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Days of Our Lives' Thaao Penglis Talks "Subtleties" of Daytime Acting, 2020 Emmys

Thaao Penghlis, Days of Our Lives

Days of Our Lives' Thaao Penghlis (Tony DiMera) has honed his skills in daytime - and he's proud of it! The actor opened up to Michael Fairman TV about how the rigors of filming a soap opera have made him a better performer.

Related: Days of Our Lives' Thaao Penglis Talks Emmy Nod and His "Last Renaissance"

Asked whether his 2020 Emmy reel was funny or dramatic, he commented:

It is both. There are subtleties to it. There is a teacher I know in Australia, and she is very critical. She said, 'I want to see your work.' I showed it to her, and she wrote back, 'Oh my, God. How did you make those transitions so readily?' I went, 'Oh. How did I do it?' I didn’t think of that. I think it’s an old technique. It’s called having to do 3 shows in one day, and you had better get your stuff right, and it’s about how do you make a scene work? There is one director who I did a miniseries with who said to me, 'Where did you get your training from?' I said, 'Daytime.' He said, 'My God. You certainly know how to have a camera follow you.'

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Well, the camera has to follow your movement. So, when I finished a transition, I’d move to another spot, and the camera had to follow me. So, what happened in the arc of this Emmy-nominated piece is that I took charge and controlled the scene so that it became a scene of lots of transitions. And of course, charm, I did all of what I thought Tony would be. He is a DiMera. I have one of those looks. I don’t know where it comes from, maybe it’s as I get older, but I’ve learned how to work the camera where I may slam something first to get your attention, and then the camera comes onto your face, and you’re going, 'Oh, what the hell is he thinking?' So, I can play the dark side quite readily, and yet in my real life, I’m not so bad. (Laughs)

Penghlis is also thrilled to be have the Daytime Emmys back on the primetime airwaves. He said:

I agree, and I love that the Daytime Emmys are coming back to television. I think it is an upswing when they think of daytime dying. I think whoever made this happen is taking on the responsibility of taking daytime back. It is why people love novellas. People love the story, they love to follow the characters, and we’ve got fantastic fans. I mean, what would we do without them? 

You can’t sustain the show without them, and you pay a price, you have to know how to entertain them because once they know who you are and what you’re about, they get bored. So, you have to be ahead of your audience all of the time. That’s what I have always tried to do with both characters that I’ve played on DAYS.

He added that COVID-19 has put DAYS in a good spot:

We used to think it was ridiculous that DAYS taped eight months ahead, but look at us now! Who would have thought is right?