As promised in the last edition of Soapside, I caught up with Louise Sorel on her exciting return to Days of Our Lives, which has many gay soap fans jumping for joy that Aunt Viv is back! Getting the chance to work again with her on-screen rival and dear friend Crystal Chappell (who returns next month to Days as Dr. Carly Manning) was completely an unexpected surprise in her life. During her last stint on DAYS some eight years earlier, the NBC soap fired her. This time she weighs in on how things might turn out.
“We know how things go," she says. "They might say, 'Get her out of here.' This time I am going to be much more docile, because when they always used to see me coming, their eyes would cross. I so loved the work and the character. I would always say, 'Why am I doing this? Why am I doing that?' It’s hard in soaps. They work long hours, and it’s so hard to get this stuff out so fast. I think I can be a little annoying, and I am a perfectionist. Ken Corday [executive producer of Days] was the most generous producer in terms of people’s salary, and nobody paid people the way he did. Everything is more difficult now for everybody. Now it’s like eight years later and now there is a connection and respect. I don’t even know what the original reasons for my firing were. I have some ideas that I won’t get into. I don’t think they wanted to lose Vivian; I think other things were at work. In a funny way, I did not feel fired. I thought, Well, they are just getting rid of this character now. I was not a happy person when I left there. I was very sad and thrown by it, and I had a lot of months to prepare for it. But the day it happened, I lost it and went to pieces. That’s life. You just move on.
When I got the news I would be coming back, I immediately called Crystal. We have not been able to see each other yet. I don’t know how she did what she did. Crystal was commuting to the West Coast and shooting the end of Guiding Light. But I did call her and speak to both her and her hubby, Michael Sabatino [rumored to also returning as Lawrence; Days would offer only a “no comment”], and we were just laughing, going, 'Who could believe this? It’s just so unexpected.' I have a September start date to begin taping episodes. So I don’t think I will end up on-screen till late October."
Obviously every die-hard daytime fan knows the most infamous moment in soapdom, when Vivian buried Carly alive. Sorel’s incredible performance had her rolling around laughing on Carly’s grave, and then in her insanity (Chinese herbs were the culprit) she began walking around throwing flower petals in celebration of her hatred of the good doc. To this day, it is one of the most upsetting and brilliant moments.
Louise gave me the inside scoop on how that eventful scene came to be.
“Originally, it was written that Vivian did a jig on the grave. I swear to God I did this, and I laugh at myself now. I stormed upstairs to the producers' offices and said, 'I don’t do jigs. Vivian would not do a jig.' The producer said, 'Well, what would she do?' I am sure he was horrified that here I was again. I said, 'I have got to do something else.' I spent my lunch hour on the set going through a kind of actor’s madness. I thought of Ophelia. I started walking around the grave and thinking about things like, How do I feel about Carly and the complicated emotions going on? So I was thinking, She loves me. She loves me not. I don’t know where it came from. But we used to do that ... tear off the petals of a flower when I was a kid. I thought, This is really weird. Then I thought I would end on 'She loves me.' I said, 'And then I will just fall on top of the grave and try to hug her and get somewhat hysterical.' I had no idea where this came from, and then they came back from lunch break and they very sweetly let me do this. Afterwards, there was this dead silence on the set and everyone was frozen and they printed it. [Laughs] That is how it happened.
Thank goodness Crystal was not there during the taping, because she would have been dead. It was an actual coffin! [Laughs] I have to give her so much credit. All of that stuff can be silly, but we committed to it. So Crystal was lying in that coffin and banging and screaming, 'I have to get out of here!' I would call her on the walkie- talkie while she was in the coffin and I would say, 'Hello, darling. Are you napping?' It was so nuts."