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Bryan Dattilo on Frances Reid

It's only been a few months since Lucas moved to Hong Kong and Bryan Dattilo returned to the role of father and auditioning actor. "Full-time dad takes up about 80% of the life," Bryan told us. "Cooking, football and a practice game a week and then homework. And getting him to school. And picking up." Like any full-time parent, there's always something to do for son Gabe. But he's also an actor and that means auditioning, as well as going to class, which Bryan describes as "interesting and fun." And, because Bryan is Bryan, "staying out of trouble is a full-time job!"

When Lucas first arrived in Salem, he was a young man who was just finding out that his heritage wasn't quite what he thought it was. He was, in fact, a Horton, but not everyone was thrilled with that fact. Alice, as ever, could be counted on to make things right. As Bryan told us, theirs "was a special connection because Alice kind of let him into the family. He had the whole realization of being a Horton at the age that Lucas was, and the lack of identity. You know, when you're at that age 18 to 22 it's that first peek at who you're going to be or who you are, really. So for him to find out that he was a Horton at that time, Alice was really there for him."

Lucas and Alice had a special connection, and Bryan believes his connection with the beloved matriarch was no less special. "We had really cool scenes because I used to watch the show with my grandmother," Bryan told us. "So to have scenes with the grandmother of the show You know, my grandmother identified with Alice so much and loved her so much and when I was growing up watching the show, the Horton living room to me was like heaven, almost. Then to be there and to have scenes when I first started out, and to have her kind of help me, because I had a lot of trouble memorizing dialogue when I first started and making things right in scenes. I would always play the victim or my voice would have such a whine to it. She would tell me to calm down and she would help me. She was very studious about knowing lines. To her, if an actor came on set and didn't know their lines, she couldn't imagine that. You have one job. Know your lines. And be professional. She used to laugh at me because sometimes I wasn't so professional. But I used to smother her with kisses so she had to love me!"

"She used to call me Lucas," Bryan continued with a laugh. "Lucas, please, stay focused, honey. Please. For the director. For the show. Then if I didn't, or someone didn't know their lines very well, she always had kind of a funny thing to say, whether it was 'actors who don't know their lines are like lost dogs.' She used to say that! Don't you mean like a lost puppy? No, I mean dog. Then the director would tell her to do something, and she would say, wait a minute here. How about this? And she would say something totally different and the director would say perfect! I was thinking that Frances. Because whatever she wanted to do was the right decision, so it didn't matter what the director had to say!"

Thanks to Frances's direction and advice, Bryan certainly grew as an actor. And that helped him in his return as Lucas for Alice's funeral. "It's always fun to be dramatic," Bryan told us, "to see how far you can go with it without going too far. I think that's the tough thing with scenes like that. Obviously, you have the emotion there, but my mistake in the past, I think, has been just playing the emotion too raw and not having composure. It's fun to watch someone go through an emotional experience but you don't want someone to overdo it to the point where it ruins the validity of the scene. So I tried to do that."

And returning to Salem can't have been easy for Lucas. There are a lot of tough memories there, particularly with Sami, and also with Chloe. As Bryan said "whenever you go home because of the death of a family member, it's never very pleasant. But it's something you have to do to honor their memory and their existence. So he did that. But it's kind of hard to run into Sami with the daughter situation, and Will and leaving his child. There weren't many happy moments."

Bryan was impressed with the way Alice's funeral was handled. "I had a cool speech during the funeral, which I thought was very well done," he said. "I expected the typical set-up with the church with everyone at a podium doing their speeches, crying, but it was cool to have it pseudo outside with that kind of feel and all of us laying the flowers on her coffin and all saying our special pieces about her and our own connections. I thought it was very realistic. I was happy to be there. Happy to be upset!"

"They gave me this great moment," Bryan continued, "where I was kind of looking back on the living room before I left and I kind of stole the picture of Tom. I thought that was a really nice touch. And for me it was great to play. Unfortunately, my best take they didn't take because I kicked the table that was on some apple boxes and made some noise. So we had to do it again and I didn't feel like I really did it like I did the first time. But maybe less is more."

As everyone in Salem is feeling the loss of Frances, so are all the fans, and Bryan still considers himself one. "Even though she wasn't on the show so much towards the end," he said, "she was such a backbone and a backdrop that we could always fall back on. Certain characters would refer to her. I just think that it's such a loss. When Macdonald Carey died, she sort of took over his identity. So now that she's passed away, it's like they're both officially gone and with them both gone, I feel like the book is closed. Now when I watch it - because I watch Days every day - when I watch it now, stepping back as a third party, I can really kind of evaluate how things are going. It's a different show. There are different characters. You really have to kind of search through the characters to find the links to the old Days. I think the people who have the jobs now are doing a great job, it's just to me a little different. But I think as long as it's still a good show and it's still got people interested, I think that's a good thing."

A very good thing and we hope that Salem can continue to grow and look toward the future, even with the loss of this link to the past.
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