Actress Out! [Updated]
I’m really, truly surprised by this.
Soap Opera Digest reports that Arianne Zucker (Nicole Walker) is leaving Days at the end of her contract.
In the new issue of Digest, on sale Friday, Arianne Zucker (Nicole) exclusively reveals that she will be leaving Salem when her contract is up in late April. “Two years ago, I was contemplating making the shift,” the actress shares. “I know there are a thousand girls who would take my job in a second, for me, it is my time to go.” For the full story, pick up your copy on Friday!
I have to say, I thought she’d be a lifer. But that tidbit about her having nearly left two years ago is telling. Isn’t that just about exactly when the writing shifted (abruptly) from the emphasis being on Nicole/Eric to Nicole/Daniel? I’ve heard rumors that she requested to be paired with Shawn Christian (Daniel) — her boyfriend in real life — and this seems to indicate, at the least, that she was promised a pivot in focus for Nicole if she stayed. She’s also basically been frontburner for nine years, minus her relatively short maternity leave. That has to be exhausting, any way you look at it.
This news leaves me full of thoughts. A final tape date in late April will keep her on-air into the fall. The natural ending for Nicole would be to win custody of Holly and leave Salem for a new beginning. There’s still a bit of confusion over how long-term Greg Vaughan (Eric) is around for, since he’s balancing his Days role with his appearances on OWN’s Queen Sugar, so I guess it’s possible Nicole and Eric leave town together with Holly. Ken Corday has also previewed an upcoming murder mystery, which seems like it has to center on Deimos, so there’s always the possibility they pull a Gabi and send Nicole to prison for Deimos’s murder — but that would be such a depressing end for the character, especially since she’s wanted a child for so long and would yet again be separated from her.
And just like Alison Sweeney’s exit, this loss leaves a big hole in the canvas. Nicole and Chloe are the only women in that mid-30s-to-early-40s age range in Salem right now. This really does open up — and create a need for — a Carrie or Belle or someone. And both of them are so tethered to relationships that feel like they’ve been through the mileage of the older supercouples, with all the breakups and reunions and whatnot, that the show is in a tricky spot. I do think Nicole as a character could use a rest, particularly after this last year of Daniel and Deimos foolishness, but I’ll still be sad to see her go. Zucker has delivered some incredibly moving performances over the years, and as messy as Nicole has been at times, her narrative as a character has been compelling. I guess we’ll see where they choose to go next.
Zucker debuted in the role of Nicole in February 1998 and played the part until 2006, when she was written out of the show without an onscreen exit. She returned in 2008 and has been portraying Nicole ever since.
UPDATE: The full article still isn’t officially online, and I’m not a big fan of posting scans of other publications’ work, but in the interview, Zucker expresses annoyance that Shawn Christian was fired (as opposed to choosing to leave the show) and seems to imply that his departure had plenty to do with her own choice to leave. Thoughts… I have them.