We don’t say this lightly: Jen Lilley may be one of the most amazing people you will ever come to know. Not only does she work hard to promote a number of different charities, but she also stars in one of the most popular soap operas on TV, Days of Our Lives. This month, we had to pull her away for her busy life to talk about all her other exciting projects and celebrate Days of Our Lives turning 50.
Cliché: What does it feel like being on a series that’s been airing for 50 years?
Jen Lilley: It’s definitely overwhelming in the best kind of way. It’s such an iconic show and it’s known around the world. Days of Our Lives is referred to in so many films and TV series, and I can’t help but feel amazing to be a part of it. It makes me feel like I’m a part of history, that I’m a part of something so much larger than myself.
What was it like filming Youthful Daze while working on Days of Our Lives?
Youthful Daze was a series that I did for only one season. I am friends with the creator Bryan James. He had asked me for three years to join the project before I finally agreed. I only worked on it for about four months, which happened to be some of the craziest months of my life. I was working seven days a week for those four months straight. On average, I had to memorize about 60 pages a day.
Was it very stressful flipping between two different projects like that?
It was stressful not because I was going back and forth between both shows, it was just all the pages I had to learn in such a short amount of time. Since they were both soap operas, I had to learn a crazy amount of lines. Just to understand how much goes into filming one episode of a soap compared to a normal series, I once appeared in an episode of Castle. One day, I came to set and everyone seemed a bit stressed, so I asked why. They were like, “It’s going to be such a long day. We have eight pages. This is going to take forever.” So, there I was, a soap opera vet, thinking this is nothing. I’m used to shooting anywhere from a hundred to two hundred pages a day, which means that, on soaps, we probably won’t get a chance to do a second take.
You can imagine how working on two soap operas at once got to be too much for me. I always want to do things with excellence, so it got to a point where I had to give up one of them. It couldn’t be Days of Our Lives because I was under contract and it was a bigger role for me. I unfortunately had to drop Youthful Daze. I think I aged like 10 years and slept like two hours a night during those months.
But although you stopped working on two soap operas, you went to working on films and Days of Our Lives. Was that move a lot easier on you?
Yes, it was. I shot a film during January/February called Hollygrove, which should air on Lifetime around Christmas. I happen to play the lead, Kate Jordin, who is very sweet, charming, lipstick-feminist lawyer. But it was funny when our director, David Jackson, went out for coffee with me to talk about my role as Kate and how we both saw her. He was like, “God, I’ve worked with soap actors before. I’m going to have to teach you how to slow down.” Because in film, you retake a scene so many times, over and over again, the same way. It just takes so much longer to do one scene compared to that of a soap opera.
Can you tell us a little about your character and her love interest? I heard that he’s unavailable. Can you explain what that means?
So, the story centers around Kate, the sassy lawyer who goes to this old mansion/bed and breakfast that is said to be haunted by the founder’s ghost, a man named Daniel (Thomas Beaudoin). So, he’s a bit unavailable because he is dead. [laughs] It’s a love story that transcends time as they work together to break a curse that he is under. Oh, Daniel is also in love with a ghost named Lily. Which is funny because her real name is Kate and my character’s name is Kate while my last name is Lilley. You can just picture what it was like when people tried calling our names. It was a bit confusing at times.
Hollygrove is really one of those things that is hard to define. It’s really its own thing. It is very much a fairy tale kind of story rather than anything scary or weird. It’s romantic and funny, yet mysterious and gritty. It’s such a great story!
What was it like becoming a character that falls in love with someone who’s dead?
Not that hard. There are times in your life where you go through that kind of love where you meet the right person, but the timing couldn’t be more wrong and a bit of tragedy that goes along with that. I think that every girl has gone through that kind of love at least once in her life, where they find the perfect guy and it isn’t the right time. My character, Kate, finds the humor in it. Like, “Of course my perfect guy is dead! That is so my luck!”
And it was just our luck to have been able to spend some time with such an amazing person. Lilley tells us that she also recently appeared in the film Crossing Streets, which focuses on the Straight Street program and donates all earns to charity. This was one of the many reasons Lilley attached herself to the project. While Lilley loves to support as many charities as she can, her main advice to those looking to help is to do your research and find out how much of your money truly goes to the cause.
Read more Entertainment Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Jen Lilley Interview: Photographer: Ben Miller, Stylist: Franzy Staedter, Hair: Ksenia Kim, Makeup: Adina Sullivan