Since Linsey Godfrey’s exit as Sarah, Xander’s done a complete 180 on Days of our Lives. He’s no longer consumed with walking the straight and narrow and has been embracing his dark side, again. How has actor Paul Telfer been enjoying the change of pace? The actor spoke with Soap Hub all about it.
Paul Telfer Talks Xander
The handsome star talks about what it has been like for his character to lose Sarah, the new Xander, and the beginnings of an odd relationship with BFF Jack’s (Matthew Ashford) daughter, Gwen (Emily O’Brien).
Were you concerned about your future on DAYS when you learned Linsey Godfrey (ex-Sarah) was leaving the show?
Telfer: I wasn’t concerned about my immediate future in terms of employment. It had been made clear to me I wasn’t going anywhere in that [contract] cycle. But I had concerns about what was going to happen to the character, how they were going to use Xander moving forward, and what it meant for all the work I had been doing with Linsey building [Sarah and Xander’s] relationship. All of that felt like it was very much in jeopardy. I’d never been through that before. Typically, I’m the one leaving the canvas. I’d come on, stir up trouble, and go. People are used to saying goodbye to me and not the other way around.
Have you been in touch with Linsey?
Telfer: Oh yeah. We’re still very much in contact. Linsey’s a good friend. She’s really into boxing, and I’m trying to get her into MMA [Mixed Martial Arts]. I’ve always enjoyed boxing, but I love and am a bit obsessed with MMA, USC cage fighting, and all that stuff. I’ve been trying to get Linsey into it for a while because I feel anybody who enjoys boxing can be seduced into the world of MMA if correctly instructed. This very famous, very successful female boxer, Claressa Shields, was doing her first MMA fight the other night. I was nagging Linsey to watch it. We didn’t watch it together. I was watching at home; she was watching at home, and we were texting each other throughout the fight.
How do you feel about the direction Xander has taken since Sarah departed?
Telfer: I didn’t want Xander staring out the window crying for months and yearning for Sarah to return. Obviously, there was going to have to be some of that. She’s the love of his life and the first real romance I’ve portrayed on the show. But I know that’s not fun for the fans to watch; just some mopey big idiot wandering around. I’m glad [the writers] made it funny. Xander’s typical, almost adolescent, reaction to things felt very much like I did when I was a teenager and had my heart broken, which was grab a bottle of vodka and go to the park. My hope was that as much as the way Sarah exited was a crazy over-the-top storyline, that at least the fallout of it, for Xander, could be played in a fun, semi-real way.
It feels like Xander hasn’t missed a beat.
Telfer: As much as I was devastated to lose my good friend and acting partner, Linsey, I’ve been very excited about the things they’ve given me to do. I felt very lucky that, straight away, I had that very fun escapade with Chanel. Obviously, it wasn’t a real romance, but it immediately got me in front of another very different type of woman… And getting to work with Jackée Harry (Paulina), my mother-in-law. She’s just so alive when she acts. They gave me some great scenes with her. I thought we had a really fun dynamic, and I hope I get to do more with her. Then getting to go back into the Nicole thing and moving forward… I loved those scenes with Arianne Zucker. Xander and Nicole actually sleeping together is absolutely a terrible thing for Nicole, but it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to Xander.
What are your thoughts on the new Xander?
Telfer: Everything that’s happened [since Sarah left town] has allowed both Xander and me to get out of this spiral of despair and start rebuilding this new gray Xander, as opposed to nasty bad Xander, who was occasionally charming and surprisingly kind to random people, and good Xander, who was trying his best to be a better person for Sarah. This new mix of the two makes him a little bit unpredictable.
Has your latest storyline with Gwen taken you by surprise?
Telfer: I wasn’t taken off guard. My only worry was that they were going to throw me into another romance that would cheapen or disregard the Sarah relationship, but that’s not what’s going on at all. I’m really happy with the way it’s going. I don’t think there’s anything even remotely romantic going on with Gwen. Xander’s definitely not feeling romantic. He’s sleeping on the couch. He’s unemployed. He’s ostracized from his family and a pariah in town. Everything has fallen apart. He’s at the absolute lowest ebb. On Gwen’s end, she’s too busy dealing with all the terrible things she’s done; plus the fallout of being blackmailed.
How do you like working with Emily O’Brien?
Telfer: Emily and I knew each other a little bit before the show. We have a few friends in common and have been to a lot of weddings together. I was excited when she came on the show, but we never had scenes together. Then I was in the Horton house, and Xander had that first meet with Gwen… At that point, they didn’t tell us anything like, “You guys are going to have a lot of scenes together.” It was just, Oh, this is natural that we would bump into each other. Of course, Xander noticed that Gwen is beautiful, but he wasn’t going to jump on her, because he’s still heartbroken, and she’s his best mate’s [Jack] daughter.
Yet, Xander has gotten involved with Gwen since finding drugs in her purse and learning Dr. Snyder (Michael Lowry) is blackmailing her.
Telfer: Primarily, Xander doesn’t want anything bad to happen to Jack (Matthew Ashford), and he feels that the fallout would immediately lead to Jack. Once he realized that Gwen was actually in trouble, he tried to stick his nose in. Unfortunately, every time Xander tries to do something good for somebody, he usually messes up.
And that will be the case this time around, too. What can you tease regarding what happens next?
Telfer: Gwen keeps saying, “Don’t help me.” The cycle continues of her wanting to be left alone to handle this by herself, and Xander insisting that he can improve things with a little bit of violence and intimidation, as is his way. Xander is more than prepared to kill Snyder. He’s lashing out. He has a huge amount of darkness in him, right now, and he’s got this target in Snyder that he can unleash it all on. But Gwen’s interceding literally begging Xander not to do it, knowing that it would make things even worse. It only forces them closer together.
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