Soap Opera Digest
Back In Action
Greg Rikaart (Leo) on his DAYS comeback.
Finding out he’d be back to wreak more havoc as Leo on DAYS didn’t actually come as a surprise to Greg Rikaart. Although he officially found out in May, via a phone call with an offer from Co-executive Producer Greg Meng, he already knew the character was destined for a resurrection.
On his last day of filming Leo’s “death”, Co-executive Producer Albert Alarr let him in on the secret. “He said, ‘Well, anyway, we’re all going to think that Leo is dead, but...’ That’s how he sort of ended the sentence,” recounts Rikaart. “So I knew there was a chance he still was alive. And in typical soap opera villain storytelling, it’s always good to keep all options on the table.”
Not surprisingly, Rikaart was “thrilled” with the twist. “Playing this character has been one of the most fun experiences of my career, especially this time,” he enthuses. “He was so fun the first round, but coming back we see more and more layers to Leo and learn more about him. His first time in town Leo was a hired hand, basically. He was the henchman for the ‘bad guy’; first Vivian and then Kate. Whereas now he’s the guy running the plan and whatever complications arise from that. So as fun as it was the first time, it’s paid off in dividends this time. It’s super-fun.”
Regarding those “layers” to Leo, which will include some major surprises, Rikaart insists he never really thought about that or “the down the road part of” what was in store for Leo, initially. “I was just having so much fun in the moment enjoying my time there.”
But that began changing when Rikaart was back on set. “Every script I got was a fun surprise, leaving me with more and more anticipation about what was going to come next; particularly with what we find out
about Leo’s family, which provided quite a happy reunion for me and someone from my past,” says Rikaart, cryptically.
Tops on Rikaart’s list, however, is the essence of the Leo that resurfaces — cool, cocky and totally throwing his weight around. “It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on set,” he shares. “Playing a gay villain is a dream come true. And Leo is such a fun guy. It was really fun to discover what his vulnerabilities are. You learn more about him than you got to the first goround. It’s going to be a hoot. I really think everyone is going to enjoy it. Leo makes some bold decisions and choices. I enjoyed it. I hope the audience does, as well.”
Rikaart, who’s now working under contract, has high praise for everyone who surrounds him at DAYS, beginning with the soap’s head scribe, Ron Carlivati. “I think Ron is a really brave writer,” says Rikaart. “He’s telling stories that are really progressive, and I’m happy to be a part of it.” And he adores leading men Chandler Massey (Will) and Freddie Smith (Sonny). “Those guys are both so good and so charming,” compliments Rikaart. “They’re so enjoyable to watch together. However, as much as the audience loves them and wants [their characters] to be together, they don’t. It’s fun to be the thorn.” The feeling is mutual. “I, personally, reacted with great exuberance,” relays Massey of Rikaart’s return. “Greg is an amazing actor. I love the character of Leo. He makes such bold choices and is so infuriating from Will’s perspective.” Adds Smith, “It is, for Sonny, the worst thing ever. For Freddie, the best thing ever. I had so much fun shooting these scenes that are coming up. We just had a blast, Chandler, Greg and myself. We had so much fun. I had to watch Greg and Chandler and do this whole thing, and I was entertained — but I couldn’t be, because Sonny hates this guy. So every day was a struggle for me to be like, ‘I hate this guy, I hate this guy, I hate this guy,’ and do the scenes. But for Sonny, it’s really going to mess with his and Will’s relationship. They’re finally reunited and, of course, a wrench is thrown.”
Rikaart admits he did encounter one fan who didn’t appreciate Leo’s antics. “I had somebody sort of come at me on social media, challenging me,” he says. “They were saying something to the effect of, ‘As a gay man, how could I have taken on this role, when it does such a disservice to the gay community?’ That it paints the picture of and is basically a stereotype of a character. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ This is sort of like the ultimate in inclusiveness, to have a gay character that doesn’t just have to be a good guy or someone who is just there. In the rest of the world people are complex, and they’re good and bad and whatever else. This is sort of the ultimate in equality to be able to have a gay villain. That I get to play that role is really a dream.”
“That I get to play that role is really a dream.”