Wait off his mind
A Days of Our Lives veteran contemplates an Emmy win, writes Siobhan Duck
TDays of Our Lives, PG Channel 9, weekdays, 2pm Long-running saga Duration: 1 hour HAAO Penghlis was so deep in meditation he almost missed the flood of congratulatory calls coming in.
After almost 30 years playing Tony DiMera on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives, Sydney-born Penghlis has finally been nominated for an Emmy Award.
Though usually nonplussed about Hollywood accolades and the other trappings of celebrity, the deeply spiritual Penghlis admits he’s genuinely thrilled to be recognised for his work on the soap.
‘‘I was not expecting anything,’’ he says.
‘‘In fact, I was meditating and didn’t hear the phone ringing with people calling to congratulate me.
‘‘I’ve won awards before, but never an Emmy.
‘‘The Emmy is one of those things, like the Oscar is to film — it’s the award for television.
‘‘Even if I don’t win, it will completely change the way that I’m described. In articles I’ll now be Emmy-nominated or Emmy-winner Thaao Penghlis.’’
He is particularly proud of his recent work on Days of Our Lives, which has involved playing lookalike cousins, one of whom is evil and has a penchant for dressing up as a clown.
Not all of his storylines have been such a hit with Penghlis and, he says, a dispute with a past writer had been a factor in his decision to leave the soap at least once before.
‘‘They were making me into a cartoon and I really struggled to make him human,’’ Penghlis says of his once humorous and charismatic character Tony’s turn to the dark side in the early 1990s.
‘‘As an actor, you have to try to make these things work.’’
Penghlis says the Friends’ storyline where Joey’s character is dropped down an elevator shaft by a disgruntled Days of Our Lives writer is actually quite close to the mark.
‘‘I know one actor who was killed four times and another put in a coma for two years for complaining about storylines,’’ he says.
Penghlis says one of the show’s writers had puppets made in all the actors’ likenesses, and would take them from a cupboard to play with from time to time.
Penghlis says Hollywood puts people on pedestals and he has seen too many young actors buy into their own hype after ‘‘finding their 15 minutes of fame’’ on the show.
He says his family and his Australian upbringing helped him keep his ego in check, despite being surrounded by the glitz of Hollywood.
Penghlis also takes regular ‘‘spiritual journeys’’ to important archeological and religious sites in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, where he is reminded of what life is like in the real world.
Penghlis says it is disappointing so many actors are forced to leave Australia to find work in Hollywood.
‘‘I am still Australian in spirit,’’ he says.
‘‘I come home often to see my family and for work. I would like to retire there eventually.’’