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Paul Telfer Explains Awkward First TV Roles, Learning the Ropes of Daytime

Paul Telfer

Days of Our Lives' Paul Telfer recently dished to Soap Opera Digest on his embarrassing big breaks 

Related: Paul Telfer Reveals the Iconic Days of Our Lives Character He Almost Played

He shared:

I did a guest star on one of their shows that was called … even the title’s terrible. It was called IS HARRY ON THE BOAT? Which in itself was cockney rhyming slang for a very rude sexual act. You can Google it if you have to. I was, like, a rival holiday rep who was a bad dancer. That was pretty much my character’s arc was revealing that I couldn’t dance, I guess. And, of course, there’s some shirtlessness at the end. Maybe two months after I did that, the same network hired me to do a different show. Again, just a guest star. You thought I was a pilot and then the twist was I was actually a stripper. It was the first time I had a stunt double, but the stunt double was for full-frontal nudity. My character in the show had a very specific piercing that I was not prepared to get. So yeah, they brought a very nice young man in to do that one shot for me. And hilariously, that was the first thing my now-wife ever saw me do on television, this full frontal stripper nudity and somehow she still wanted to date me and we’re still together, so I guess it worked out!

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For those curious, Is Harry on the Boat? also featured now-EastEnders mainstay Danny Dyer and Hollyoaks alums Davinia Taylor and Will Mellor.

He also shared how he nabbed the role of Xander after having played a guy named Damon and nearly played E.J. DiMera:

I was doing a big new Call Of Duty game with Kevin Spacey and so a lot of my attention was being taken that way. I was like, “If the soap comes back, great. If not, no worries.” So when they called back, I just assumed they were bringing Damon back. And they were like, 'No, no, no. It’s a different character.' At the time, he was called Drake, which just freaked me out because of Drake Ramoray from FRIENDS. I was like, 'Oh, no, that means I’m Joey. Oh, no.' 

I was in San Diego and the head writer called me up. It was the only time I ever talked to the head writer, which is kind of weird before you take a job that might take up years of your life to just have a quick sketch of, 'Well, basically he’s a charming psychopath. Got it? Okay, good. Bye!' But yeah, I was just shocked that they would really just have a six-week break, give me a haircut and be like, 'Here’s a completely different guy. Same accent, same face, same everything, but he’s a different person.' And to be fair, it worked.

Telfer was worried that Xander's misdeeds were irredeemable. But he soon learned otherwise from one of the show's best, saying:

I used to do that early on, ’cause I was totally new to daytime. I didn’t really understand how it all worked. And also, we weren’t getting feedback from the audience because my stuff hadn’t aired. I remember at first he was kind of gray and you didn’t really know if he was a goodie or a baddie, and then you saw him being kind of mean to Serena. And then all of a sudden, the character just went evil and I was, like, throttling Nicole, trying to murder her and then locking Eric and Nicole in a pizza oven.

And also, that’s when they started to kind of, like, fake kill me. I got hit in the back of the head and it would make it look like I was dead, and then no, I was taken down to the basement to be tortured by Victor and his thugs and all this kind of thing. I was like, 'I’m worried that maybe they’re going to fire me.'

I talked to Ari [Zucker, Nicole] about it, and she was like, 'No, here’s all the terrible things that Nicole has done. And here’s all the terrible things …' And she would just list off all of the different characters who were "goodies," that had done all these awful things. She was just like, 'Don’t worry about it.' And then literally three weeks later, they let me go. But she knew what she was talking about because a few months after that, I was back again.