The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things in this world, one of them being the character of Days of our Lives' Jennifer Horton. After longtime portrayer Melissa Reeves opted not to return to the series when it resumed production in September, the NBC soap opera decided to temporarily cast daytime alum Cady McClain (ex-Dixie Cooney, All My Children; ex-Rosanna Cabot, As the World Turns) in the legacy role. The jury is still out on how viewers will react to the recast, especially since Reeves has been playing Jennifer since 1985.
"I have been hated before so it wouldn't be the first time," jokes McClain to Soap Opera Digest. "I get it. I understand. Listen, how would I feel if somebody was going to be stepping in and doing [All My Children's] Dixie with Dixie and Tad [Michael E. Knight]? Even just from a fan's point of view, I would be like, 'What? She's who?' But I felt that there's some sort of extenuating circumstances here and those extenuating circumstances are what they are and I hope that the fans will feel that at least Jack [Matthew Ashford] and Jennifer are there for them to enjoy in some capacity. And during this difficult time, I hope that that will be like a soothing balm. It may be a different face, but we're here for you."
However, the actress admits that she was beyond nervous after she accepted the gig, especially considering her career in recent years has been filled with more directing jobs than acting jobs.
"I haven't been focusing on acting in particular so it was a big, kind of like, 'Oh, act? On television? Oh, my God -- I've got COVID cookie butt! Wait a minute, just give me a minute while I pick my face off the floor,'" she jokes, adding, "I hadn't done my roots in six months, so it was getting your hair done outside on a patio with a mask on. It's been a trip."
Fortunately, McClain says her first day on set at DAYS was a wonderful experience.
"This is going to sound really corny, but it was honestly one of the best days of my life," she enthuses. "Sometimes the business is really tough, and I have thought that I might not act again, so to be treated with such value and warmth and kindness and support by the production team was just so unexpected."
She continues, "I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm so grateful to be back at work, to have some sense of normalcy. This is what we used to do all the time and I don't take it for granted at all. What a blessing to work. What a blessing to be on set. What a blessing to be working with people that are fun to work with. I'll never forget it. It was fantastic."
For more from McClain on joining Days of our Lives as Jennifer Horton, check out Soap Opera Digest's full interview with the actress here.
How do you feel about Cady McClain briefly taking over the role of DAYS' Jennifer Horton? What are your thoughts on Melissa Reeves opting not to return to her role during COVID? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.