Shirley Jones was a nervous wreck when she finally agreed to take on the role of Colleen Brady who premieres today, January 31, 2008, on Days of our Lives. The Academy Award winning (Elmer Gantry) songstress (Music Man, Carousel, Oklahoma), and star of the popular TV series, The Partridge Family, had not done a daytime soap in her entire acting career. It was a bit scary to say the least.
"I had never done six shows in six days, which is how they do it as you well know,” shared Jones. “And, I had page after page, after page of dialogue to memorize, as well as an Irish brogue. So it was not easy. But I ended up loving it, had a great time with everybody, and they couldn’t be more helpful. I had a good time.”
But it took some convincing. Jones, at first, had her doubts. "In the beginning, when they first called me, and because I knew what it was going to be, I said no I don’t think I can do that. I’m not sure I can do that. I’m not sure I want to do that. I don’t know. I was very indecisive. And finally, the Executive Producer, Ed Scott, who is a sweet, wonderful guy - he called me. He said Shirley, this is a marvelous part."
That was the magic phrase. That's what convinced her. Jones loved the character of Colleen Brady. She loved the fact of who she was and that she had a lot of, ahem, bitchiness in her which was fun to play.
"In my later years -- as I’ve said to my agents and everybody else -- it’s not the money that I work for now, it’s the part. And it is a wonderful part. That’s why I decided I wanted to do it."
Jones shared that the part in question is about a 90-year-old lady and she’s dying. She has an Irish brogue, and she has an unbelievable story to tell. On top of that, she’s feisty, and well, we have to say it, cos Jones did, a little bitchy, too.
Soapdom wanted to know how Colleen is even alive? She had supposedly thrown herself off a cliff. How did she survive that?
"That’s kind of a secret," hinted Jones. "I guess it’s supposed to be a secret until you see the show, but I didn’t throw myself off the cliff. I faked my suicide."
Sacre bleu! A faked suicide? In daytime? Unheard of! But we digress. Wasn't Colleen to become a nun?
"No, I didn’t become a nun," revealed Jones, "because I fell in love and decided that that wasn’t what nuns do. So I left my habit on top of the cliffs, faked the suicide, and went on to another life."
In this new life, complete with a new name, Colleen stayed in Ireland and amassed a great deal of money doing something menial. She sewed for people. After living this whole other life for most of her life, she finally decides to come clean. “It was time to tell my story,” said Jones.
Jones prepared for the role by working directly with Days of our Lives Executive Producer, Ed Scott. “Ed was on the phone with me every day prior to the first day of shooting,” she said. “We were talking about the scripts, talking about the character and I would say, can we cut this line? Can we cut this line and add this line? And we went through it. Finally, he said at the end -- which I thought was very funny -- he said well you’ve just cut out all the soap! I said no, I won’t do that. But what I loved about it was, I had to work hard because number one I had to work with learning an Irish brogue which I’ve never done a role - this is a first for me. I’ve never done a role where I had to have an accent of any kind.”
On top of learning to speak with a proper Irish brogue, Jones memorized all her dialog. It was pages and pages. “I come from the old school. I don’t use cue cards or stuff like that. I believe in learning everything.” Which added to the degree of difficulty of the part. “I’m telling my life story basically in these episodes. And so I have very few cues from other people.” When you have cues from the other actors/characters, it makes your lines easier to learn.
“So yeah, it was hard. It was very hard,” Jones reiterated. But she didn’t regret one second of it and gleaned a new perspective on the craft of daytime acting.. “I came away respecting these people tremendously for what they do.”
"I had no idea," she said.” I have a great admiration for everybody that does this and does it daily. I mean, it’s not easy. It’s a lot of memorization, a lot of, you know, fast work. As I said, six shows in six days - I mean, I’m used to rehearsing for three weeks and going on the stage or rehearsing for months and doing a movie. This is very hard work. But wonderful and everybody is so good at it, so it makes it easier for new people coming in."
This from someone who is – you better sit down for this – not a soap addict! “I intermittently have watched, I guess all of them maybe once or twice. But no, I’m not a soap opera person mostly because I work myself during the day. So I’ve never had time really to get involved. But I loved doing this.”
Would she another soap role?
“I love it all, you know. I’m one of these people that loves new challenges and even at my age now, I welcome them. It doesn’t mean I’m going to be great at it, and I may fail, but I’m not afraid. And I don’t know. I mean, again, as I said earlier, to me it’s not the money these days. It’s the part. And if the part is good and I believe in it, and I think that it’s true, then, you know, I’ll do it. I ended up loving doing (Colleen Brady). I was terrified in the beginning and, you know, took on a challenge which I wasn’t sure I could meet. But I feel that I did, and now I’m very happy about it.”
Watch consummate actor Shirley Jones as Colleen Brady on Days of our Lives beginning Thursday, January 31 through Thursday, February 7, 2008. Soapdom can’t wait!
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