Abigail Deveraux's return from the dead is finally happening, and both Days of our Lives viewers and characters alike are in for the shock of a lifetime. Jack and Jennifer's daughter isn't anything like she was before -- but then again, what can you expect from a girl who went completely psycho, faked her death in a plane crash, and has now slinked back into town, hoping to remain undetected by her closest family and friends? That being said, her new portrayer, Marci Miller, who took over for popular Kate Mansi, is in love with the character and can't wait for the storyline explosions on the horizon to wow viewers.
"She's a character who has been through so many things in her lifetime, and so there is consistently really rich stuff to play with," Miller tells Soap Central of having lucked out with this particular role. "The relationships in Abby's life are really, really important, so it's been really cool to navigate the relationships she has with Chad [Billy Flynn] and with their baby, Thomas, and the relationship that she has with her mother [Jennifer, Melissa Reeves]. Those relationships are all changing now, because they thought she was dead, and they've gone through this process of grieving and thinking she was gone. Now she's back and having to reestablish all of [these relationships], and she's getting to make some choices to sort of come into her own and say, 'Okay, what do I want in life? What's important to me?' I'm sure that's partially strategic from a writing perspective and the recast, etc, but it's been really fun for me to step in and reestablish her after her crazy bout."
From Recast Jitters To Character Gold
Of course, one of the not-so-fun parts was the initial pressure Miller felt in being a recast. After all, Mansi grew to become insanely popular with many fans, which would be a bit intimidating for anyone stepping into her shoes. However, Miller says it was Mansi's popularity that actually made taking on the character a lot easier.
"I think feeling pressure is inevitable. Recasts are always a bit of a tricky situation, but I'm so glad that Kate was so loved by the fans for so many years, because it has really created an environment for me to step into that's very positive," she says. "The character is so beloved, and so much of that has to do with what Kate has done over the past five years. The relationship between Chad and Abigail, people are so crazy about that, and that has to do with what Kate and Billy have done over the past couple of years. So there is an amount of pressure to be liked, but what actor doesn't want people to enjoy what they're doing? But I really made a point to set that aside as much as I could so that I could really, as an actor, try to create something that was true for me. I know that if I was trying to imitate anything that anybody else had been doing, it wouldn't work."
That's why, she explains, she hasn't watched much of Mansi's prior work as Abigail. "There were certain things that I watched before the test, but it was mostly things between her and Billy because I wanted to have an understanding of what that relationship was like," she explains. "But I really tried to shy away from trying to watch too much of her performance."
As such, Miller's version of Abigail is likely to be a lot different than her predecessor's version. But the heart of who Abby truly is will remain intact.
"I never had a sit-down session where they said, 'Okay, Abigail is this type of person and she does this,' and there was a time initially where I thought, 'Man, I wish someone would sit me down and tell me all these things!'" she says with a laugh. "But now, in retrospect, I'm so glad that they didn't, because it has allowed me to really discover her on a day-to-day basis and really know her from a heart perspective rather than just being told a bunch of facts about a person and trying to digest it that way. They've been so gracious in allowing me to play and discover her slowly."
Luckily, Miller says the fan response has all been good.
"I've seen only positive stuff. The fans are so, so great, so sweet," she reports. "Granted, my guess is that people who don't dig it aren't reaching out to say, 'Hey, I can't stand this. I think you're terrible!' [Laughs] So the people who have reached out, the response has been positive. And I'm grateful for that. It does make a big difference, because we do this for them, and we want them to be happy. So it feels good."
Watch Out World: The "New" Abby Is No Shrinking Violet
Now that she's been filming for several months, Miller has a firm idea of her new character and where she'd like to see her go. And a little warning to all who thought Abigail was a weak character: not any longer!
"As we know, she's gone through all this mess. She's been crazy, faked her death, etc., etc., etc. So now she's coming back, and she has an opportunity to choose what is important and what she wants," the actress teases of what's on the horizon. "I really want to see Abigail step into her power and really find opportunities to exercise her authority a little bit. I want her to be a powerful woman on the show. I mean, she's still vulnerable, and her sensitivity is part of what makes her so relatable and lovable. But I want to see her with some real strength."
Anyone who's good at reading between the lines will able to decipher that once Abby gets an eyeful of her husband, Chad, cavorting with her best friend, Gabi (Camila Banus), she's not going to react lightly.
"She definitely has opinions about everything that's been going on," Miller teases. "For the first few days she's back in Salem, she's witnessing their lives without them knowing it; she's in the know about things they don't realize she's in the know about. Whenever she does see Chad for the first time, he may not know that she's been seeing him with Gabi. He doesn't know that the love of his life is right there in front of him. So she's definitely got some opinions about things!"
Is This The End Of Chabby?!
The next few weeks will be trying times for Chad and Abby. She won't be able to shove aside his blossoming romance with Gabi, and he'll be furious with his wife for leaving him and Thomas behind. That being said, she's fairly certain the couple will eventually find their way back to each other.
"Chad and Abby are made for each other. They're soul mates," she declares. "The relationship they have is extremely passionate and super magnetic, but circumstances get in the way of things, and it's going to be a little bit dramatic. But they love each other dearly. It's going to be sort of a roller coaster here over the course of the next several months. The love that they have for each other and the actions that they do or don't take I think are a result of the love and the affection and respect that they have for one another. That's super vague, I know! But I can't reveal too much."
As for Abigail's ability to mother her and Chad's infant son, Thomas, Miller reveals it will be an uphill battle due to her previous mental instability.
"She really doesn't trust herself," the actress reveals. "There are some cool scenes where Jennifer plays a specific role in Abby regaining that confidence and instilling in her the truth that she knows deep down, but she's frightened about how well she is. And even though she's in a good place when she starts to come back, I think she's concerned with whether or not she's going to backslide and go back to having these crazy thoughts and these crazy psych patterns again."
Crazy Good Times
But wait, really? Could the writers decide to keep Abigail on the crazy train she's been on recently? Or will viewers see a mostly stable character in the weeks ahead?
"Boy, if there's anything I've learned here, it's that you never know what could come next," Miller teases with a sly smile. "Sometimes I get my scripts and I'm like, 'What?!' It's crazy. Really crazy. But also awesome."
That's code for you better tune in, DAYS fans, because Abigail's return storyline is full of twists and turns. And you'll be in good company when you're watching. Miller shares that many of the people from her tiny hometown of North Liberty, Indiana, are dying to see what happens next, as well.
"People [from my hometown] are constantly reaching out on social media and sending me messages and emails to let me know that they're watching, and they can't wait for things to unfold," she shares. "They're super proud, and it's cool because those people are such a part of your makeup and your history and the person that you become. My theater teacher, Richard Fansler, is following, and he's my theater teacher from high school. When I was in high school, I never expected to live in this city, I never expected to be an actor, and those are crucial years. Watching him love what he's doing instilled that in me, and there are so many people like that throughout my life, and they're all super excited. And it feels really good that they are."
What do you think about Miller’s portrayal of Abigail so far? How do you feel about the character being back on the canvas? What would you love to see happen to Abigail in the weeks and months ahead? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.