DAYS’ Thaao Penghlis and Leann Hunley Talk Enduring Chemistry

Days of our Lives duo Thaao Penghlis and Leann Hunley explain why Tony and Anna shine.

thaao penghlis in red and leann hunley in blue posing against a gray background days of our livesThaao Penghlis and Leann Hunley.

Days of our Lives cranked out supercouples on the 1980s like nobody’s business. Thaao Penghlis and Leann Hunley shined back then, as they do today, as Tony DiMera and Anna Fredericks DiMera. The two actors chatted with Soap Hub about their enduring chemistry.

Leann Hunley — Finding the Humor

One reason the couple took off 40 years ago was that Tony and Anna were just so darn entertaining! Along with sophistication and style, the couple infused humor into their relationship. “We still try to have fun,” Hunley (Anna) told Soap Hub. “We want to have the joy in our scenes. Nobody likes to watch someone who’s nervous or scared. It can make them edgy, too.”

Remember when Anna carried around (and talked to) an urn containing what she thought was Tony’s ashes? “I was having fun with that,” Hunley recollects. “He was my guy!” And what happened when Tony finally did pop back up alive? “[He] got slapped for it — three times!” dryly notes Penghlis.

Thaao Penghlis — Why Tony and Anna Sparkle

“The underlying thing is that we care about each other in real life,” Penghlis points out. “That adds to our scenes.” Offers Hunley: “We trust and respect each other.”

Last year, Tony and Anna’s relationship was tested after Sarah (Linsey Godfrey) fell under the impression that she was Tony’s late love Renee DuMonde (originally played by the late Philece Sampler). The Count was understanding of Sarah’s precarious state, but that didn’t make Anna feel that much better. One can’t help but wonder that the show might have extended an invitation to Sampler to reprise Renee in some capacity had she lived. “Oh, yes,” Hunley says. “I think so.”

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Thaao Penghlis Recalling Renee

“[Philece] used to be the best crier in the world,” Penghlis recalls. “I used to say to her, ‘Can you save the tears till the end of the scene instead of the top?’ She was a sweet soul, and she died so young.” Both Penghlis and Hunley recall Sampler’s tour-de-force in her final episodes, in which Renee told off most of Salem at a big party.

“She did that in one take,” Penghlis recalls. “She should have been nominated [for a Daytime Emmy], but we weren’t getting nominated in those days. Philece had a vulnerability.”

Days of our Lives airs weekdays on Peacock+ in the U.S. and The W Network or Global TV App in Canada. For an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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