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Arianne Zucker Opens up About Playing Kristen on DAYS OF OUR LIVES (EXCLUSIVE)

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After 20 years of playing DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ Nicole, Arianne Zucker was pretty used to being thrown curveballs by the soap. But even she was shocked to learn that, when she recently returned, she’d be playing a whole new version of her character: Kristen pretending to be Nicole! “Kristen’s always been such an exciting character to watch, originally with Eileen [Davidson] and then with Stacy [Haiduk] slipping into those shoes,” Zucker noted to Soaps In Depth. “So then I was going, ‘Okay, how do I put my own similar twist on it?’ I decided that I was gonna absorb what Stacy does and then just go with it.”

Zucker had previously left DAYS out of a desire to pursue other projects. But it was the ability to regroup at home during her time away from Salem that she treasures most. “My daughter [Izzy, age 9] appreciates that I took that [break from the soap],” the actress offered. “I got to drop her off and pick her up from school and be with her when she needed me.”

DAYS Nicole Xander

“Xander is like a puppy. He’s like, ‘Okay, I’ll do [what you want] as long as I get something out of it!” observed the DAYS leading lady. “So it’s easy for Kristen to manipulate him.” (Photo Credit: XJJohnson/jpistudios.com)

However, what was happening in Salem became a pretty big lure. “I’d been reading what fans were saying about Eric and Nicole and the [longtime] wall that’s been between them — you know, he came back as a priest, and there have been all these roadblocks,” Zucker reflected. “But with him falling in love with someone else [Sarah], it was a good time to bring this character back.”

And boy, did Kristen — together with her wily partner, Xander — blow up the good guy’s life! Worse yet, she schemed to send the whole town into mourning by faking Holly’s demise! But given that, much like Nicole, Kristen has always wanted to be a mother, how could she do something like that to the little girl’s loved ones? Zucker says the schemer’s lack of remorse comes from her “being so set on her goals that she didn’t give it a second thought. Plus, Kristen knows that she didn’t really do anything [to Holly], so her hands are clean.”

Days of Our Lives Nicole Brady

“Kristen’s a little confused about what love really means, so I think Brady is an obsession for her, ” Zucker suggested. “He’s definitely her endgame.” (Photo Credit: XJJohnson/jpistudios.com)

While a reckless Kristen is sure to make for an unpredictable time in Salem, Zucker’s own plans are much more concrete. She spent the summer on the set with Izzy’s dad, Kyle Lowder (Rex), shooting A Mermaid For Christmas. “I’m happily playing the villainous mayor,” she said, “so it’s juicy and fun! It’s written really smart, and the character reminds me of [Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly] in The Devil Wears Prada.”

Additionally, Zucker is busy launching a business, Chandelier Succulent , in which she pairs easy-to-care-for plants with recycled jars and beads to make beautiful gifts. As she explained during a recent do-it-yourself segment on Hallmark’s HOME & FAMILY show, “As much as I love it myself, it’s a really fun project to do with your kids, and your friends appreciate that you made it. The whole idea is to share.”

For more on your favorite DAYS stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.

With reporting by Michelle Moro Parkerton

This story originally appeared in our print magazine

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