Daytime fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to Christmas films to watch this year, but out of the dozens of holiday films featuring soap stars that are airing this holly and jolly season, the cream of the crop has got to be Days of our Lives' A Very Salem Christmas.
Premiering on NBC's streaming service, Peacock, on Thursday, December 16, the standalone Christmas movie is unique in that it's the first-ever holiday film brought to fans by a soap opera. But it's also unique in that the movie, which was written by DAYS head writer Ron Carlivati, features an alternate reality that allows fans to get a glimpse of a very different kind of Salem than the one they see on the network version of the series each day.
As seen in the film's jam-packed teaser trailer, Will Horton (Chandler Massey) sets out to write a screenplay before his Christmas Eve deadline, and the story he creates has Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus) hanging out with Nick Fallon (Blake Berris), E.J. (Dan Feuerriegel) and Nicole (Arianne Zucker) sharing warm family moments, and John Black (Drake Hogestyn) and Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson) living it up as lovebirds -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg of the unexpected twists and turns!
"Ron Carlivati is a genius, and obviously with the help of the network and producers Ken Corday and Albert Alarr, he figured out a way to give everybody what they want without having to commit to it," Deidre Hall (Marlena Evans) tells Soap Central of the film's premise. "It's perfect!"
But really, John with Kristen?! Is that perfect? Fans will find out when they tune in to A Very Salem Christmas, but one thing that the unexpected coupling gives to John and Marlena fans is a different perspective that might reaffirm or even rekindle a feeling of gratitude for the longtime supercouple they get to see on a daily basis.
"Fans saw that scene [of John and Kristen together] and didn't understand that it was part of the Christmas movie, so they thought, 'Did I step out of time and forget what was going on?!'" Hall says with a laugh. "But it did allow us, Drake and me, to play a moment of unexpressed love, which is sexy and mysterious and powerful. I think we shook hands, and that goes back to when Marlena first met John Black -- he saved me from a stalker and blah, blah, blah, and I shook his hand, and that was the beginning of that whole 40-year storyline."
As fans will see, A Very Salem Christmas introduces a lovely new set in the form of a cozy and romantic inn that John and Kristen run together. John and Marlena share a very special moment on the new set, which is one of Hall's favorite parts of the DAYS holiday film.
"Tom Early, our set designer, he made the little inn... and I thought, 'I want this set. I want this to be a permanent set!'" the actress enthuses. "I loved the little wood frame, the staircase, the tiny little fireplace. I just loved it."
Hall also loves a very special dance number featured in the film. Fans may have noticed a teeny tiny glimpse of the fun in the movie's teaser trailer, and there's much more to come from those sexy Santa-costume-clad bodies in the full-length film!
"Our men doing their dance, oh, my gosh! It was so good," Hall enthuses of the cheeky performance that includes Eric Martsolf (Brady Black) and a few other surprise Salemites. "Those fellows worked for weeks and weeks and weeks on that dance, and... to sit in that audience as Deidre, and as Marlena, too, and watch them get out there and do that thing -- I couldn't have gone to a theater and had more fun!"
If sexy Santas and mixed-and-matched romantic pairings aren't enough to convince you that A Very Salem Christmas is the most wonderful film of the year, then perhaps the idea of stand-alone Christmas films becoming an annual DAYS tradition will complete your yuletide cheer.
"We loved bringing this film to everybody. It was such a special treat. [It was] a lot of work on the part of a lot of people to make it as magical as it is, and hopefully it can be a tradition, that we can do things like this a lot more often," Hall tells Soap Central. "We do like having the luxury of time to create. There's a shot of John and Marlena through the fireplace that took forever to create, but worth the wait! We are always so rushed, and it was a real luxury to have the time to produce an amazing product."
Hall adds that she feels honored to be a part of a show that provides a sense of comfort to viewers, particularly during the holidays. And she's grateful that projects like A Very Salem Christmas have the potential to bring lapsed viewers back to the brand.
"We're always there for people. We're their maiden aunt that can be turned to in a second," she shares. "I think we're partners with the audience. They love us, they come back to us. We don't disappoint, we don't shock and surprise them, but sometimes we delight them with a show like A Very Salem Christmas. They rely on us. They rely on those solid, steady values, those solid, stable relationships -- Doug and Julie, John and Marlena, and of course, Mac and Frances [Tom and Alice]. We're reassuring and replenishing to people."
A Very Salem Christmas will begin streaming on Thursday, December 16, on Peacock.
What do you think about our interview with Deidre Hall? How do you feel about DAYS' Christmas film exploring the idea of mixed-and-matched couples like John and Kristen as a lovey-dovey pair? Would you like to see DAYS continue to produce outside projects like A Very Salem Christmas? If so, what kind of spinoff scenarios would be on your wish list? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.