Red alert! Melissa Archer, the flame-haired fan fave from One Life to Live, will hit NBC's Days of Our Lives Dec. 5 as Serena Mason, a globe-hopping medical journalist who had a romance with Eric Brady (Greg Vaughan) several years ago in Africa. Their love affair ended when Eric chose to enter the priesthood. But now that he's been defrocked — thanks to that sordid incident where he was raped on tape by psycho-villain Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson)— he's one available heartthrob! TV Guide Magazine sat down with Archer to score some exclusive intel.
TV Guide Magazine: So fill us in on this relationship. How close were Eric and Serena back when they were working together in Africa?
Archer: He was a photographer and she was a reporter and they formed a real bond because of what they were going through and what they were witnessing over there.
TV Guide Magazine: What are we talking about? War? Famine? Disease?
Archer: Gosh, I can't remember if the script was specific about that because we shot my first scenes six months ago! But there was a lot of adrenalin flowing for them in Africa, a real fight-or-flight situation, and it drew them into a very close relationship. Serena's a brave girl, the kind who would probably be out there reporting on Ebola. But now, thankfully, she's in Salem.
TV Guide Magazine: How did Serena react when Eric chose the church over her?
Archer: What do you do when your man leaves you for God? What can you say? [Laughs] I guess there are a lot worse ways a relationship could end. Serena loved him enough to let him go do what was in his heart — better that than him staying with her and regretting it.
TV Guide Magazine: What if the powers-that-be in the Catholic Church decide to untwist their knickers and forgive Eric and want him back? Isn't Serena worried she might lose this guy twice?
Archer: Here's the unique thing about Eric and Serena. They really talk. They don't hide things with each other when it comes to their feelings. There's mutual respect and trust. It's not, like, "Oh gosh, he's going to become a priest again!" or "Oh, gosh, she's going to leave me to go on assignment!" They put it all out in the open. It's very refreshing.
TV Guide Magazine: A functional relationship in soaps? Outrageous! What brings her to Salem?
Archer: She comes into town to do some important medical research. [Laughs] Because they have really good doctors in Salem — the best to choose from! Serena is extremely smart, a no-bulls--t kind of girl, which I really enjoy playing. She's so different from my character, Natalie, on OLTL, who was tough but petulant. Serena is a real adult. Because of her profession, she's not the type to wear her heart on her sleeve — otherwise she wouldn't be able to survive the work.
TV Guide Magazine: This is a surprise visit?
Archer: It is, but she actually knows some people in Salem already because she and Eric visited the states together. She knows Marlena [Deidre Hall] and Roman [Josh Taylor] and a few others. Completely separate from that, she also knows Melanie [Molly Burnett]. They met in Europe and became really close friends.
TV Guide Magazine: Does Serena know about Eric's sex video?
Archer: I don't know that Serena is aware of every ghastly little detail about what happened between him and Kristen but, when she arrives in Salem, she knows he isn't a priest anymore. Serena and Eric have a very supportive friendship. She's like, "Wow, it really sucks that your entire life got screwed up and you lost the thing you wanted most." At the same time, she's thinking, "Hey, now I have a chance!"
TV Guide Magazine: Or does she? I'm hearing things get a little physical — in fact, downright violent — between Serena and Nicole [Arianne Zucker].
Archer: I can't speak for how Arianne sees her character but, from Serena's point of view, Nicole is obsessed with Eric. Nicole has no idea who this Serena person is and it's instant dislike. It was so much fun! I wish I had more scenes like that. Nicole is looking out for Eric, but she goes a little too far. [Laughs] It's certainly not one of those soap-opera girly fights with a little slapping and hair-pulling. These are tough women. I won't say anymore because it's so worth watching!