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DAYS OF OUR LIVES
An actor or actress can make or break a character in the world of daytime soaps. When the time comes for them to bid adieu and move on from their role, fans can be left heartbroken. While Days of Our Lives (DOOL) characters have been known to disappear, die or simply leave town, most seemingly have nine lives and return as well. Recasting is never easy, for the show or the person stepping into the shoes of an established character. Sometimes it can be a win-win situation, and other times it is an epic fail. Below are the worst recasts in DOOL history.
Isn’t it great having Jack Deveraux back in the land of Salem? While there have been many actors who have played the role over the years, most Days fans will agree that Matthew Ashford is Jack, and always will be. When Mark Valley was recast in the role in 1994, DOOL audiences knew it didn’t feel quite right.
Valley would exit the Deveraux role in 1997 and Steve Wilder would be yet another Jack recast that was an epic fail. Steve entered Days later that year, and the reception to this new “Jack Deveraux” was much of the same that Valley received. Wilder did a bit of a better job at Jack, but never brought out the true essence of the character.
Speaking of, Deveraux is nothing without his super couple sidekick, Jennifer Horton. Any longtime fan of DOOL can attest that watching actress Missy Reeves grow and evolve the character over the years has been a beautiful thing. This made the Jenn recast, circa 1995, one of the worst in Days’ history. Actress Stephanie Cameron did the best she could, but she was no Jenn Horton.
Christie Clark has been playing Carrie Brady on Days since she was a young child; therefore, the 1991 recast of the character didn’t bode very well with DOOL fans that had watched both the actress and character grow up before their very eyes. Tracy Middendorf is an accomplished actress by all accounts, doing stage and television work; however, she simply did not fit well in Salem as Carrie Brady.
There has been a slew of actors placed in the role of Phillip Kiriakis over the years, and while some have done better than others, many DOOL fans have felt that Kyle Brandt didn’t live up to the audience’s expectations. Brant played the character from 2001 to 2008, only to exit and not return again.
The Mike Horton role is one of the most recast characters in soap opera history, where Days audiences have seen the role age and de-age quite a bit over the years in order to fit into storylines. Having said that, many fans found that actor, Roark Critchlow, who played Horton in the late 1990s, didn’t quite fill the shoes of the character like past “Mikes” did. Mike (Critchlow) has only reappeared on DOOL for a quick stint in 2010 and has been missing from Salem for years now.
For close to twenty years, Josh Taylor has played Roman Brady and has been adored by DOOL fans worldwide. Traveling way back into DOOL’s history vault…Taylor actually originated on the show in 1977 as Chris Kositchek, manager of Salem’s Shenanigans. Kositchek was simply written off the show and stopped appearing on-screen in 1987. Some longtime fans may recall, Wayne Northrup was actually the original Roman Brady, cast in 1981 but departed in 1984. Taylor was then re-cast as Roman Brady in 1997, to the confusion and dismay of many fans. Chris Kositchek was, in fact, a good friend of Marlena’s and it just seemed odd to the audience (at the time) to have him slip into the role of Roman Brady. While he’s fully settled now, this wasn’t always the case. Ironically, the original Roman (Northrup) was later re-cast as another DOOL character linked to Marlena, Dr. Alex North.
Sometimes, no one can replace the original actor when it comes to re-casting a role, no matter how long they settle into a character. Such is the case as it relates to DOOL’s ever-popular Austin Reed. The object of affection (for many years) for Sami Brady, and one half of a super couple with Carrie Brady, Patrick Muldoon originally played the role of heartthrob Austin from 1992 to 1995. While Muldoon moved on to bigger and better things (i.e. prime-time television roles), Austin Peck moved into the role to some mixed fan reaction. The two actors played switch-up of the Reed character for years, with Peck leaving the role in 2002 only to return in 2005, and Muldoon reprising the role for a short time from 2011 to 2012. However, most DOOL fans will agree, when they think of Austin Reed, Patrick Muldoon comes to mind.
Speaking of the Reed clan, Lisa Rinna flew onto the soap scene (along with Muldoon) in 1992, playing Billie Reed, Austin’s sister. Both quickly became an integral part of DOOL’s storylines. While the character of Billie has been re-cast twice, Krista Allen’s portrayal was perhaps the most disappointing. It’s true, it can be challenging to move into a role made famous by another actress, but Allen significantly watered down the feisty, stubborn, and street smart Billie from 1996 to 1999 and was never really able to grasp the true essence of the character. She also seemingly lacked the chemistry that Billie had with Bo Brady. While Julie Pinson did a better job when she was re-cast in the role from 2004 to 2008, Rinna was asked back in 2012 to 2013 to reprise Billie Reid and fans got to watch the original Billie in action, once again.
Some may not recall Charity Rahmer’s portrayal of Belle Black, as the actress only stepped into the role for approximately 16 episodes. Originally, Belle Black was played by the ever-popular Kirsten Storms (now Maxi Jones on General Hospital) from 1999 to 2004. When Storms left the show in 2004, Rahmer was re-cast as Belle. Unfortunately, shortly afterward, producers changed their minds. A statement from a DOOL spokesperson relayed the following message as to why producers decided to let her go and re-cast Martha Anne Madison for the Belle Black role: “The producers felt that the full potential of the role was not being realized and decided it was better to make a change sooner rather than later.” Probably a good decision in the long run, as Madison has been able to take the role and really turn it into her own over the years.
Belle Black’s romance with Shawn-Douglas Brady is what DOOL super couples are made of: bad boy meets sweet girl next door. Jason Cook (the original Shawn-Douglas) and Kirsten Storm created some solid chemistry when it came to their Belle and Shawn-Douglas characters. Cook decided against renewing his DOOL contract in September 2006 and the daytime soap was once again looking to re-kindle a little Brady/Black romance with a new actor. Enter Brandon Beemer. While undeniably handsome, Beemer seemed like just another pretty face and lacked that down-to-earth quality that was needed for the Shawn-Douglas character. As a result, the chemistry was just lacking between Belle and her beau. While Shawn-Douglas did win Belle’s heart in the long-run, the Beemer recast failed in the hearts of DOOL fans everywhere.
As the eldest son of the infamous Sami Brady, Will Horton has dealt with a handful of recasts over the years as the character has grown and evolved tremendously. As one half of DOOL’s first same-sex super couple (along with Sonny Kiriakis), Will’s storylines have helped promote tolerance and increase awareness around homosexuality. Perhaps most well-known for the Will Horton role is actor Chandler Massey, who won accolades (as well three Daytime Emmy Awards) for his portrayal of this ground-breaking DOOL character. When Massey left the show in 2014, actor Guy Wilson entered the land of Salem to mixed reviews. Perhaps it is the fact that he had really big shoes to fill when Massey left, or maybe it is his portrayal of a meeker Will; however, Wilson was never truly accepted by Days fans, and seemingly lacked chemistry with his partner in crime, Sonny.