Soap Opera Digest: Donna and Eric are together again! What was your initial reaction to learning this surprising news?
Jennifer Gareis: I was thrilled that Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] decided to revisit Donna and Eric. I had so much fun working with John back in the day and while we’ve had scenes together since, we never really had another story together, so the chance to play this now is such a gift.
John McCook: Yes. What I really like about it is seeing how the characters have changed since. Donna was just a girl then. In a way, she put herself first and now, she is a woman who thinks of others ahead of herself.
Digest: How did you find out about the re-pairing of your characters after all these years? Did Brad tell you or did you read it in the script?
McCook: Oh, no. We turned the page, they pulled the sheet back and we were just as surprised as anyone.
Gareis: It was a surprise to everybody.
McCook: No, he didn’t discuss it with us. He does what his dad [William J. Bell, creator/former executive producer/former head writer] used to do. He’ll say, “We’ve got big stuff coming for you,” and then he doesn’t tell you anything, and I think he enjoys that. When we started this whole ED thing, the big story last year, now that I did know was coming because Brad brought me upstairs and asked me about it but otherwise no, he doesn’t really tell us.
Digest: Is there anything you can tease coming up?
Gareis: I don’t know anything. I really don’t.
McCook: No, I don’t either. But I can say it’s nice having Eric and Donna spending time back in the same house together with the family. We just want to make sure we don’t redo anything, and I also would like to have them take a step forward in their relationship, whatever that may be, so we’ll see what that is.
Gareis: Yes. It has been great fun getting to revisit their love story.
McCook: Great fun!
Digest: As actors, were you able to slip back into your rhythms from years ago?
McCook: Absolutely. It was effortless. I mean, it is different, of course, after all this time, but it’s also easy with Jennifer.
Gareis: I feel the same way. Working with John is so comfortable. He always puts you at ease.
Digest: Jen, does Donna see a real future with Eric now?
Gareis: I believe she does. She has already said that Eric is the love of her life and even though she was not a fan of Quinn, she did not want to sabotage their marriage. She stepped back because all she wanted was for Eric to be happy.
McCook: It would have been so easy to go the other way, but that shows you how much Donna has matured. I’ve said that before. When Donna came back to town [in 2006] she was a girl but now she is a compassionate, intelligent, caring woman.
Gareis: Aw, thank you, John. Yes, I like to think so, too.
Digest: Not to jump ahead, but do you think this pair might ever remarry?
Gareis: You never know.
McCook: Apparently, Eric does like being married.
(They both laugh.)
Digest: What are your favorite Eric/Donna moments through the years?
Gareis: I always go back to the wedding, but it’s not during the actual wedding. It’s the dance that we did after all the actors left for the day. It was just a moment, but it was almost so real that it was scary. It was so lovely.
McCook: I remember. It’s when you feel so deeply and you get that feeling where it almost feels real. You trick your mind as an actor and when you get those little glimpses of, “Oh, my God. That felt just like reality. That was really weird.” We spend so much time as actors trying to talk ourselves into what’s real when we know it isn’t, and then when we have a moment like that that’s so romantic, we go there and we feel that. We are in love for a moment.
McCook: Honestly, I also loved the scenes in the hideaway, as well. They were naughty but they were also fun and loving, and I feel like they had some real layers there, as well.
Digest: Okay, we have to ask. How could you say “pickleball” so often without just cracking up?
McCook: It became quite the metaphor, didn’t it? It’s a good code word for fooling around at the club. I was actually very aware of pickleball. My son-in-law’s parents both play pickleball every week. It is a real thing. It’s just a funny word, isn’t it? Pickleball.
McCook: See? And it smacks of double entendre. It’s funny, and that’s his excuse for using it. It’s just funny.
Gareis: It’s pretty crazy. Honestly, I didn’t think of the sexual innuendo until several weeks into it when somebody mentioned it to me, and I was like, “I can’t believe I missed that!” I don’t know, sometimes my mind just doesn’t think that way.
McCook: And sometimes it does.
Gareis (laughs): True, but this particular time, it didn’t. I felt so silly
Digest: Describe Brooke and Pam’s reaction to the reunion, and what do you think Stephanie would say?
Gareis: Well, Brooke is, “I told you so,” Pam is, “It’s about time,” and Stephanie’s would be, “I’m going to come back and kill you.”
McCook (laughs): Well, Brooke is a romantic, so she loves it. She’s tickled and giddy about it. Pam thinks this is just swell. I don’t think she’s going to give Donna as bad a time as she did before. Not at all. And you’re right — Stephanie would want to kill Donna. She’d want to kill Eric, too, so there you go. Thank God, Stephanie doesn’t have to see this.
Digest: Do either of you think the day may come when Donna’s portrait is above the Forrester fireplace?
Gareis: Oh, John, you had a good idea for this.
McCook: I did and I’m not sure I want to give it away. I want to keep it close to the vest for now, but it’s pretty cool.
Gareis: It is.
Digest: Okay, that’s fine, but please keep us posted.
McCook: Oh, we will.
Digest: In line with that, with Quinn out of the picture, does this mean Donna is the new Forrester matriarch?
McCook: That word sounds so old.
Gareis: It does. How about grande dame?
McCook: No, that sounds old, too. But I do think that Eric absolutely feels that Donna is ready for that role.
Gareis: I like lady of the house or lady of the manor.
McCook: That’s right. I like that.
Gareis: Yes, that sounds a little more pleasing.
McCook: And you know what? I would really like to see Donna rise to that occasion and play that part.
Digest: With Eric and Donna on a good path, we would be remiss if we did not congratulate you, John, on your Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor.
Gareis: Yay! I gave him my congratulations ahead of time. I had fingers crossed, toes crossed, legs crossed, arms crossed, everything was crossed.
Digest: Where do you keep it, John?
McCook: It’s on the mantel in the living room, and I’m still surprised when I see it. It’s still fun. I suppose one day it won’t be a surprise to me anymore, but it still is now.
Gareis: I’m so glad I was able to be there because initially, I was supposed to be going to [Lake] Tahoe that weekend but my husband ended up having too much work to do so we stayed in town. I’m so glad it worked out that I could see it happen in person.
McCook: It was absolutely thrilling to see the cast and crew so excited for me. I love doing this show, and I love doing it with the people I love as family. I am so happy where I am in my life.
Digest: You both did a great job with the ED storyline, which resulted in John’s win.
McCook: When Brad told that story, with Donna able to remind Eric of what it felt like to be excited again, I was thrilled when they brought Donna into the story.
Gareis: Me, too. I don’t think Donna ever gave up hope of reuniting with Eric.
McCook: I was afraid that it was going to go to comedy, and I did not want it to go there. But we were careful about that. And I thought if they were just going to use Donna for that [part of the] story, that would be wasteful. But I think when they saw that, they were looking toward the future and I think that maybe opened up this possibility. At least I hope it did, and so now we’re going much further with it and I’m very happy to see that.
Gareis: I think they’re off to a great start.
Digest: It appears Donna and Eric have finally come full circle.
Gareis: I think it was inevitable.
McCook: Same thing. Inevitable.
On the new Dishing With Digest, Cady McClain shares fond memories of her runs on ALL MY CHILDREN and AS THE WORLD TURNS and discusses diving in to the role of DAYS’s Jennifer and more. We also talk about the latest round of casting surprises.
Roger Hurley, DALLAS, 1978; Richard Abbott, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, 1986-87; Jeff Martin, ALL MY CHILDREN, 1986-87; Chuck Williams, B&B, 2002; Dr. Mark Boardman, PORT CHARLES, 1997- 2000; Mr. Morton, B&B, 2008
You got your soap start on DALLAS in its second episode. “My scenes were with Charlene Tilton [ex-Lucy], who is lovely. It was about a year before ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ Who could have predicted the heights DALLAS would have gone to? It caught on like wildfire and the rest is history. I have great memories of Larry Hagman [ex-J.R.], and I have to say that Patrick Duffy [ex-Bobby, et al] is one of the sweetest people on earth.”
Tell us about your OLTL experience. “They wanted me to test opposite Andrea Evans [ex-Tina et al] because we had chemistry. I flew back to New York. It was January, snow on the ground. Somewhere on the flight, I came down with a cold. I got up the next morning feeling awful and I walked the two blocks to the studio. I ran lines with Andrea, and because I felt so crappy, I felt I had nothing to lose. I did my performance and I got back on the plane and by the time we landed my agent called and said, ‘You got the part.’ That was my first experience being on a daytime soap, and they put me in multiple storylines. I was working every single day for nine months. I was all over the map. I was terrified my very first day. I had 35 pages of dialogue. I couldn’t stop pacing. My first scene was with Andrea, Phil Carey [ex-Asa] and Clint Ritchie [ex-Clint] and I swear I don’t remember what happened. I’m sure it was a mediocre performance but I got the lines out!”
Then you went to AMC. “Yes. I had just finished ONE LIFE TO LIVE. I moved back to L.A. and this role came up and the whole point of the character, had they followed through with it, which would have been amazing, would have been the first interracial relationship with me and Debbi Morgan’s character [Angie]. The minute I heard about it, I begged my agent to get me in. They tested a bunch of people and I tested with Debbi and we were on fire. We got along so well together. Even during the test, we improvised and an hour after I tested, I got the part. We were just about to get into that story and the network folks pulled the plug on it. It never happened, and I was in this no-man’s-land. I came on to do that storyline and suddenly my character was lost. That was a disappointment because I really liked the people in that show. That storyline would have been so great, and I do believe Debbi and I would have done justice to it.”
You also had two separate appearances on B&B. “I did and they were delightful. The one in 2002 was a pretty good run. I was recurring as Hunter Tylo’s [ex-Taylor] lawyer; I knew her very well because we were on ALL MY CHILDREN together. I had a run of about four-to-five months. I adore Hunter, so that was fun.”
Next, you played Dr. Boardman on PC. “He was a pompous ass! Wendy Riche was producing both [GH and PC] at the time, and she called me and mentioned this part that was coming up. I said. ‘I’d love to do it.’ It was so different than my homogenized, squeaky clean guys I’d played. I grew a goatee, which would give me more of a dastardly look, and three months turned into three years of bullying the interns, who were the basis of the show. Then, they wrote in Kimberlin Brown [ex-Rachel; Sheila, B&B] and they developed this storyline for our characters which went on for a year or so. We had great chemistry, and I really enjoyed playing that.”
You also got to do a cameo with your real-life mom, the late Anna Lee (ex-Lila, GH). “Yes. It was a very short scene where my character is waiting for an elevator and sure enough, the elevator door opens and Lila is in the elevator and we had a moment together. My mom got a huge kick out of it, so it checked all the boxes. I had a great time on PC and am very thankful for it.”
Do you think Dr. Boardman could come back to GH to raise some havoc? “If the opportunity presented itself and they were open to it, I would love that. It would be fun to see Dr. Boardman with silver hair.”
It’s been a while since your soap days. What are you up to now? “Child actors rarely blossom as adult actors. I was very lucky. I’m doing a show now called THE RESONATOR — and the big thing for me now is, I’m an avid photographer. It’s more of a hobby but I do some photography work [www.jbyronphotoartist.com] and that’s what my life is, my number one thing I’m doing — that is my life and my passion. I also inherited the rights to my late stepfather [the poet and novelist] Robert Nathan’s work, and I’m working on that with my partner and lifelong friend, Colleen Camp — she’s a force of nature — to develop his work. It’s very exciting. His books are brilliant and there are a lot of eyes on his library now, so we will see what happens.”
Bryan Craig (ex-Morgan, GH) has landed an undisclosed role in the Tubi original movie, Spread. Craig will co-star with Elizabeth Gillies (ex-Fallon, DYNASTY) who plays an ambitious, aspiring journalist. The film will premiere in 2023.
This interview originally appeared in the January 11, 2011 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
“I love coming in to work — even at 5:30 in the morning! Smiles Camila Banus, who doesn’t hesitate to gush about her new daytime home. “Everyone is so nice and so funny and just very welcoming. It’s such a nice atmosphere,” she adds.
Banus is well aware of how lucky she is to be in Salem. She screen-tested for the role of Gabriela when the character was initially cast, but didn’t land the gig. “They wanted a kind of younger girl, but I went in anyway and didn’t get picked. A couple of months later, I got a call that they wanted to age the character a bit, so I went in again and here I am!” she shares. Although she had some reservations about playing a recast, Banus is grateful to have received so much support from her new co-stars since joining the show in October. “I got a lot of pointers and tips from Chandler [Massey, Will],” she says. “It’s awesome to work with Chandler. He’s also such a funny guy. Even maybe funnier than Galen [Gering, Rafe]! I don’t think he’s shown it yet to everybody else, but he’s so funny and so witty. He makes it really comfortable. Galen and Lindsay Hartley [ex-Arianna; Cara, AMC] were so awesome and if I ever needed anything, they were always there.” She got her first lesson in working with DAYS’s impressive ensemble cast during Arianna’s memorial scenes. “I didn’t really get to work with everybody, but everybody got to see me weep!” she chuckles. “That was interesting.”
A Miami native, Banus admits that after briefly living in New York while playing OLTL’s Lola, she feels much more at home in sunny Los Angeles — and at DAYS. “It’s hard to adapt when you’ve lived all your life in a different climate and have never had any time of real winter!” she laughs. “It was awful! I love the environment and the set here. It’s different kind of people, too.” She currently lives with her mother and younger sister Gabriela, who is also and actress. “My mom is the one who got us started at age 6 and has always been there. I was a very hyperactive child, and I would go out on the street and lose myself all the time and at the end of the day, my mom would find me sitting down having a conversation with a stranger! One day, she opened up the Yellow Pages and looked for a manager and found one. From then on, I started doing commercials. It was the best way to release all my energy and show off.”
Banus is excited to stretch her acting chops at DAYS and share more screen time with Salem’s lot. “I would really love to work with any of the so-called ‘evil’ characters, like Stefano or even Vivian, anybody who’s really evil!” she winks. “I think I can relate to the crazy.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: July 22
Hails From: Miami, FL
Other Daytime Role: Lola, OLTL (2008-09)
Latin Lady: Banus is Spanish and Cuban
Cake Boss: I’m addicted to cupcakes and cake shows. I was just watching AMAZING WEDDING CAKES and those people are beyond amazing!”
Diva Alert: “I love Cher!”
Novel Approach: “I’ am a big fan of Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist. I love his work. I’m on his latest book, Brida. It’s beautiful.”
Bust A Move: “I can’t watch DANCING WITH THE STARS because I get so mad because I’ll be like, ‘I could’ve done that better!’ It gets me all fired up.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Banus is a former competitive ballroom dancer. “I was born pigeon-toed and my mom put me in ballet immediately. That was my first taste of dance. I did compete in Florida and in pro-am competitions.”
She has appeared on several Spanish soap operas. “I was a vampire on one of them!”
Banus has also appeared on Disney’s ZEKE AND LUTHER.
How far is too far when it comes to contrived plot twists? Check out what Digest columnist Carolyn Hinsey has to say about what’s happening across the daytime dial.
Contrived plot twists are a soap staple, but they fizzle when they go too far.
DAYS killed Stefan DiMera, donated his heart to Julie, then killed Jake DiMera so his heart could be given to his twin — and that’s not the most contrived part.
Kristen (to Dr Rolf): “Please tell me you’ve made progress getting Stefan to forget his feelings for Gabi.”
So we’re to believe that a heartless Stefan (literally) survived four years in the basement with only a magic bathing cap to keep him alive and now Dr. Rolf is going to brainwash him into loving Chloe so convicted criminal Kristen can “be a family again” with Brady and their daughter?
Kristen: “I’m going to be with Brady, and Stefan is going to be with Chloe, and everybody is going to live happily ever after.”Dr.
Rolf: “Everybody except Gabi Hernandez.”
A.k.a. the only person with real feelings in that messed-up pentagram. Characters donning masks, being brainwashed, etc. are no substitute for genuine feelings, which are the heart of all good soap stories. Stefan and Gabi were fun, and it was smart of DAYS to flash back to their courtship to remind us they are a money couple. But the double whammy of his resurrection and brainwashing strains credulity even with the crazy chemistry of the main players.
That said, DAYS is wringing some dark humor from this twisted tale — like EJ and Tony comparing notes on Ava’s mental state and Kristen cracking wise about her dead brother after Stefan escaped.
Kristen: “Did Gabi see him?”
Dr. Rolf: “I was able to get to him before he could reveal himself to her. Ava did see him but she believed she was hallucinating her dead husband, Jake.”
Kristen: “Then we dodged a bullet. Unlike Jake.”
Phyllis and Nikki’s plot to oust Diane from Marchetti on Y&R is funny, too. It’s a little unbelievable that Phyllis would sell her dream hotel just to get revenge on Diane (by working at Marchetti) but they’ve played it like the manipulative Diane is an imminent threat to everyone they love, so it works. Nikki’s been a riot, purring insults while innocently insisting she has no agenda.
Nikki: “It’s easier to ignore you than engage. I have a full life.”
Diane: “Something is clearly afoot.”
Nikki: “Not everything is about you, dear.”
Every “dear” is laced with sarcasm, especially when Diane tries to guess what her enemies are up to.
Nikki: “You can forget about your conspiracy theory. Nobody is thinking about you.”
Jack (entering): “Are we interrupting?”
Nikki: “Not at all. I’m just finishing my lunch at my table for one.”
Me-ow! I could watch Nikki insult Diane all day. And for the record, Talia printing a bunch of facts about Diane is not a hit job. It’s journalism.
For plots that didn’t work, see the limp resolution of Ashland’s murder. One cop cannot decide to drop the charges against his own brother-in-law and father-in-law. No discussions with superiors, no lawyers, no pesky courthouse appearances. Worse, that poorly constructed resolve undid Chance’s history as a solid military man who always does the right thing.
Nick: “I’m afraid we may have compromised the most moral man in Genoa City.”
And at what cost? We don’t need any more compromised Newmans roaming Genoa City.
Compromise is the Cassadines’ m.o. on GH, especially when Uncle Victor is pulling the strings. Nikolas having sex with Esme was farfetched (he had been Ava’s lapdog for months) but it gave us Ava throwing Esme over the parapet, which was not — Katherine Bell, Julian Jerome, Brad and Ava herself met the same fate. Kudos for having Anna hold her own against Victor because we know The Divine Devane yields to no one.
Victor: “Valentin has family now. Families close ranks when the situation demands it. Doubt our loyalty at your own peril.”
Anna: “Is that a threat?”
It would have made more sense for Valentin to tell Anna that Victor kidnapped Charlotte so they could battle him together, but her cat-and-mouse with his father works, too. So does the unholy alliance between Anna and Lucy to pump Victor for information.
Anna: “Exploit his attention. You have all the assets to be my … asset.”
For forced, please see the insta-romance of Carly and Drew, which doesn’t work because Drew is a pale imitation of the complicated men Carly falls for: mobsters Sonny and Jason. GH dropped Drew’s violent side (he previously assaulted Nikolas, Shiloh, Franco, Valentin, Andre and Jason) and now have him squatting at the Q mansion like some kind of unpaid “manny” to Leo and Wiley while his own kid (Scout) grows up across town without him — and he never visits Oscar’s garden (sniff!). You know what would work? Drew and Sasha. He’s a rescuer and boy, does she need it.
We need rescuing from that Ridge/Brooke/Taylor love triangle on B&B. Brooke demands Taylor leave Ridge alone while Ridge orders Deacon to stay away from Brooke and it’s all so high school.
Ridge (to Deacon): “You’re bad for Brooke. I don’t want you in my house, the house I share with Brooke.”
The house they share when he isn’t nuzzling Taylor at Forrester family parties Brooke wasn’t invited to. Some day B&B will let these A-listers grow up and learn from their mistakes — but today is not that day.
Ridge (seeing Brooke and Taylor covered in paint): “Really?”
Brooke: “She laughed at me.”
Taylor: “Oooh, I laughed at her. This fight was about you. It always is.”
How do I define contrived? Two grandmothers trying to settle their rivalry over a man by having a paint fight.
Hey. It’s only my opinion.