Days of Our Lives Celebrates 50 Years: Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols Reveal All About Life on the Hit Soap
If you’ve watched soap operas for any amount of time, you know that there is nothing quite like daytime television. For an hour a day, five days a week, some of the most talented actors and actresses in the business turn out countless pages of dialogue intended to make you laugh, cry, believe in romance, and leave you on the edge of your seat. However, only a select few of these performers actually leave a footprint. Turnover is a constant when you produce so many shows a year, but the legends always find a way to return to their roots. No matter what other roles they may go on to do, there’s nothing like the intimacy of a daytime drama that will rally the fans and send them on a passionate rollercoaster for years to come.
In honor of Days of Our Lives‘ 50th anniversary (and here we thought 10 years of Friends was a long run),Glamour was given unprecedented access to those who have inhabited Salem over the years. From multiple set visits to exclusive sit-down interviews, we spent hours with your Days faves. It was thrilling, it was sentimental, and it was definitely eye opening. Just when you thought there was nothing left to uncover after 50 years, it seems like we’re just scratching the surface. With a new book fresh off the printer (Days of Our Lives: 50 Years) and riveting storylines that are better than ever, sit back and enjoy our coverage over these next few months. And if that doesn’t somehow excite you, then wait until this coming Saturday night: We’ll be with our video crew at the exclusive cast and crew Days of Our Lives 50th Anniversary party in Hollywood. Fan favorites you haven’t seen inyears will be in attendance, and we can’t wait to bring all the inside access to you.
While we impatiently wait for Steve and Bo to get off that crazy plane ride and back to Kayla and Hope, listen in as the absolutely delightful Stephen Nichols (Steve “Patch” Johnson) and Mary Beth Evans (Kayla Brady) fill us in on everything from first impressions, love scenes, and so much more.
Glamour: What do you remember about your auditions?
Stephen Nichols: They originally wrote the role as recurring. [Steve was] someone that was going to come in and stir up a bunch of trouble for Bo. There was a dude at NBC at the time that said, “Why don’t we get a character like Falcon Eddie on Rich Man, Poor Man…a guy with a patch.” That’s where the idea came from! The casting director for Days called me up and said, “Stephen, I’ve got something for you. He’s got a patch, carries a knife, and he’s crazy. You’re gonna be great! Just go!” I went and after maybe about three or four weeks, [producer] Shelley Curtis came to me and said, “We want to offer you a contract. Stay!” That’s how it went down.
Glamour: What do you remember about the first time you met Mary Beth?
Stephen: Mary Beth and I had a screen test together, and the first time we did it, she said to me, “Well, that was shit,” and walked away. I chased her down and said, “No, that was not shit!” I have never met an actor in my life that after a screen test said, “That was shit.” [Laughs] They would never admit that! So from that point on, I said, “I love this woman! She’s the best.” She had so much humility.
Mary Beth Evans: I hadn’t really seen the show, and there was Stephen in his leather jacket with his scar and patch, and I was this goody-two shoes, and I’m thinking, “This is weird.” [Laughs] But we had a great connection from the start! Everything changed because if I didn’t get the role, I was going to have to get another waitress job!
Glamour: Steve and Kayla have had so many amazing storylines over the years. What has been your favorite?
Stephen: Basically, when Kayla first came on the show. When Mary Beth arrived, that storyline was just so good.
Mary Beth: In 1990, when Steve and Kayla had the baby. That was a sweet time. And I also loved the Emily and Gideon location shoot.
Stephen: People on the set made fun of me then because I had to run through the swamp with shackles on my legs. I run funny. I have no leg speed, so when I try to run fast, it’s not a pretty sight. [Executive Producer] Al Rabin said to me, “Well, you just reinvented the art of running.”
Mary Beth: When we had our wedding on the yacht, there were gnats all over. It’s never as romantic as it seems, but it was so much fun because we put on these costumes, and you just feel like you’re in a movie. What was really cool about doing Emily and Gideon though is that we got to play the love story again.
Glamour: Can we talk about the first time that Steve and Kayla made love? It was this Kenny G montage that literally lasted about 20 minutes and it’s so fantastic, it’s hilarious.
Mary Beth: Let me just say, I was at least six months pregnant! They brought a body double in, so that is not my body!
Stephen: They got a really good double! She was built like Mary Beth and was so much like her, but just not pregnant.
Glamour: Did you have to make out with this woman?
Stephen: Oh, absolutely.
Mary Beth: Well, not the face. Only when he was touching the body.
Stephen: Back then, they would do these really involved montages.
Mary Beth: And the blowing curtains and candles, and Donna Summer’s “Hot August Nights” or something. It was Shelley Curtis who made that happen. She was a big part of the romance of Patch and Kayla.
Stephen: I was dousing myself with ice water. Another time we were up shooting scenes at this cabin, and she was pregnant and they had to put bushes in front of her belly.
Mary Beth: In fact, there was a memo sent from Al Rabin that said, “Attention: Mary Beth Evans is very pregnant. Please do not shoot Kayla below the bust-line.” It was such a thing. I was pregnant twice during my time on the show [originally].
Glamour: Who was your first scene with and what was your first impression of them?
Stephen: Oh, Lord. I think my first scene was with a bunch of fisherman in a fish market. When my wife saw it, she said, “Honey, I think you picked your nose when you walked in.” I said, “No, that was a scratch, not a pick!” But I had scenes with Kiriakis (John Aniston) because he was my boss, and I was a thug for him. So he was my first scene with a series regular. I just thought, will [John Aniston] please just look at me because he keeps reading those cue cards! Back in the day, a lot of people used them. If you watch the show though, you could never tell. He was a master at it. And now they don’t use cue cards, and he’s fine. He’s amazing. I just knew right from the start he was a really good actor, and I was so happy to be paired with him.
Mary Beth: When I first came on, I don’t remember the very first scene I was in, but it must have been in Cleveland working as a nurse. Steve was supposed to terrorize and scare me.
Stephen: The Riverfront Clinic stuff was amazing.
Mary Beth: That’s why when we came back to the show after 15 years, they were telling Stephen about this huge backstory for Steve, and I was like, “What about me? What about me?” They said, “Oh, you were just raising the daughter.” I said, “Well, then [Kayla] had to have gone to medical school and become a doctor.” I’m so glad I did that because I thought it would be a better role model.
Glamour: Stephen, when you wear the patch, does it take a while for your eyesight to re-adjust once you take it off?
Stephen: It used to be worse because I wear glasses for reading mostly, but over the years, the eye that the patch is not on has become weaker. I had to get contacts so I could see you with this eye clearly. But once you get used to it, the brain sort of acclimates.
Glamour: You have both left the show at various times over the years. Did you take any memorabilia from the set?
Stephen: I took some of the tank tops.
Mary Beth: Of all things! [Laughs]
Stephen: Well, most of those I brought in from my house! And I wanted all the patches I could find because I got those custom-made for me and thought I should have them. I auctioned some off for charity. Now I have about a dozen. I had a new guy make some.
Mary Beth: I didn’t take anything because if I was ever fired, I wanted to be able to just walk out the door without having to ask someone to help me carry all my stuff.
Stephen: I took a leather jacket, but I asked [for it].
Glamour: Did the producers ever ask you to change your look when you were first cast on the show?
Mary Beth: I was always shocked that no one ever said anything to me about my weight or my hair. I cut my hair off a million times, and I think now maybe I’d ask them, but no one ever said anything, especially about my weight. Because I am not as skinny as most of these people here, and no one has ever said anything to me. I always joked to Stephen that all the women were going to love him since Steve loved the chubby girl!
Stephen: It’s not PC anymore. You have to be careful now.
Mary Beth: But I came here in 1986 and no one said anything to me ever.
Stephen: We had so much input into creating these characters—especially me because I came on as a recurring guy, and they had no idea who he was except he had a patch, a harmonica, a tank top, and a leather jacket. But I remember one time my hair was getting long and someone said, “Tell him to cut his hair! It looks like greasy biker hair!” I thought, “That’s bullshit man!” But it was getting long, and I was using this iron to straighten it. [Laughs] They were right.
Glamour: What scene made you the most nervous?
Stephen: It’s always hard when you’re mourning someone’s death.
Mary Beth: We had that one scene a long time ago, and I wrestled and tackled Steve to the ground.
Stephen: Oh, yeah. I said I had to leave you because I was going to hurt you. I was trying to pack my bags, and you tackled me to the floor. She hurt me.
Mary Beth: He’s very delicate.
Stephen: She always says, “You’re the woman, and I’m the man.” [Laughs]
Glamour: How are you most like your character and least like your character?
Mary Beth: Well, I am certainly not as well-educated as Kayla is. I’m married to a doctor, but people ask me for a diagnosis all the time! I’m endlessly optimistic and see the good in people. I think Kayla is that way, for sure. I think Stephen is the most sensitive, sweet person. He’s so not the tough guy. The vulnerability and sensitivity that Stephen has brought to Patch is really who he is. He’s got his little grandkids that he adores, and he’s so lovey-dovey.
Stephen: Well, I’m not a gangster. I do wear a lot of black in real life.
Mary Beth: Well, you don’t beat people up in real life.
Stephen: I don’t beat people up, I don’t carry a knife or a gun. I don’t have any tattoos either.
Stay tuned for more interviews with your fan favorites later this week on Glamour. And don’t forget to tune in to Days of Our Lives this week on NBC as Salem celebrates its bicentennial!