Days' Deidre Hall Reflects on 5,000 Episodes as Marlena (and MarDevil): 'Who Wouldn't Want to Be Her?'
2023/05/13

Happy Dr. Marlena Evans Day to all who celebrate.

Friday's Days of Our Lives, now streaming on Peacock, marks the 5,000th episode for series staple Deidre Hall, who still remembers exactly how she felt arriving in Salem for the first time.

"It was like putting on a new robe," Hall tells TVLine of her 1976 debut. "I knew that my body would warm it up and it would begin feeling like it was mine, and it would stay snugly and safe. And that's what it's been. It's always been just the best feeling."

But the more time Marlena spent in Salem, the less "snugly and safe" her life became. A jealous twin sister, a love child from a torrid affair, multiple faked deaths, occasional demonic possession — there's nothing Days hasn't thrown at Marlena, who earlier this year stood up to Satan himself during a memorable visit to Purgatory.

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The good doctor is nothing if not resilient. In fact, that's just one of the qualities Hall has appreciated about her character over the decades. "People can trust who she is when she presents herself," Hall says. "She's a woman who is empathic, knowledgeable and deeply caring, and has a very high regard for her family, her friends and her career." To ask a rhetorical question, "Who wouldn't want to be her?"

Now back in the land of the living, Marlena is returning to her usual routine — and that includes more strawberries and whipped cream with hubby John Black.

"I'm so tired of them," Hall says with a laugh, referring to the fruit-flavored love scenes fans have come to expect from Marlena and John since 1986. "We [filmed] one today, but we didn't actually have to feed each other, so that was a nice break from that." (This interview was conducted on Monday, May 8.)

Strawberries aside, Hall cherishes her screen time opposite long-time scene partner Drake Hogestyn. "Drake and I are very different," she says. "He comes in knowing his lines cold, he hits his mark and he does his thing. I come in and go, 'Where are we today? What are we doing?' I sort of fly through it, and if something strikes me in the moment, so be it. There's really nothing that I plan. If I get moved, I cry. If I get amused, I laugh."

But John is hardly the only man in Marlena's life. No, we're not talking about Roman. Or even poor Don. We're talking about that yellow-eyed son of a gun, you know the one. Hall vividly recalls the 1993 meeting with Tom Langan and James E. Reilly during which the duo pitched what would become one of the most memorable (and controversial) storylines in daytime TV history — the possession of Dr. Marlena Evans.

"I knew that Jim was a devout Catholic and his faith is deeply important to him, so when they asked how I felt about it, my only concern in that moment was that it be done right," Hall says. "I thought, 'This is a big storyline, and we can't cheap out on it. We have to really lean into it.' And they did."

One of the storyline's most iconic moments found Marlena levitating in her bedroom, an experience that still impresses Hall to this day. "They really went the distance on the levitation, because that was not a trick," she says of the practical effects employed to make her character float. (For the record, Hall would like to clarify: "I don't mean that I know how to levitate." Just in case there was any confusion.)

"I was very proud of the work they put into that," Hall says of the show's crew and writers. "I think it paid off in a very big way, because you were sort of forced to believe."

As an actress, Hall says it was "so much fun to play" a completely different Marlena than the "kind, patient and understanding" version we're used to seeing. "The devil was nuts. She was all about killing people and wreaking havoc. It was fun to cut loose."

So Hall was thrilled to "take a second swipe" at the storyline when Marlena found herself back under Satan's control nearly two decades later. "We had more tricks in our back pocket," Hall says of the 2021 redux. "We could do a lot more with lightning and stunts, and the bed could actually rock and roll — a lot that simply couldn't happen the first time. "

As for what the next 5,000 episodes hold for Dr. Marlena Evans, your guess is as good as Hall's.

"I have to leave that to the writers," she says. "I don't know how they do it. [Ron Carlivati] creates it, then the writers outline, then the dialogue writers put it into words for us. I get just to stand and say the words. I don't have to be that creative force behind them. They're my heroes."

Days fans, which of Marlena's many wild storylines have been your favorites? And what are your hopes for Hall's iconic character?  Drop a comment with your thoughts below.

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