Supercouple Memory Lane….
With Stephen Nichols (ex-Steve) and Mary Beth Evans (ex-Kayla)
The Ultimate Days of Our Lives Fan Guide, Spring 2003
From 1986-90, Kayla Brady and Steve “Patch” Johnson ran the supercouple gamut, from murderers and miracles to mysterious past-life Civil War soul mates, while their portrayers, Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols, became one of the most recognizable duos of the decade. The actors rekindled that spark as Katherine and Stefan on GENERAL HOSPITAL in 1996, but it didn’t hold a candle to the good old DAYS – and thanks to a last-minute coffin switch, there’s still hope. Here, they reminisce about their legendary connection…. and whether they’ll ever head home to Salem again.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Mary Beth Evans: It was funny because the character that I was reading for was pretty wholesome, and he comes in to read with me in full costume. I had never actually seen the show before, so he had the patch and the scar and the leather jacket, like this super-tough guy, but he was incredibly sweet and giving and made me feel very comfortable from the start.
Stephen Nichols: It was the first day of the camera test. When the scene was over, Mary Beth walked away, and said, “Well, that was sh–.”
Evans: He always says that.
Nichols: I was impressed by her honesty. She wasn’t afraid to say how she felt about her work at that moment and didn’t feel the need to edit herself. She was real. I liked her immediately.
Did you click instantly?
Evans: We did, and we’re still great friends. We see each other and talk all the time. We also had the same work ethic.
Nichols: We got along from the start. We had a great working relationship and that turned into a great friendship. Because of that friendship, we were able to put ego aside when we worked. We weren’t afraid to tell each other if something wasn’t working.
Evans: Neither of us ever cared if the other person said, “If you said it like that, maybe that would help out,” and we both wanted to run lines a million times and rework the scenes and try to figure out something new and different so that when we got out there, we could let it all go and really look at each other and be honest. I think that’s why those characters worked so well.
Why do you think Patch and Kayla became so popular?
Nichols: It was one part luck, one part timing, 98 parts energy and commitment. And that includes everyone – writers, producers. There was a very positive energy. [Executive Producer] Ken Corday saw the potential and rallied the troops. Writers Sheri Anderson and Thom Racina; Producers Al Rabin, Shelley Curtis, and Steve Wyman. Our success can’t be attributed to one element. It was a collaborative effort, and in my experience, I believe that’s what it takes to generate that kind of success.
Evans: We had such a camaraderie, and from all that rehearsing, I learned a lot. I carry it with me now, even though people don’t rehearse as much anymore. I find now, the longer I’ve done daytime, nobody ever wants to run lines. Everybody just learns them and then you go out there and you wing it, and I like to have the rhythm and everything down already. But you learn to do whatever the groove is, what other people do. I always joke that it’s what keeps you from being brilliant, almost, because it’s so quick. All the odds are against you.
Nichols: I think a major part of their success was the chemistry that Mary Beth and I had. When we looked into each other’s eyes, there was trust. We connected on a deep level, and that translated. When people see that connection on their television screens, they relate to it as something they have or long for.
What’s the greatest thing you learned from working together?
Nichols: Not to take it too seriously. We could be in the middle of a heavy scene, and something would strike her funny, and she would go off on a laughing jag. I would try not to break, but she could always get me. The two of us would be there, tears streaming down our faces from laughter, and the crew would get started. Mary Beth inspires that kind of glee in people. I’ve always had a tendency to be too serious. Mary Beth cured me of that. Well, almost.
Evans: That’s an ongoing struggle for him in every aspect [laughs]. That’s why I liked him as Patch, because he had a soft side and a sweet side. I like that character better than [GH’s] Stefan Cassadine, because that character was so rigid. Stephen actually was in a play that I took my kids to see eight months ago or something like that. He was so awesome; he was hilarious! I think it’s fun to see him do something funny because that’s not really his nature. He has a very funny side, but he tends to be more serious.
Any favorite moments on-screen?
Nichols: The time that Kayla was nursing Patch back to health after he was beaten up on the docks. It was pretty early, maybe the first or second year. And she removed the patch to nurse his wounds. I’ll never forget the exchange between the two of us in those moments. I’m not referring to the end result, rather to the experience of being in those scenes with Mary Beth on that day.
Evans: I remember some fun moments, like when they were gonna make love the first time and I was eight months pregnant, and the director said, “Okay, you’ll drop your clothes and you’ll be nude.” I had a half slip pulled up under my armpits, and he had to take me to the bed and roll over to the side at the last second.
Nichols: They gave us tall, icy drinks so Kayla could play with the ice and rub it on Patch’s chest –- “Oooh, hot, hot, hot!” Mary Beth was hysterical with laughter because she was pregnant, so they had to have a body double for her. She was getting such a kick out of the whole day. It was one of those times where we had so much fun, we couldn’t believe we were getting paid to do it.
Evans: I really loved the Emily and Gideon storyline that we did. I love heartfelt stories, and that’s what we did most of the time. I could live without all the blowing up of things, all that stuff on daytime. That’s why AS THE WORLD TURNS [where she recurs as Sierra] is fun for me now. It’s kind of how DAYS was back then, at least the part I’m doing; it’s about relationships.
And your least favorite moments?
Nichols: We were in South Carolina shooting the Emily/Gideon story. I’ll never forget running through that swamp at 6 in the morning. I was slogging through mud up to my ass. The sludge was so thick; I could barely lift my legs. By the end of the first take, I was entangled in swamp weed and breathing like I’d just finished running a marathon. I begged them not to make me do another. Al Rabin said something about how I redefined the art of sprinting. We had a good laugh and did another take.
Was there pressure in being a supercouple?
Evans: I don’t think we ever really got that. We used to get all these awards, and they would say that, but I never understood it. I think, in retrospect, for both of us, it was a great time, and it was home for both of us, being so close and having such a great story for a long time. The older we get, and the more far removed we are from it, we always long to be back. And when I went to GENERAL HOSPITAL, I always wanted to be back on DAYS, because to me, that was home. I never thought I’d be a “hopper” and go to all these different shows. That was never what I wanted, that was just how it went. I don’t know, there was sort of a magic that we had that I don’t know if you get that many times in your life.
Would you ever consider going back to DAYS?
Evans: Sure, I think it would be fun.
Nichols: The day after I left GENERAL HOSPITAL, Ken Corday called to inquire about my interest in returning and I said, “Sure.” It was one of the most satisfying and creative times of my life. Most of the people I worked with are still there: Peter [Reckell, Bo], Kristian [Alfonso, Hope], Deidre [Hall, Marlena], Drake [Hogestyn, John], Matthew [Ashford, Jack], Missy [Reeves, Jennifer], John [Clarke, Mickey], and Frances [Reid, Alice]. Also [Co-Executive Producer] Steve Wyman, one of the sweetest guys and best producers of daytime, is running the show. I’d love to work with Steve and the whole gang again. The fans should know that both Mary Beth and I are willing to explore the possibility of a return.
It’s surprising that they haven’t brought you back for the holidays, at least.
Evans: Well, they’ve asked me to do that, and they asked me to come back [last] spring for something with Bo and Hope and the baby. But I don’t want to do that. I feel like we should come back and do something fun, and, if there is such a thing, meaningful. But to come back and hang a Horton [ornament], I’m not that interested. I’d rather do [ATWT] and have a character. But you never know, it might happen.