Days of our Lives fans who miss seeing Alison Sweeney as the irrepressible Sami on their screens can catch her in not one but two upcoming Hallmark projects. Soap Hub chatted one-on-one with the fan favorite at a recent Hallmark luncheon at the TV Critics winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. She also spoke to us about a possible return to Salem.
Alison Sweeney: Third Time’s the Charm
On Saturday, February 10, Sweeney stars in Love & Jane, in which she plays Lilly, a hopeless romantic and literary enthusiast, whose wish to talk to her favorite author — Jane Austen (played by Kendra Anderson) — comes true. Sweeney airs opposite Benjamin Ayres, who plays Trevor, in the romantic fantasy movie.
Next, Sweeney is putting on the apron of her mystery-solving character Hannah in One Bad Apple: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, set to air later this year. Sweeney also serves as the film’s executive producer and writer. The book that the movie is based upon calls for Hannah’s past love interest, Mike (Cameron Mathison) to be away on a training mission. So Sweeney reached out to her pal Victor Webster (ex-Nicholas, DAYS) to see if he’d be interested in taking on the role of prosecuting attorney Chad Webster.
“When I was writing it, I knew [Victor] could do it,” Sweeney tells Soap Hub. “I love this opportunity to work with Victor again. It’s so exciting and fun and different.” This is the third time that the two actors have been tied together. In addition to being on DAYS simultaneously (though not in each other’s orbits that much), Sweeney and Webster appeared in Hallmark’s The Wedding Veil.
While Sami and Nicholas didn’t cross paths, he was involved with Sami’s longtime nemesis Kate (Lauren Koslow). “We’re like one degree of separation,” Sweeney says. “On our first day, I took a picture of us and I sent it to Lauren. I was like, ‘Hi!’ We were telling her how much we loved her and all those good things.”
After playing one of daytime’s greatest characters (seriously, Sami’s determination has been like no one else’s; remember her relentless quest to win Austin’s heart? Her throwing in her mother Marlena’s [Deidre Hall] face that she’d had an affair with John [Drake Hogestyn] while married to Roman [Josh Taylor]?), Sweeney is now on her way to creating a memorable TV mystery sleuth in Hannah a la Columbo, Perry Mason, and Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote.
“I grew up watching [reruns of] Columbo and Perry Mason with my mother on Nick At Nite,” she says. “I was a huge fan of them, and, of course, I watched Jessica Fletcher [Angela Lansbury]. She’s the gold standard, a legend.”
As for what makes Hannah unique among TV mystery-solvers, Sweeney theorizes that it’s more than her culinary expertise. “She’s relatable and she uses the skill set that every woman has,” the actress/executive producer/writer says. “Hannah uses her common sense to be hyperaware and notice things that other people don’t notice. I think everyone watches a mystery believing, ‘Oh, I would have seen that, too!'”
What did Sweeney learn from her years at DAYS speaking the words of head writers like the late, great James E. Reilly? “So much,” she responds. “Good characters. What Jim set up with Sami with that first storyline — that feeling of being the one who was left out because everyone loved Carrie [Christie Clark]. That gave Sami legs for years. What Jim gave Sami was the motive behind Sami’s insecurity. What I try to do with [my characters] especially the men is that I write smart men and men [whom] women are attracted to.
“I try to tell a great mystery with a romantic love triangle and the family dynamic…I think that’s really relatable,” Sweeney adds. “The audience gets that combination.”
A Return to DAYS for the 60th Anniversary
Soap Hub also asked Sweeney if she had any plans to return to DAYS for the show’s upcoming 60th anniversary season. “I was just doing the math on that,” the actress marvels. “Is it the 60th?” It is indeed, so does she ever think about dropping back in to play the role that earned her a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2015 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series?
“Are you kidding?” she responds. “All the time. Anytime.” During her last visit, she was able to stick around for a while and play out a longer story. “We had really blocked out time for that,” she recalls. “They know how I feel and how much I love [everyone at DAYS].”
There’s plenty to mine in terms of story given the dynamic that Sami’s sister Belle (Martha Madison), an attorney, formed with her client EJ (Dan Feuerriegel). “Dan is great,” Sweeney enthuses. Has DAYS reached out to Sweeney about a return? “Not yet,” she says with a smile.
Love & Jane airs Saturday, February 10 at 8/7c on the Hallmark Channel.