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Days:New Thaao interview

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Q&A: DAYS' Thaao Penghlis

By Janet Di Lauro

Thaao Penghlis (Tony)


The always-outspoken Thaao Penghlis has had plenty to say since his return to Salem as Count Tony DiMera, so Weekly spent a few minutes with him one day at the set.

Soap Opera Weekly: How happy were you to learn that your return would mean the chance to work with Joseph Mascolo (Stefano) and Leann Hunley (Anna)?

Thaao Penghlis: I have to say that Joe and I did some good work together and, at the end of the day, it's about the work. It's all about chemistry, and Joe and I have great chemistry together. Then there's Leann. I don't know how long she's coming back for, but it will be wonderful to work with her again, too. Those were the best of times for me.

Weekly: What does Stefano's return mean for Tony?

Penghlis: Before, I was the lone DiMera against all the Bradys that were coming at me all the time. [stefano's return] allows me to show Tony's vulnerability. When I was by myself, I certainly couldn't show that to Bart. In the past, I was able to show it to my father. My father was able to show it to me.

Weekly: Had you given up hope of playing Tony to Joe's Stefano ever again?

Penghlis: I've been in workshop, and Joe recently came in to see me do a production of Man for All Seasons with John Glover [Lionel, SMALLVILLE; ex-Billy Vargas, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW]. It was kind of like old times seeing him again, because we go way back. He said, "God, wouldn't it be great if they asked us to come back to DAYS together?" Then, two months later, they did.

Weekly: Do you have any fond memories of working with Leann from the old days?

Penghlis: We did the first bathtub scene in daytime, the first shower scene in daytime. I remember Leann saying to me, "Please when you undo the zipper of my dress, don't take it all the way down, because it will show the crack of my ass and my mother will be watching." I said, "You know me. I wouldn't do that to you."

Weekly: What's it been like having James Scott (EJ) as your new TV brother?

Penghlis: When you come into a plotline having a half brother you didn't know existed, you have to fill in the holes. He's a very tall DiMera, to say the least. It's funny. I've never been more conscious of someone being taller than me. I think it's because I'm looking up at him. There's an interesting dynamic between our characters. Their relationship is dangerous. It's building into a real rivalry between the two brothers for the position of power.

Weekly: Have you shared any memorable scenes yet?

Penghlis: Yes. There was one where my lines were, "I know you've spent a long time getting your own way, but I'm here to tell you those things have changed. I'm back and I'm in charge, little brother." I was interested to see how James would respond to that. Some actors get huffy and puffy. Some actors go into poses and [display] some kind of bravado. But there's a difference in upbringing between an American and an Englishman [like James]. They approach things differently. There's something about that breeding. They always make sure that their manners are intact.

Weekly: What was Thaao doing while Tony was rotting in prison?

Penghlis: I went to South America. I went to Iguassu Falls in Brazil. I went to Rio, too, which I did not like. It's a very untrusting society. It's terrible the robberies that take place. I wasn't robbed, but there was an attempted one. Then, I went to Peru and thought, What a contrast of people. These Indian people with their great heritage are so well-mannered and so appreciative. Last year, I went back to Egypt for the fourth time in 130-degree heat. It was tricky this time. In the Cairo museum, the secret police were following me around. I never knew why, but it was so creepy. They were observing me and trying to be very intimidating. At one point I turned around and said, "You know, you should have more respect for your tourists." I went to Valley of the Kings. I took a balloon ride there. I have a real need to learn how other societies live.

Weekly: Do you consider yourself an American after all these years?

Penghlis: Well, I've live in America for many years. I'm actually becoming an American citizen this year. I go for the fingerprints next week. I'll be an American citizen. I'll have dual citizenship, Australian and American. I said, "This is silly. I live in this country." I want to be an American. I want to vote.


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