Veteran actor Thaao Penghlis chatted with this Greek-American journalist about his 2020 Daytime Emmy nomination for “Days of Our Lives,” as well as his Greek heritage.
Penghlis has been nominated for the Daytime Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” for his portrayal of Tony DiMera in the hit NBC daytime drama Days of Our Lives. This marks his third career Daytime Emmy nomination. “That was a surprise. I am always pleasantly surprised when it comes through,” he said.
When asked how he handles being dialogue-heavy on the show, he said, “It’s a memory muscle. I do things one scene at a time. I go through them four times and by then, I know them.”
He was also proud to be a part of the “Chad & Abby in Paris” Days of Our Lives digital drama series. “I liked working with the actors on there,” he said. “I have a wonderful relationship working with Billy Flynn.”
On being an actor in the digital age, he said, “I’ve been in the business long enough, so I’ve seen a lot of changes.”
Penghlis revealed that he studied under esteemed acting teacher Milton Katselas, and then he became his assistant for 10 years. “Half of my life has been training, the other half has been working, it’s an ongoing process,” he explained. “The biggest education for me was the journeys that I have taken, such as visiting Egypt 14 times. I was able to infiltrate that knowledge through the work and I think that’s what has sustained me.”
He also opened up about his Greek heritage. “It’s an interesting culture. My parents are from Kastellorizo. It’s a small island, one of the Dodecanese. It’s an island that is closest to Turkey. My grandparents came from Constantinople. After World War II, they decided to migrate to Sydney, Australia. My mother never spoke English, so I had to go to Greek school for five years so that I could go home to have a conversation with my parents. I am grateful for that since now I know how to speak, write, and read the Greek language.”
A very profound experience for Penghlis was visiting Mount Athos in Greece. He was drawn to its rich history, the icons, and the prayers. “The churches are so beautiful as are the icons, and the history behind the icons,” he explained.
Penghlis had nothing but the kindest remarks about Gregory Zarian, who also earned a 2020 Daytime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Digital Drama Series” for Venice: The Series. “Gregory is such a lovely human being. I’ve known him for a very long time. He is very gracious,” he said.
He defined the word success as follows: “Success has many levels. It is how you feel within. I’m successful as a chef, as an actor, and at my influences on my family. Success, to me, is the things that you are able to look at and know they are complete and worthy, and they created something within you as a human being that makes you stand on your own platform.”
For his loyal fans, he said, “A lot of the fans sustain you. Even though I’ve always played Machiavellian characters, the fans have told me that they have always love to hate my character. I would give them something to love and something to hate.”
Photo Credit: Chris Haston, NBC