Long before she debuted as the snippy, sarcastic Theresa Donovan on Days of Our Lives, Jen Lilley began preparing viewers for the hurricane that was about to storm into Salem. "I kind of preemptively, before I even started airing, saying in interviews, 'Theresa is deliciously evil. She's like a nine layer cake, and I just can't get enough,'" recounts Lilley. Neither can viewers, who've taken to her spot-on portrayal of the intriguing bad girl. Lilley shares her thoughts on the character, the great advice she got from a former Days villain, and having Mr. Sheffield as her daytime dad.
Blonde or brunette?
"My hair is in between. It's like a dark honey blonde with a little bit of red in it. I dyed it for [the movie] The Book of Esther, and I liked it. I'd wanted to be a brunette for a long time, so I decided to leave it for pilot season. My agent and managers were like, 'No, no no. Everybody knows you as a blonde. It's not going to help you.' I said, 'Look, I know you make 10 per cent, but at the end of the day I can't pay my mortgage if I don't book something. It's really my risk to take...' Now here we are."
Being a Brady lady
"It's so exciting, and it's also scary in the best way possible. I feel like I have big shoes to fill, because I'm [playing] a Brady. Everybody in this family is an actor and so dynamic and interesting. I better pull my weight."
Bad girl backlash
"I was really bracing myself for [fan reaction] to be super negative. When I originally came on General Hospital as Maxie, I had at least 15 people a day on Twitter saying, 'I hope you kill yourself tonight.' I'd be like, Well, I'm glad that I'm a positive person. But I have actually only read tweets from people that like Theresa, which is shocking to me. A lot of people like her because she's so funny and says all the things that people are thinking."
Advice from Tony DiMera
"I actually talked to Thaao Penghlis (ex-Tony), who played Haman in The Book of Esther and was on Days, because I was freaking out when I first got this role. I'd only ever played the nice girl before. I told him, 'I'm just not like Theresa at all. The only similarities we have is that we're the same height and we're girls. I don't know what I'm going to do.' He said that one time a fan walked up to him and said, 'Oh! You're so evil.' He got upset, but then immediately went, 'Yes. And isn't it wonderful?' She melted and said, 'Yes. I guess it is.' Because somebody has to be evil. I so appreciated that. It was the best advice I ever got."
Out of her comfort zone
"The only thing that makes me uncomfortable about playing Theresa, and I'm not ashamed of it, is that I'm a goody two shoes. I wish I could be more cool, but I'm not. I'm super nerdy. I love reading and baking and doing craft time. I thought, Are people even going to take me seriously? Because when I get angry, most of the time my friends start laughing. They're like, 'Oh my God! Your face when you're angry is hilarious.' So that's what's scary to me."
Partners in crime
"Casey Moss (JJ) is great. I just adore him so much. This is his first acting role, but you can't even tell. He seems like a seasoned pro. I love working with him, because he's willing to explore and go on an adventure with you. And Blake Berris (Nick)... I don't get to work with him much, but I've got to say I'm such a fan. I haven't seen [his film] Meth Head yet, but I've talked to him about it. He's one to watch. If I had to bet my savings on somebody, I would probably make a bet on Blake Berris as being somebody who's going to be nominated for an Academy Award any day now. He's just so good."
Dear old dad
"Can I just confess to you that my favorite show, even above I Love Lucy, is The Nanny. I know every word to the intro, even the French part, and I sing it every time. It's the best song that ever was. When I found out that Charles Shaughnessy (ex-Shane) was my dad, I told executive producer Lisa De Cazotte, 'Listen, I don't fan girl much. I think actors are actors. They're normal people just like me. But I will probably pee myself a tiny bit if i ever get to work with him, because he is Mr. Sheffield."