Ex-soap opera scene stealer Blake Berris continues to make a name for himself in Hollywood!
For the first half of the year, Nick Fallon's (Blake Berris) relentless torment of Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney), EJ DiMera (James Scott) and their loved ones had fans obsessively tuning in to NBC's Days of Our Lives. Suds lovers couldn't wait to tweet about the latest despicable acts of one-upmanship the devilish trio pulled on each other five-days-a-week.
Flash-forward to late 2014, and all three stars and their popular characters are gone from fictional Salem U.S.A. Berris, who garnered critical acclaim for turns in edgy indie films like Meth Head and House of Last Things, was the first of the three front-burner soapers to exit DAYS.
If you thought the introspective Renaissance man has been spending his much-need soap vacation lounging on beaches, sipping drinks with umbrellas in them, you're as dead wrong as one of the victims in the psychological thrillers Berris loves so much!
This cat is keeping busy by writing and producing his own projects (he and a writing partner have a thriller in production for Lifetime), and being cast in buzzy films like The Highway is For Gamblers starring Twilight's Nikki Reed and former tween pop sensation Joe Jonas.
I recently caught up with Berris for Daytime Confidential. We riffed about his new gigs, his thoughts on his former co-stars exiting DAYS and how he and his writing partners make their collaborations successful.
Daytime Confidential: You've been a busy guy since wrapping your third stint as tragic Horton grandson Nick Fallon on Days of Our Lives — writing, acting, producing. Most recently, you were cast in writer/director Alexandra McGuinness's second film, The Highway is For Gamblers. What can you say about your role in the project?
Blake Berris: I am incredibly excited about this film. Alexandra is an amazing filmmaker and has assembled a great young cast. My character, Gus, is someone who pulled into town and never really left. You don't know whether or not to trust him.
DC: The story's central arc follows a young woman who goes looking for her missing, rodeo queen friend in the Mojave Desert. What attracted you most to the script?
BB: It's very dark and very stylish. There's this simmering sense of danger which feels like it might boil up at any moment. And when Jane (Nikki Reed) goes missing, the walls really feel like they start to close in. I love independent cinema. I'm also a sucker for suspense and mystery. Gone Girl had all that, but there's something more insidious and subtle the way it is in this film. It's also just a portrait of this highway community.
DC: Did you pack plenty of sunscreen? I hear that's one hot-ass desert!
BB: This might be my first rodeo... but I also have the weather app. I actually love when weather does your work for you. It instantly puts you in a mood and gives you stuff to play with.
DC: Let's talk about your writing. Last time we chatted, you were telling me about a project you and your writing partners were doing for Lifetime. Can you share any of the deets?
BB: Yes! Super excited about this project. We're going into pre-production in December to shoot end of January. Not sure about the airdate yet, but I can tell you it's a thriller and it centers on two best friends. No casting announcements have been made yet, but there's a role I have my eye on.
DC: What other scripts are you working on?
BB: Another script I wrote, This Shining City, is going into production this Spring and shooting in Pennsylvania.
DC: How do you make collaborating with another storyteller work?
BB: I love collaborating with writing. I'm lucky that both co-writers I work with are two of my best friends in the world, so there's a common respect for the art and the world and we've put in the years to prove it. It's a balancing act and relationship like any other. You have to communicate and make sure everyone's needs are being met, all that stuff.
DC: What happens when one of you feels strongly about a direction for the story, and the others firmly disagree?
BB: You just have to argue until someone concedes. These [arguments] obviously will happen, but if you debate it long enough, one POV will prevail as more sensical.
DC: Fans of Days of Our Lives were shocked when the sudser opted to kill Nick off for good last May. The NBC soap's watchers are once again in mourning, as DAYS decided to murder the character of EJ DiMera on screen. Meanwhile, Nick's old nemesis, Sami Brady, left town with her kids for Hollywood. Had you heard how they were writing James Scott and Alison Sweeney off the canvas?
BB: I had heard that both of them were thinking of exploring other avenues in life and think it's great. We only really know of this one life we get here, so if there's a desire to explore uncharted waters, you better get going.
DC: In a recent interview about her 22-year stint on the soap, Sweeney cited the dream sequence where Nick and Sami battled in the water as one of her favorite moments. Is that flattering to hear?
BB: Of course! Ali and I had an amazing time with that storyline and those river scenes brought it to an unforgettable climax. I learned a lot from working with such a smart, inspiring woman. Miss her.
DC: Is there anyone at the soap you keep in touch with?
BB: Kate Mansi (Abigail) and Galen Gering (Rafe). Rachel Melvin (ex-Chelsea) is still a great friend.
DC: A new character on the U.K. soap EastEnders caused a social media stir when he used a pumpkin to hide his naked dong on Halloween. When I saw the pic, first thing that came to mind is they totally ripped off Nick in bed with the heart covering his junk for Valentine's Day on DAYS! Are you and your then heart-covered unmentionables owed a belated viral Twitter moment?
BB: I hope not. I find that photo incredibly embarrassing. My buddy told me I can no longer run for public office.
DC: I howled when you retweeted a fan on Twitter saying she would love to sit on your face. Has it been an adjustment going from being seen as the lovable geek archetype to a bonafide sex symbol?
BB: Yeah, that was a good one. [Laughs] I couldn't help but RT it, because sometimes shit in life is too funny.
DC: Jamie Dornan recently devastated 50 Shades of Grey fans by admitting he didn't do full-frontal nudity for the film version of the raunchy novel. Would you ever show all for a role?
BB: Sure. It comes down to whether it moves the story forward, or it distracts. Sometimes a piece merits it. Usually not.
DC: I do this feature for Daytime Confidential called "Wishful Casting", where I make suggestions of other soap roles I'd like to see popular daytime vets cast in. Any chance you'd ever consider a stint on General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful or The Young and the Restless?
BB: Definitely. As an actor you consider everything.
DC: Next year is DAYS' 50th anniversary. On a scale of 1 to 100, what are the chances Nick may pay his Horton relations a ghostly visit to help mark the occasion?
BB: I would be as surprised as anyone else.
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