How She Found Out, When She Airs, Would She Consider an East Coast Role and More!
With actors returning from the dead as part of the Salem Killer/nuSalem storyline, and Nadia Bjorlin’s return as Chloe to wrap up loose ends with the Brady/Chloe/Nicole story, it was no surprise to learn that Patrika Darbo (Nancy) would soon make a few appearances back in Salem to be there for her daughter, Chloe. So, we tracked Darbo down to find out all about it.
Darbo was very chatty and affable when we spoke at 8 PM one Wednesday evening in early August. The after hours interview was scheduled at my request, and it was Darbo’s pleasure to chat with me in the evening – to fit into my hectic schedule. “Glad I could help,” she said.
So, how did she first find out about Days wanting her to return to Salem? Turns out, the call came back in May.
“My agent called and said Days called her and asked if I was available at the end of July. My agent said ‘right now she is available at the end of July’ – this was back in May. And at this point I am not a contract player any more. Back in May, and at that time, I was available in July.”
When we spoke, Darbo knew she was working only three episodes. “I worked one on July 29th, I worked today, and I work August 9. I know I am working August 9 because I got the script today.” Darbo knew about the third episode even before her agent. “My agent called me today and asked if I was available August 9. And I said you mean – to work Days? I already have the script. And my agent said, ‘how come I am always the last to know?’”
But as far as Darbo and her agent knew, that was the end of it for now. “No one has approached me for anything after August 9 – not to hold a date open, not anything. Since the TV season is starting up, I will be auditioning for other things. I adore Days. It’s like ole home week when you go back. I said to someone today – whenever you start a new job it’s always you’re not sure what the pecking order is – who is in charge, who is not in charge – that kind of thing. Going back to Days is like going home. I know everyone and every one knows me. Of course I am working with Nadia (Bjorlin, Chloe) – so it’s been great.”
But Darbo did not work with Bjorlin the entire time. “The first day, I worked with Ari and Kyle (Arianne Zuker, Nicole and Kyle Lowder, Brady). Today I worked with Nadia and Monday I work with Nadia,” Darbo revealed.
Without spilling all the beans, I asked Darbo what can we look forward to when she’s on the air.
“I cant’ really say because I don’t want to give anything away, or I’ll never be invited back,” Darbo enthused with a hearty laugh. “Let me put it this way. We are not on the island! That’s all I can say!”
Now that Darbo is not on contract with Days, I wondered if she watched the show.
“I don’t get to do it that much,” she admitted. “I am working on my own writing lately. I have a project that is going very well.” Darbo didn’t want to jinx herself by sharing too much about this new project, but it is a prime time drama series. “I actually have two projects. One is a drama, a family thing, and the other is a dramedy -- a fun kind of family thing.”
Naturally, the actor in Darbo wouldn’t allow her to write television projects without including a small role for herself in both. “The wisdom of my age at this point – the parents (in the project) are 21. I am not 21. So I’ve written myself a little recurring here and there. And I will have a piece of the pie because of writing it and creating the story. I don’t need to be greedy (with a starring role.)”
“(When you’re writing) part of you always goes into each character. Whether very far removed, there is still a part of you that is attached to it. So the writing for me means I can put myself into a lot of different spots, but the project does not hinge on whether I have a part or not. I just want the project (to get made) because I think that one project leads to the next project.”
But writing isn’t the only thing that’s kept Darbo busy since her official Days exit. “I also did a film after leaving Days. I went to Romania to shoot it. I also did Mr. And Mrs. Smith at the end of last year. I’ve been doing a number of charity things. I have been elected to the National Board of one of my unions – AFTRA. That’s been keeping me a bit busy working on things there, like getting new members and trying to take care of the older members. The number one thing – not just with actors – but in our entire country -- is health and welfare. So, we don’t have to get in the car and drive across the border to Canada to get a drug (that’s affordable).”
Turns out , Darbo is quite the advocate. She expressed a golden rule-type sentiment: “I know this world isn’t fair, but if everybody treated everybody the way they wanted to be treated, or – treat me the way you want to treat your mother or sister or aunt. If everybody stopped trying to be so greedy – I have all the gold. I rule and too bad for you. If we got away from that and took care of one another, we’d be a heck of a lot better than we are right now.”
Darbo went on to express her passion for righting some wrongs on the political front and she asked that all of us need to do her one big favor this election year. We need to get out and vote! ‘If you are not registered to vote, put the article down, put the computer on hold, get up and go register. You can probably even register online!” Get out and vote. We need to take control of things, we need not to be apathetic. Let’s start voting.”
“Maybe I should run for President!” Darbo mused with a giggle, then continued in a more subdued tone:
“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. If you stop being apathetic and get out there and vote, you can change things. I truly believe you can change things. But you have to vote. And when people promise you one thing and don’t follow through on it – get rid of them.”
Darbo is also active in her community, speaking out at city council meetings on issues that are important to her, such as local airport expansion, residential housing development and traffic flow.
But what about her singing? She is writing and being active in her community, but is she singing? “Kevin (Spirtas, ex Craig) and I did our event at the Days weekend,” she said. “The night of the living and the dead! It was a big success. I did some singing for that and Kevin did some singing. I am still working on projects so that I can go and sing at any point in time.” She recalled that she had done something earlier in the year as well. “In March I did a charity event for kids clubs. I entertained along with several other people at one of the dinners.”
At which point, Darbo’s dog woke from a nap and jumped into her lap, beginning to lick her face. Was it time for doggie din din? Maybe the evening constitutional? “Mommy’s busy now – go lay down,” she cooed to the pooch. “I adopted a dog in December. She’s about 18 months old. She’s giving me the fish eye now because after Jeopardy, she always goes for her walk. She’s a Heinz 57. She is the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. If I had to describe her, I’d say she was a like a cattledog, with the disposition of a lab. She’s a gold color with 4 little socks.”
With current activities and new pets aside, it was back to business discussing her appearances on Days. “The first day I air is September 2nd, then I think the 9th and the 13th. After that, there is no sign of anybody from the Wesley’s so I don’t know if that’s the end of it or not.”
I asked if she knew if Kevin Spiritas (ex Craig) had been invited back. “He hasn’t been in any of these episodes (that I am doing so far), and I don’t know if Chloe and Nancy are going to be in anything past this third episode, either. At this point, he hasn’t said anything to me.” But get this for dedication. In order for Darbo to work that third episode of Days, she missed her husband’s family reunion.
Plus, I wanted to know if Darbo would be interested in going to any other soap, maybe even switching a network or a coast. We discussed Kin Shriner (ex Scotty, GH/PC) going to Y&R. Lesli Kay (ex Molly, ATWT) is now Lois on GH. There is a definite current trend of actors shifting networks and shifting soaps.
“Above and beyond anything at all, I am an actor,” replied Darbo. “And what does an actor want to do? Act! So if somebody else called me, I would certainly go. I have great appreciation for daytime. Anybody that says its easy work can come and talk to me. I’ll say -- dream on! It’s the hardest work I have ever done. Being on Days of our Lives has been one of the most rewarding things because they allowed me to be something other than the ditzy neighbor or the beat up housewife. They gave me some very juicy things to do.”
In fact, even her return to Salem will be notable, and she is grateful to James E. Reilly for crafting such interesting material for her to play, even if just for these three episodes.
“I have to say that the three episodes that I have gotten from Jim Reilly have been wonderful episodes for me to come back and do,” she shared. “It’s not like I’ve come back and said ‘pass the salt.’ I’ve come back and he gave me some very meaty stuff. And that was very nice of him. I came (to the show) after he’d gone and before he came back. And I am very appreciative to him for it, because it was very nice stuff they gave me. I am very thankful to you, Jim Reilly.”
“But,’ she continued, “if the Bell’s called, I’d go to them.” The Bells are the creators of both Y&R and B&B. “I’m not under contract to anybody,” Darbo continued. “I am an actor first and that’s the prime thing.”
What about shifting coasts? Would Darbo consider a move to New York?
“That would be a more difficult decision,” she admitted. “Again, it’s work. I would have to talk to my husband about it. Generally, when you go into that kind of situation it would be contract for a couple of years and that’s a long time to be away from home. But I am not in any position to say I am going to retire and not work at all – so I’d have to examine it. Figure out where I’d could live and stuff. I am really a west coast girl. I don’t know the city that well at all. I grew up in Wisconsin, and I don’t like the cold. It would be something I’d think about. I’d never say no.”
I mentioned the character of Marcie on OLTL. Darbo was aware of her. “The little red headed girl,” Darbo enthused. Yes, I said, and she’s a singer, and exhibits the same effavesance as Darbo. Plus, she looks like she could be Darbo’s daughter. It would be great casting! “If I were the folks at OLTL, I’d be on the phone trying to get you out to NY!” I quipped.
“That’s very sweet,” Darbo replied. “I would never turn anything down. I would just have to look at it for a little while to see if it was worth my while. It would be very hard for me to go to New York for $5. They’d have to make it $10. It would have to be worth my while to uproot myself like that.”
Bottom line is that Darbo is always open to all possibilities. “And I’ll give that advice to any other actor or anybody else. Never say no. Always have an option. If you go through live saying no, or not giving yourself options, than you are not living your life to the fullest.”
One more piece of life advice from Darbo. “Never ever burn a bridge, and never slam a door unless you’ve opened a window!”
Darbo begins airing on Days on September 2, 2004.
DID YOU KNOW
Darbo was born in Florida and lived in Wisconsin. Her grandmother, who recently passed away, lived to be 101 years old!
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