Deidre Hall has had more than her fair share of memorable storylines as Dr. Marlena Evans on “Days of Our Lives” over the years, but there is one in particular that stands out to the beloved star.
“I think, as I've said before, 'possession' will be on my headstone,” she told TODAY in a Zoom interview.
Ahead of the NBC daytime drama’s 55th anniversary on Nov. 8, Hall, 73, reflected on her favorite moments on the show. As she mentioned, it’s hard to forget that time in the 1990s when Marlena was possessed by the devil, transforming her into a levitating, deep-voiced terror in the fictional town of Salem.
“It was such a groundbreaking storyline,” said Hall, who debuted on “Days of Our Lives” in 1976 and has appeared in thousands of episodes since. “Not just that we had somebody who is possessed by the devil, which is enough right there, but that it was Marlena, that it was a character who was above reproach and who should have been not susceptible to that. So it was a real hook for the audience and we got a lot of young people for that story.”
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She said she had “enormous faith” in “Days of Our Lives” writer Jim Reilly that he would be able to execute the storyline properly.
“I just thought, you know what, Jim is a devout Catholic. And this is a thing — it's a passion project for him. And I thought it would be safe in his hands. So the only thing that I said at that point was, I would like to make sure that we do it well, that we really reached in deep and we put the money and the time and the effort into it, and so we do it well. And they did and it was magnificent.”
Years later, Hall was able to branch out again when she stepped into the role of Hattie Adams, which had been originated by her twin sister, Andrea Gengler.
Gengler “came in from her school teaching job in her old life to fill in and then when she went back to teaching I got to play Hattie for a few months and it was a blast. It was a blast. I love, love, love Hattie,” said Hall, who has played the character off and on since, including this year.
Hall has also been one-half of one of daytime TV’s most popular couples alongside Drake Hogestyn (Roman Brady/John Black). She sensed they would have great chemistry together after he auditioned for the show.
“He was interesting and different and had a very masculine vibe, and maybe that's from being a ballplayer. I don't know. And maybe it's from not having done a great amount of acting. So he just brought his own game to it. But he was spectacular,” she said.
She added that their working relationship has been “magical.”
“Drake is a big believer in being wonderfully prepared and he knows the scene inside and out, he knows the moves and he knows this and he knows that. He's got the backstory that was coming up. I arrive on set kind of with things flying off of me wondering, what am I doing today?” she explained. “And so I lean on him … it's a good team. It's a good team, we take care of each other, we respect each other.”
After a long and historic run on “Days of Our Lives,” has Hall thought about how much longer she will remain in Salem?
“I love the show. I love the people with whom I work. It's such a magical place for me to be and I will be there until they say, ‘We’re taking your name off the door.’ (Laughs.) As long as I get invited back, I will absolutely come back with great joy and gratitude,” she said.
As part of the celebration of the 55th anniversary of “Days of Our Lives,” Hall — who, in addition to her acting career, has turned her passion for watercoloring into a collection of holiday cards — and other cast members will be taking part in a special virtual "Day of Days" fan event on Nov. 21.
“There are a number of parts to it. Part of it is that several actors are going to be talking from home. Several actors will be on the stage giving tours and behind the scenes, just fun stuff. But it's going to be a spectacular time,” she said.
Fans are encouraged to keep an eye on the show's social media pages for more information on the event.