A Passions reunion of sorts will take place at ACME Comedy Theatre tonight in Los Angeles. Days of Our Lives star Eric Martsolf, who played Ethan on the campy serial, will be appearing in ACME's Celebrity Improv Mashup with The Bay's Jade Harlow, who once played Ethan's half sister Jessica. I caught up with the pair separately to dish their upcoming comedic adventures and their respective sudsers. First up is Martsolf!
Daytime Confidential: You're like an ACME Comedy legend at this point! Are you pumped to be doing Celebrity Improv Mashup?
Eric Martsolf: A legend in my own mind! Plain and simple, whenever the ACME group invites me to come and play with them, I have a hard time saying no. I think comedy and the timing it requires is the most difficult challenge out there for actors, and I love freakin' challenges!
DC: You're reuniting with your former Passions costar Jade Harlow. Will you guys be spoofing the ultimate soap spoof?
EM: Actually, Jade and I, who were siblings on the show, never worked together on Passions. I believe I joined the cast only weeks after she left the program. Spoofing Passions just seems so darn easy, doesn't it ? That's like trying to spoof the classic Airplane movie!
DC: On DAYS you're in the middle of a pretty intense storyline with Brady snatching Titan from his grandfather Victor. What's it like playing out those emotionally-charged scenes with John Aniston?
EM: John Aniston is secretly the funniest man on the face of the earth...I'm not kidding. The man has the driest delivery. It's simply an untapped treasure. But when it comes time to lay down the law with Brady, he can bring it.
DC: Brady took a really dark recently, burying wacko Vivian alive. Were you worried it would be hard for the character to come back from that?
EM:I've been concerned that he would come back from that. I enjoy the dark turn and believe the possibilities for the character to flourish under such circumstances is great. I want Brady Black to make Tony Montana from Scarface look like a puppy dog.
DC:Brady doesn't really have a clearly-defined leading lady right now. Who would you like to see him paired with?
EM: Anyone on the show who he is not related to, is breathing and currently on contract! Beggars can't be choosers.
Jade Harlow Interview
DC: First of all, congrats on a bofo first season of The Bay! Will Lianna be returning in Season 2?
JH: Thank you so much! Yes, Lianna will be returning for Season 2. There are a lot of things coming up in Season 2 that will address some of the burning questions that were unresolved in Season 1.
DC: Lianna was floored at the end of the season to learn her mother Janice Ramos (Lilly Melgar) lied to her about her paternity. Was it hard for you to rip Lilly apart in those scenes?
JH: I love Lilly Melgar. She is so generous as an actress. We had many discussions about what we were going to be doing together as Janice and Lianna, and I think if we hadn't been so close, it would have been much harder to do. Underneath that built up resentment is a lot of love. That is why the betrayal is so devastating to Lianna. Although it was hard to watch Lilly's heart break, afterward we could hug it out and kind of "good game" each other.
DC: Lianna's attempt on her own life was hard to watch. With so many kids committing suicide in real life, did that play into how authentically you portrayed such a timely issue on The Bay?
JH: Oh, thank you! I think suicide is a very serious issue for all ages, not just the teens. I think, whenever you are dealing with a subject that is true to life, it is your responsibility as an actor to reflect those things honestly, for everyone out there who has ever walked in those shoes and felt alone. I know that I personally, wasn't built with a kind of supreme immunity to those feelings. I think most all human beings—if we are truly honest with ourselves—have —even if it is only for the briefest of moments—felt that kind of "no way out" desperation. I just—instead of suppressing them or ignoring them— I romanticized them. Which, now looking back, isn't very healthy and I don't recommend.
DC: Passions fans remember you as the second Jessica Bennett. Are you still recognized for that role when you're out and about?
JH: Rarely, very rarely. I'm so different from that character in real life. I didn't get recognized much even when I was shooting, unless I was at a Passions event. [Laughs]
DC: Despite it's low overall ratings, Passions was a hit among 12-17 year-old girls, the same demo that has ironically helped make ABC Family a success. Do you think Passions was sort of the forerunner to aggressively targeting that demo?
JH: I think Passions was groundbreaking in a lot of ways! It was a fearless show with no safety net. It definitely tapped into a demographic that had been overlooked at that time, especially for the time slot it was in. If you look back at Dark Shadows for example. It wasn't primarily a hit with housewives, it was a hit for those same ages racing home from school to be there at 4 o'clock, to see what happens next with the Collins! I think that is why that particular show appealed to so many people for so many years. It grew with their audience, spanned a variety of ages.
DC: What can you tell us about your appearance at Celebrity Improv Mashup this week?
JH: I'm so excited! Not only to participate alongside my former cast mate Eric Martsolf, but to have the chance to do ACME's Hollywood Dream Role part of the show. It is where the guest gets to pick any character in cinema to comically portray in improvised scenarios. I have chosen to do Regan from The Exorcist!
DC: You just finished a role in the movie Getting Back to Zero with Alexis Arquette. What can you share about that project?
JH: Well, it was my first feature lead. It's a high-voltage dark comedy, immersed in the world of underground gambling. I play Ashley, a girl who has been hopelessly in love with a guy (Charlie) for years but, because of his gambling, had to finally cut her losses and move on. Just when she's done that, he comes back into her life and brings chaos with him. It's a great ensemble cast and Alexis tends to steal the scene in whatever scene she's in! It's directed by Roger Roth and is currently scheduled to be released late 2011/early 2012.
Be sure to check out Eric Martsolf and Jade Harlow appearing in ACME's Celebrity Improv Mashup at 9 pm PST, tonight at ACME Comedy Theatre, located at 135 N. La Brea Ave. Hollywood, CA 90036. Not in SoCal? Watch online at www.acmecomedy.com.
Photo of Jade Harlow provided by Jade Harlow