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Arianne stars as "Nicole Walker" on NBC's daytime soap opera "Days Of Our Lives". Zuker earned her first “Soap Opera Digest” Award as Outstanding Villainess in 2001. Zuker, born in Northridge, California, and raised in nearby Chatsworth, began her career as a model at the age of 16, which provided her with several opportunities for travel. Her favorite assignments include print jobs in France, Australia, New York and Japan. Although “Days of our Lives” is her first daytime credit, Zuker appeared in several national commercials for McDonald’s and Mazda. Her theater roles include that of Babe Borelle in playwright Beth Henley’s “Crimes of the Heart,” Maude in “A Coupl’a White Chicks” and Elaine in Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” Zuker currently resides in Los Angeles with her four dogs (two she rescued) and her husband, co-star Kyle Lowder. She is a competitive horse women who competes in the Hunter-Jumper category. Arianne Zuker was born on June 3, 1974, in California.
Life is Beautiful: Arianne Zuker
After Finding Peace In Her Personal And Professional Life, DAYS OF OUR LIVES's Arianne Zuker (Nicole) Knows That Life Is Beautiful
Arianne Zuker sits down in her dressing room for this interview and immediately places a magazine in her lap. Seems her wardrobe for the day -- a skirt so short it could be a belt -- is only made for standing up. ("I am shocked sometimes by the way Nicole dresses," she laughs.) After nearly four years in Salem, playing Nicole is the perfect fit for the leggy blonde, who admits that her future on the show wasn't always all sewn up.
"For a year-and-a-half, I was a little lost," Zuker recalls. "Nicole wasn't a Horton -- she wasn't anything. So, that was tough because you're just not sure what to do. I was scared out of my mind." The transformation from mundane model to bitch on wheels was a welcome change for the actress. "Once Nicole became an alcoholic, I knew I had to go with it because I wanted to become something," she says. "It was a fabulous opportunity. Thank God they gave me the chance. I'm comfortable in Nicole's skin now."
Working with able soap vets John Aniston (Victor) and Lauren Koslow (Kate) also helped the actress find her way. "When I began working with John, I started to be more confident," she observes. "Lauren helped a lot, too. They've been doing this for a while. It made me have to buck up and learn a little bit, and make sure I'm 'on' all the time. I really started to feel like I have something."
That feeling of security prompted Zuker to re-sign with the show when her contract came up early this year. "My character just started to get cooking," she explains. "So, if I left, I'd be feeling empty. I was looking forward to staying, actually."
Once her professional life was on-track, Zuker focused on her personal one. In 1998, the actress began dating Michael Dietz (ex-Mark, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL; ex-Joe, PORT CHARLES; ex-Alan-Michael, GUIDING LIGHT), whom she met at a personal appearance. That fall, they got engaged. Their wedding was scheduled for October, 1999, but it was postponed. Two months later, the romance was over. Though Zuker prefers not to discuss the details of the relationship or why it ended, she says she gained a lot of insight from the experience. "I learned to choose and do things that I want -- to be where I want to be," she reflects. "And be a healthy selfish, if that makes sense, instead of trying to do things that somebody else wants. That is a huge lesson that I'll still be learning for a long time."
Zuker also saw firsthand the pitfalls of dating an actor. "Being that I was with someone who's also a soap star, I understand that things get out in the press," she says. "That's okay and it's normal -- because this is the job I chose, and that's just what's going to happen. It was my first [relationship with another actor] and I thought, 'I never want to date someone else in this business.' But you can't help that a lot of times. So, now you learn how to put yourself in a better situation ... a position where you make smart choices. I took many positive things from [the relationship], rather than finding all the negatives. It was a very important learning process for me, regardless of the publicity."
Going forward, Zuker has a healthier outlook about herself. "In three years, I cannot believe how much I've learned to like myself first," she says. "I have some qualities that I actually really like about myself!" And, she knows what she's looking for from the opposite sex. "A lot of people say opposites attract, but I like having things in common," she shares. Which is what she's found with her new beau, whom she prefers not to name. "My current life is very good," she smiles. "I recently met someone who I enjoy spending time with. Especially with the tragedies that have happened, I have started to see where I want to be, and the person I'd like to spend that time with."
She also likes to spend time with her DAYS co-stars Julianne Morris (Greta) and Alison Sweeney (Sami). "Now that our storylines have split, we socialize out of work more than we do in," she says. Which doesn't mean hanging in Hollywood hot spots. "I don't really like to go out and party anymore," she sighs. "Every time I go out, I think, 'Hmm ... why am I here?' But I do love the girly dinners. They're so fun. We close down the restaurant, drink wine, eat lots of food and can be as silly as can be. We try and do it once a month, but some of us have been doing it once a week. It's perfect."
So is her life right now. "The biggest lesson I've learned is to make sure that you stay grounded, and that you don't let things get to you," she asserts. "You always stay who you were before you started the job."
Arianne Zuker Signs New Contract With 'DAYS'
by Soap Opera Central in December, Arianne Zuker (Nicole Walker) is not leaving Days of our Lives. Now comes word that the actress has inked a new two-year contract with the show.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue the role of Nicole with NBC and Corday Productions," Zuker said in a statement.
Last fall, Internet rumors hinted that Zuker's character would fall victim to the serial killer stalking the fictional town of Salem. Though networks usually do not issue statements involving internet speculation and gossip, a spokesperson for DAYS almost immediately issued a statement denying Zuker was leaving. At the time, the spokesperson, while miffed that rumors were again dogging the show, did seem pleased that the serial killer storyline had people talking.
So what's ahead of Zuker now that she's signed a new contract?
"Nicole has a lot of surprises up her sleeve," Zuker teased. "Hang on for a bumpy ride."
Zuked joined Days of our Lives in 1998. She is married to her DAYS co-star, Kyle Lowder (Brady Black).
Days' Arianne Zuker: Runaway Model
Model-turned-actress Arianne Zuker once got stranded in Japan, but now she's finding her way (beautifully!) among the Titanic terrors of Salem...
When Days Of Our Lives cast Arianne Zuker in the role of Nicole, it once again proved the adage that art imitates life. While Nicole is hoping that Titan's New Faces modeling campaign will skyrocket her to the top of the style heap, Arianne began her real-life career as a model at the tender age of 16. In fact, Arianne recaptured her own first-day jitters in playing the scene where Nicole was required to "freeze" in front of the camera at her initial photo shoot.
In reality, modeling has taken Arianne to Australia, Japan, Paris and New York. So far, Nicole has only visited Los Angeles. Both women, however, had cause for concern about their destinations. "I was brought up in one house, haven't moved and I'm very family-oriented," admits Zuker, who is San Fernando Valley born and bred. "The whole by-yourself-to-a-foreign-country thing has never been appealing to me. When my agency wanted me to go to Japan, I said, 'Yeah, right,' thinking about the whole white slavery issue."
Stranded at the Airport
Fortunately, Zuker managed to book a five-day shoot for Japanese Gap from Los Angeles, but even so her trip to the land of the Rising Sun was not without problems. "The agency told me a driver would meet me, but no one was waiting at the airport," she reports. "A model friend from New York arrived at the same time and said, 'No, we have to take a two-hour bus ride to a hotel and we'll be met there and taken to our hotel.' I had none of this information."
Despite five grueling, 14-hour work days, the trip turned out to be a great experience. So, Zuker has no regrets about her seven-year modeling career, except, occasionally, when it comes back to haunt her. "I did a shoot for the J.C. Penney's Nurses Scrub catalog last year," Zuker discloses. "A fan found it, brought it to the Days Of Our Lives luncheon and asked me to autograph it. I was so embarrassed." Zuker, herself, was a fan of Days. "From seventh grade to about 10th grade, I watched Days," she discloses. "My cousin would come up and she would watch Young And Restless, so I always watched that, too."
Zuker's soap viewing fell off as her modeling career took off, so she was not familiar with Jensen Ackles (Eric) prior to meeting him at her audition for the producers. "Jensen is great, she states with conviction. "I am so fortunate. He's an all-around great guy, which makes it easy for me. I'm just really getting to the comfortable place with him."
Auditioning for Nikki: "Just Breathe..."
The reading for the Days producers was nerve-wracking, as it was Zuker's first major audition, and the first for which she received call backs. "I actually sat there long enough that I relaxed," she remembers. "I was there an hour and a half. I calmed down and thought, 'I know my dialogue. Just breathe and relax and take control of the situation. Take a minute before you start. Do what you came here to do and that's get the job.'"
She didn't get the job that day, but the chemistry between her and Ackles took her to the next level. "The screen test was a five-hour wait," she bemoans. "They gave us 10 pages of sides all together. It had crying, laughing, kissing and anger. Every emotion in one scene. Luckily, I went last, so my confidence level was way up there."
First Day: Lights, Cameras, Retape!
Not many actresses land the first role for which they screen test, but that's exactly what Zuker did. Even so, that knowledge wasn't sufficient to alleviate her first day case of stage fright. Having to tape her scenes twice, only added to her insecurity. "They weren't sure which direction the character was going," Zuker reveals, "because she's brand-new. So, I had to do three or four scenes that we shot in the morning, again, in the afternoon, in a different outfit. That made me nervous, but it wasn't me. They just didn't like the first look." Zuker is a fan of classic movies, which may explain how she was bitten by the acting bug. An admitted addict of the American Movie Classics channel, her love of old movies has given her a new interest. "My Mom and I have always watched old classics like Singing in the Rain," she relates. "I love the old musicals because there is nothing like them now. Finally, I made a call and said, 'Let's go.' My Mom and I started tap dancing [lessons]. It's nice, because it's something we can do together."
Zuker's other activities include golf (which she plays with her dad), horseback riding, snow and water skiing. She is currently dating an actor, but stresses that she wants to keep the relationship mellow.
That also allows her to focus her energies on her acting career. So, she was pleased when supervising producer Steve Wyman took her under his wing. "At first he scared me a little bit," she confesses, "Then, we had a talk and everything made sense. He said, 'I just want to help you become a better actress. I said, 'Steve, if you can do that, I love you.'"
Arianne Zuker: Friendly Fire
On-screen, they hate each other, but when the cameras stop rolling DAYS OF OUR LIVES’s Arianne Zuker and Julianne Morris are the best of pals.
Digest: What were your first impressions of each other?
Julianne Morris (Greta): Hated her [laughs]. No, I’m kidding. When I came on the show, she was on for a while, so I was meeting a million different people…
Arianne Zuker (Nicole): …It took us a while.
Morris: It took a while for us to even run into each other, I think. I don’t even remember.
Zuker: I don’t, either.
Morris: I remember we started hanging out…I think you invited me to a party.
Zuker: Yes, a barbecue. That’s right. I didn’t know you that well. That’s how we met. I think we liked each other because I invited her and she came [laughs].
Digest: Did you think you’d make friends at work?
Morris: I was hoping.
Zuker: I was definitely hoping we’d become friends.
Morris: I came from YOUNG AND RESTLESS, where we had a little foursome and we were just inseparable. We hung out all the time, so when I came to DAYS, I wanted that nurturing. My storyline on Y&R threw me into that situation, whereas my storyline as Swamp Girl didn’t really give me the opportunity to make friends. People would see me in the hallway and run [laughs]. There was this freak on the show, get her out of here!
Zuker: I felt really bad for her.
Morris: Ari and I are the closest [of] anybody on the show. We have a lot in common.
Digest: Is there anyone else you hang out with?
Morris: Ali Sweeney [Sami].
Zuker: Sweeney! I can’t help it, I love that last name, Lisa [Marsden, ex-Ali], she’s not on the show anymore, but we became really great friends. Christie Clark [ex-Carrie], she’s gone, too. They’re all gone.
Morris: Matt Cedeno’s [Brandon] starting to come out.
Zuker: It’s a very fun show to work on. A very friendly show. You feel like you’re a part of a family, and you don’t feel like you’re on the outer rim.
Morris: On Y&R, I never felt like I quite fit in – never felt like a part of a family. On DAYS, immediately I felt it.
Digest: What is it like to be friends in the same storyline?
Zuker: It’s so fun. At first, I felt so bad because we’re friends. Of course, it’s work, but I was like, “If I’m mean to her today, she’s going to be mad at me.” Even though it’s so not true, it was uncomfortable at first because we were friends. Now it’s easier because…
Morris: …We laugh about it.
Zuker: It was nice because you, Jensen [Ackles, ex-Eric] and I are good friends, so it was funny, fighting over him.
Digest: Do you ever worry that you’ll have a fight that’ll spill over into the job?
Morris: No, not really.
Zuker: I think Julianne and I work things out. If I’m in a bad mood and she’s in a baad mood, it’s like, “Oh, my God, what did I do?” It’s all about communicating, which is something I’d do and vice versa. I hope we would talk about it.
Morris: We would.
Zuker: That happens between friends all the time, and I guess anybody could understand that. Sometimes, there are things I do that I didn’t realize and she’ll tell me, and I’ll be like, “Wow, I put my foot in my mouth. Sorry.” That’s what friendship is all about.
Digest: Julianne, what do you think people would be surprised to know about Ari?
Zuker: Oh, no.
Morris: Nicole’s very ambitious, but Ari’s very ambitious, too. She would love to ride horses in the Olympics; I think that’s very commendable. She has a very succesful career in acting, and she’s gonna make tons of money doing it for the rest of her life, but she set a huge goal and she’s working toward it.
Zuker: What was that question? She loves to shop; her goal is making it to Gucci every day. Need I say more [laughs]? Let’s see. She knows how to change oil in a car [laughs]. I don’t think we see quite as much in Greta as we see in Julianne, which is her incredible personality and her righteousness and her strengths and her kindness. She’s extremely intelligent, and I’ve learned so much from her. I have a different outlook on life because of her.
Morris: you know that because I tell you that all the time [laughs]! Ari’s very sweet that way. She has come to me many times and said things that she likes about me and how I had an effect on her life. A lot of girls would like to bring other girls down, whatever’s good about the other girls, suppress it, and Ari’s not that way. She’ll find the good qualities in someone and lift them up. And she’s done that a lot with me. It made me feel very good about myself.
Digest: What quality would you take from each other?
Zuker: The way Julianne handles men [laughs]. It’s fantastic, let me tell you – I don’t know how or what it is, but I need it. I’m learning from you! Realistically, I thinkJulianne’s very classy. I could fake classy, but I’m not really.
Morris: That is not true! Her ambition inspires me all the time: I can become very complacent and very happy where I’m at, and Ari kind of spurs me on and makes me feel like I want to do more. That’s just an incredibly quality to have.
Zuker: When are we getting married [laughs]?
Digest: Who else would you play on the show?
Morris: Who would you do, Ari?
Zuker: John Black!
Morris: Gosh…Stefano is a fun character.
Zuker: Or Rolf [Does Rolf accent:] “What are you talking about, Stefano [laughs]?” There you go, Julianne can play Stefano, and I can be Rolf.
Morris: Or you can be John Black. I’d be the bad one and you can be the good one, and we’d both be males.
Digest: What storyline would you want to have together?
Morris: We could be Hope and Lexie buddies.
Zuker: This girl power – it’s almost like a supercouple. It’s friendship with women you don’t see a lot on soap operas, a friendship like that.
Morris: There aren’t many that stand out. No non-teenagers. Teenagers automatically are bonded together. That’s what’s missing.
Zuker: It would be nice to see that on soaps, like on SEX AND THE CITY, where the four girls are there for one another and there’s a lot of drama.
Morris: Greta is like Charlotte and you are like Samantha, but they’re still friends.
Zuker: That would be good.
Arianne Zuker chats about her on-screen rival
Through Kate and Nicole are bitter enemies the dynamic between Sami and Nicole is different. You get the sense that they could like one another because they share similarities; each knows exactly what the other one is up to. It’s the reason why Sami is watching how things develop between Austin and Nicole at work. When Nicole is at work people are seeing that she knows what she’s doing. Until recently, Victor has been almost like a mentor to her. Now he’s steering away from Nicole and her relationship with Austin is growing. For a long time Nicole wanted to get on Philip’s good side, for a little while I thought Philip liked Nicole but he’s not a stupid kid. He could see that Nicole was trying to make the moves on Victor. So now he’s acting like a typical teenager. He doesn’t want Nicole around, because he wants his father with Kate. I still think I’m opposite of my character. In many ways, Nicole is callous. She’s a survivor. I come from a great family, with a good education. It was a completely different life then Nicole could ever imagine. I’m sure that there are many things that have happened to other people in their lives that are similar to Nicole’s. So I look for those ideas. I try to relate as much as I can to her.
Arianne Zuker: It's fun to be bad
In 1998 Arianne Zuker debuted as Days of our lives Nicole, a good girl with a mysterious past who was destined to capture Eric Brady’s heart. At least that’s how the story played on paper. The camera however revealed something troublesome: “Jensen Ackles (ex-Eric) and I were great friends, but we didn’t have any chemistry on screen “the actress admits. Though Eric and Nicole’s romance was doused Zuker’s performance ignited the imaginations of the shows writers. Eventually, Nicole was refashioned with a darker edge. “I decided to come up with some thing in my acting choices that would have viewers love to hate Nicole,” the actress explains. “The after Nicole married Lucas she turned to alcohol. I was able to take those developments and establish my character. Now, Nicole has become a ball of strength, but she remains completely insecure on the inside.”
Currently, viewers are taking note of the growing closeness between Nicole and her right hand at Titan the very engaged Austin, Likewise the new twist intrigues Zuker and her co-star Austin Peck (Austin). “Two years ago, Austin came to Nicole’s aide,” recounts the actress. “They were small simple scenes but we both felt there was chemistry between Austin and Nicole.” How does Zuker explain on-screen chemistry? “I think its something that just happens,” She answers. “Soap Operas fight it because they already have an idea of who they want together. But if they tried different combinations they would find two people who do share chemistry.”
In Zuker’s personal life it would be safe to assume that she found something more profound then chemistry with cast mate Kyle Lowder (Brady). They recently announced their engagement, but wish to keep their personal lives private. On Nicole’s explosive relationship with Victor, Zuker Observes, “I think John Aniston (Victor) and I work well together. For Nicole it started out as manipulation. She wanted to use Victor but it became almost a fatherly love which is something she never has with her own dad. Victor also took on the role of mentor. Eventually, she fell in love with him because he was always there for her.” Now that days has two new head-writers, Paul Cwickly and Peter Brash, is Zuker concerned that Nicole may move in yet another direction? “I like to look at it as I would any kind of change that is it can be a good thing.” She offers. “You take what you learned from before and you roll all the positives that you can into your new life. Everything is a plus, if you find the good and go with it.
Arianne Zuker is a gift giver
SOD: What is the greatest life lesson you've ever learned?
AZ: "I don't thikn you ever stop learning lessons, but one thing I have learned is to never make the same mistake twice."
SOD: You've been given the chance to host your own late-night talk show. What would you do to make your show unique?
AZ: "I would have a ... actually, I don't want to give that secret away just in case I ever do a late-night show."
SOD: If you could write a sequel to any movie, what movie would it be?
AZ: "My sequel would be with any kind of action hero movie like Batman or X-Men. I like fantasy, heroes and good vs. evil. It's the kid in me!"
SOD: If Chanukah were tomorrow, what gift would you most want?
AZ: "I'm more of a gift giver. I enjoy other people's happiness."
SOD: How do you like to spend a day off?
AZ: "I like to spend my day off at home. There is nothing better than being somewhere you feel safe and cozy."