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What starring on a soap opera taught Lisa Rinna

The "Real Housewives" star, who made her "Days of our Lives" debut in the early 1990s, returns to the soap in a new spinoff.
/ Source: TODAY

“Days of our Lives” is turning back the clock (or is it the hourglass?) with a spinoff premiering Monday on Peacock.

“Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem,” a five-episode series, brings together current and former stars of the beloved NBC soap opera, including Lisa Rinna. The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star returns as Billie Reed, a role she first played in 1992.

Lisa Rinna in "Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem"
Rinna is back as Billie Reed in "Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem," a limited series with a story that she described (in a loving way) as "campy."Evans Vestal Ward / Peacock

“I hold a special place in my heart for Billie Reed, and I love her probably — I'm closer to her than any character I've ever played, and it's always fun to go back and revisit her,” Rinna, 58, told TODAY in a phone interview.

“Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” takes its characters … beyond Salem, the fictional town where the original show is set. Rinna compared the plot of the spinoff to that of the classic novel and film “The Maltese Falcon,” with ISA agent Billie on a globetrotting mission to locate stolen jewels.

Rinna, who most recently appeared on “Days of our Lives” in 2018, learned valuable lessons during her initial run on the daytime drama. Soaps, she explained, move quickly and "there's not a lot of time to do anything but learn lines and try to retain them."

“I really appreciate that training that I got 30 years ago because once you do a soap opera, you can pretty much do anything,” she said.

Rinna said working on “Days of our Lives” “prepared me to be professional, be on time, No. 1, and to always know my lines and to always, always show up and never leave. Like, you show for work, you don't even call in sick. I mean, I would have to be on my deathbed to not show up for work. Like, that is just ingrained in you when you're working as an actor on a soap opera.”

Lisa Rinna in "Days Of Our Lives: Beyond Salem"
Rinna on the challenges of returning to the soap world: "When you're doing a soap opera, there's not a lot of time to do anything but learn lines and try to retain them. Because I haven't been working as an actor consistently in many years, and so for me to try to retain dialogue, I think, was the hardest part of it all."Evans Vestal Ward / Peacock

The importance of a hard work ethic is something she’s since carried with her in her reality TV career.

“I would get really kind of upset with people, especially, like, on the reality show, that just all of a sudden don't show up for work because they don't want to work or they don’t — they’re too scared to come to work or whatever. And people are like, ‘Why are you so mad at that person?’ And I'm like, ‘Because they're not showing up for work,’” she said.

“You have to remember the reality show is a job. Even though it's reality, it's still work,” she added.

While her time as a soap opera actor may hold sentimental value for Rinna, it’s hard to imagine her reminiscing about the good ol’ “Days” with her two daughters with husband Harry Hamlin: Delilah Belle Hamlin, 23, and Amelia Gray Hamlin, 20. Rinna said they haven’t watched much of “Days of our Lives.”

“They've definitely seen clips of Billie. ... And they haven't watched ‘Melrose (Place)’ but again, also, they're aware of it, they see clips of it. They've seen a lot of things, but, you know, your kids are your kids. They certainly aren't impressed,” she said with a laugh.

She added, “They're aware of things that I've done, but I don't think they really pay attention to it. Which I think is a good thing.”

"Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem"
"Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem" includes several other fan favorites, including Deidre Hall (Marlena Evans) and Drake Hogestyn (John Black).Evans Vestal Ward / Peacock

Well, they’ll have the option to watch their mom on “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” on Peacock (which is owned by our parent company, NBCUniversal). Aside from Rinna, the cast also includes many fan favorites like Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn, Charles Shaughnessy and soap veteran/“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Eileen Davidson.

Episodes of “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” will be released daily beginning Monday, with the finale streaming Friday.