INTERVIEW: Days of our Lives, One Life to Live alum Kassie DePaiva gets real about her over-the-top soap roles and shares the scoop from her film, Killian & the Comeback Kids

Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2020 8:14:41 AM

Kassie DePaiva opens up about her new film, Killian & the Comeback Kids, pushing the limits of evil as Days of our Lives' Eve Donovan, taking One Life to Live's Blair Cramer from sex kitten to tough business chick, and literally tossing her dreams in the garbage -- no joke!

Soap opera fans have spent the better part of the last 30 years watching Kassie DePaiva effortlessly turn somersaults as over-the-top characters like One Life to Live's feisty Blair Cramer and Days of our Lives' evil Eve Donovan. Nobody plays a diva better, and you just can't think about soaps without thinking about her scandalous alter egos. However, DePaiva is also a master at playing down-to-earth characters, as evidenced by her recent turn as a concerned, supportive mother in the folk-rock film Killian & the Comeback Kids.

As Soap Central previously reported, the film was written, produced, and directed by Taylor Purdee, the son of Nathan Purdee (ex-Hank Gannon, OLTL; ex-Nathan Hastings, The Young and the Restless). It stars Taylor as Killian, who lands back home in rural Pennsylvania after finishing an expensive college education. Killian's "failed" summer takes on new meaning, however, when he decides to throw together a ragtag band of other locals to perform at a music festival coming to their once-prosperous steel town. Armed with only folk rock, Killian and the band try to unite the community -- if only for one night. DePaiva plays Killian's mother, Mrs. Raison, opposite Nathan as Killan's father, Mr. Raison.

In celebration of Killian & the Comeback Kids currently playing in theaters across the nation, we spoke with DePaiva about what it was like for her to work with Nathan Purdee again; what her OLTL character, Blair, might be up to today; why the powers that be at DAYS wanted her to go big or go home while playing Eve; which soap actress she loves fictional sparring with the most; and when soap fans might see her back on-screen again.

Soap Central: It's so good to be talking with you, Kassie. How have you and James [DePaiva, ex-Max Holden, OLTL; ex-David Bensch, General Hospital] been these past few months while the shelter-in-place orders have been in effect?

Kassie DePaiva: We've been okay. I finished my run at Days of our Lives around Valentine's Day, and we came up here [to our country house on the East Coast]. We were down in the city for a wine tasting event the first week of March, and then we came up here. And then, all of a sudden, everything got really bad, so we just stayed up here at our mountain house, and it's been fantastic. We socially distanced ourselves naturally, just because there's just not a lot of population up here. But Jim's daughter and her boyfriend came and lived with us for about three and half months. They were living in Brooklyn when it really broke out in New York City. And then [our son] J.Q. and his girlfriend came over the Fourth of July and stayed for about two weeks. So, it was nice to have the kids here. We felt safe, and we got a lot of projects done, had a lot of fun, drank a lot of alcohol, and it was good. But it's just been a surreal experience. And it still is.

Soap Central: Have you done any filming at all since the COVID-19 safety guidelines have come into place or experienced what it's like to be on set with this all going on?

DePaiva: No. I've auditioned for a couple of things that I've just done on tape, but I have not gotten the part to go do any production. But I guess Days of our Lives is back into production, and I am assuming that they wouldn't invite me back to do any episodes until this pandemic has passed, just because [it's not safe], people getting on planes and flying and doing this and that. And plus, old Eve is such a witch -- she's in jail, and she's got to serve her time and make up for all the bad things that she's done! [Laughs]

Soap Central: It's sad to hear that you're likely not going to be back on DAYS anytime soon, but at least fans can still see you right now via this movie, Killian & the Comeback Kids. How do you feel about the film finally being released?

DePaiva: Oh, I think it's lovely. We shot that the summer of, well, right after I had gone back to work on Days of our Lives, right after my leukemia. So, my hair is very short. It was honestly three years ago, and you kind of go, "Did the film come out and I missed it? When is that ever going to come out?" But it is out, and I am so proud of Taylor. What a smart, talented, ambitious young man that Robbie and Nathan have raised, and such a fine human being. It really is going to showcase his talent in directing and music and writing and acting. It's great.

Soap Central: It's crazy to me that it was filmed three years ago, as it was ahead of its time in how diverse the cast is, that there was a female director brought in, and that it's about a young adult who has to go back home to live with his family -- which is happening in droves right now across the nation, albeit for a different reason. The film has all of these hot button issues that we're currently dealing with, and Taylor couldn't have foreseen that.

DePaiva: I know! And it's really great. It has a very fresh feeling, these young kids, the struggles that they're dealing with and trying to find out who they are, so it's very timely. Very, very timely.

Soap Central: What was it like for you to reunite with Nathan? Or had you been in contact with him beforehand?

DePaiva: When I was in the hospital with leukemia, Nathan Purdee came at least every week to see me, maybe twice a week sometimes, to see me and hang out with Jimmy. He was doing some work in town, but he took the time to come over and sit with me and be with us, and when he asked me to do this movie, how could I say no?! This man was such a dear, dear friend to us in a terrible time, so I definitely had been in touch with him, and I was honored to be a part of this project, because I've known Taylor forever, and I've known Nathan forever, and Robbie, his wife, is just the best. But Nathan Purdee is just a tremendous human being, and I was glad to be his wife for a few minutes. [Laughs]

Soap Central: Was there anything surprising about working with him? Obviously as completely different characters as you were in Llanview!

DePaiva: No, because you know what? He's such an easygoing guy, and I have such a small part in the movie. It was just a really wonderful environment. We shot it around this time [of the year] three years ago. You could definitely tell that the summer was ending, and whenever this time rolls around now, I think about sitting out in Easton, Pennsylvania, at their beautiful house, just sitting in the warm sun, waiting to say my few lines.

Soap Central: That sounds so nice, especially because it was kind of a family situation with people that you know and love. What an uplifting and positive filming experience!

DePaiva: It was! And they were doing it all themselves. I helped cook dinners a couple of times for the crew. They brought in food, and I cooked, and that was fun. I kind of love doing all of that kind of stuff. Poor Robbie was so over it. She said, "These boys eat so much!" And I go, "No kidding!" After working eight hours straight, and there were snacks and things like that, but they wanted food! They wanted to eat! [Laughs]

Soap Central: What kind of person is your character, Mrs. Raison?

DePaiva: She's just a good, supportive mom. She's a concerned, supportive mom who is trying to get her son over the hump and hold the family together. The son and the father definitely have issues, so she tries to be the peacemaker there. It's just a good little movie.

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We talk so much about being inclusive and diverse. We often thinks that means telling "Black stories" or "Hispanic Stories" or "Asian stories" vs "white stories". Racially mixed couples are rare to see on the screen. Couples where the POC is a man with a white woman even rarer. Rarer still are films that follow those people and their families. It's certainly a niche issue, but we can't overlook the things that make our black and white issues less black and white. . . . @killian_and_the_cbk #festlives #filmmaking #musicmovie #musical #mixedrace #blackfilm #mixedmarriage #modernfamily #screenwriting #songwriting #producer #director #actors #behindthescenes #actorslife #blackhistorymonth #kassiedepaiva #nathanpurdee #movies 📸@LiamDague

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Soap Central: I know you said it was just a small part, but was there anything new about the character for you, something you haven't "acted" before?

DePaiva: To me, it feels so different filming a movie as opposed to a soap. Everything on a soap is so rushed and heightened -- unless you get the moments when you can really play the quiet moments on a soap, and my characters have never been the quiet type! [Laughs] So, it's nice to actually play somebody who is grounded in a reality that is not heightened by murder and heightened by insanity and heightened by revenge, you know? It is more of a slice of life. So, it was nice. And it was nice not to have to wear high heel shoes, you know what I mean? And a pushup bra!

Soap Central: Ha, I'll bet! One of the elements of the film is chasing after a dream, so are there any dreams from your youth or childhood that you would love to revisit or fulfill?

DePaiva: Kambra, I have lived such a fantastic life. I'm going to joke here, but I'm actually telling the truth -- the reason I had to push this interview back an hour is because we had just gone to the dump to throw away probably 5,000 of my I Want To Love You CDs. I bought them back from the record label ten years ago when I did the CD because, after they left the shelves in the stores, it's like, "Well, what will you do with them?" And I thought, "Well, I'll be able to sell them online." But everybody downloads stuff now! But, anyway, it's interesting to sit there and watch one of your dreams go in the Dumpster! But I did it, you know? I made three albums, I've had a career in acting almost every day of my adult life, and I've gotten to play around with little movies every now and then, I've gotten to be a mom, I've really gotten to do everything I wanted to do. I would like to still be working as an actress, but right now, the situation doesn't allow the opportunity. Hopefully that will change, and I can get back on a set at some point.

Soap Central: I hate that you had to throw away all those CDs, though! I can't imagine what that's like, as you said, literally throwing your dreams away!

DePaiva: [Laughs] It was so funny. Here I am in a mask, and we had to open up the boxes, toss the CDs, fold the boxes, and put them away. It's about 45 degrees up here this morning, and my hands were cold, and this woman comes up to the guy who is running the dump, and she says, "Hey, Roger. What are you doing?" And he goes, "Oh, you want some music?" And she looks at the album, and I've got my back to her, and she goes, "Oh, I like her! She's on Days of our Lives!" [Laughs] I turned around and gave her a CD before I tossed them. But it is so funny, and we started this whole conversation about soap operas and how she hadn't watched One Life to Live, and the guy who ran the dump used to watch Ryan's Hope. It's just interesting how soap operas bring the world full circle. At least, I think they do. People always have some memory of soap operas of some sort, and this woman, she talked about, "I remember when you first came to DAYS, and Eve had her vocal issues," and I said, "Yes, I did primarily most of my music on One Life to Live and a lot of these songs on these albums were featured on One Life to Live and even on Guiding Light [where I played Chelsea Reardon]."

Soap Central: I've heard a lot of stories about actors being recognized in funny places, but I think yours takes the cake now, Kassie! "I was at my local dump and someone said, 'Oh I know her. She was on Days of our Lives!'"

DePaiva: Yeah, it's so funny, right? When she said, "Oh, I know her," she also said, "She plays that crazy person on Days of our Lives!" [Laughs] That's what she said, and I turned around and said, "That's right!" And Jimmy said, "She's not acting." [Laughs]

Soap Central: What a special moment for her, though, especially right now. Everyone is looking for comfort, and to see a familiar face like yours must have been a pretty cool moment -- a welcome distraction, if you will, from everything going on. Which is why the virtual reunions have been so successful! Did you have fun during your recent OLTL reunion with Jimmy, Tuc Watkins (ex-David Vickers), Robert S. Woods (ex-Bo Buchanan), and Hillary B. Smith (ex-Nora Hanan)?

DePaiva: I certainly did, and I love Hillary, I love Bob, I love Tuc. Those people were a huge part of my past, but they certainly warm my heart in the present. They're my friends, and really, almost family, like cousins that I haven't seen in a long time, and I miss them. And that's what's so beautiful about soap operas, and especially One Life to Live. For whatever reason, it had such a familiar feeling. People miss those characters because they had become part of their lives and part of their family. And to this day, the show has been off the air for ten years, but people still are trying to get it back on.

Soap Central: I don't see that ending, either. All of the All My Children and One Life to Live articles that we do continue to be some of our most popular and most-read articles on Soap Central.

DePaiva: It's kind of crazy because ABC has always left out pieces of breadcrumbs -- just crumbs, though, not the whole freaking cake or the whole loaf -- just crumbs to keep people wanting more, so every time they hear something, they go, "Oh, it's coming back!" And they tease, so there's always that teasing and hopeful feeling. I don't think it's going to happen, but stranger things have happened! Nobody has called me, though, that's all I can say.

Soap Central: If they did, would you be happy to step back into the shoes of Blair?

DePaiva: Heck, yeah! It would be fun. It would be different though. Hopefully I would no longer be the sex kitten that I was! [Laughs]. It would be a whole different thing -- I would be more of the evil, well, not evil, because Blair isn't evil, but she'd be more tough. She'd be in the Dorian [category]. She and Dorian are just in a different demographic.

Soap Central: Yes, but come on: Dorian was also a sex kitten. She had David Vickers wrapped around her little finger!

DePaiva: I know, I know! I can't speak for that, but she's still a hottie, so there you go!

Soap Central: What else do you think Blair would be up to today? Is that something you've ever thought about?

DePaiva: What possibilities could there be? Well, she could be a fantastic grandmother for one. I think she would be running the Sun. She would be running that whole organization, that newspaper. She'd be tough. And she'd probably still be fighting Todd [Trevor St. John/Roger Howarth]!

Soap Central: What about Florencia Lozano's Téa? Because I actually wanted to ask you if there is a soap actress that you love sparring with on screen -- you've had many!

DePaiva: Well, Florencia Lozano is just a fierce actress. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her. She is another dear, dear friend of mine, and I loved working with her. But I also loved the arguments between Blair and Dorian, when Blair and Dorian would be at each other's throats. That was great. But blood is definitely thicker than water, and we would always make up. When we teamed up to do bad things to other people, that was always fun, too! [Laughs] I also thoroughly enjoy working with Missy Reeves [ex-Jennifer Horton] on Days of our Lives. That's been really fun, because I love her, as well. We had such childish [arguments]. Eve is so high school, so it's a whole different dynamic. With Téa and Blair, it wasn't high school; it was deep rooted in disrespect all the way around. But with Eve and Jenn, Eve was still picking at a scab that happened probably in junior high and in high school. It's ridiculous! [Laughs]

Soap Central: It so is, but I think a lot of people can actually relate to that, don't you? I know a lot of people that still hold onto those high school rivalries and memories, which cracks me up.

DePaiva: Yeah, and I loved it! I would pick up scripts and go, "Oh my God, I can't believe she's harking on about that!" But people do say, yes, "Oh, I remember that, and I'm never going to forgive her for that." [Laughs] "She wore the same bra I did, and that pissed me off!" All that little stuff.

Soap Central: I talked to DAYS head writer Ron Carlivati at the Emmys last year, and I asked him if he ever thinks he goes too far with Eve -- because she can be downright nasty! But he told me that he never worries about that with you because no matter how awful he might write the character, he knows that your warmth and your heart will somehow shine through. And what a compliment! Because it's really difficult to get that warmth from a character like Eve, but you manage to do it, and he said he can always count on you for that.

DePaiva: Well, I appreciate those words, and it's very, very kind of him to say. This time around, when I was asked to come back for this 15-episode or 20-episode arc, I didn't know what it was going to be, and I had no idea when I got there that Eve had blown up the wedding and all of this horrible stuff! [Laughs] I was like, "Oh, jeez, this is awful! I have gone into the super villain role!" And a part of me was sad, because I thought, "Oh, no, this is unredeemable." But I always try to find the deepest truth in these characters, and Eve is so sad and heartbroken that she stepped to the dark side to finally get revenge, because nobody else was doing it for her. But coming out of that, to me, finding the good in that, is also the challenge, and seeing the human brokenness is the challenge; it makes it real. So that's what I always try to do, to try to connect [to the material]. Even though the fans, you know, [they] hated that story because they hated Eve, but you're supposed to hate Eve. That's not a good quality, to want to get revenge on somebody. But I try to find ways to justify it, and she had to find closure.

Soap Central: With soaps, you never know what's going to happen. Eve could always come back with a heart of gold!

DePaiva: Doubtful! [Laughs] It would be gold plated, but maybe.

Soap Central: I noticed a lot of wishful comments from fans, if Eve does come back, about Eve and Justin (Wally Kurth) getting together. What would you think of that?

DePaiva: Well, I don't even have to say this, because I've said it a thousand times: I love Wally Kurth. Of the many times that I left the show, right before I leave, I'll have scenes with Justin, and there was one point where I thought, "Oh, my gosh, they're going to put us together." But they never do. It was right after Paige [True O'Brien] had died. He was kind of there to comfort her, and they didn't want it to be that romantic. They said, "No, no, no!" And I think Ken [Corday, our executive producer] even called to the booth and said, "No, he can't kiss her like that!" It was like, "Uh-oh!" Wally and I were like, "What?!" It was very funny. But oh, gosh, it would be great. I've been very, very lucky to work with such wonderful actors. Matthew Ashford [Jack Deveraux] is fantastic, and we had our challenges there, trying to make Eve and Jack a root-able couple during the immigration storyline -- and that was awful, as well! Hate Eve and Jack because they're being racially discriminatory. I mean, that's another one that was like, "Oh, gosh, here we go. Do we really have to do this? Do I have to be that person, too?!" [Laughs] But I love working with Eric Martsolf [Brady Black], I mean, what a joy. And I wish that I'd had the opportunity to work with Vincent Irizzary [ex-Deimos Kiriakis; ex-David Hayward, All My Children]. We had a couple of flashback scenes, when Eve came back as Deimos' wife, but he had already been murdered. But that would have been nice, as well. And we have to give Casey Moss [J.J. Deveraux] his little hoorah party, because he was delightful. But who knew I was going to be working with somebody my son's age! Like, "Okay, here we go!" [Laughs]

Soap Central: They've really thrown you a lot at DAYS, which is why I asked Ron that question. But you can handle it, and the fans love it. It brings the entertainment that we all love. And speaking of that, fans have turned to soap operas for comfort in these challenging times. What have you turned to for comfort, if anything?

DePaiva: I think reading, really. I read a lot of books when I can. I've also been cooking, and this summer has been fantastic, so I put four big, raised-bed gardens in, so I grew vegetables, which has been great. And I've watched more television than I've ever watched before, more series. When you're working day in and day out, you don't really have the time to sit down and enjoy books and sit down and enjoy television, because you're making it. And when you're making it, I don't really enjoy watching it. It's just a whole different thing. But I'm never bored. I'm never bored. There is always something for me to do, even if it's going to the dump and throwing away my CDs! [Laughs] I'm busy.

Soap Central: If we could find a silver lining in this time period, it's that we've been forced to slow down and find pleasure in these things that a lot of us have not had much time for.

DePaiva: I have a hard time with idle time. It's hard for me psychologically to learn to be still, because I have always been such a doer, and I am still a doer. I wake up in the morning and by 10:00 a.m., I've done two loads of clothes, I've emptied the dishwasher, I've run the vacuum cleaner, and then I can start my day! But that's just the way I am, the way I'm wired. And fortunately for my family, they have a clean house, but unfortunately, I'm probably wound tighter than a watch sometimes! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Have you done anything at all to keep your acting chops shipshape? This is a long amount of time for performers to not perform.

DePaiva: You know what, no. Memorization might be a harder thing now, but the acting aspect, maybe it'll make me a better actress, because I'm just not acting all the time, and I'm just being as natural as possible. I really try to just be real. Sometimes, I watch myself and go, "Okay, I'm acting with a capital A," but I would rather act with a lowercase letter.

Soap Central: That makes sense, especially in soap operas, when everything is so over the top. If you approach it in as natural a way as possible, it helps ground the outrageous material.

DePaiva: Yeah, and Eve is totally over the top. And I get directed to take it bigger a lot. And it's like, "Really? Are you sure? You're sure I don't have pieces of scenery hanging out of my mouth right now? Okay, I'll do it. I'll go and be more evil to Ben. I'll spew and spit on him, okay?" [Laughs]

Soap Central: That's a surprise to me that they'd want you to go bigger.

DePaiva: Well, they just want Eve to be as menacing as possible. For every time that Ben made a screaming noise of pain, I had to apply the blows, and the blows had to be enough to make his screaming worth it, I guess! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Is it sometimes hard to get through some of these scenes? I think I would have a hard time not laughing!

DePaiva: Oh, of course! There are times when it's just so hilariously funny, when you're being so mad and fighting, or during catfights and things like that. But it's so fun. Doing soap opera work is just fun, and I'm not going to tell you differently. I've enjoyed my 30 years doing it, and every day is a new adventure, and every script gives you new purpose. I love it. Love it, love it!

For more information about Killian & the Comeback Kids and to find out when it will be playing in a theater near you, visit the film's official website. You can also check out the official teaser trailer below.

What do you think about our interview with Kassie DePaiva? What are your thoughts on the casting and premise of Killian & the Comeback Kids? Do you think DAYS' Eve is a redeemable character? Would you like to see her return to Salem? What kind of trouble do you think OLTL's Blair would be stirring up in Llanview today? 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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