The chemistry between “Days of our Lives’” Hope and Aiden started out as a slow burn, but its since built into an inferno of flames searing through television sets across America. Never one to miss a hot story, Soap Opera Network sat down with portrayers Kristian Alfonso and Daniel Cosgrove, who opened up about the storyline and their real-life professional connection in their first joint interview ever! Read on to get the scoop — which they reveal in between plenty of jokes and laughter!
Soap Opera Network: Fans have really seemed to latch on to the pairing of Hope and Aiden. What do you two think of this twist of them coming together?
Alfonso: Should I go first?
Cosgrove: You go first. Do you want to go first?
Alfonso: I don’t care! [laughs]
Cosgrove: You can go first.
Alfonso: Ok, I’ll go first. I think it’s great. The way that the writers have handled the whole situation, I think they’ve done a really incredible, beautiful job. Instead of just throwing it out there and throwing us together, they really planned it well. I love the road that we’re traveling. When Aiden and Hope first came together, they were kind of at each other’s throats, and little by little, [they’ve] discovered things that they are attracted to in each other, even though they were kind of adversaries at the time because of their children. But little by little, they’ve become friends and are discovering new things. And for Hope, I think that she was attracted to him from the very beginning, but at the same time, [she thought] ‘I’m married!’ You know? Chastity belt, walls up! She never would have allowed herself, ever, to go down that path, because that’s not who she is by any means. But I think little by little, because of being alone for so long and really feeling deserted and abandoned by her husband… She’s caught by surprise and drawn to Aiden in that she is feeling something for him. Of course first, she’s physically attracted, but then they have a lot of things in common.
SON: But then Jennifer [Melissa Reeves] throws a wrench into things, right?
Alfonso: Does she?
SON: Yes, I know you guys are filming several months ahead, but… Jennifer and Aiden went on a date recently, and Hope was upset about it.
Alfonso: Oh, that’s right! He’s playing games. Aiden is playing games.
Cosgrove: It’s not so much games…
Alfonso: Oh, it’s TOTALLY playing games! [laughs]
Cosgrove: What it is, well first of all, I want to totally, completely agree and reiterate the same point that Kristian just made. The pace of this story, I think, is what really helped make it work. Because Aiden comes to town, he’s a single father, and he’s got walls up. He’s guarded. Even the way he dresses, I mean, that tie? If the knot went any higher, it would be covering his brow! And he’s focused on his son and work; he’s not looking for a relationship. But as Aiden and Hope are put in these situations — very innocent, benign situations like bake sales and planning of galas — you’re seeing these two people interact, and you see that they’re actually finding some common ground. And he definitely has this attraction towards her, and as he gets to know her a little bit better, his walls start coming down, and he’s a little more intrigued and finds himself a little but more attracted to her, and it surprises him. So he starts to cool off a little bit. Stay tuned: He even undoes the top button a little bit! [laughs] But there’s some bonding and understanding of one another, of our situations, and he starts to let his guard down as we get a little closer. But, as it is so surprising, he respects the fact that she’s a married woman. So he’s not going to take it any further than getting to know one another. He’s not a cad. And the chemistry wasn’t supposed to be, “Your daughter is messing with my son…. Damn girl, you look good! Let’s go to the Inn and get it done!”
Alfonso: What?! At no time was it that!
Cosgrove: His internal story right from the get-go was, “Father, would you excuse us?!” [laughs] No, but really, it just plays itself. It catches him off guard, and so he wants to nip it in the bud. She’s in a very tough situation, a married woman, dealing with that. I’m going to let her know that I’m kind of moving on, so when I sense there might be a little bit of a mutual attraction, I’ take the fall. I’ll screw it up, I’ll put the monkey wrench in there. I won’t put [her] in a strange set of circumstances. But it’s short lived, and then you just can’t deny it.
SON: What have you guys noticed as far as fan feedback on Twitter and Facebook and whatever? What have fans been saying to you?
Alfonso: It’s been very positive. They’ve been incredibly, incredibly supportive. Open arms.
SON: That must feel really great, because you never know how viewers will react to such changes.
Alfonso: It does feel great! You never know, and I really attribute the way the writers have laid out the story. I mean, the minute my last co-star [Peter Reckell, Bo] left, they were planning how they were going to do this. And the road that Hope has traveled, being a single mother, I mean, I’ve been a single mother, so seeing it in writing, and seeing how they were doing it, it was very realistic. And it was true to form. And then all of a sudden, insert man: Aiden.
Cosgrove: Whoa! I’m going to leave that one alone!
Alfonso: Aaaggghhh!! Oh, yes, leave that one alone! [laughs] Oh, stop! Stop it, you’re embarrassing me! Insert love situation. Is that the same thing?
Cosgrove: Oh God, I can’t get out of this thing! [laughs]
Alfonso: We are moving right along!
Cosgrove: I’m not on Twitter, so I don’t know really how to gauge [fan reaction]. [Editor’s note: Cosgrove has since joined Twitter]. But I was just in Boston for my first fan event as part of the show, and I actually told Kristian today, that I was quite pleased, because the feedback was positive. When you have a Bope fan say, “I’ve been a Bope fan for many years,” 30 years or whatever it is, and they say, “But we approve. We want resolution, but we approve,” it’s great. And I totally get that.
Alfonso: Which, there is resolution. It is coming up very quickly.
Cosgrove: And that’s one of those things. When I was coming onto the show, and I always say this, even if you don’t even watch this show on a regular basis, everybody knows Bo and Hope. It’s amazing, how many people I’ve met who know Bo and Hope. And so, coming on, and knowing that I was going to be working opposite Kristian and where the story was going… I had that in the back of my mind. And obviously, the writers took that into consideration. I think they paced it nicely. There’s momentum, but it’s a very slow momentum. It’s like, “Here’s the situation.” Some of it will be dictated by story, but it also gives us an opportunity to work off one another. And I told Kristian right away, I was like, “I’m blown away by your professionalism and the fact that you never half-step it.” She comes in and she’s about the work, and… she’s also quite respectful to the history that she’s put into this character. She’s well aware of all of that. So it makes me kind of come in and say, “Alright, don’t be a ham and egger!”
Alfonso: He’s not a ham and egger, ever!
Cosgrove: Yeah, we like to bounce off each other.
SON: Were you nervous to step in, when you found out where the story was going?
Alfonso: We knew from the beginning why he was coming onto the show and joining us. We’re so happy to have him, so happy. I mean, he’s such a pleasure. He’s such a talented actor, and he really challenges me as well, which is so wonderful, because I want to feel that challenge every day. I don’t want to walk through the door and go, “Oh, he doesn’t care!” Or, “They don’t care!” Because I care, and I’ve always tried to give 100 percent. I’ve been back now 21 years, and when I come out on stage, it feels like my first day. It’s gone by so fast, which of course means I’m having a blast and really enjoying what I’m doing, but I feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful partner that cares as much as I do and wants to make it great and rehearse and is positive and funny – not during rehearsal though!
Cosgrove: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She reigns me in sometimes, which is quite necessary.
Alfonso: But we have a great time together, and we’re very happy that he’s with us here. And I’m very happy and very lucky.
SON: You both have had a lengthy career, in primetime, daytime, all sorts of television. Did you guys know each other before working together?
Cosgrove: No, never.
SON: So it was instant chemistry?
Cosgrove: Yeah, it was really cool. I was like, “Oh man,” you know. I knew I was going to be in big leagues, and I knew I had to bring it. And I was up for that challenge, and I kind…
Alfonso: You always bring it, every day! I don’t know what he’s talking about.
Cosgrove: Well, the way I like to work sometimes, it might seem like I’m kind of not taking it seriously or joking around, but sometimes you connect to the material [that way]. The way I had to connect to the material, I kind of take it everywhere. I bring it way out here so I can get it in here, you know? And I just want to say this, too, because I was saying this to Kristian earlier, and I think it is important, Bo and Hope, as a couple, left a big impression. And I was not brought on to replace anyone.
Cosgrove: You cannot replace that. And this is just something, as life moves on, you see an individual, you find a new relationship, and you see where that goes. And I actually just said this to someone at the fan event, I said, “We all know people in life, or maybe you yourself, who was in a relationship for 30 years, or whatever it was, and all of a sudden, John and Mary aren’t together anymore,” and you’re like, “God, every time I see Mary, I think of John. How could Mary be without John?” But for whatever reason, they’re not together. But Mary is now with Richard. Now, “I don’t know about this Richard. How could she be with this Richard? I could never see her moving on after John.” But things happen in life, and people move on. This is a beautiful woman here who has a long life to live. And when two people kind of aren’t looking for it, then maybe — boom — they find it, and it’s a surprise, it doesn’t mean that disappears. You still have that history. That’s there, and it’s always a part of it.
Alfonso: The history never goes away. It’s the beginning of the new. And exploring that.
SON: Daniel, you’ve been on various soap operas throughout your career. How did any of your characters differ or are similar to your character on “Days of our Lives?”
Cosgrove: You know, that’s funny, because at some point I started watching some old stuff that I did, because in between, there’s always these gaps, and with me, I’m like, “Maybe I did it all wrong? I did this all wrong,” and I played things in my head. So I was watching some old stuff that I’d done.My first job ever was Scott Chandler on “All My Children” back in October of ’96. And my first line ever was an adlib, FYI. But anyway, I was so green. I came back to play the character 13 years later, so I was watching it, and I also played Billy Lewis on “Guiding Light” from 2003 to 2005, and then he came back from 2007-2009. And he was a total jerk! He was an idiot. But it was for story reasons. So I watched some 2004 stuff, from “Guiding Light” recently, and I thought, “Oh, there’s actually similarities I think in Aiden and my 2004-ish Bill Lewis.” I was working with Crystal Chappell [ex-Olivia Spencer] then, and that was fantastic. And I think he’s just a little bit more mature. This is the most mature role that I’ve ever played. Regardless of the fact that, yeah, I’m older now, but just his behavior.
Alfonso: It’s the most fun he’s ever had!
Cosgrove: The most fun, absolutely. I love what they’re doing. This is a story that, I’ve never had the opportunity of story that has been building like this one has. It’s always been a little bit more crazy. This, I love this. I love this story and working with Kristian. It’s fantastic.
SON: When you came to LA for “All My Children,” you were walking all the time to work, from a hotel, right? And your family was still on the East coast.
Cosgrove: Yep, that was me!
SON: I remember thinking that was so funny, because nobody walks here in LA. But you did!
Cosgrove: I know! The funny thing about the “All My Children” thing is I was staying at a hotel for a long time.
Alfonso: Were you doing “All My Children” out here? Or in New York?
Cosgrove: The last year, because they moved out here.
Alfonso: Oh, so you were on it during that time? Oh, ok, because I was thinking, “She means ‘Days of our Lives!’ Because he’s walking now, too!
Cosgrove: Yes, I’m walking again! But what I haven’t done here, which I’d done there, I was actually sleeping in my dressing room there sometimes. But yeah, I walked all the time. But then I was staying on the West side, so I gave in and had to start driving. I had to give in. But I’ve been here a year in September…
SON: Are you doing the bi-coastal thing?
Cosgrove: Yeah, I live on the East coast, and I haven’t rented a car since I got out here. And I’ve now taken advantage of the public transportation system! The Metro and the bus.
SON: That’s impressive.
Cosgrove: Why, thank you. It’s a challenge.
SON: You could just get a car, but you’re like, “No, I’m going to walk!”
Cosgrove: Well that’s exactly it. I used to rent a car a lot toward the end [of “AMC”], but this time, I said, “You know what? I’m just going to walk or maybe get a bike.” And then if I have to go to the other side of the hill, I just jump on the North Hollywood line there and take the red to the purple, whatever. So yeah, keeping it the same.
SON: That’s seriously shocking.
Cosgrove: I was actually very surprised at myself, actually. But it was so easy and so nice. Actually, the North Hollywood stop, you come up an escalator, and you’re coming up about two stories, and everyone on the right side is standing on the escalator, just standing there, just like New York, but everyone on the left side of the escalator is just standing there, unlike New York. So I said to the woman next to me, I said, “Have you ever been to New York?” And she was like, “No,” and I said, “Well this obviously isn’t New York, because if you stop in the left lane in New York, you’re going to have escalator marks on your nose!” But she was like, “Yeah, we’re much more laid back here.” I go, “Yes, we are!” So I just enjoy it. It’s a different pace, a different speed.
SON: Kristian, have you ever tried your hand at LA public transportation?
Alfonso: Uuuuhhhhh, no! I haven’t. I’ve called a taxi! [laughs] I have a fear of being lost. So I’m not good at that. Even here, I’ve been back here for 21 years, and they call me to stage, we have two stages, 2 and 4, and I never know what set we’re on. And a lot of time, you’ve seen me running back and forth, right?
Cosgrove: I haven’t learned either, but I’m not alone!
Alfonso: Yeah, and me, after 21 years, I’ll run onto the set and say, “Is it here? Anybody here? Oh, I’m on the wrong set!” So you’ll see me run across to the other side. I’m nervous that one day, when I do figure it out, or when I’m actually listening, because I hear my name and I run, but I never hear the stage, so if I do figure it out, will I be fired then? [laughs]
Cosgrove: Do you have a fear of getting lost, really?
Alfonso: I do, yeah. I still have those dreams about high school, not knowing where to go, “What class am I supposed to be at? Where is that?!”
Cosgrove: I’m the opposite when it comes to that. When I got my drivers license, I would take the car and I’d drive to a completely different town, sometimes in a completely different state, and explore, and just be blown away by, “No on here knows me. The first interaction I have with an individual is exactly how they’re going to know me.” I [also like] doing those cross country trips without it being planned. I’d grab a book, stay in hotels, motels, take the dogs. We sold the house and the furniture one year, and we just drove across country and I loved that.
SON: Daniel, just a quick side note before we wrap up — Why are you not doing comedy?!
Cosgrove: Well, thank you for saying that. There are actually a lot of stories with me and humor and where it was found. First, I’ll just take you way back in time: When I was in kindergarten, about to go into first grade, my teacher said, “We know he can talk, we’ve just never heard him speak.” And it was in first grade when I got a laugh about a thing, so through that, I’m comfortable with humor. And… quickly on that note, here’s what’s important to me, too, not just the work, which I love, but that on almost all the shows that I’ve worked on, when I have a guy who’s looking at his watch and he’s one of the union guys, and the crew, and he says, “Hey, today was hell, but thanks for making us laugh,” when they say that to you? I love that. I love the family-esque type of environment that you have in this world.