After a 12-year absence, actor Roark Critchlow is back in Salem, reprising his role as Dr. Mike Horton on “Days of our Lives.” His first air date is set for Tuesday, October 4.
Critchlow’s return was first revealed earlier this month when Peacock released a fall trailer teasing what’s to come on the drama series, which recently moved to the streaming service after spending more than 56 years on NBC. Critchlow joined the cast of the series in 1994 and remained a full-time cast member until 1999. He reprised the role again in 2010 for a few episodes to honor the late Frances Reid, who played Alice Horton, Mike’s grandmother. Details about the actor’s return up to that point had been kept under wraps. Now, in an interview with Soap Opera Digest, on newsstands news, Critchlow is speaking out about his return to the series, including who he shares his first scenes with, why he’s back in town, and how his return to the canvas came to be.
First things first: Critchlow will first appear on-screen alongside Susan Seaforth Hayes and Bill Hayes (Julie and Doug Williams). His visit will be a short one. “I was nervous. You get back in there and you just feel … it’s not like a heavy weight, but it’s a heritage,” says Critchlow of working with the legendary actors. “To be able to work with people who have been at it as well and as long as they have? We actually had a couple of lovely scenes. It was like the people that you knew from 20 years ago or whatever. It was not just the characters going, “Oh, hi. Hey, Mike, you’re back. It’s good to see you, too.’ It was so genuine, because they were both coming from a human place. It wasn’t just the actors and the characters. It really enjoyed those scenes.”
As for how his return came to be, Critchlow credits the writers for thinking of him as the offer came as a surprise. “I’m not really sure how it evolved,” he tells Digest. “They just contacted my agent. He was like, ‘Hey. They’ve got a couple of episodes. Do you want to go?’ I was like, ‘Hell, yeah. That sounds good.'”
In addition to the Hayes, Critchlow also worked alongside Cady McClain and Matthew Ashford. The former plays a recast Jennifer Horton, Critchlow’s on-screen sister, and the latter plays Jack Deveraux, Jennifer’s husband. During Critchlow’s initial time on the soap, another actor played the part of Jack, the actor points out. “When I was on it, it was Mark Valley [ex-Jack]. That was actually kind of fun, because he and I shared a whole bunch of stories. Now we’re both in the same spot in our careers.”
Meanwhile, working with McClain for the first time became natural for Critchlow despite another actress playing his character’s sister during his initial run. “She and I dropped in really easily, I felt,” said Critchlow of his experience. “It was a very nice, natural care for each other. It wasn’t difficult, that’s for sure. Obviously, Missy [Reeves, ex-Jennifer] is a super-duper person. But you don’t compare people. Cady and I chatted. We got on good. In terms of story, I thought we pulled it off nicely as being people who’ve known each other their whole lives.”
During his return to the Los Angeles area for taping, Critchlow was able to spend time catching up with friends, his kids and his ex-wife, Maria, as he primarily spends most of his days in Canada, more specifically Summerland, British Columbia, where his parents live and where he went to high school. “I came back because mom and day are getting older,” Critchlow tells Digest. “I thought, ‘I’ll come back home, take a break and gather myself.”
Since his initial departure from the soap in 1999, Critchlow has gone on to star in such shows as “V” and the original “Pretty Little Liars” series. He’s also appeared in episodes of “Drop Dead Diva,” “NCIS,” “Supernatural,” “UnREAL,” and “Arrow,” among others. He reunited with former “Days of our Lives” co-star Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady) in the 2016 TV movie “Murder, She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery.” He can next be seen in the Christmas TV movie, “My Favorite Christmas Tree.”
For more on Critchlow’s return to “Days of our Lives,” make sure to pick up your copy of the October 3, 2022 issue of Soap Opera Digest on newsstands now.