Home > Days of our Lives > Commentary

Acting Is Reacting: Kudos to Stephen Nichols and Days of our Lives

The best of subtlety and subtext in Salem.

days of our lives showcased stephen nichols talents as steve johnsonStephen Nichols hit it out of the park.

Stephen Nichols first joined the cast of Days of our Lives in 1985. His character’s name was Patch. Yup, just Patch. Because he…wore a patch. On his eye. Patch was a one-time friend of Bo’s. They fell out over a woman. And Bo put Steve’s eye out. (Caroline probably warned Bo about playing with knives, but he was the black sheep, Brady.) Patch was a thug who worked dealing drugs for Savannah, who worked for Victor. Yes, Victor dealt drugs back in the day.

Stephen Nichols: First Impressions

For months, Patch was just your generic soap opera bad boy. And, I have to confess, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Then, the writers discovered that Patch had amazing chemistry with Kayla (Mary Beth Evans). So the drug dealing thug got an actual name: Steve. (Wonder where they came up with that one?) And a DAYS super-couple love story for the ages was born. And I…was still not impressed. Steve and Kayla just didn’t do it for me in the 80s. So when Steve died in 1990, I wasn’t particularly broken up about it.

Second Days of our Lives Act

I didn’t expect much to change when Nichols returned to the role in 2006. I was wrong. I was mesmerized by the Steve who came back. Instead of just the surly charm he’d coasted on during his first stint, this time around, Nichols was playing loss and regret and world-weariness. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

Stephen Nichols: Present Day

This latest story of Steve losing his Sweetness — again — felt incredibly low stakes, as no one really believed Kayla was dead. Except Nichols’s performance came about as close as possible to convincing us that he did.

During Steve’s confrontation with Megan (Miranda Wilson), Nichols gave a master class in subtext and subtle acting via facial expressions. When Megan told him Kayla wasn’t really dead, we could actually see Steve’s hopes rise, then quickly fall as he told himself not to get sucked in. That he didn’t dare even hope, because the disappointment would be too devastating.

Then, when Steve saw an alive Marlena (Deidre Hall), we, once again, witnessed his flood of reactions. From joy for her, joy for John (Drake Hogysten), and then the dawning realization that if Marlena hadn’t died, then maybe Kayla hadn’t either. We saw it in his body language when he hugged her.

All acting is said to be reacting. And Nichols’s reactions were Daytime Emmy-worthy in and of themselves.

The best place for true soap fans to be is our Facebook groups. Have you joined? If you love soap spoilers, gossip, and fans as dedicated as yourself, check out Days of our Lives Fans, General Hospital Exclusive, The Young and the Restless Fans, and The Bold and the Beautiful Fans.

Subscribe Now

Get spoilers, news and recaps in your inbox daily.

Subscribe Now

Get spoilers, news and recaps in your inbox daily.