The TV Watercooler had the opportunity to catch up with Days of our Lives star Greg Vaughan to chat about his recent return as Eric Brady. Vaughan speaks about the excitement that got him enthusiastic to return to the series, what it’s like reconnecting with co-stars, and teases that there are still plenty of unfinished storylines for his character.
You were vocal when you left in 2020 and many fans and critics agreed that Eric became a supporting character in his own storylines. You’ve made a couple of visits since but what made you decide to come back this time around? Were you promised a meatier storyline?
What they enticed me with was more of an opportunity to bring a little light to the character and to explore [more with him]. I think that it was their excitement that got me enthusiastic about the opportunities that I always felt were there. There are so many unfinished storylines to be explored [with the character of Eric Brady].
You know, I’ve enjoyed the journey for what it’s been. [The] work is just my passion, and I learned a long time ago from a co-star who put it best, “when the opportunity presents itself, you never say ‘no’ to work.” It’s good, I’ve been very fortunate and made the best of what I have.
How easy was it to get back into the swing of things with Arianne Zucker (Nicole), who you’ve shared your first scenes with since returning?
Oh, it is like we’ve never been apart. For the majority of the people that I work with, whatever distance or gap in between [stints], it’s like reconnecting with old friends that you may not have seen in years, but it feels like it’s only been two days. It never feels like a gap, regardless of the time apart. The magic is always there and once it’s established, it can never be broken. We’ve had many magical moments together and reflect on how fun it’s been.
The “Ericole” fans have suffered a lot…
For 24 years!
They waited well over 10 years for a recast and then Eric comes back as a priest! The last time we saw him around Christmastime, he was back in the priesthood and came to help exorcise the Devil out of Marlena (Deidre Hall).
My Christian faith is a very strong factor in my life, so it was definitely much of a challenge being that I’ve never gone and studied Catholicism in the Catholic manner in faith. But, we do have some leadership [who are Catholic] on the floor with us while we were filming that, so they were a great kind of toolbox to help dig in with.
Eric’s passion, faith, and ministry is more from his heart, and he wants to be a helping hand. He’s grown along the way, and I think there’s so much to be said about his journey along the way and what he’s given, what he’s received, and I think he’s fallen trapped – like we always can.
The Devil is always trying to step in and interfere in your life, you know… for those that have the angel and the devil dancing on their shoulder, of course!
Eric has followed his heart and let it kind of guide his path and it’s brought him to and far – far and away from his family, friends, and loved ones, and so I think now being back, we’re waiting to see which direction he is going and what journey he’s on.
What does this mean for Nicole, who has moved on with Rafe (Galen Gering)? Should Rafe be worried?
In every soap opera, there’s always the opera! There’s always drama that unfolds. Every character should be worried about something! Of course, I think with Eric, it’s mostly like it’s going to be heartbreaking, to come to the realization and to be informed of things that he doesn’t know about yet [like Nicole moving on]. I think it’s going to be a lot of highs and lows. In the very small town of Salem, even Satan shows up! So, you never know what’s going to happen, especially with the direction that it’s gone and where it’s going!
Speaking of the Devil, when Eric returned at Christmas, he exercised the Devil out of his mother. Since Eric’s been away, the Devil has jumped around into a few of his family members. What role does Eric play in finally helping vanquish the Devil forever?
I pray for it, my God, I hope. We all hope it comes to an end quite soon!
A relationship that I hope is explored more would be the one between Eric and his twin sister Sami. What was it like going from playing love interests in a Hallmark movie to playing siblings?
About that… I will set the record straight with you! And so that everybody is clear, I booked that movie (Second Chances) with Hallmark long before I’d end up playing Eric. I think I may have had tested [for DAYS] in June, but my start date was still a couple of months away – August 12, 2012. It’s coming up on 10 years, which I mean is unbelievable. So, I was actually cast on DAYS and tested with Ari. I knew I would play Sami’s brother, but it wasn’t too weird yet.
When it rains, it pours on good days and that was a great week for me and brought me some closure. I offered to test for [the DAYS role] because I wanted it to be something of substance and not something short-term. Coming off General Hospital and having that experience of playing a very well-established character like Lucky Spencer and then going to play Eric Brady, the role would have to have a lot more “meat and potato” to it. I wanted the role to have substance and some longevity. I didn’t want something short, where you go in and out, which is what I did at The Young and the Restless when I took over the Diego Guittierez character after Diego Serrano left.
So, after being the second Diego and then the third Lucky (following Jacob Young), I was happy to know that there would already be an established character history for the role [of Eric]. I’m thankful that there’s still a connection between both the Corday family at DAYS and myself for this character.
Eric’s other ex, Sarah (Linsey Godfrey) is also in a really bad way since Eric last saw her. She’s left for treatment, but could there be any future interactions between them?
I hope there’s going to be a lot, because like I said earlier, I think there are a lot of story points that were very untapped. Especially in the sense of the baby story and what she had gone through emotionally, physically, and mentally and then what kind of impact that could have had or may still have on Eric? Could that be why he’s running from family so much? Is it because of the loss of the baby? I mean, there are so many areas that could be explored.
Any parent that loses a child goes through a rollercoaster ride, obviously. [The birth of my children] was three of the greatest moments of my life. Being the father of three boys, I can’t imagine or even just the thought of [that loss]. It hits the heart.
There definitely were some big beats that were missed with that time jump. Everything had to move so quickly.
So many… And we didn’t even know how we were going to attack that… and maybe nor did they? The story concept [of the jump] was so appealing and interesting, we all – I’m talking from everybody including the department heads, from hair and makeup to wardrobe – like, “How are we tracking this? First of all, who is tracking this because we don’t even have enough people on staff to, you know, flag everything and then there’s time warp!”
That was a whirlwind!
I don’t even know how that came across, but it was exhausting for some of us to maintain the same look and feel of just going in and out with the fast-forwarding or the flashbacks.
And then the pandemic happened, so that must have changed everything again, right?
Correct. Yeah, and everybody adapted to that. And that was the time that I took a leave because I was going back to Queen Sugar. At the time, it was a nice getaway to kind of decompress from the Days of our Lives storylines because that was a lot to take on and there’s nothing not-challenging about daytime. It’s the most under-appreciated work in television. Thankfully, we’ve still got four flagship series on network television today. I’m happy to be part of it. Pumping out 250 shows a year is not an easy thing to do. For all those that create and whether we like it or not, they’re writing something. They are creating story opportunities for us actors to sink our teeth into and bring to life.
When I went to Queen Sugar, we got shut down and I was off for another nine months [because of the pandemic]. It was a year break, and I had only worked 12 days that year because of the pandemic. Then I tested positive for COVID-19 when I got back to Queen Sugar to film in December 2020 and had to quarantine for 12 days because of the union requirement. They had to cut my time down and I had to shoot nine episodes in seven days!
It all worked out for you, glad to see you doing well.
I’m great. That was the highest emotional rollercoaster that I’ve been on but the impact that it had on millions of people – the losses and the families that suffered – I mean, it was just so overwhelming… Having children and trying to keep their spirits high was the most important thing and making those steps to get through it. I pray for everybody and think of everybody that was impacted [by the pandemic] – you’re all loved and appreciated.
Fans are a bit worried that you’re only back for six months. Can you confirm or deny it?[Laughs] I cannot confirm nor deny if I’m here for six months or if it’s my last week! Who knows, my last day could have been taped. I have no idea! I think I’m going to let the fans appreciate and enjoy the work that has been created. It’s been a journey and I hope that the journey continues because, without the fans, the journey would not be happening! I love everybody and appreciate those who have embraced me on and off the show, wherever I go, and whenever I come back.
The little Eric Brady brigade is nice to have. For everybody in Canada, I love you! We’ll keep going!
Days of our Lives airs weekdays on Global and NBC. Canadians can also stream DAYS on the Global app, on demand, and GlobalTV.com. For the latest soap news, spoilers and previews, visit TheTVWatercooler.com/Soaps.