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Spicy, sassy Nicole has been back in Salem for awhile now, raising you-know-what all over town. She's run into a few old enemies (you know who you are Sami and Chloe), made a few new friends (EJ and Ava) and moved in, with dog in tow, with her "husband," Victor (much to his dismay). And mixed herself a wide array of cocktails. You know; she's just being Nicole, which means she's always fun to watch. "Fun" is the one thing she definitely has in common with her portrayer, Arianne Zucker. Other than that, the two couldn't be more different. Arianne is sweet and funny to Nicole's, well, harsh side. We sat down with Arianne Ari to her friends to catch up on her return to Salem.

Days_Allison: So you've been back for a little while now. Are you having a good time?

Arianne Zucker: I'm having a blast. I am having such a great time. Part of it is because, every time I pick up a script, I giggle. I think that between the writing and everyone behind the scenes and in front of the scenes, Days is such a positive place to be that you can't help but have a great time. On top of that, I'm the character who gets to say what everyone is thinking! No filter! It is a blast. And now you're seeing some layers with her a little bit.

Days_Allison: I've noticed that. We're really seeing another side of Nicole.

Arianne Zucker: They hinted at it before, a little bit, but really never touched upon it. It's a challenge for me, because I'm going from being flip then, in certain moments, my vulnerability comes out. It's really hard to try to hide it. I think that Nicole wants so badly to trust somebody. She's never really, truly dealt with anything. I don't know if you're anyone who's ever had an issue in your life, but those of us who have, if you don't deal with it, at some point it's going to explode. I think she's getting to that boiling point. She's about to burst. As we all know she's got a little bit of a bad history. I think that's kind of why she's so flippant and why she can go from one place to the other She's just so busy covering now. It's just so great; I just find so many wonderful things. And in working with Ed Scott and Noel Maxam, they're so willing to listen to my ideas and really work with me and really just make, not only the show, but my character just amazing.

Days_Allison: Do you feel like they're really getting this character?

Arianne Zucker: Yes. And again I think it's the team effort. We're all putting our two cents in. They tell me what they want to see out of me as an actor. And I'm thrilled. Not that I wasn't invested before, but I spent a year and a half in a script improv class. Basically, nowadays in the entertainment business, everything is so fast. The audition process, right into tape. In television especially, you just pretty much gotta know your stuff, get up there, you don't get rehearsal, it's just go-go-go. In that short amount of time, you have to really be able to come up quickly with "what is the scene about," what you're trying to get from the other characters; you have to think fast. I wouldn't think I was using it, but it's almost now innate within me to be able to use it. I think it's really made a huge impact on my work, coming back to the show.

Days_Allison: What made you want to come back and revisit this character?

Arianne Zucker: You don't think you're going to miss a place as much as I realized I really did. I was off on an adventure. I have definitely grown from when I started on this show, my life has really, really changed. I like change in my life. I think that what made me what to come back was that I'd changed in the two years, as a person, in my personal life and in my professional life. Coming back was such a blessing and I have such appreciation. Taking a little hiatus makes a big difference, I think for anybody. Even when you go on vacation for two weeks, you think "oh my gosh, I needed that!" I can breathe again!

Days_Allison: What do you enjoy most about Nicole?

Arianne Zucker: I touched upon it a little bit, about the fact that she's about to burst. It's so sad and so great at the same time, because this character, at the end of the day, has no one. Besides her brother, but I even think with Brandon she was never truly honest, because we both had our own issues and that kept walls up with each other. So she puts it all into her dog. It's so sad because there are people out there that that's all they really have. What I love about the character is that she's so frightened to take that next step and trust anybody. Even if she couldn't trust that person and they did defy her, it's just the fact that she's so worried did I take that step? Did I leap off of that building? I like this pressure point.

Days_Allison: When you first came back, you had that dog. I wonder if they really knew how deep that could get? Maybe they just wanted it to be this cute little thing...

Arianne Zucker: then it starts to work. I think that does happen. I think maybe that was the case; who knows. I'm not saying it was, but it's very possible. Then you go, wow. Especially when you take the scene, and they'd written this really cute scene about the dog, and it turns into an emotional mess. And you're like, this poor girl! Those scenes were funny because I didn't expect to take it to that place. It's easy to kind of take that and make it campy, because of the dog, and I thought, well, not. I'm a pet lover anyway, but the depth of it was surprising. I got more complements on those scenes.

Days_Allison: And you seem to be working well with James Scott.

Arianne Zucker: I think so. When you find your niche with somebody. We work really well together behind the scenes as far as what we're going to do and the context of the script and then the scenes. We like to bring a lot to it, if we can. As much as we're allowed to take. Everyone seems to be allowing us to do that. We keep discovering things together as actors. It's been amazing. I feel very lucky.

Days_Allison: You can really see that you enjoy working together in the scenes. The two characters really get along.

Arianne Zucker: He has no filter, either. The characters are kind of similar, in a way. I think EJ has a place in his heart for her, somewhere. He's not all bad, either. He's been trying to change. He just wants to smack Nicole upside the head, knock some sense in her! It's great. I've never really had that. He just sees right through me. That's the best part. I can't fool him. I cannot play him.

Days_Allison: So where has Nicole been?

Arianne Zucker: She went to LA and she was working for Austin's company. We had a falling out. Don't quite know what that is, but apparently something happened. I can only assume, with the way Nicole is, that she kept trying and trying and trying and he was having nothing to do with it. Oh, and I met a soap star and fell in love and that didn't work out!

Days_Allison: Oh, and Nicole has a girlfriend now!

Arianne Zucker: Yes! I'm so excited. Ava. I don't even know her last name. She doesn't need a last name, she's so fabulous. Let me start by saying - huge fan of Tamara Braun. When she came onto General Hospital as Carly, I was like, she's amazing. I sort of became a crazy fan. I worked with her on a Planned Parenthood event, a play that Heather Tom had put together to raise money. We all did separate monologues but we did rehearsals together. I've always thought very highly of her. I've already told her that I'm a crazy fan! But I feel another kindred spirit. We get along so well. You know what she is? She's so available. As an actor, you talk about trust, and you can look in her eyes and know she's there for you. So I really enjoy it. I can't tell you how lucky I feel! They're amazing actors that I get to work with.
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