Days of Our Lives viewers never know what to expect from scheming Kristen DiMera or her quirky doppelganger Susan Banks. True, Kristen has a more nefarious reputation, but each has a penchant for wild schemes that keep fans – and portrayer Stacy Haiduk – on their toes.
Woman’s World caught up with the Days of Our Lives star, who talks about getting to play Salem’s powerhouse vixen Kristen and wacky Susan. Plus, Haiduk opens up about what it’s been like to share those roles with the woman who created them – Real Housewives alum and daytime icon Eileen Davidson, who also plays Ashley on The Young and The Restless.
‘Days’ Star Stacy Haiduk Sees Herself in Kristen and Susan
When Stacy Haiduk attended her very first Days of Our Lives fan event, she couldn’t wait to meet and greet the viewers who tune into her new show, every day. The fans, however, had other ideas.
“They didn’t want to meet me because they thought I was just a B-I-T-C-H,” Haiduk shares with a laugh. “They were like, ‘Don’t bring Kristen DiMera!’ But now they know that when they meet me, they’re just going to get big hugs – and that I’m not Kristin DiMera.”
“I’m more like Susan, a lot of times,” she adds. “I think we all know that!”
When pushed, the actress who got her break playing Superboy’s Lana Lang in the ‘80s reveals she can actually see herself in both of the very different women she plays.
“I’ll be Susan here for a minute and say, ‘I asked the universe for what I want, and it delivered,’” Haiduk explains. “And what I wanted was to play the strengths of who I am, and that is on one side, a dorky, fun, goofball and on the other, this together – or somewhat together! – woman.”
While Susan gives Haiduk a chance to bring her own sparkling positivity to the screen, Kristen is a schemer with killer style (pardon the pun!) and poise. Having been raised by Stefano DiMera, she will stop at seemingly nothing to get what she wants – whether that’s her daughter, her “true love” Brady, or control of the family business.
“Kristen is working her way to the top, right now,” Haiduk says with a wink. “She is working her brothers to death and trying to figure out manipulative ways to see how she can become more powerful. She’s always trying to do that. And maybe one day she’ll actually succeed!”
Days star Stacy Haiduk loves being two-sided
Back when Eileen Davidson first introduced Kristen on Days in the ‘90s, the character was pure villainy. She was willing to murder, steal, kidnap, blackmail and impersonate locals in the name of her love for John Black and power, in general.
By the time Haiduk assumed the role in 2018, the vixen had been to therapy and she would go on to spend time repenting in a nunnery. With her attention turned from John to Brady, she’s still prone to wild schemes and unforgivable turns… and yet every once in a while, Kristen finds a slice of redemption by doing the right thing or just being real, for a change.
“She’s such a full character,” Haiduk says. “She can go bad. She can go good. She can cheat. And she’s got a kid now, so… she tries! I like playing her when she’s more gray – where she kind of dabbles in a little bad, dabbles in a little good.
“I also like playing her in control,” Haiduk adds. “Well, when Kristen at least believes that she’s in control. As an actress, it’s fun to get to be in that power place and manipulate everybody.”
The thing about Kristen is that while she’s certainly a powerhouse who can’t be held down – let alone behind bars! – for long, her schemes often go off the rails. Case in point, she held Kate, Kayla and Marlena’s lives hostage with an orchid cure to secure custody of her daughter… only to have that orchid snatched out from under her before she could use it to save them.
Stacy Haiduk talks Kristen, Brady and their happily ever after
To her credit, when it’s not about business or revenge, Kristen is usually motivated by love for her daughter Rachel and for Brady. True, her affections tend to skew toward the obsessive – just as they did when she was stuck on John – but she’s proven she can play nice when things are going her way.
In fact, for all Kristen’s insane antics, there is a large faction of Days of Our Lives fans who believe she deserves her happily ever after with Brady and their little girl.
“They call me crazy, but I thought it was going to happen for her,” Haiduk says with a sigh. “Back when they finally got their family back… but then she had to go to Italy and become a nun again. What can I say? I thought they could do it!”
Recently, both Rachel and Brady put the kibosh on any sort of romantic reunion for the two. In typical form, however, Kristen went from relishing her place of control to making a teary-eyed proclamation that no one will love Brady the way she did – and does!
Haiduk talks sharing her Days roles with Y&R star Eileen Davidson
This is not the first time Haiduk has stepped into a character fueled by a desperate need for love. While her All My Children character Hannah Nichols schemed and sacrificed herself in the name of love, some might argue that neither Kristen nor Susan can hold a candle to Haiduk’s The Young and the Restless character, Patty Williams.
Originated by the late Andrea Evans in the ‘80s, Patty never recovered from Jack Abbott’s betrayal. During Haiduk’s run, the psych patient who whispered her schemes to her dead, stuffed cat named Mr. Kitty assumed various identities to wreak havoc.
“Patty was so in love with Jack,” Haiduk says. “It was this whole thing, and that’s the kind of characters I want to play – these people who have been wronged, so they go after what they want. No matter what. I love that in the characters. Because to me, they don’t get boring.”
Getting to play two very different characters at once? Well, that makes it even less boring! It also keeps Haiduk busy on Days of Our Lives.
“When one’s not there, the other one is – and sometimes they both are,” she says of Kristen and Susan. “I am so blessed, because as actors, we never know when we’re going to be working. That’s the challenge of this business, but on a soap, you really just never know. Your character can come and go… But if you die, you always know you can come back!”
As the saying goes, anything can happen in soaps. Despite soaps love of evil twins, however, it’s rare that an actress gets to play two roles – and even rarer for two actresses to play the SAME roles! That’s why Haiduk balked when she heard Davidson would return to the fold in 2021 to appear in Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem, Days of Our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas, and the Days mothership, itself.
“That was a little hard because it was like, ‘Oh, God, is she coming back to take this part over?’” Haiduk admits. “But I love Eileen. We worked together at Y&R. What’s great about her is she created these amazing characters – and I gotta be honest, I love that I get to play them! It worked out, and I just hope I get to do this for a while.”
With Davidson’s Ashley in the thick of it on The Young and the Restless these days, Haiduk is airing as Kristen and also just wrapped 3 weeks shooting a movie on location in Kentucky. Days of Our Lives streams weekdays on Peacock.
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