Earlier this month, soap fans were stunned to learn that Cady McClain had completed her run as Jennifer Horton on “Days of our Lives” after the character left town to sort through her recently deceased mother’s belongings in Boston. Now comes word that the actress will make a brief return starting next week, and we learn more about how and why the show decided to recast the role after the character’s original portrayer opted not to return.
In an interview with Soap Opera Digest in its newest issue, on newsstands now, head writer Ron Carlivati reveals how the show chose McClain for the role after Melissa Reeves opted not to return when production resumed last fall, and what the show’s plans are, if any, for the character down the road.
First things first, McClain’s casting was always meant to be short-term. “When we realized Missy [Reeves] wasn’t going to be available and we had already written this story of the one-night stand between Jack [Matthew Ashford] and Kate [Lauren Koslow], and the anniversary party blowup and the reveal of Gwen [Emily O’Brien] and the backstory of Laura [Jaime Lyn Bauer], obviously, there was no way to tell that story without Jennifer,” explained Carlivati to the publication. He further summarized that McClain’s portrayal of Dixie Cooney on “All My Children” was similar enough to Jennifer that he felt he could picture her as Jack’s spouse and Abigail’s (Marci Miller) mother after someone suggested the actress for the part. “In my mind, I knew it would be a different Jennifer — no one’s going to be Missy — but for me, she stepped into it pretty seamlessly and she was fantastic,” Carlivati noted of McClain’s portrayal.
As for what happens to the character going forward, Carlivati shared that the door is always open for the show to utilize Jennifer again in the future, regardless of who plays her. “As far as I’m concerned, Jennifer will someday be back on canvas, regardless of who it might be.”
McClain will briefly reprise the role starting Monday, March 1 for scenes involving a series of phone calls.