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Royal Reporter

Deep Soap: Days of Our Lives Kristen Renton Dishes Product Placement and Doggie DNA Testing

By Sara A. Bibel

Days of Our Lives Kristen Renton (Morgan Hollingsworth) joined the cast in fall of 2007 as president of a Salem U. sorority. Her character was a hit with the fans. The show expanded Morgan’s role, giving her a father (Paul played by Linden Ashby) and a romance with Philip (Jay Kenneth Johnson). The hardworking Renton phoned me from DOOL’s hair-and-makeup room .

What’s a typical day of taping like?
It starts in hair and make-up, which for me can be the most fun because that’s where all the gossip happens.

Any juicy gossip right now?
It’s funny, because sometimes I’ll put my earphones on so it looks like I’m listening to music, when really I’m not. I’ll just listen to everyone talking about who is dating who or who told who off. The kind of stuff that you shouldn’t know but you hear because for some reason everyone cuts loose in that room. I don’t know why, but [hair and make-up] is definitely the go to gossip room.

The rest of the [less gossipy] day?
We’re usually in hair and make-up for about two hours, depending on what we’re going to do that day. If we have a juicy fantasy scene or something it might take longer. We go from there to rehearsal where we get all our blocking. Things like, ‘Take a step here, grab his butt here.’ Then we shoot. Sometimes it goes really quickly, other times not so much.

How did the character of Morgan evolve? Was she originally supposed to be a contract character?
When I first [got the part] it wasn’t supposed to be an extremely longterm role, but they were open to seeing how the story progressed. I went into it thinking that I was going to make Morgan as fun as possible so people would want her to stick around because I think she’s an amazing character to play. I’m glad that the fans saw it that way also. About two and a half months after I started, the producers offered me a long term contract. I was really excited that they saw Morgan’s potential.

At first Morgan seemed like she was going to be a “Mean Girl,” but she’s turned out to be a loyal, supportive friend.
Initially I think she loved the authority she had with the sorority. When the [Ford Decker] storyline evolved, you saw that she had a softer side, that she was vulnerable and human. I think the fans really could identify with that. She’s so much fun to play because she has all those complex sides. She can be sweet and genuine and be a good friend, but if someone tries to cross her she has no problem taking the claws out.

Now that Paul’s missing, are we going to see her spunkier side?
She feels that her Dad is her rock, the one person she can really understand and identify with. Now that he’s out of the picture, she gets vulnerable and lost for a minute. She latches on to Phillip because he’s her last connection to her father, in a weird roundabout way. At the same time, she’s also looking at this as an opportunity to become closer to him. She has feelings for him, but she hasn’t really admitted it to herself yet. She is going to use this as a catalyst to start something with him. She is little miss vulnerable, in distress, ‘save me’. She’s looking to fall into his arms.

What’s it like working with Jay Kenneth Johnson?
He is absolutely amazing! We’ll sit down and work on our scenes beforehand and really focus on what we want to do. I’ve learned so much from him. And, he’s not hard to look at either. He’s really sweet. People [who look] like that, you never know. But he’s not full of himself. He’s not stuck up. I think it helps with the relationship [our characters] have on the show because we really do care about each other.

Is there going to be a Morgan-Phillip-Chloe love triangle?
There is a slight triangle going on. Although Phillip said he didn’t want a real relationship with Chloe, he can’t help but have some feelings for her come out. Yet, he also likes [Morgan] with her spunkiness. That’s something he really hasn’t experienced yet. He hasn’t ever really had someone who stands up to him and puts him in his place. I think that’s definitely playing with his mind. Eventually something happens. [Morgan] goes to confront John about something and Phillip accidentally gets in the way. [She] feels guilty about that, and that’s the real start of our relationship.

Is John really responsible for Paul’s disappearance?
I don’t know, at this point. It could be either John or Phillip. The longer they keep pointing fingers at each other, the more distressed Morgan gets about the whole situation. I want to believe it’s John. If it’s Phillip Morgan’s whole world’s going to come crashing down.

If you could play a DOOL character other than Morgan, who would you choose?
I absolutely love Nicole (Arianne Zucker) She’s funny. She’s a drunk, but she’s got the spunk. She seems like she would be a lot of fun to play and to get to know.

What was it like shooting the infamous Midol product placement scene?
(Laughing) I didn’t actually know I was going to have to do that. When I picked my script up, I overlooked that page. So when I got to set that day, they were like, ‘this is where we’re going to shoot our product placement. ‘ I was like, ‘what are we doing?’ We tried to have a lot of fun with it, and I think you could see that when it aired. I think it played pretty well. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. A girl’s got cramps, she’s got to take care of it.

What other roles did you play before you were cast as Morgan?
I have a movie, Ghouls, that’s airing Saturday July 12 at 9PM [that’s tomorrow, if you’d like to check it out] on the SCi-Fi channel. I play a girl who discovers her family’s blood line goes back to these creatures called ghouls. She finds herself in a predicament when she goes to her grandmother’s funeral in Romania. The horror/scifi was a lot of fun to play. I’ve also played a hooker with a heart of gold on The OC, a college student that dabbled in being a Las Vegas hooker. You do what you’ve got to do to put yourself through school! I played a fun character, Nancy, on a show called The Sausage Factory which aired on MTV. She was a naïve, virginal character that didn’t believe in pre-marital sex. She had no idea how much she tortured her boyfriend with the fact that she wouldn’t put out.

You seem to get cast as a lot of spunky characters.
I like playing strong women. For so long women were looked at as weak and unable to carry ourselves without a man. I love the idea of playing strong, independent women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

In that vein, if you could write a story for Morgan, what would it be?
I would love to see a real romance develop between her and Phillip. He’s got this egotistical outlook on the Kiriakis empire. He’s always been given whatever he wants, and I think Morgan’s kind of challenged that. Bringing these characters together would open up many possibilities. I would love to get her out of college and have her start her own business. Maybe she could start working alongside Phillip. I think if that happened, there would be a big learning curve for both of them.

Do you have any hobbies or non-acting interests that would surprise your fans?
I’m a huge nerd! Sunday mornings I look at the newspaper and clip coupons. I walk my dogs. I ride my bike. I have a Schwinn! I’d rather walk dogs on a Sunday than go to a club on Friday. I love reading, I read three books last week when I was on vacation, visiting my family. I’m a huge charity buff. I volunteer a lot for the Boxer Rescue in L.A. Animals are a huge priority in my life.

Are your dogs Boxers?
Yes. I have two. Cooper’s a male that I adopted over a year ago. He was found roaming around South Central, so we rescued him. I rescued another one named Roxy who I just brought to a benefit called “Dogs In Danger” a couple of weeks ago that was put on by Reality Cares and she just stole the show. I call her my mini-horse. She’s like 80 pounds. I just got her a doggy DNA test to find out what she is. She’s half boxer but she’s got to be part Great Dane or Mastiff or something because she’s huge.

Wait. You can get DNA tests for dogs?
Yeah. You can find out exactly what breeds they are and everything.
You’ve managed to put a soapy twist on dog ownership.
(laughs) I cannot wait to find out what she is.
Maybe she’s part DiMera.

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
I’d like to thank them for being so welcoming and positive about me and about Morgan and Phillip. The writers read the fan message boards. They write for what fans want. As long as the fans keep supporting them with open arms, we’re going to keep doing it.

The writers really read the boards?
They really do read the NBC message boards, any kind of soap message boards. They seriously have people who go on and read them. If there’s something fans don’t like, they respect that and they listen. Thanks to everyone there who has shown me support and love. I love them right back!


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