Brady). We have a lot of those family members from dare I say the 80s and 90s that people remember so well coming back and being very excited to be back. And as a result, they have all brought their A-game. It can get tedious doing soap operas. It's a long haul, a daily haul, and when you're doing it for years and years and years, sometimes it's nice to just take a step back, get a breath of fresh air, and when you come back into the game, it's really rejuvenating, and it becomes fun again. And I'm watching these actors who have been veterans of the show walk around the hallways like kids on a playground. They're just having a ball, and you can just tell that they've truly brought an uplifting spirit back into the hallways and onto the stages, and it's translating into the performances. People are having a good time. That's great to hear.

Martsolf: But alongside that, there's also a very serious concern for making these stories right and giving tribute to the characters in the way in which they want to display them. I don't know if I'm saying that correctly, but I think there is a desire to make it the best it can be. Everybody feels the weight of the 50th anniversary and not only how important it is to the Corday family and NBC, but to us as a family of actors, as well. And we spent so much time making the show the best it can be as opposed to putting our time into cakes and balloons and things like that. We're not ready to celebrate yet, because we're working. We're still working to make this thing the best thing it can be. And I think that's a tribute to the company in general. I saw the photo you tweeted of you and Martha Madison together. Has it been fun working with her?

Martsolf: I just want you to know that I got serious permission before I tweeted that photo. I went to the publicity department, and I said, "Guys, I want to put this out there," and it was like, "You need to make 64 calls before you do that," and I said, "Okay, okay." So I waited and finally I got the thumbs-up, because I had several inquiries. Fans are smart, and when they see that certain people are coming back, they put their heads together and say, "Oh, maybe Bo will be back," or, "Oh, maybe Shawn will back, who knows," so I wanted to tweet that photo out. And Martha and I had just finished a series of scenes together, and they were our first scenes together that we had ever done as actors, so both of us finished up and smiled at each other, and I gave her a big hug, and I said, "Welcome back to the family." And it felt necessary to get a photo after that moment, and I had to share it. Is there anyone they haven't announced yet that you totally wish could come back?

Martsolf: A wishful return? Yes, and I'll make it clear this is just wishful.

Martsolf: Yeah, okay, wow. You know Alison Sweeney is making a return, which is great. Who would I want to return that's not? Gosh, it seems like everybody in the world is returning! In the back of my mind, I was always hoping that the magic pens of the writers would be able to bring Isabella Black back. And to have his mother return. I know she returned to him in a vision a couple of times a few years [ago] when he was at the bottom of his addiction, and she came to help through a vision. But I was thinking it would be wonderful if she could somehow be reincarnated and come back into his world. I think that would be pretty fun and interesting. And I'm always happy to see Eileen Davidson back in the hallways. You never know when Kristen is going to return from the dead. Who knows! Do you still feel that way about the character, despite how she left the canvas this time around?

Martolf: Oh, yeah. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for not only Eileen, but also the character of Kristen. I just adore the character so much, and through all of her craziness, you just have to love her. And I think she manipulates that so beautifully between the love and the hate that people have for that character. I love it. She does a phenomenal job, and I'm pretty sure she gets the most compliments out of every other actor or actress in daytime. Everyone has rave reviews of her.

Martsolf: That's quite a compliment when you have that many people saying those things about you. It must be true, or you're doing something right. As I said in my Emmy speech, I love her because she's a veteran who doesn't act like a veteran. She holds herself really well, and she's also goofy, so I relate to her on a goofy side. It's a side that I don't think many people get to see, but she is as quirky as they come. Speaking of winning an Emmy, when Alison Sweeney and James Scott left the show, there were all these discussions about how the chess pieces would move around and who could fill the spot as leading lady and leading man of the show. Your name is one that came up, so I'm wondering -- you and talent aside -- if you think Brady is leading man material?

Martsolf: I think Brady has been leading man material, honestly. I don't think there was ever a time when he wasn't. I think he's a hero, a tragic hero, and I think he has many of the qualities of a leading man. That being said, I have a very different outlook on leading man versus supporting man. And my philosophy about the show very much dictated my reasoning for going into the supporting actor category [in the Emmy race]. I have a problem putting actors on top of one another as far as priority level on soap operas. Call me corny, but I really feel it is a team sport. I don't think there's a captain driving a soap opera boat. I think it's a rowing team, and I think everybody is rowing equally. I understand sometimes certain people are going to be airing more than others, some actors are going to be front-burning more than others. But I never truly believed, even since back in the Passions days, that this was a hierarchy. I don't think there needs to be any replacing going on. I think this is an art of a revolving door, and characters will come and characters will go, and what makes the show are the stories, not the actors that portray them. That's our job, to bring the stories to life. I know I kind of deviated from your question, but I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't share what I feel, and I feel it's important to look at this as something we do together, and I think that's only going to increase the solidarity of soaps on a whole, as opposed to, "Our actor is better than yours," or, "This is our leading guy." I think we're all leaders in those hallways, actually. Fair enough. Before I let you go, I wanted to ask about Brady's family recently expanding. He has a new brother in Christopher Sean's Paul, but the two haven't had too many scenes together yet. Does it look like they'll be interacting more in the weeks and months to come?

Martsolf: I can tell you that they are going to have more scenes together, and they will have more interaction. Their relationship will become more solid, in terms of their siblingship, so to speak. You will see more of the Black family men getting in trouble together. They don't sit around eating Doritos. They get into trouble.

Would you like to see Brady and Theresa work it out as parents and a couple? How do you feel about Martsolf's statements about returning vets and how their presence has impacted the show? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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