Days of Our Lives' Judi Evans Talks Playing Bonnie, If She Would Play Adrienne Again and More (EXCLUSIVE)! Check it out here-->>
Photo: Emily Perez
Soap Opera News had the pleasure of interviewing soap actress extraordinaire Judi Evans. Evans began her legendary career originating the role of Beth Raines on the soap opera Guiding Light. After her stint on Guiding Light, she joined Days of Our Lives and portrayed Adrienne Johnson Kiriakis. Then some years later she joined the cast of Another World in the role of Paulina Cory Carlino. Evans returned to Days of Our Lives as Adrienne and also subsequently played Adrienne’s doppelgänger, Bonnie Lockhart. We were honored to speak to this legend about her storied career.
Initially, Evans wasn’t very familiar with the world of soaps. Her knowledge basically comprised of watching the soap Texas in her teens when she was homebound for months with a serious illness. And she learned about General Hospital from her friends when they didn’t want to go to class because they had to see Luke and Laura’s wedding! Can totally relate!
So, that was pretty much the extent of Evans’ soap opera knowledge, However, that would change and change rapidly. “I was eighteen when I met my agent. I started going out for auditions and casting calls. My first soap role was actually on Days of our Lives. I had a small under-five role. Not too long afterward, I auditioned for Beth on Guiding Light. A few weeks later I found out I got the part, moved to New York, and have had the good fortune to work ever since.”
We spent some of our time with Evans talking about Guiding Light. We just loved her as Beth! Evans stole our soap hearts with her portrayal of the bashful, withdrawn, jaded, and abused Beth who masterfully transformed into an emerging soap heroine right before our eyes. Our hearts weren’t the only ones captured; Phillip Spaulding, Rick Bauer, and then Lujack Spaulding all fell and fell hard for Beth. “I loved my time on Guiding Light. The storyline of Beth being abused by her stepfather was incredibly well written. I got the chance to work with Tina Sloan. She is so great and became more like my older sister. Beverlee McKinsey was awesome too. I learned so much from her and Tina. Jim Rebhorn was just amazing as Bradley and unlike Bradley, he is the nicest guy.” Laughter. “And then, Grant (Aleksander), Vincent (Irizarry), Krista (Tesreau), and Michael (O’Leary) were so wonderful to work with. It was really a magical time.” Indeed! We have no problem going on record to say that Beth, Phillip, Rick, and Mindy (Lewis) still reign as one of the best quads ever in soap history.
Evans won a much-deserved Daytime Emmy for her role as Beth. It was an exciting time for the still fairly new actress but Evans also felt very much caught up in the whirlwind of it all as well. “Everything happened so fast. It hadn’t been that long ago that I moved three thousand miles away from home, was living on my own for the first time, and had my first real job. I had only been working on soaps for a short period of time. I was nominated for the Emmy and then I won it. It was a bit overwhelming but an honor for which I am forever grateful for. But when it comes to individual awards you can’t take all the credit. You have the writers, directors, the rest of the crew, and the actors you work with. You couldn’t do what we do successfully without synchronicity.”
Speaking of successful synchronicity, Days of our Lives hit it out of the park a few years back with the doppelganger duo of Hattie Evans (Deidre Hall) and Bonnie Lockhart (Evans). Oh my, what a fun ride that was! Hall and Evans were a hoot! They had us laughing until our sides hurt and tears were rolling down our faces. Hysterically good. “I was thrilled when I learned about the storyline with Hattie and Bonnie. People often ask me which one of my characters I love the most but I truly love them all. Each one is so different and I love them all for different reasons. I appreciate being afforded the opportunities to try something different in each of my roles, same with Bonnie. And I was so excited to have the chance to work with Dee. I hadn’t had much of a chance to work with her. She is so special in every way personally and professionally and working together brought us close. She is a strong, smart woman. She and Susan Hayes are my idols.” Cosign!
Days of our Lives keeps pushing the genre and the show forward. Many have tried to throw dirt on top of the sudser but like the Phoenix, Days of our Lives keeps rising! They have pioneered the streaming daytime soap game with their series Chad and Abby in Paris, Last Blast Reunion, and most recently Beyond Salem. Days of our Lives consistently reinvents itself and keeps its’ finger on the genre’s pulse. In that same vein, at the end of 2019, Days of our Lives had a one-year time jump. Every character didn’t survive the time jump. Sadly, our Adrienne was one of those people. Sigh. But we were so happy when Evans returned to reprise the role of Bonnie. We had questions for Evans. Is she open to returning one day as Adrienne? Bonnie currently (on air) is facing a murder charge for killing Calista Lockhart. Will she get off? Will Bonnie and Justin get their happily ever after? How was it for her when Bonnie had to make the switch and become more Adrienne-like? We wanted to know!
“Each character has their own journey. It is like walking a tight wire as Bonnie has tried to become a better person. God Bless the producers Janet (Spellman-Drucker) and Albert (Alarr.) During Bonnie’s transition, they might have had to say, “Judi a little more Adrienne like” and I’d go, “Okay got it.” Laughter. “I had to soften Bonnie up because she can be a lot to take. She and Justin fell in love which was cool and interesting. Wally is wonderful to work with and Bryan too. I’m telling you somebody is looking down on me because throughout my career I have worked with the best people. As far as Bonnie goes, I like the path she took. She had this hard life which made her the way she was. But at the heart of it, at the heart of her, somewhere way way way deep down, her heart is in the right place. So, it was about bringing that to the surface. What will happen with Justin and Bonnie? I wish I knew more to tell you! When it comes to Adrienne, there is always a chance she could come back. Stranger things have happened in Salem. She could be wandering around somewhere with amnesia. Who knows. We will see what happens. I am extremely thankful for the fans and for my journey and I am looking forward to seeing how it continues.”