Days of Our Lives, which over the years has served up demonic possession, brain-controlling computer chips and “Melaswen,” next will ask viewers to believe that Chrishell Stause can look plain.
The All My Children alumna makes her NBC soap debut this Thursday as Jordan, a physical therapist who — à la General Hospital‘s Lucy Coe and Sabrina Santiago and Days‘ own Chloe Lane — will first surface as less than a head-turner, meaning a ta-da! transformation looms somewhere on the horizon. But until then, which Salem hottie will melt this ballbuster’s icy demeanor?
Stause spoke with TVLine about keeping her dramatic make-under under wraps, being subject to pat-downs for smuggled eyeliner and getting “physical” with [spoiler].
TVLINE | Your long nightmare is over. You finally get to talk about your Days role. How were those secretive months for you?
I’ve never experienced anything in the soap world where they’re [taping] so far ahead, so it’s been a little awkward! [Even at the Daytime Emmys] I had to ask, “What am I allowed to say?” Basically, the answer was, “Not a lot.”
TVLINE | What were some of the theories you heard from either reporters or fans?
One headline said that I was going to be playing a vixen, but the thing is it wasn’t in quotations and I had to tell fans, “Be careful. Whatever isn’t in a quote is pure speculation.” A lot of people were also thinking I was [a recast] Cassie Brady.
TVLINE | Based on the photos, Jordan Ridgeway isn’t a typical Chrishell appearance.
Yes. You have to check your vanity at the door — and your eyeliner. They frisk you and make sure you’re not hiding any mascara. My character wears literally almost no makeup. But she takes her job very seriously, she’s very no-nonsense. She’s not there to humor anyone. In fact, she comes across robotic at first.
TVLINE | Since she’s obviously not going to get introduced by making a grand entrance at some lavish gala, how do we meet her?
Kate (played by Lauren Koslow) brings in a physical therapist for Rafe (Galen Gering). Now, the funny thing is that Kate and Rafe have had this kind of “friends with benefits” thing going on, and she thinks she’s bringing in a guy — because “Jordan Ridgeway” sounds masculine. I don’t think she would’ve knowingly brought on a woman. So when I show up, she gets a little snippy.
TVLINE | Jordan is a new character. She’s not conventionally attractive. What on earth is a soap opera going to do with you?
Well, as any good soap would do, they will have a transition, I’m sure, at some point — like She’s All That, where you take the ponytail out, take the glasses off, throw a little mascara on and call it a day.
TVLINE | But in the meantime…
In the meantime, I try not to look into mirrors! [Laughs] No, it’s actually been fun just because I’ve never played a character like this. [AMC’s] Amanda of course was a glamazon, and anything else that I’ve played has always kind of been in that lane. Here I get to branch out and do something totally different and actually not have to worry about going to the gym all the time because all my elastic waist pants are, like, really big on me.
TVLINE | No part of your vanity as an actress made you go, “Hmm…”?
At the time that I was coming on the show, there were actually two parts [available] — and one was more glamorous. When they asked me, I said that I thought this one would be more interesting just because creatively it was something I hadn’t done before.
TVLINE | So for people who only know you as Amanda Dillon, Jordan is 100-percent different.
For sure. Amanda was more like the underdog you rooted for who always bumbled along making all the wrong decisions, but with the best intentions at times. Jordan comes onto the canvas strong, very smart, very take-charge, all business — which Amanda never was. She clearly doesn’t care about her outward appearance, to her detriment at times. People comment on it on the show.
TVLINE | Will we see mild-mannered Jordan get flustered by a fella?
Of course. It’s slow going at first, to be honest. They really spent a lot of time building the foundation — like old-school soaps, where you would bring out a character as recurring and people would start to warm up to them. She’s going to come in strictly as Rafe’s physical therapist and you’re just going to see more happen, slowly. She has a few secrets, obviously, but as of now they’re in the closet.
TVLINE | What does Rafe make of her?
At first he is a little thrown off that she’s so impersonal. And then he kind of sees it as a game, trying to get into her head and figure out who she is. He’s got a fun-loving side, so he keeps trying to get past the closed-off wall she has up, and he gets shut down quite a few times. But eventually… you see him slowly break her down.
TVLINE | Is there one distinct ice-breaking moment?
There is, actually. He gets quite frustrated because she’s not giving him any feedback in his therapy — she’s trying so hard to be closed off that she’s going overboard. So she sees that it’s affecting him, once she sees that he needs that, that’s the turning point.
TVLINE | Is she intimidated by Kate?
No. We actually have that exact scene where Kate says something like, “I understand I can be intimidating to some people” and Jordan makes it a point to say, “And for the record, you don’t intimidate me in the least.” She’s not bitchy, she’s just very businesslike. But I think obviously with her and Kate that dynamic will eventually turn a little more antagonistic.
TVLINE | OK, so she’s not meek or sheepish?
No. She will literally bark you out of the room, like, “Get out of here. I have work to do and you’re in the way.” More like that.
TVLINE | What might fans be surprised to know about your scene partner Galen?
We go to lunch together all the time, because we’re always running our lines, and I was surprised to see this guy eat a salad Every. Single. Day. When we go to check out, you’d think our platters are switched. I wish I had his eating habits! But I got really lucky, because he and I get along so well. Like me, he’s a goofball.
TVLINE | What sorts of fun things did you do between your soap opera roles?
As you know, I did Body of Proof and working with Dana Delany was really fun, to kind of like play a little badass on a motorcycle — that was also very opposite of Amanda and very opposite me. And then I got to do some comedy, working with Funny or Die and getting to write a sketch and see it come to life. I loved Amanda, but after almost seven years, you kind of get itching to do something else.
TVLINE | So, what would Jordan think of Chrishell?
She would find her offensive — as most people probably do. [Laughs]