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  • James Scott: an ideal leading man

    By Nelson Branco

    After being unfairly ousted from 'All My Children', James Scott proves he may just be the most talented actor 'Days of Our Lives' has ever hired

    James Scott of 'Days of Our Lives'

    Life has a funny way of working itself out, especially if you’re name is James Scott, who is the unofficial poster boy for the old adage “When one door closes, another one opens.”

    After languishing on the backburner for the majority of his All My Children run as the vapid Ethan Cambias, Scott was fired when his character was killed off after a few co-stars demanded that the actor vanish off the canvas.

    So a big “thank you” goes out to whoever was threatened by Scott, even if they do sound like bullies. After all, Scott’s guilty as charged. He’s sexy, tall, talented, charming, cultured, and sports the best stubble in daytime TV.

    Today, Scott is wowing fans and critics as the latest DiMera spawn on Days of Our Lives — and having the time of his life. Arguably, Scott is the most talented leading man the NBC soap opera has ever employed. As the enigmatic EJ Wells, Scott brings class and confidence to a role that could have easily become a cardboard caricature.

    Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, the 28-year-old thespian began his career in the music industry before catching the acting bug. After studying at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Scott was a model before landing the role of the much-maligned Ethan Cambias on AMC in 2004.

    Since then, Days fans have fallen under Scott’s spell — we’ve received more letters about Scott than any other soap star so far. We dished with the star about Days’ recent ratings woes, grooming, the controversial rape, and the popular EJ-Sami-Lucas love triangle.

    TV Guide: This may be the understatement of the year — AMC loss was Days’ gain.
    James Scott: Thank you. Let’s just say that I would have liked it if Ethan had an opportunity to shine, but there were other actors on the show who didn’t want that to happen. Things worked out the way they worked out and in retrospect, I’m very happy. I love being back in L.A. and this role.

    TVG: After AMC, did you hit the audition circuit immediately?
    JS: I took a little bit of time before I switched to Days. I did a pilot season in New York and that went very well. The opportunity for Days was perfect in many ways. I wanted to move back to Los Angeles, and the character of EJ spoke to me on various levels. I don’t think of daytime any less than any other genre, to be honest. As an actor, I prefer to be working.  

    TVG: You’re from England, where soaps are mainstream; is that why you don’t have any prejudice towards the medium?
    JS: Interestingly enough the soap operas in England are far more popular than soap operas in America. Soaps like Coronation Street and East Enders often net 10 to 14 million viewers each day! That’s pretty impressive when you consider England’s population is less than that of the state of California.   

    TVG: What’s the difference between our soaps and the U.K.’s?
    JS: If I had my way, the American soaps would move away from being so fantastical and move towards character-driven storylines based in reality.
    It’s a shame, really.

    TVG: Days has been slipping in the ratings recently. I question whether Hogan Sheffer is writing the show, because he’s renowned for his character-familial inspired storylines. Lately, Days feels more like a James Reilly disaster than a Sheffer masterpiece!
    JS: The audience will tell you whether they like what’s going on or not. I cannot offer you a reason as to how Hogan was so successful with As the World Turns. I was familiar with his work, yet he appears to have gone in a different direction here at Days. It’s an interesting situation.

    TVG: You’re only 28, yet you come across as an old soul — suave and confident. Or am I just being fooled by the English accent?!
    JS: [Laughs.] Being English lends itself to being a little bit more sensible sometimes. It’s a little bit more composed that lends itself to being mature onscreen.

    TVG: That disposition must come in handy when you get your Days script these days!
    JS: In daytime, when you receive your script you must realize that it’s full of traps. It’s very easy for characters to fall into a rut. The first thing when I do when I look at a script is just work it out and fill in the blanks so it makes sense at least subtextually. It’s not always easy.

    TVG: After EJ raped Sami, were you worried about your future on the soap?  And why isn’t Days playing out the fallout of the rape?
    JS: I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about my future on the soap. I don’t think they handled the rape very well, and I’ll tell you why. EJ raped Sami, and then afterwards, he’s hanging out in her house — alone with her. It’s irresponsible on so many levels. However, had it been handled well, I think it would have been an interesting story choice. Now the story focus has shifted to her pregnancy and the classic soap story of paternity. Having said that, I chose to believe that EJ is in love with Samantha — he just can’t communicate it.

    TVG: I do like the idea that the DiMeras and the Bradys may be tied biologically with this new baby. Now that Joe Mascolo [Stefano] and Thaao Penghlis [Tony] are returning to the show, hopefully that’s why this feud really exists.
    JS: I agree. I also hope that we learn why EJ is the way he is. I’d prefer if EJ’s dark side was examined more. In my mind, he’s wrestling with his conscious but is trapped by circumstances – not wanting to disappoint his father, feeling he has to live up to something which is what the name entails, feeling a sense of responsibility to the legacy of his family or whatever it may be but really being conflicted at times. I certainly try to play that occasionally.

    TVG: Although I enjoy the EJ-Sami coupling, I wouldn’t mind if EJ got some action on the side.
    JS: I felt the relationship between EJ and Kate was very interesting and it disappointed me that they didn’t explore them further. Kate was the only person in town that EJ couldn’t bullshit. I agree that EJ should be more sexual — I was thinking about this the other day. However, you know you’re a bad guy if you haven’t had a love scene in ages! 

    TVG: And with your stubble, it’s a shame EJ is being wasted.
    JS: [Laughs.] It's still there. I got a bit of a trim yesterday because it was getting a bit shaggy. Part of me likes EJ being polished and part of me thinks he should be a bit down and dirty sometimes.  

    TVG: You remind me a lot of Rupert Everett. Have you heard that before?
    JS: Yes. I’ve heard, ‘A young Rupert Everett with an edge.’ I took that as a huge compliment. 

    TVG: Have you thought of leaving the show to pursue other mediums?
    JS: We shall see. I have not made the decision, in all honesty, as to whether I will continue to act when this job ends.

    Published: Thursday, May 3, 2007

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