Days of our Lives' Theresa Donovan may be leaving the canvas later this year due to portrayer Jen Lilley deciding to walk away from daytime, but that doesn't mean the character will be going silently into the night. This is Theresa, after all, and today's kidnapping of her son, Tate, sets off a chain of events that will make the beloved character's summer a living nightmare. Only time will tell whether or not Theresa gets a happy ending with her baby back safe and sound followed by a trip down the aisle with Brady (Eric Martsolf). As her time in Salem comes to an end, Lilley gave Soap Central a few hush-hush hints as to what's on the horizon -- both for Theresa and for her post-daytime career.
soapcentral.com: As usual, Theresa's life is in ultimate turmoil at the moment. However, I imagine that having her child kidnapped must bring about completely new feelings for her. How would you describe the way Tate's disappearance affects her?
Jen Lilley: I think it's bringing up old feelings actually, since this is technically Tate's second kidnapping. It's stirring up all of Theresa's old insecurities and fears: she's not good enough for Brady, she's an unfit mother, she'll never be accepted by the Kiriakis family. The difference is, this time around, Theresa knows Tate is her son, and she's held him, and loved him, and raised him, so her fears and insecurities take a back burner to her love for Tate and her determination to find him. Tate's disappearance is once again making Theresa more selfless. She's putting Tate before everyone, and unfortunately, that will understandably test her relationship with Brady.
soapcentral.com: For once, Theresa isn't completely her own enemy! What goes through her mind, in terms of what could have happened to him? Does she immediately suspect Summer (Marie Wilson)?
Lilley: She immediately suspects herself but then realizes that's impossible. There's no depth of exhaustion that could ever cause Theresa to jeopardize her son's safety, especially after Victor (John Aniston) accused her of being an unfit parent. So, Summer quickly becomes suspect number one, but Theresa knows she's fighting the clock. The first 48 hours following the disappearance of a child are the most critical in terms of finding and returning that child home safely. Theresa will need to convince a lot of people she's right before they'll jump on board and help her track down Summer. She also wonders if Victor had anything to do with Tate's kidnapping in order to cause a wedge between her and Brady.
soapcentral.com: What has it been like working with the children who play Tate? Have you sort of felt like their second mom?
Lilley: I absolutely adore them. Everyone knows I'm a sucker for children. And their real family is delightful! We've had wonderful conversations, hanging out with the boys while we were waiting to shoot the scenes. I don't feel like a second mom though. That's way too audacious!
soapcentral.com: Theresa and Brady have come so far in the past months, and now all of this Summer drama. How does Tate's disappearance and what happened to Theresa affect their relationship?
Lilley: Any time a child goes missing, the parents go through hell and sometimes never make it back out. They're going through fire. They'll either band together and come through the other side barely smelling like smoke, or they'll crash and burn. Only time will tell if they're refined like gold or burned up like chaff.
soapcentral.com: The two have already been under so much strain. Did you have a feeling they wouldn't be able to pull through, or were you hoping for the best?
Lilley: I'm an optimist. I will always hold onto hope!
soapcentral.com: The Tate kidnapping story will play out through all of July and August, which seems to indicate it's one of the hot stories of the summer. Can you tease how the next few weeks will affect Theresa and what fans can expect from the craziness ahead?
Lilley: She's a grieving mother. She'll go through some dark storms, isolating herself from the people she loves. She'll experience madness, numbness, and absolute heartache with a few silver linings.
soapcentral.com: Does what happened to Tate mean Brady and Theresa won't walk down the aisle as planned?
Lilley: You'll have to tune in to to see!
soapcentral.com: You've only had one soap wedding, which is actually not very many in the grand scheme of things! Did you wish for more weddings?
Lilley: I'm always down for a wedding.
soapcentral.com: If Brady and Theresa DO end up getting married, what kind of wedding would you love to see?
Lilley: One that's devastatingly romantic and intimate.
soapcentral.com: And on that note, is there any crazy soap opera plot that you didn't get to play that you wish you could have? An evil twin, being buried alive, possessed by the devil...
Lilley: I really wanted to play a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder, since that runs in Jeannie's family. I wanted one identity as sweet Jeannie, and one as naughty Theresa.
soapcentral.com: Speaking of family, how did you feel about Charles Shaughnessy [Shane Donovan] and Patsy Pease [Kimberly Brady] returning for Theresa's end run in Salem?
Lilley: I felt like Jesus answered a prayer I didn't know I prayed. It was the kindest and most generous gift my Heavenly Father could have ever given me. Answered prayer, realized dream.
soapcentral.com: You mentioned you'd like to pursue other opportunities after DAYS. What kind of things are you hoping to achieve in your career?
Lilley: I'm recording an album (but currently on vocal rest), working on publishing my children's book, and doing other films and TV shows. Plus, I'm visiting family I haven't seen in three years due to the demanding schedule and last-minute schedule changes soaps have. And this fall, I'm going to Africa to help build wells in Swaziland. I'm also in the middle of becoming certified as a foster parent. In short: I'm a workaholic. I'll always have at least five to six coals in the fire!
soapcentral.com: Do you have any regrets about your time in Salem or things you wish you could do again?
Lilley: Absolutely not. I loved every minute. I still hope to come back.
Do you hope Theresa has a happy ending? How would you like to see the character depart the canvas? Would you accept a recast? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.