Christmas came early for Days of our Lives fans, who were gifted earlier this month with the über exciting news that Bryan Dattilo has been placed back on contract as Lucas Horton. Salem feels more like home when he's part of the soap's family, and it's news that Dattilo is definitely celebrating, as well.
"I'm pretty psyched! You sleep a little better when you're on contract for some reason... it's a form of melatonin," he jokes about his solidified status with the show. "But I'm glad it happened, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into a good storyline. A lot of good characters are coming back, as well. It's going to be fun to get the band back together."
As Soap Central previously reported, Lucas will be involved in a huge storyline with his on-again, off-again love, Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney), and the characters' daughter, Allie Horton (Lindsay Arnold), that will start airing in March of 2021. Dattilo can't exactly spill the details on what's to come, but he does tease that Lucas' New Year's resolution has something to do with what's on the horizon.
"Lucas is going to be there for his family. That's his resolution. He's going to try and help," the actor says. "And he's going to be there for Sami -- and he's going to get her! Well, I don't know, but it's always an interesting chase! It's always fun. His resolution is to chase her down!"
Time will tell whether or not Lucas will succeed in reuniting romantically with Sami, but no matter what happens, Dattilo says that the material playing out on DAYS has been on fire since Ron Carlivati took over duties as head writer.
"[The recent storylines have] done a really great job of getting all the characters involved," he shares. "It hasn't always been like that. Usually in the past, storylines have been separate. You could work three years with somebody and be like, 'You know, wouldn't that be cool if we ever had scenes together?' But I think Ron, our head writer now, he does a very good job of incorporating essential storyline that everybody is involved in, directly or indirectly, but everyone still has their point of view on it. So, I think it's kind of a newer thing in the last couple of years, and I think it definitely helps the show."
However, safety protocols that are in place to keep the cast and crew safe from the COVID-19 pandemic have made it pretty difficult to bring that material to viewers. Take rehearsals, for example. Dattilo shares that the cast does their initial rehearsal over the Internet now, which makes for some pretty interesting on-screen material.
"You have to be ready for unplanned moments a lot more now," he says. "When I'm running lines... over the phone, there's only so much I can picture before we do it. It also kind of leads to more spontaneity in the scene, too. I remember some scenes we [recently] did, I knew that Lindsay was going to be upset, because Lindsay is always upset in these scenes, but I knew that she had a reason to be upset in the scene, but the way she played it, as I saw for the first time taping it, made you react in a way that is more present. So, it's harder, because you have to trust yourself more. And then you don't get to run the blocking, which is hard for me because I usually associate a lot of my lines with the blocking. So, your movement, you become a little robotic and less fluid in the movement for the shots. But acting-wise, it ups the ante. It's almost like jumping off a cliff with someone and being like, 'Okay, hang on. We're going to hit the water together. Ready? Go!' So, that's kind of cool. It's more fun. It keeps you on your toes more."
That being said, it's not like Dattilo needs too much practice staying on his toes. He's been playing Lucas on-again, off-again since 1993, so he knows his stuff. So much so, actually, that he catches himself "acting" in his real life, too!
"Sometimes in my life, when things happen to me, I'm always thinking like, 'Am I reacting to this good enough?' And then I'm like, 'Wait a minute, what am I doing? This is my normal life! Why am I critiquing my reaction to what someone is telling me as I would when I'm acting?'" he says with a laugh. "Sometimes it's hard to get out of your head. You're like, 'Wait a minute, there is no camera picking up my reaction shot here. I don't really have to play that out.'"
It's a learning curve -- and funny enough, not the only major one that he has experienced since joining DAYS nearly 20 years ago.
"I'm a better reader now because of DAYS," he declares. "Seriously! I grew up in special education, so reading was always really hard for me. Whenever I had to read, people would make fun of me, because I would make up words that weren't even there. They'd be like, 'Dude, that's not how you say that word!' And I'd be like, 'Yeah it is!' And I'd get all defensive. But being forced to sit down and read scripts over and over and over again made me more confident and made me think, 'Oh, actually, maybe I'm not as behind on this as I thought.' And then I would actually start reading books for pleasure, which I would never do in the past. [It used to be], 'Why would I read a book? That's not fun. That's actually painful and hard.' But the more I did it, the more I was like, 'Oh, I think I'll look at that book and see what that's about.' I think that acting kind of forced me to face things that are hard, because when I first started, I also had a hard time memorizing lines. So, it's good that I got over that -- or else I'd still be washing dishes somewhere!"
Another thing that Dattilo has learned during his time at DAYS is that actors aren't always how you think they'll be in real life. Sometimes, they're actually quite different.
"I remember watching a lot of Francis Reid [ex-Alice Horton] before I was on the show, and she was always kind of like the pinnacle matriarch of the soap opera, and I always just remember thinking how cool she was in real life and how people are just a little different from their characters in each way," he shares. "Like, I was scared of Deidre Hall [Marlena Evans] for the first five years on the show. But then I realized, after spending time with her and traveling and talking with her, she is the most down-to-earth, loving, supportive, coolest person you could ever meet. But to me at the time, she was a soap opera icon, so it taught me that people are people, no matter what, and then there's their character. So, that was kind of cool to kind of break down those stereotypes that you might think people have."
Speaking of soap icons, Dattilo recalls that he was quite nervous during his audition for Lucas, as it called for him to kiss the fabulous Christie Clark (ex-Carrie Brady) -- which he ultimately chickened out of doing!
"I was real nervous to kiss her, so I chose not to kiss her when the script said kiss her," he shares. "We had acting class together when we were kids, so it was kind of weird -- I didn't want to plant one on her, so I chose not to. And afterward, they were like, 'Dude, why didn't you kiss her?' And I was like, 'Oh, I would have kissed her, but, uh, I don't know, it was kind of um, well, do you want me to kiss her now? I'll kiss her now if you want me to?' And they were like, 'Um, no, you don't kiss her now. You can actually kiss her when you come back to test.' And I was like, 'Ooohhh, okay, I'll really kiss her then!' So, Christie and I kissed finally, and I think she got me the job, because she was a good kisser. Because I remember blowing the kiss, and I think I blew a couple of lines, too, and I was terrible. I mean, I'm still terrible, but I was really bad then!"
In all actuality, he must not have been bad at all, because -- as fans know -- Dattilo got the job and has gone on to kiss many Salemites over the years, including Sami. The actor shares that he and the character's portrayer, Alison Sweeney, have developed a very jokey -- yet loving -- relationship together as costars.
"I remember for fun, [some of us cast members] used to sit in each other's dressing rooms and watch our audition tapes, because they had the audition tapes upstairs, so you could go and pull people's audition tapes and be like, 'Dude, look how bad you were! Oh, man, you sucked! Why did you do that?!'" he recalls with a laugh. "Alison Sweeney has an audition tape, and the great thing about hers was [she had a cheesy line like], 'I'm going to be grounded for a whole year!' So now, when I really want to get her going, I'm like, 'Oh, my God, I had so much work to do. It's gonna take a whole year!' And she'll be like, 'Shut up, Bryan!' So yeah, that was great. So, we used to do that for entertainment. Good stuff."
Coming back around to Dattilo's new contract, the actor shares that he's much more relaxed at work now and hopes that his chilled-out mood comes across on-screen.
"It's actually different going into work on contract than not, because if you don't know what is going to happen, if you're under contract, you don't care. But if you're not under contract, you're like, 'Hey, so, what's happening lately? So, what's been going on?'" he says. "I'm not asking that many questions anymore. I'm just kind of going in and doing what they say. It's a more peaceful and a more secure feeling, which I hope kind of comes up. Maybe I won't be so panicky in my work!"
How do you feel about Bryan Dattilo being back on contract at DAYS? What kind of storylines are you hoping Lucas has in 2021? Do you want to see Lucas and Sami reunite?
How do you feel about Bryan Dattilo being back on contract at DAYS? What kind of storylines are you hoping for Lucas in 2021? Do you want to see Lucas and Sami reunite? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.