Days' Daniel Feuerriegel Tells Us About A Potential New Love Interest For EJ, Graphic Novels and So Much More! Learn More Here >>>
Dan Feuerriegel plays EJ DiMera on Days of Our Lives. We recently got to sit down with him for a very fun conversation! Keep reading to find out more about Salem's (mostly) reformed bad boy!
We asked Dan about how he got his start in acting and he told us, "I'd always had an interest in it at school. I did drama at school, I was in one of the plays but then as I got a little bit older I was playing a lot of sports. I used to be in the choir as well and it wasn't as 'cool' when I was growing up as a teenager. And the funny thing is, I completely regret not sticking with the choir or anything like that."
He went on to college and was actually studying to be a veterinarian! "So I was studying a prerequisite course to then move on to vet science for the following year, but about six months into it, I realized that just standing around, studying, that was just not what I wanted to do. I wasn't taking it seriously. I was just using it. I was just going to college and then going off and partying and having fun."
He decided he needed a change, "I took six months off, I worked, and then I had one of those lightbulbs, epiphany moments. I was watching a movie called Varsity Blues with James VanDerBeek and Paul Walker. I was watching over my friend's place and there was a scene where a Foo Fighters song, My Hero, came on and I just got these goosebumps. I just had this moment of imagining myself being in that film and being so proud of accomplishing something so cool like that. I've always loved movies and then imagining how proud my parents would be and friends, family, and that inspired me to have a conversation with one of my best mates who told me 'you should audition for acting'. It was the acting course at the college that I was going to and he was going to do it as well."
His friend gave him some really great advice! "I auditioned for the acting course and it felt like I breezed through the audition process and I got in. From there, we studied for three years. I moved down to Sydney and I did the industry in Australia and Sydney for a bit and then I got Spartacus and from there I moved on to America and I got bits and pieces in America and then moved on to Days of Our Lives."
He explained to us how that moment had a lasting effect on his life, "It was one of those moments, it was my lightbulb moment, epiphany moment of 'this is what I wanted to do' because it just gave me such a goosebumpy kind of an experience that I was like, 'yeah, this is the direction I needed to go in'."
Dan shared with us the long road that led to him becoming EJ on Days of Our Lives, "I auditioned for Days probably about four years prior, it was the first audition that I did. and that was the first time I met Marni (Saitta, casting director for DAYS) and I was auditioning for a character that was an Elvis impersonator. And she absolutely, at least that's what she said, she absolutely loved me from the get-go and I think she had an idea for me that I could possibly play EJ DiMera from the very beginning because I know that they were wanting to bring that character back. I think it had been maybe five years since James (Scott, former EJ DiMera) left and they were looking at potentially bringing EJ back."
He went on, "Anyway, that was my first interaction with her and it didn't go anywhere but over the years I auditioned a couple more times. She brought me in on a dark week, which is the week that we don't film and introduced me to Albert Alarr, the producer, and I did a scene for him and I met him and that was it and that's as far as it went. She was really pushing hard for me to kind of just shove me in front of their noses like, 'I really think maybe this guy could be good'. Anyway, that was that."
Marnie never gave up on him though! "More time passed, I think about two years. I went back to Australia during the pandemic because it was really quiet and everything was shut down here. And that's when I got a call from my agent saying 'hey, they want you to audition for this character'. I put it down on tape. I sent it off. I think the character was called Colin or Tony or something, just sides from a previous episode or something. I auditioned and forgot about it and about two weeks later they said 'Hey, Dan, they want you to do a test', so the final round and I was like 'oh cool', and I thought it was over Zoom because who's seeing people in person these days? It was still very mid- pandemic. And they were like 'no, they want you to be in LA. They want to do a chemistry read with Ali Sweeney (Sami)'. And of course, my initial reaction was like 'oh man', because based on past experience I would have to fly my own way back to Los Angeles and that cost a lot of money and if I don't get it then I'm kind of a bit hard up for money again. So there was all that kind of running through my mind but then they were like, 'no, no, they really want to see you. They'll fly you over. They'll put you up.' and that gave me a bit of confidence of like, 'oh, they actually are interested' so I flew over and I was there for about two weeks. Went in, met Ali, we did a bit of a rehearsal. Marnie, who was always my champion, made sure I went first, that way I could do a little mini camera rehearsal so I could get that little bit of extra time with it. Did a bit of rehearsal, and we shot the scene. 'Thank you very much' and you just move on, it's just like that. And then about two days later, I got a call 'they loved you and they want you in the role' and the rest is history really."
He shared with us how grateful he is for the chance he has been given, "So it was, again, one of those moments that I see, just like me auditioning for acting school. It just kind of all went my way. There was no struggle, it just kind of felt like I was just flowing down a river and it was inevitable. Not from an arrogant point of view, it just felt different and I was really grateful, really happy. It changed my life."
We talked about the challenges of stepping into a role previously played by someone else, "When I got told during the audition process, 'you're actually auditioning for this role', they didn't tell me until kind of the last little bit, so I had a quick look at his character on YouTube and just kind of got a sense of 'okay, this is kind of how he talks. He's very posh' and everything like that. So I did my best posh voice that I could possibly do, which I'm sure still needs improvement to somebody who's actually posh. I knew just from being in the industry that online it can get pretty brutal, especially for recasts in major television shows and things like that so I definitely steered clear of that."
"But there was also a part of me, which was okay because it wasn't as though someone got fired. It wasn't as though it was very recent. It was somebody that decided on their own accord to leave about five years prior. So I was kind of like 'I can't do anything about that.' All I can do is be me in the role. I can't be him, I will never be him and that gave me a bit of calmness and confidence."
Feuerriegel added, "I saw some of the comments that were like, 'Oh, I don't like this person', in the beginning. When they announce that I was going to play the role most of the comments were just based on what I looked like, based on 'who is this person? We haven't seen him in a soap before. Can he do it?' And then a few positive things that they've seen me in Spartacus, but apart from that, it was just it is what it is. At first, it was mixed reviews, people getting used to it, but now I think, for the most part, people have gotten used to me now and they're like, 'okay, he's the role now'."
As for his critics, he says "I know a few people still haven't warmed to me. That's okay. They're allowed to. It's not, it sounds harsh, but that's not my problem. I just can only do what I can and do the best of my ability for the role and then the rest is just up to everybody's perception and interpretation. I'm happy with what I've been doing. And of course, I know I can improve in certain areas, what I think I'm capable of, but that's on me."
We asked Dan what was ahead for EJ and he shared with us, "I think now it's EJ realizing the error of his ways and realizing that he hasn't been a very good father and wanting to support his son. I know that there is a potential relationship coming up. And also something pretty full-on happens too. That's as vague as I can probably get. I'd love to be able to tell you everything but let's just say some really, really intense stuff happens. Some potential relationship stuff comes up, maybe."
We asked him if that 'potential relationship stuff' was with Belle and he grinned coyly and shrugged, "Maybe, I don't know. But also then, you know, maybe another spanner in the works might come along so...we'll see!"
We asked him about the graphic novel series, Fractured Shard, which he was involved with and how that all came about and he had this to share, "Well, to be completely honest, I wasn't a massive comic book or graphic novel fan growing up. I did collect Mad magazines, and Simpsons magazines and a few comic books here and there but I've always had storylines in my head for movies and TV shows and things like that so my buddies in Australia who do love comic books and do love Marvel and DC and have created their own comic books and graphic novels, I was having a chat with them and just randomly told them a story that was in my mind, just general conversation. Then about half an hour later, they came back to me and said, 'Hey, Dan, would you like to come on board and actually make this into a graphic novel?' and I jumped at the chance. It was a very exciting opportunity for me because it is a world that I really know nothing about. And I would love to get involved in it. It just avalanched from there."
"We started coming up with the storyline and potential arc of multiple volumes. They were able to find a Serbian artist who lived in Italy, he did all the drawings for us and we've got an American colorist so he created all the color and then we send it off to an editor and they just make sure that everything we've written is all correct and then we get it made into a digital version of the graphic novel and then we send that off to the printers and we get it printed out and we sent it all out."
"The first Kickstarter was very, very cool. Second, Kickstarter did very, very well as well. And now Now we're starting to see a few fruits of the labor, which is it's starting to appear in bookstores and things like that, especially in Australia."
"It was just a really cool extracurricular activity. It fueled my creative side. We didn't really have anyone to speak to, we could do whatever we wanted. We could create the story that we wanted to create. It's a very cool world. So many people are so supportive and so nice, and it's such a massively nice industry that I'm very excited to continue doing the graphic novels. I think it's gonna be so much fun and we're very excited about the storylines that we have coming up."
We're very excited for those as well as the other things he shared with us that he has coming up outside of Days of Our Lives! Stay tuned for part 2 of our fun interview with Dan Feuerriegel, a genuinely nice guy, despite who he plays on TV!