We Can Hurt Each Other

By Michael Fairman

TV Soap Magazine, December 26, 2007

Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols have been friends for over two decades and they say the key is sometimes brutal honesty.

Aside from working together for so long, the two of you have become close friends away from Days of Our Lives; what bonded you initially?

Mary Beth: “We were saying the other day, we’ve been hanging out with each other for 22 years. That’s crazy! I don’t even think we realize how much we mean to each other. We’re good friends. He has a big heart. He makes me laugh like crazy and he doesn’t mean to. It’s fun to hook up with him when I come to work. Even when we were on General Hospital together it wasn’t the same. Patch and Kayla just jelled so nicely together.”

Stephen: “When Mary Beth is not there, and I am working by myself or with other people, I am a completely different person. I am so sad and lonely in my little dressing room. When she’s there, she comes in and throws her stuff on my chair. She never goes to her room until she has to get dressed.”

You’re like little kids!

Stephen: “Yeah, we are like little buddies. When I am at work with her I am in heaven, and when she’s not there, I miss her badly. I really do!”

What’s the key to your enduring friendship?

Stephen: “We are totally honest with each other.”

Mary Beth: “We are so honest with each other that it hurts, and it has hurt before.”

Stephen: “We can hurt each other.”

Mary Beth: “We do come around to each other with an apology, now and then.”

Stephen: “And we are not afraid to fail with each other. We are never in competition with each other. To me, Mary Beth is like a family member. I love her that much and I would give her anything. I see in other people, when they do compete in scenes, instead of being partners in collaboration.”

Patch and Kayla are currently tied up in an emotional storyline involving the abandoned baby boy Pocket; tell us your thoughts on that.

Mary Beth: “I think for me, right off the bat, I was attached to the baby, and Stephen came along, right Stephen? It was sweet, and the characters of Patch and Kayla are both very loving people, so that part was easy for the baby, but now the baby keeps getting sick. The fingers are pointed at us, and he is finally taken away from us to a foster family. Seeing this lovely foster family, we all have to make a decision about what we have to do.”

How has it been working with the twin baby girls who play Pocket?

Stephen: “I absolutely love it. I am a baby hound. I love babies.”

Mary Beth: “His character at first was reluctant, but not Stephen. He’s a total papa!”

Has it been implied that the reason Kayla wants a foster child is that she can no longer bear children?

Mary Beth: “That had never been said. I think she’s back with the man she loves, and they missed that whole part of their relationship. Kayla has been yearning for that. Patch was worried he was not a good father. Then, with the Pocket situation, his being an abandoned baby fulfilled all her needs. Kayla did not have to convince Patch that she wanted a baby because this baby just showed up.”

Patch and Kayla already have a grown daughter, Stephanie, previously played by Shayna Rose. How is Shelley Henning doing in the role?

Stephen: “She has been great and she’s working really hard. She’s open to collaboration on set and making scenes better than they are. All Mary Bath and I want are actors who do their work and try to make it better. They should be willing to get down in the trenches and work with us, because that is how we like to do it.”

Do the younger actors on the show ask you both for advice?

Stephen: “They do. I never offer, but I will, if they ask.”

Mary Beth: “We have given the actresses who have played our daughters tips on some history and insight to the characters. We really are happy to have Shelley. Stephen and I were both in on the audition. We wanted to have a daughter who is heartfelt, like we are, and that we would all work well together.”

Your characters are not central to the Brady-DiMera vendetta storyline; how does that sit with you?

Stephen: “I think it’s always better for an actor, and a character on the show, to be rooted in some history. That brought me back into the fold, history-wise, because Patch has been out for years and it was really good for me. I just think too much DiMera is too much! The problem that has been evident on the show is that story gets thrown in one direction only, and anybody who is not involved in that particular thing gets sidelined. I really believed what worked in the ’80s was the three or four supercouples that were on air at the same time, all the time. That’s why the show worked. All the eggs in one basket does not work on Days.”

Did the veteran actors feel frustrated at not being a big part of the vendetta storyline?

Mary Beth: “For me, I don’t get too wrapped up in all of it. I had a few nice scenes where I stand up to Stefano (Joe Mascolo) and I slapped him; that was fun. Working with Joe is always fun, but you know, I feel like I have a lot of life going on. I can’t worry too much about it.”

How have things changed at Days since Ed Scott took over as Executive Producer?

Mary Beth: “He flipped the whole thing around. People will come up and give you direction and we did not have that before.”

Stephen: “Now, it’s people who really know what they are looking at. When they give a note it makes sense, and it’s relevant to what is going on.”

Mary Beth: “I was so excited to get a note!”

Stephen: “Generally, notes help, and they listen to us. We give each other notes, and that’s the way it should be done, and everyone has a mutual respect for one another. We didn’t have that before with the previous regime, there was none of that. People who had been around for years trusted us, because we have been around for years, but there was no one you could really go to and say, ‘What did you think about that?’ or, if you were unsure, ‘I think I could do that take again, and what did you see?’ Before, you could not do that, you were totally on your own. It’s really good to be self-reliant as an actor, because you need to be, but there are times when you want to turn and say, ‘Hey Ed! What do you think, man? Can we put this color in?’ and he gets it. And that’s what’s happening now.”

Mary Beth: “It’s nice having someone in charge. I like that a lot. I think the whole atmosphere is better.”

Stephen: “The morale is way better now, that’s with everybody. When the actors are happy, the crew is happy and vice versa. We just feed off each other. We are joking around and working long hours, but nobody cares, because we are just happier doing the job.”

How did you feel about the departure of Drake Hogestyn?

Mary Beth:  “The show did a beautiful job.  I just so believed the whole time that there is no way they are getting rid of him, but Drake was pretty adamant he was leaving.  Then, we all got into this sadness and crying over this scene and all of us were just standing around on the set crying.  It was such a weird thing.  It has never happened to me as an actress. Usually, you cry, wrap up and leave, but we all just love Drake.  He’s a great guy.  It’s hard to imagine if it is really over.”

Stephen:  “Let me tell you something.  It was never personal.  It was all about budget.  Some people don’t understand that.  They think, ‘They’re killing our John!’ People have to understand that it has been about money.  As far as we know, Drake is done, but I am like Mary Beth, I suspect he is not done.”

Mary Beth:  “The thing that kills me is when a viewer will say, ‘I am not watching any more if they are killing John!’ That is a goofy thing.  Watch now, see how it unfolds, see if he does come back, and see how the people that love him deal with it and what goes on.  There is just so much to explore.”

Do you have any projects on the go outside of Days?

Stephen: “Yeah, I am working on a thing with the Pacific Resident Theatre, with three one-acts my wife wrote. I think I am going to act in one of them. Then I’ll be raising money for my next film project.”

Mary Beth: “I don’t have time to do theatre. I just took my pies to QVC shopping network last Sunday here in the US and sold 3000 pies in seven minutes.”

How did you get 3000 pies prepared?

Mary Beth: “You have to have them before you go because you have to ship them within 24 hours. That was total insanity and they want me to come back. From now through Christmas, it’s going to be back and to Philadelphia (QVC headquarters) and the pie insanity. I kind of think, ‘What the heck am I doing?’”

A recent side project for you was judging reality TV contest, I Wanna Be A Soap Star, how was that experience?

Mary Beth: “I was terrified to do it. I hate those vote-off reality shows, but it wasn’t that bad and the whole production company loved Hogan Sheffer, (talent manager) Michael Bruno and I together. It was funny. You would have to give them these notes and make the contestants think they are going to be voted off. I honestly did not know what I had to say. I had half-sentenced answers. I had so much to say, I didn’t think I had so many opinions, but then you become passionate about it.”