DC EXCLUSIVE: DAYS' Molly Burnett and Mark Hapka Preview Co-Hosting Gig at ACME Saturday Night!
On the NBC daytime sudser Days of Our Lives they portray starcrossed, uber angsty not-so lovers Melanie Layton Kiriakis and Dr. Nathan Horton. This Saturday night at 7 pm PST, however Molly Burnett and Mark Hapka (seen above with Burnett's real-life beau and costar Casey Deidrick) will be co-hosting the soap world's favorite sketch comedy show, ACME Saturday Night at the ACME Comedy Theatre, located at 135 N. La Brea Ave Hollywood, CA.
I recently caught up with Burnett and Hapka to dish about comedy vs. soapy drama. We also talked about Burnett's memorable stint as a naughty, Christian pop singer on my fave primetime soap True Blood and Hapka's incredible weight loss story—first revealed in a recent Soap Opera Digest interview—and how the hunk lost 80 pounds in six months! Does he share tips with co-star and The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney? Also, does he still believe Nate's heart belongs to Melanie? Read on to find out!
Daytime Confidential: Molly, as I told you at the Daytime Emmys, you really won me over for the first time—not on DAYS— but during your memorable True Blood episode where you played the naughty, Christian pop singer. You were hilariously-inappropriate, singing all seductively for Jesus! Was that your voice? If so, will you be singing at all on Saturday night? What did you think of the True Blood finale?
Molly Burnett: Thank you so much! Mark and I are trying to figure out a way to incorporate some singing...of course you'll have to watch to see! As for the True Blood finale, I'm dying because I haven't seen it yet! I saw the second to last episode where Russell and Eric go out into the sun, but if Alexander Skarsguard dies or something happens to his beautiful face..oh boy....
DC: Mark, anyone who's watched Molly on DAYS as kooky-but-sweet Melanie Layton Kirkiakis knows she can go back and forth from comedy to drama fairly seamlessly, but your soap fans know you for playing the fairly stoic, young Dr. Nathan Horton. Are you excited to have the chance to get your funny on by co-hosting ACME Saturday Night with Molly?
Mark Hapka: Most fans that know me from events and following me on Twitter know that I am nothing like Nathan. I have a pretty good sense of humor and am guilty of riding that border of appropriateness when it comes to my "funny." Molly would probably be the first to admit that I'm fearless with my jokes. A lot of fans have been very supportive and have seen some of my other projects like "Midgets vs. Mascots" and my musical spoof "Private High Musical" which are both a far cry from shy when it comes to some raunchy comedy. It's all in good fun. Laughter is essential to our health so I try to do my part! I just realized I didn't really answer your question...The relationship Molly and I have is a constant comedy show. We are always being goofy. Saturday will probably take it to a whole new level since we are both hams and will feed off of the audience. I am very excited!
DC: What kind of sketches have they prepared for you guys to do? Will any capitalize on your status as fictional star-crossed soap opera lovers in Salem?
MB: [Laughs] What kind of comedy show would it be if we didn't play around with that? The ACME writers are so funny and soaps definitely come into play, but we wanted to mess around too and do a bunch of things you wouldn't normally see Mark and I doing on DAYS.
MH: All the sketches are fun and were designed by the crew at ACME to cater to Molly and I when it comes to our hobbies, other projects, our work on DAYS, etc. There are some very creative and talented writers over at ACME. Molly and I actually pitched an idea of our own that should be fun and will play to an exaggeration of the soap world. Hope you enjoy!
DC: Will any of your pals from the set of DAYS show up to support your ACME debut?
MB: I think we're going to have a pretty big group coming.
MH: It's in their contracts to, so they wouldn't miss it for the world! Just joking! Those who can make it do their best to come out and support. There is always a good turnout of supportive cast members.
One of your castmates, Crystal Chappell, has cast a lot of her soap friends in her popular web soap opera Venice. Any chance we'll see the two of you turn up on Venice Beach anytime in the near future?
MB: Gosh, I hope so!
MH: We can only hope! I would be honored if Crystal asked me to be part of the show. She has done an amazing job and we are all very proud of what level she has brought the show to. Go CC!
DC: Mark, you told me when we first chatted that you felt Melanie was Nathan's soul mate, but Stephanie Johnson (Shelley Hennig) is working awful hard to prove that she's the right girl for Nathan! Do you still believe Nathan and Melanie should be together in the end?
MH: I think the fans are hoping for that. They enjoy Nathan and Melanie's scenes. I'm open and welcome to ANY curveball they want to throw at me.
DC: Mark, in a recent Soap Opera Digest interview you revealed you were once very overweight. That's hard to believe looking at you during all those steamy, shirtless scenes in Salem. How'd you not only lose the weight, but get soap hunk cut? Also, how long did it take you, and how do you keep the weight off? Do you ever trade weight loss success stories with Alison Sweeney, who famously slimmed down while playing DAYS' Sami, and now hosts TV's most popular weight loss competition, The Biggest Loser?
MH: Oh dear...I have nothing on most of the guys on the show! It's a lifestyle. Diets never have, and never will, be the answer. They are temporary and ineffective solutions that result in making the situation worse. My initial weight loss was a motivated life decision that I decided to factor into my stubborn nature. I couldn't fail. The results take over and health and fitness become an addiction. I lost my first 80 lbs in 6 months once I decided to get it done. From there, I started putting on muscle and balancing everything out. My lifestyle has since evolved and now is a permanent structure for my life. Ali and I often talk about recipes and share fresh fruit and veggies from our gardens. She is a definite role model and an essential part of that show. She cares so much about making people feel and understand that the same results she has had are in their reach as well.
DC: What would you both like to say to your fans to encourage them to come out to support you on Saturday night at ACME?
MB: Come out, have a drink—you might need it— and enjoy!
MH: "Be there or be square" always seems to fit, but I would probably say, "Are you coming/watching ACME Saturday night? No?....Ok, it's going to be your loss!"
Not in SoCal? Watch the show streamed live Saturday night at www.acmecomedy.com!