Jen Lilley is well aware that she hit soap opera gold when she landed the role of “Days of our Lives'” Theresa Donovan. The feisty character has gotten one stellar storyline after the next — and it doesn’t look like the runaway train will be stopping any time soon! Soap Opera Network caught up with actress, who spilled the deets on Theresa’s rivalry with Kristen (Eileen Davidson), her love/hate relationship with sister Eve (Kassie DePaiva), and how her alter ego just may well be done with her current love life once and for all!
Any fan who’s run into Lilley recently can attest to the fact that the girl has been busy. Not only has “DAYS” been keeping her on her acting toes, she’s been pulling double duty as Natalie, her character on the online soap opera “Youthful Daze.” “I feel like Bionic woman,” the actress told us at the Season Three premiere of the Internet soap. “I don’t have time, I haven’t been sleeping. Lot of concealer under the under eyes, let’s be honest!”
But the loss of sleep is worth it to the actress, who’s happy to give her time to the project. “Bryan [James], the creator, has been a friend of mine for a couple of years, and he’s asked me and badgered me every season to do it… so I’m doing it for friendship!” she says with a laugh. “Bryan is a soap fan, which is one of the ways he found me — he watched me on ‘General Hospital.’ And the show is just a classic tribute to soap fans everywhere. It has a lot of classic soap themes that have kind of not been present on the soap canvas on TV for awhile that fans can appreciate.”
Season Three of the LA-Web Series Festival Award-Winner can currently be viewed on the series’ official website, but don’t expect to see Lilley quite like you do on “DAYS.” “Natalie is a fun role. She’s different from Theresa. Natalie [was] a bad girl in the past, but she has already kind of been redeemed before she comes on the scene. So she kind of has the sass that Theresa has on ‘Days of our Lives,’ except she decided to kind of use her powers for good.”
Speaking of “DAYS,” viewers of the NBC sudser were given the ultimate treat when Theresa and Kristen went head-to-head. And Lilley says the treat was hers, as well. “Oh my gosh, Eileen Davidson is a powerhouse,” the actress raves of her co-star. “She is so dynamic, and it doesn’t matter whether she’s at the very back of the scene: If she’s just walking around in the background, that’s who you’re watching. She’s totally amazing. But she’s also extremely humble. And she’s very confident in her acting. And what I mean by that is, girls hate on girls, and that is especially true in the acting world; there can be girl on girl jealousy, but she’s not at all like that. If she likes your work, she’s confident enough in her own work to tell you, ‘I liked your scene.’ And that’s really rare, actually, so I really, really respect that about her. She’s just a wonderful human being. It’s almost like when you’re in a scene with her, you have to remember that you have a line, because you feel like an audience member that just got a front row seat. You’re like, ‘Oh crap, I’m in this scene!’ You’re just really taken in by her performance. She’s really amazing.”
And, Lilley notes, similar things could be said about DePaiva, who the actress is thrilled to be related to onscreen. “Kassie DePaiva, coolest girl in the whole wide world. When I’m done with soaps, should I move on and end up doing comedies again, I will always be friends with Kassie,” she says. “She is so kind, and she is super cool. But working with her, and having the character of Eve come on the scene, has been really awesome for me. It [has brought a different] layer to Theresa, because she realizes that as bad as she thinks she is, Eve is worse. So I think it kind of brings a softer layer to Theresa, just the juxtaposition of having her sister in the scene. They’ve got a sibling rivalry, and Theresa is very competitive with Eve, but it’s family, and it’s one of those things where I can talk about my mom, but if you talk about my mom, I’m going to beat you up. Like, don’t talk about my sister!”
The Virginia native is uncertain where Eve and Theresa’s contentious relationship is heading — and the same can be said about Theresa’s relationship with Brady, which hasn’t ever been the smoothest ride. “I love Eric Martsolf. I love working with him, and I feel like we have really wonderful chemistry,” she explains. “He’s kind of like my brother off screen, like an older brother to me. I love him. But at the same time, as much as I’m really rooting for Thrady, and as much I hope they work out, I’m thinking about it in retrospect, and I’m like, ‘You know what? Theresa deserves a guy who is man enough to not do drugs with her!’ You know? Like, why can’t Brady have a backbone? Everybody is blaming Theresa, but it’s like, Brady is grown ass man! So why isn’t he standing up and helping her? I think [it’s time she found] a knight in shining armor!”