From Circus to Soaps!
At right: Judi Evans (Bonnie) at the CMA FanFair 2004
When Judi Evans received a call from Days of our Lives asking her to audition for the role of sex craved, money grudging, and conniving, Bonnie Lockhart, it was “Oh my God!”
Evans is no stranger to daytime dramas. Having played Beth Raines (1980’s) on Guiding Light, a role that garnished her an Emmy, and Paulina Cory (1990’s) on Another World, where she was the recipient of the Soap Opera Award, Evans was ready to take the reigns again and give it a whirl at Days of our Lives.
“I must admit I was shocked they (Days) called,” Evans said. “I sort of hit a dry spell with auditions and the whole acting bit that I was ready to take on a new challenge in my life.”
The irony of the story is that Evans was just about to go back to being a substitute teacher (what she has done between acting jobs) when that magic phone call came in telling her about the role of Bonnie.
This is also a homecoming for Evans, because in the late 1980’s she portrayed Adrianne Kiriakis on “Days of our Lives, and for her to return more then a decade later is a dream come true.
“I have to be honest. It was like going back to school,” Evans said. “Seeing my old friends, meeting new friends, it just feels like this is where I belong.”
The character was previously played short-term by two other actresses, but the show wanted to make it a contract role.
Even though Evans was a recognized name with the show, she still had to go down and audition for the role of Bonnie and go through all the procedures that an actor has to endure.
Days of our Lives head casting director, Fran Bascom, said that casting Evans in the role was perfect timing. “I always loved Judi’s work. It was a long shot to bring her in, not knowing how interested she was in returning,” she said. “Judi is not only wonderful and a sweetheart, but I can’t imagine anyone pulling off (the role) like she did.”
Evans couldn’t be more thrilled with the character of Bonnie, calling her “quite a gal.” She attributes Days Head Costume Designer, Richard Bloore, with making Bonnie the gal she is. “I adore his work. He brings the best out of Bonnie,” Evans said. “Heck my breasts have a career of their own!”
Evans likes the fact that Bonnie is such a multi-faceted character. There is a past that’s becoming more revealed, and the viewers are finding out that Bonnie has been around the block more then once.
“Oh Yes! I can’t wait till the ex-husbands or lovers start coming out of the wood work,” Evans said. “Or better yet, I can see more children coming forward. That’s what I love about Bonnie, you just never know. Plus, the fact that she has a heart under layers of stone (makes her such fun to play.)”
The difference from good girl Adrianne to unpredictable Bonnie is like night and day. Back when, Adrianne was always the victim. Today, Bonnie is trying to stalk out the victim.
Take Mickey for example. Bonnie sunk her claws into Mickey, a beloved character that is a lost soul after loosing his wife Maggie after many years of marriage. (But Maggie really is alive!) So just what is Bonnie’s agenda? “To get the loot. What else?” Evans enthused.
Since Evans returned to the soap, she has already gone through a transition of actors. First she was teamed with veteran John Clarke, who played Mickey since the show’s inception, but because of real life illness, Clarke left Days teaming her for a few weeks with a substitute, Richard Voights. Then, John Ingle, a veteran of General Hospital, was cast as the new Mickey and her love partner.
“When John Clarke left the show it was sad, but I must say that John Ingle is doing a great job,” Evan said. “The transition of different performers went smooth and the audience has adapted well,” Evans believes.
So, here’s what Soapdom wants to know. Is Evans anything at all like Bonnie? “Well that depends who you ask,” Evans replied with a smile. “My husband would say yes without a doubt, and my mother would say I’m more like my previous character of Adrianne. I think I’m a little of both. At home I’m a mom. I bake and go to Magic Mountain. We are outdoor people.”
Evans attributes her outgoing personality to growing up in a circus environment. “Many people say that they’re home is a circus, mine was. I was literally a baby clown,” Evans jokingly said. Her parents were both trapeze artists while her three older brothers juggled and handled props and the family did a lot of traveling.
Like the character Bonnie has no fear, in real life Evans is the same. “I think that’s why I bring that depth to my character. My family always taught me to have no fear, and stand up for whatever. You only go around once,” she said.
Evans said that making a career out of soaps has been the greatest reward, and a job that she loves. “And it is real important to thank the devoted fans that have followed me over the years. The fans are so supportive. You guy’s are great!”
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