The New Year is bringing a fresh start to many, but it looks like it’ll be the same ol’ same ol’ dysfunction for “Days of our Lives’” Sami (Alison Sweeney) and EJ (James Scott) — and that’s exactly how their portrayers and their fans seem to want it! Soap Opera Network sat down with the popular pair to get their take on their alter ego’s dysfunctional relationship, what goes into their incredibly passionate and controversial fight scenes, how Abigail (Kate Mansi) could be a threat to their future, and more!
It seems that the more EJ and Sami fight, the more viewers eat them up. And, like the proverbial chicken and egg conundrum, it’s not exactly clear how it happened: Would the couple fight no matter what, and it’s just lucky that fans love it? Or do they fight because fans love it? Either way, both Scott and Sweeney get a lot of enjoyment from playing out their alter ego’s extreme love life.
“I’ve always played a character that I know the audience [gets upset with] and quite often, I expect them to be throwing stuff at their TV set at me,” Sweeney says with a laugh. “So when faced with a storyline that I think is definitely going to get people all riled up, it’s fun. And I think that what’s fun about the EJami fans, is they’re a little bit twisted — and so are Sami and EJ, they’re also a little twisted. So I think you just always kind of know that as tough as times might get, the fans will like that, too. They like the fighting. I mean, for example, that fight scene [in which EJ and Sami broke up in December] was really dark, and the fans really seemed to respond well to it, and that’s good news for us.”
Short of, Scott says, the lack of time to rehearse and work on the intense scenes as much as they’d prefer. “I think if we had a little bit more time to play with things and rehearse things, we’d have a lot more fun,” Scott says. But though the time crunch is difficult, it helps keep them from breaking character during the intense scenes. “There’s this sort of pressure in the background [to get it perfect in one take]; we don’t really have the latitude, so if you notice yourself stepping out of or coming out of character, you have to pull it back quite quickly.”
Despite the lack of rehearsal time, Scott and Sweeney manage to make their characters’ fights look extremely real, almost as if they aren’t even scripted. And Sweeney says nothing beats when people notice that. “Someone in the makeup room said they feel like they are really watching a couple fight, that it’s uncomfortable to watch because it’s so real,” she notes. “That’s the best compliment to get!”
Surprisingly, as fast as the actors have to amp up EJ and Sami’s screaming, passion and insanity, they have to let it all go as quickly as it came. “If we have a big fight, we usually have a big hug at the end of the scenes, and I think it’s gone,” Scott explains.
Adds Sweeney: “There’s all this buildup and tension to it, and then when you get through the scene, there’s something really cathartic about it, just releasing all of that. So yeah, we hug it out afterwards and then the crew is like, laughing and applauding us or just being funny about it and trying to make light of it as we move on to the next scene — because then you have to move on to the next scene, or there’s something else you have to do, maybe change your clothes and do another scene from another episode. So there’s really not a lot of time to sit in those dark moments.”
Speaking of not-so-light moments, EJami fans sure aren’t going to be too thrilled about the latest curveball the writers are throwing the couple’s way: The blossoming attraction between EJ and his little brother’s ex-girlfriend, Abigail (Mansi)! But should fans really worry that there’s something there? Scott isn’t quite sure, but as viewers know, Abigail hasn’t been shy about going after older men (i.e. Austin, Patrick Muldoon) before! “They have an interesting relationship,” Scott muses about the pair. “There’s something very sweet about her. She’s quite innocent. Naïve is probably a bit better of a word. But I think he’s a little bit charmed by that, in a way. It seems like a kind of unlikely pairing, but I guess you never know…”
Whether or not Abigail proves to be a threat to EJ and Sami’s future, both actors agree that the couple has seen worse — and survived to tell about it! “It’s very hard to imagine… even with the two of them having these problems, him having a relationship with another woman,” Scott guesses. “These guys have been through a lot and they’ve managed to stick with one another through some pretty tough times.”
And, Sweeney admits, that’s due in part to EJ being willing and able to overlook her weaknesses — as he’s doing in the current Nick (Blake Berris) situation. “Sami is so torn. There’s so much going on for her,” she explains. “Obviously, that’s what she wants more than anything, is to have someone like EJ by her side, that when she gets herself into the trouble that she inevitably gets herself into, he will protect her. But for him to actually say to her, ‘I can’t help you unless you tell me what it is I need to help you with,’ then she gets all indignant, like, ‘I can do it, I don’t need your help!’ She wants to believe she can do it alone, but she can’t, so she’s her own worst enemy sometimes. But it turns out to be, you know, certainly, to EJs strengths and background to facilitate making sure that she [and Kate and Gabi] don’t get caught for what they did to Nick.
“And there are some great EJ lines,” she continues. “Like, ‘Look what a mess you’ve made! I have to clean this up now.”
“[He’s thinking] if you’re going to do it, do it properly!” Scott jokes with a grin. “And this is the reason why EJ is so in love with Sami: When she does these things, I feel that he just wants to be the guy who comes in and says, ‘Do this’ and fixes and takes care of it. There’s always a mess to clean up. He’s always got a use.”
As for what the future brings, neither Scott nor Sweeney are worried that their characters have played everything there is to play. “They seem to keep coming up with good stuff,” says Scott of the show’s writers.
“Yeah, they’re pretty creative,” Sweeney adds. “They have really good imaginations, clearly!”
But if the actors could have their say in future EJami storyline? “It would have to be Sami and EJ teaming up against something,” Scott says with a sly smile. “I mean really, from the get-go, be a team — not in a disjointed way. It would be so much fun to see them scheming and planning… something where they’d really have to work as a team to carry out a plot.”
“Yes, a big agenda!” Sweeney says with a laugh. “Something with a lot of planning, and then Sami messes it up. Wouldn’t that be fun?!”