‘Days of Our Lives’ Actress Deidre Hall Reflects on ‘the Longevity’ of Her Career, Family Life and More
Growing up in Lake Worth, Florida, Days of Our Lives star Deidre Hall never dreamed of becoming an actress.
“I just fell into acting,” she tells Closer. “When I was in college, I was studying psychology. I ended up taking classes to become a therapist and then played a therapist on television, which is funny.”
In 1979, Deidre made her debut on Days of Our Lives as Dr. Marlena Evans, a psychiatrist at University Hospital in fictional Salem, Ill. Over the more than 45 years that Deidre has played the role, a lot has happened to Marlena, a longtime fan favorite. She’s been possessed by the devil twice, been mind-controlled into believing she was a serial killer, and been kidnapped several times.
“They’re always cooking up new things and pushing the envelope, so I’m excited for what’s to come,” says Deidre, 75.
Days of Our Lives and Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem are available to stream exclusively on Peacock.
How did your childhood shape the woman you are today?
My parents had high levels of integrity and were hardworking, so that’s how it was in our house. I was one of five children. Everybody had to carry their share of the load, so we grew up with a strong sense of family and a strong sense of fairness. It was small-town living.
How did you become an actress?
I was on the radio to make money, and then I got into modeling. One summer, I came out to California and had an agent say, “Why don’t you try commercials? Why don’t you try acting?” It just blossomed from there.
Is it true that you turned down the role of Marlena on Days of Our Lives at first?
I did. I had auditioned with a number of recognizable faces from daytime. So when my agent called and said, “You got the job,” I said, “They must have all turned it down — I’m not taking the part!” Turns out I was their first choice.
So much has happened to Marlena over the years. Do you have a favorite storyline?
My twin sister, Andrea, joined the show to play Samantha and then, later, Hattie. They had a scene where she was meant to be on the stand testifying in a sanity hearing, and she was supposed to burst into tears and confess something. I stood off the stage and watched her. She got on the stand and cried like a baby! I said, “How did you do that? It took me years!” She said, “Well, I’ve been watching you do it for years. Why would I think that it’s hard?” It was just the fun of having her there. She moved in with me, and we had a spectacular time.
Do you have a favorite guest star you’ve worked with?
I love working with Jackée Harry. She’s the best.
How do you feel about Days of Our Lives moving to Peacock?
I feel good about it. For all of us, the change is nominal. We do the same job in the same place with the same people. I am feeling very protective and am trying to be as helpful as possible for the audience because they’re the ones making the big change. The advantage of streaming is you can watch the show starting from 6 in the morning. Whatever time schedule works for you, you can find us. And I’m proud we’re the first to take a daytime show to streaming. I think it’s going to pay off in a big way.
What do you love most about working in daytime TV?
I think it’s the people. There’s no family like the family of daytime. Everybody gives 110 percent every single day. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with people knowing each other and trusting each other. Everybody pulls as hard as they can in the same direction, and we get a show out of it.
You’ve been a favorite through generations of Days of Our Lives fans. That must be gratifying.
Yes, I hear it all the time from fans: “I watched the show with my grandmother when she was babysitting for me.” It’s sweet.
What do you like to do when you’re not on set?
I like working on my house and in my garden. I love spending time with my kids and my friends. It’s a nice luxury now.
What is your schedule like with the show?
It’s not grueling, which is not to say that everybody doesn’t work a long day. As actors, if we’re on the set, our scenes are all scheduled together, so you can be in by 6:30 and out by lunch.
How would you describe your life today?
It’s spectacular. My kids are grown and living wonderful lives. My family is all healthy and happy. I love where I live, and I love the friends I spend time with. Life is great. I’m truly very grateful.
What was the best thing you taught your sons?
My children are incredibly generous — generous with their time, generous with their emotions. They’re empathic, and that’s a source of great pride for me. I’m always moved by the little things. I was in a Subway and my youngest asked, “Is it OK if I order a couple of extra subs? A guy outside doesn’t have any food.” They’re always giving, being conscious, and invested with the people they love.
You look amazing. Can you share your secrets?
I do an hour on the treadmill every day. My best advice is to stay out of the sun and never go to bed with makeup on.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Well, I’ve been making gazpacho! I love my garden. I plant everything. I like to experiment, and whatever isn’t producing I make something else out of it.
What are you proudest of in your career?
I think it’s the longevity — that is such a gift in any field, but in television to have been around this long, doing it this long, is extraordinary.
Do you have any plans to retire?
No, I’ll retire when the gate key doesn’t work anymore!