What It's Really Like to Work on 'Days of Our Lives'

by Rosalyn Oshmyansky 11:57 AM PDT, May 04, 2015
Photo: NBC

"Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives."

But how does that sand continue to fall through the same hourglass for five decades? After Days of Our Lives tied for Best Drama Series at the 2015 Daytime Emmys, ETonline went behind-the-scenes to find out some secrets about what it's really like to work for the iconic soap opera.

Robert Scott Wilson (Ben Rogers) joined the cast last January, and he spoke about how he believes everyone there is hard-working.

"From the outside world looking in, it's like, 'Oh it's just a soap opera.' I think what a lot of people don't know is how much work we actually do in a day," the 27-year-old actor and former Price Is Right model told ETonline. "We shoot almost 150 pages of work a day. Most shows that you watch in prime time that are one-hour episodes, it takes them seven to 10 days to shoot one episode. We shoot seven and a half episodes in one week."

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But even then, there's no typical day.

"I can be here from 7:30 in the morning to 7:00 at night. It depends," said Wilson. "Sometimes we get really lucky and we can film multiple episodes in one day. Other times, we drag out an episode for two weeks."

And the pressure is always on.

As Jen Lilley (Theresa Donovan) explained, there are no teleprompters or cue cards, and "You get one take to nail it. You have one night or maybe a few hours tops to prepare 20 scenes. You can't drop the ball." You can drop props though, whether you throw a drink across the room or pull a Theresa and whack John Black (played by Drake Hogestyn) with a fireplace poker.

"When I had to hit John over the head, I was terrified," Lilley admitted. "It was a rubber fireplace poker, and there was a stunt double I had to hit. I had to full-on hit him on the head, and I felt the reverberation in my hand. It was scary."

The dramatic scenes and outrageous storylines have hooked audiences for years, but as Bryan Dattilo shared, the show has evolved since he first started playing Lucas Horton 22 years ago.

"I think it has an old stigma of being over the top and not being a real drama, and the storylines overshadowed the acting in the past, but if you look at it in the last eight to 10 years, I don't see that," he said. "I see the best place for acting that I've seen on daytime."

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Some of the best acting has undoubtedly come from Deidre Hall (Dr. Marlena Evans Black), a familiar face since 1976.

While her character has been through it all on the soap, it never gets old for her.

"Days has done a very fine job of staying current. If there are topics to be discussed, we discuss them," she said.

"We did the first crib death on television. It had never been seen on TV. There was no warning. Marlena walked in the room and saw D.J. in the crib," Hall recalled. "We did the first twin storyline. We had the first possession storyline. We had the first gay wedding. We have been heralded for our bravery, and I think we deserve it."

And it's the staying power that should really be commended.

As Eric Martsolf (Brady Black) told ETonline, "Days of Our Lives is almost like an heirloom people hand down to their kids."

Martsolf described a typical fan event, saying, "One of my favorite things to do is to watch great grandma come up, grandma, mom, mom's daughter and sometimes mom's daughter's daughter. You literally have four or five generations standing in line for your autograph, and you understand the generational power of this show."

Days of Our Lives will officially turn 50 on Nov. 8, 2015.

Check out some of the best moments from the 2015 Daytime Emmys in the video below.

Follow Rosalyn on Twitter: @RosalynOsh