Days of our Lives alum Patrika Darbo has played a lot of things over the years in addition to the bitchy and entertaining role of Nancy Wesley. She was Suzanne Somers' wacky sister, Penny, on Step By Step; Dr. Freed on Misbehave; and even a yogurt shop customer in the 80's dark comedy Gremlins 2. But her most outlandish role is yet to come -- that of a crazy church lady in The Grass Is Always Greener, an unbelievable comedy by former As the Words Turns and DAYS Emmy-winning writer, Meredith Post.
The upcoming series is still in its infancy -- production will start as soon as funding is completed -- but Darbo, who played Chloe's [Nadia Bjorlin] mom from 1998 to 2003 and again in 2013, has already begun working on the role that writer/executive producer Post personally requested the actress play. And she's very excited to start working on the series, which follows a crazy cast of characters through the opening of the first medical marijuana dispensary in Connecticut: brand new staff, patients looking for a cure, politicians against the legalization of weed, big pharmaceutical companies, paparazzi and press looking to blow up the story, and holy rollers like Darbo's alter ego -- who doesn't think there's anything holy about rolling joints.
soapcentral.com: Hi, Patrika. Congratulations on your new role in The Grass Is Always Greener.
Patrika Darbo: It's just terrific. It's one of those shows that is going to be a first. There will be wacky characters, and it's going to be so much fun. And for me, it's flattering that Meredith remembered who I was. That's always good for an actor, and she asked me to come and do it. I'm excited.
soapcentral.com: Did you two know each other from your shared time at DAYS? You were playing Chloe's mom, Nancy, while Meredith was writing for the show, correct?
Darbo: Yes, she had been at DAYS when I first started, so yes.
soapcentral.com: The Grass Is Always Greener sounds hysterical. Sort of like an Orange Is the New Black goes bananas. What can you tell me about your character and how she fits into everything?
Darbo: I'm going to be playing the church lady, and it'll be fun. So much fun stopping all those sinners! [Meredith's] got some really crazy things for me to do. And I just learned [former All My Children, DAYS, ATWT, and The Young and the Restless director] Chris Goutman may be one of our directors. I never got to work with him, because he left DAYS when I was just starting DAYS, and then he went on to be the executive producer of As the World Turns. So I didn't get to work with him, so that will be interesting. For me, my venture into the soaps was just on Days of our Lives, outside of a couple of stints on The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital when I was first starting out in the business -- those little Under 5s when it's like, "Here's your peanuts, here's your beer, oh my God, you need more lipstick," kind of stuff.
soapcentral.com: Well I think this might give you a very different side of the soap world! Do you think it'll be similar to the current daytime soaps?
Darbo: This is going to be the soap thing, but it's also very much episodic television. Which of course is what a lot of the soaps are doing. I think this will be a lot more fun than some of them -- but not my stint on DAYS. Kevin [Spirtas, ex-Craig Wesley] and I got to have so much fun together, so I think maybe that was why Meredith saw me being [good for the The Grass Is Always Greener role]. And of course my career is sort of whacked-out there! Nancy doing her thing, it was good to be the bitch at times. That was something I didn't get to play before, and of course getting that sexy, hot husband! So that was an adventure there.
soapcentral.com: What do you think daytime fans will love about The Grass is Always Greener?
Darbo: I think they'll like that it's a new concept. Of course, whenever you're telling a story, there are only ten stories: girl meets boy, boy meets girl, girl loses boy, boy loses girl, etc. I mean, there are ten basic stories. But this is a whole new thing, and having legalized marijuana opened so many doors. Meredith is going to be the first on the block, and that's why she's been working so hard, and I think it's interesting for us as actors, too. We're going to be venturing into something that has never been done before, even though the general story is kind of the same. The concept and the subject matter is going to be a whole new venture. One group likes it, one group doesn't like it, but you still have all that inner story going on that the fans love, so I think that's going to be fun. And I think she has her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, for me, to say, "Okay, you've got the self-righteous on one side, the 'We're just trying to be normal' on the other side." She's got that whole conflict, "Will people be able to laugh at themselves?" You hope!
soapcentral.com: Since the project is just getting off the ground, what have you done so far? Reading the scripts, working on the character? No filming yet, right?
Darbo: I've just read the scripts and had many conversations with Meredith. We really haven't gone into it. She tells me what's in her head. You know, a lot of times the writers don't take the time to talk to the actors, so I'm getting what's in her head, and I'm going to make that come alive for her. But she's given me tools, as an actor, to work with. When she draws that picture, I see her picture. Does that make sense, what I'm saying? She's giving me freedom to do stuff, but she's telling me who this character is, which allows me to just go crazy. I can pull all the stops out. And the fact that she's trusting me? It's [wonderful]. When I went into DAYS... I was interacting with people that have been around, DAYS is 50 years old this year, so I was interacting with people who had been around a long time, and I had parameters. We sort of broke a lot of things in the mold though. They broke the mold when they brought me in in the first place! In this case, Meredith saw the mold I created on DAYS, and she has now expanded that and she's letting me create more to go with it. And this is a brand new character in a brand new show, so we have such freedom to take what she's giving us and just go with it. So that's what I'm looking forward to.
soapcentral.com: What are your hopes for the show? Would you be okay if it turned out being a Web series? Or would you prefer it be a network show?
Darbo: I hope it goes beyond being a Web series, though that's where our business is at this point. The Emmys themselves just opened Web series as a new category, and The Bay, which I'm also on, won the Emmy this year for being the best show in this new [category] that they've opened at the Emmys. So you're going to see more and more shows coming in that way. Our business has changed so dramatically. As an actor, it's frustrating sometimes to continually see the same people over and over in every show on television, when there are so many actors that are not working... I don't know exactly how to explain it, but Hallmark Channel is a perfect example. Hallmark Channel has the same characters on every single show. Where is the adventure? How do you track the new audience? How do you cross that barrier when the same person who is starring in Cedar Cove as the leading man is also the leading man on [The Gourmet Detective]? And then you have Lori Laughlin who is in everything. She's doing Fuller House and then she comes back over here, and I mean, it's like, "Come on, people, there are other actors out there!" But at the same time, as an actor, I don't want to take a role away from somebody. But sometimes I think the producers aren't doing their best to open the doors to a lot of other actors and stuff out there. And that's why I think these web series are coming out so much, because more and more actors are getting a chance to work.
soapcentral.com: Speaking of getting a chance to work, can you say whether or not DAYS contacted you to return for the 50th anniversary?
Darbo: They haven't approached me, and my feelings were hurt. I thought I did a good job, and I would have thought they'd at least ask Kevin and I to come back. I think Nadia [Bjorlin, Chloe Lane] is coming back again to do something. We were the start of her big dynasty, so it always hurts your feelings a little bit that you're not asked back. But you know what? That's business. The business has changed, they're moving the show forward, and we don't have a slot in it. It doesn't make me feel any less about my feelings being hurt, but I'll get over it! [laughs] I'm so grateful to the show for everything they gave and did for me. I got an Emmy nomination from my peers from it. It was a great opportunity, and I loved every minute of it. And if they asked, then of course I'd come back, because I had such a great time there. I loved working with everybody, and I'm sure I would love working with them again. I think Kevin is doing some singing and writing and stuff himself, and I'm sure I'm not speaking out of sorts to say he'd go back, because we had a great time together. You never say never, and if you're going to start saying never, then you need to go find a new job! It's that kind of thing.
soapcentral.com: Well I'm sure all of your DAYS fans have their fingers crossed that you'll return. You just never know, as you said. Is there anything else you'd like to add about The Grass Is Always Greener before I let you go?
Darbo: I'm so looking forward to it and working with the other actors. The script is funny. There are some poignant things that are going to make people go, "Whoa!" People will see themselves in some things, and then they're going to laugh their asses off with the others. I'm looking forward to it.
Are you eager to hear more about The Grass Is Always Greener? What do you think about Darbo taking on the role of a crazy church lady? Would you like to see her return to Salem as Nancy Wesley? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.
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