Strolling into a large and quiet stage space just north of Hollywood, “Days of our Lives’” James Scott (ex-EJ DiMera) looks as gorgeous as ever. But it’s not the “tall, dark and handsome” thing he usually emanates that’s turning heads. Rather, it’s a calm, relaxed and seriously happy vibe that’s giving him a remarkable glow and an aura of magnetism. You don’t want to sit next to him because he’s cute; you want to sit next to him because he’s happy. So much so, it appears it just might rub off. And the reason that the actor is all smiles? He tells Soap Opera Network that, completely free of a soap opera contract for the first time in 10 years after a combined run as EJ and “All My Children’s” Ethan Cambias, he is well-rested, inspired, and looking forward to the next chapter in his thus-far very charmed life.
Though there are quite a few “DAYS” fans secretly hoping that Scott has been miserable since leaving the show and will consequently come rushing back to the Salem screen, he admits that those fantasies couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, his decision to walk away from the show was a long time coming — and one he has never second-guessed since originally coming to the decision almost two years ago. “I certainly knew and have known for several years that I needed a break, and I knew when I resigned my contract in May of last year, 2013, that it would be my last year,” he says. “Subsequently, in around September, I told [executive producer] Ken [Corday], because there was no reason not to; I had made up my mind. I almost left the year before, I almost did. And then I thought, ‘No, I’ll stay for one more year.’ I wanted to give the writers time to be able to tie up the storyline. And you know, I’m glad that I did. I’m glad that I stayed one more year than I initially intended.”
Losing Scott’s EJ — a leading character on the canvas — may have come as quite a blow for Corday, but if so, he seems to have handled it well. At least, that’s what it seems from Scott’s description of the conversation in which he told his boss that he didn’t plan on renewing his contract with the drama series. “I had been on that show for eight years, and I had called over to Ken’s office to ask to talk to him on two prior occasions, so I think he understood that whatever it was that I wanted to talk about was important,” the Newcastle Upon Tyne, England native recalls. “He knew that my mind was made up and he sort of said it in the conversation, he said, ‘Is there anything I can say to change your mind?’ And I said, ‘No, there’s nothing at all that you could say that would change my mind,’ because it really wasn’t about the show; it was about me. And he was very graceful, as he always is, and I enjoyed the conversation with him tremendously. And I think it was received as well as I could have hoped that it would be received.
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“He appreciated, I think, that I came to him so early, because it afforded them the opportunity to be able to write something, which was my intention,” he continues. “Because I’ve seen actors who have had their contract coming up, and you know, ‘Are they going to stay? Are they going to go?’ They haven’t quite made up their mind, or maybe they’re playing a game, because sometimes in negotiations, people play games. And it was very important to me that he knew that I was not playing a game. It wasn’t a ruse to try and squeeze more money or something like that, because that was never an issue. They have always been very, very generous in the way they have rewarded me for my work.”
So then, what exactly led to Scott’s decision to walk away from daytime? Simply put, he fell out of love. “I went to work and I had fun, but the passion and the enthusiasm and the resonance that I had with the work had dissipated,” he reveals. “And I personally feel like I wasn’t really doing the kind of work that I was doing four years ago. I don’t think that I cared as much as I did. I don’t feel that my work was up to the standard that I wanted it to be, and that was because I wasn’t as passionate about it, frankly, as I would like to be, in anything that I do. And that’s a big sign for me, ‘You need some change.’”