Paul Telfer Talks Days of Our Lives status, Xander's Redemption, New Projects, and Much More! Read it here ---->>>
Soap Opera News had the pleasure of chatting with Days of Our Lives hunk Paul Telfer about his path to stardom, Xander’s redemption, what’s next for him on the NBC soap, and so much more!
“I just assumed that everybody wanted to be an actor when they grew up,” the Scottish-born actor recalled. “I did all the school plays and things like that but I had no idea how you’d actually go about it.” Though, after spending his early years moving from place to place due to his father’s job as a salesman he would end up spending his teenage years in Nottingham, England where a local independent television studio was located. “I didn’t get to really do any acting on television as a kid but because of that I was around kids that were and sometimes my buddies and I would get pulled into crowd scenes as extras. Even though it wasn’t clear what the path to becoming an actor was it didn’t seem so far away in that regard.”
While the passion for acting was always there, Paul’s plan was to become an athlete but after realizing that he couldn’t make a living doing the sports he was interested in he decided to change his focus.”If I had to choose between rugby practice and rehearsal. I would always choose the play. That was becoming more and more like the thing that was calling me. I just knew that I wanted to get out and away from where I was. Not because I didn’t like it. I just had a bit of wanderlust.” He went on to study in the UK and at NYU before landing a few roles on a few “silly British sitcoms” before getting the job that would change his career. “I was very fortunate that my third real job was a very good job with the Spartacus miniseries. That’s what got me over to the states and I started to realize that this is where I really wanted to continue my career.”
Then in 2015 after years of the soap reaching out to him, he took the part of Damon a hitman on Days of Our Lives. “I had been offered opportunities to join Days ever since I did Hercules. Either the timing hadn’t worked out or it wasn’t something I was interested in at the time or I didn’t like the role. I was a bit of a snoot back then,” he joked. “So, when Damon came along I thought if I’m ever going to do a soap opera playing a cool brooding hitman would be kind of perfect.”
Telfer told us that he was disappointed when after only six episodes the show stopped calling but then his agent delivered the news that Days wanted to offer him a contract as a different character. “I was a bit hesitant to agree to anything else. Then the head writer at the time called me up and as soon as they said ‘charming psychopath’ I said ‘yeah, that sounds great!” Though, another disappointment was on the way. “Before any of my episodes even aired they let me go. It was very frustrating. I understand that it was purely a business decision for things they were trying to do for the anniversary. It still sucked but I understood why they did it. To be fair, the EP at the time Albert [Alarr] said to me that he was going to try to bring me back. And he has been true to his word with everything he’s ever said to me. And they eventually brought me back and that started this really fun period of playing the recurring villain.”
That enjoyable period included getting the chance to work with incredible Days of Our Lives veterans like John Aniston and Suzanne Rogers. “John’s amazing. The biggest thing for me is just trying to learn from him. Not in the sense that he sits in his professorial and gives me all this advice. Just learning by his example and his clarity, simplicity, and his efficiency as an actor. And Suzanne was just a lovely surprise,” he shared. “The last thing I expected was to build this friendship between Xander and a character like that. She’s just delightful, warm, just a light. She’s so positive and the show to her is such an enormous part of her life. Honestly, I see her as almost like a fairy godmother.”
“On the story side of it, I really didn’t expect it to last. I always assumed that they would have me betray her or do something awful that would make everybody hate me. So, it was fun not knowing and playing that out with Suzanne.” Paul, who has some interesting insights into the inner workings of his character noted that Xander being around characters like Maggie and Victor has given him something to look up to. “Even if it’s crazy. It’s something that he might want to aspire to himself.” This is where Xander’s relationship with Sarah comes into play!
Paul was a little surprised about how much the fans are loving the pairing. “All I know is that I felt very lucky to be paired with Linsey [Godfrey]. I was just very honored to finally have Xander get lucky. For all of these years, he’d been like Pepé Le Pew chasing after all of these girls who are always running away from him. Which makes sense because he’s a terrible person,” he laughed. “But I was surprised that they made him so boyishly head over heels in love with her immediately. It also made sense with how juvenile Xander is in many ways. So, in my head, I’ve built it up as Sarah represents a quick way to the legitimacy that he has always craved.”
With our pulse on the conversations happening on soap twitter, we know that there is a debate on whether “bad” characters need to be redeemed. Paul certainly had some thoughts on the idea. “My big thing was using this relationship to mature Xander. Not to make him boring or a goody-two-shoes but to have a little more perspective and maturity about why he does things and the way he does things,” he told us. “I’m happy with the current state he’s in! You know he still has massive potential for darkness but he’s not just reacting anymore. He has a little more sense of himself and what he could be if he could just behave himself.”
He went on to tease a bit of what’s coming next for Xander in the coming weeks. “He has a very contentious relationship with another cousin who returns,” he teased. “What’s funny about it is I was worried that I was finished on the show. This hasn’t all quite happened on the show yet but he got to a place it just seemed like Xander had gotten everything he wanted. This means something terrible is about to happen or we’re about to ride off into the sunset. Luckily, neither of those things happened and they just brought back some classic characters and actors to antagonize him! We get into some nice Titan intrigue. The typical adolescent corporate fights that we have on our show. It’s not exactly big business it’s more like high school hijinks. They were fun to shoot so hopefully the fans like it.”
With all the exits announced recently for the NBC soap, we had to ask Paul if he was planning to stick around Salem. “I think I’ve said in interviews before that I could be in Mission Impossible 6 and I’d still come back and do Days of Our Lives. It’s such a fun show and a fun place to work. And for a long time, I felt like Xander. I’m sort of half in and half out of this show. It seems like they like me but they keep firing me or I’m not really here but I am here. It always felt a bit like how Xander felt with the Kiriakises...except they weren’t mean to me,” he expressed. "So, now I’ve been on the show for years off and on. I got nominated for an Emmy. I’ve just finished a year's contract and was about to start a new one when the shutdowns happened. It just feels very legit now. I feel like a proper Days of Our Lives person, not just a visitor. I feel very blessed to have this very special and strange character all to myself. So, as long as they want him around I’ll do it.”
Outside of the soap world, Paul is achieving new heights in his career with the release of his film Green Rush on Amazon! The film, which he wrote and produced, opened up the idea of endless possibilities for him like directing. “That was the best thing I’ve done for myself. I’m so proud of it and to do it all with my friends! We were very humble and had no real expectations. So, for it to actually get to release and to be making money is just incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately, it takes away any excuse for my laziness now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do it. I have to do it again.”
Paul shared that even though getting projects off the ground is difficult at the moment because of the pandemic shutdown he has things in the works. Along with several thrillers similar to Green Rush that he and his team want to get off the ground, he shared, “I have a vampire movie and a historical Scottish action movie that I want to do.” While he waits for the opportunities to arise he - like the fans - is anxiously awaiting the production return of Days of Our Lives. He also wanted to thank the fans for their continued support, patience, and “their incredible generosity when it comes to forgiveness of Xander’s absolutely terrible behavior. I don’t take any of them for granted.”
Thank you, Paul, for the incredible chat!