Ask any actor on Days of Our Lives to name the cast comedian over the past 20 years, and the majority would name Bryan Dattilo (Lucas). He was the guy who kept things light on the set and made his co-stars laugh between takes. However, being off the show from 2010 to 2012, during which time he wondered if he’d ever work as an actor again, made Dattilo reflect and reevaluate things. He returns to the soap with a whole new attitude. “I don’t know if I’m ever going to be totally serious and grown up, but I’m a lot smarter now and I appreciate [this job] a lot more,” contends Dattilo.“Lumi” (Lucas and Sami) fans are thrilled that you’re back on the show. Does it touch your heart to know how much they supported you and how hard they pushed for this?
Yes. I don’t think they realize how powerful they are. They played a huge part in my coming back. I thank them so much for that, and I thank them for all the gifts I’ve gotten since I’ve been back –- from the balloons to the nuts and candies and cookies to all their letters. I think the powers-that-be really honor when fans step up like that.
How does it feel to be back on the set again?
I am thrilled to be back. It’s great seeing everybody again. It’s like being in high school. I can’t wait to air. I can’t wait to make the Lumi fans proud and everyone else who helped me get back. Hopefully, I can stick around for a long time.
Is it true you doubted a return to Days might ever happen and your whole career as an actor?
It is. I was off Days for two years. I thought, They’re over me. They've had enough of my attitude. They're annoyed. I didn’t think [a return] was going to happen. I'd also started doing some construction work for Sony. It was hilarious. I was getting recognized by tour groups as I was working. It’s funny how God presented things to me. That became my life... It was humbling. I started thinking, I used to be on TV. I took my job at Days for granted a lot towards the end and probably even got burnt out a little.
How did you take the job for granted?
Because I was doing it for so long, on and off for 17 years, I got used to it and didn’t [appreciate] how lucky I was to be in that percentage of actors who are on televison and working. Going in and not being prepared, for me, will never happen again. Not that I was ever that bad, but I was kind of known as the jokester -- the prankster, who didn’t really take it seriously. I think that kind of got turned around against me. When I go in now, I try to do the best job I can and be really proud of my work. I have an appreciation for how valuable [this job] is in my life; not only for my career, but financially. I’m really glad that the show gave me another opportunity and I’m trying to make the best out of it.
Lucas is back to help Sami, whose life is in shambles again. What’s it like working with Alison Sweeney (Sami) this time around?
It’s been great. The first couple of days back were awkward; just getting used to this whole experience, again, because you lose track of how overwhelming it can be doing this job. Ali made me feel really comfortable. Pretty soon, we were banging out great scenes just like the old days.
Do the two of you still have that wonderful bickering and bantering Lucas/Sami vibe going on in your scenes?
Absolutely. That’s always there. Ali’s pace is so fast. She’s so colorful and so filled with all these things that you just have to deal with from her. You never know if she’s going to cry, bite your head off, be vulnerable, be strong ... Seeing how she’s mastered what she’s done over the years is kind of fun, and I’ve taught her everything she knows. (Laughs.) I showed her the ropes at a young age.
Are you looking forward to playing a strong part in Will’s coming out story?
Absolutely. Lucas comes back kind of concerned, because he hears something is going on with Will, and he’s got to investigate what it is. The writers have done a good job walking that fine line, when parents are confronted with something like that. They’ve written it really well and portrayed it exactly how I would have wanted it portrayed. Lucas doesn’t have to be the bigot or the bitter angry dad. He’s very supportive and loving.
How do you like working with Chandler Massey (Will)?
He’s a deep little guy. He has a lot of levels to him and brings a lot to the scene. He’s really laid back and cool in real life and a talented piano player. Good looking, too. He kind of reminds me of me at that age ... without the piano playing. (Laughs.)
Does Chandler ever entertain you on the set?
He does, actually. We had some scenes at the DiMera mansion, after Lucas finds out that Will is working for EJ. Of course, Lucas isn’t happy about that, so he confronts EJ. In between those scenes Chandler was playing the piano. I was like, “Dude, you’re amazing.” I heard him playing on the small organ in his dressing room next to mine, and I thought it was the radio. That’s how good it was. I thought I was listening to some kind of Perry Como/Frank Sinatra thing without the lyrics.